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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
About 5 years ago I retired from climbing the greasy pole of a business career and started to try to play again having picked a Tenor up on and off for about 30 years.

I got a student Tenor and started to take some basic steps—lessons / practice, knowing that I would never be that good but wanting to be the best I could be.

Got myself some music software that created backing tracks to any tune I wanted, in any key and used real musicians not just synth—probably the one thing I found that helped me practice the most as its great to practice with a real backing track rather than just on my own

I eventually started to play in a small amateur band and performing in public, although not that often, but kept up practicing and taking lessons and eventually decided to get a better Sax so bought a Mauriat 66R after trying about 6 —loved the dark mellow sound-- got a basic ebonite Otto Link 6 and Rico Royal reeds and ploughed on

In truth I never got to the sound that was in my head (Young / Getz) so I started to read as much on this forum as I could, especially about mouthpiece / reed combinations.

BUT also started to fool myself that if I got a great sax I would sound better and talked ad-nausea to my wife about Selmer MKVI’s

Lo and behold when it was my 60th birthday a year ago a 1972 Selmer MKVI arrived as a birthday present, just had a full overhaul at a well respected place in the UK and it did sound very good, beautiful sweet centred sound, very different to the sound I had been getting from the 66R, and so I have played nothing else for the last year—all the time carrying on experimenting with mouthpieces and reeds.

However, it was never that easy for me to play, slightly sharp in the upper octave and sometimes the low notes were difficult, but I carried on and eventually it went and had another check over and came back with a clean bill of health—so I had no option but to realise the problem was me and not the MKVI

By now I had refined my mouthpiece selection from about 15 down to a Vintage Brihart Tonalin and an Otto Link “Vintage” Ebonite with unfiled reeds—LaVoz, Vandoren Green Box Java

About a week ago I picked up the Mauriat 66R just for a bit of fun and out of a bit of frustration with the MKVI and I simply couldn’t believe how easily it played and good it sounded

Perfectly in tune and very easy low notes—yes, darker than the MKVI but not as much as when I had first started playing it, in fact everyone in the group now thinks I have a great warm mellow sound.

The MKVI is either too good for me or I’m not good enough for it—same thing really, so it will probably be sold--– not so easy when it’s a present from your wife
—I’m sure a good player will make it sound great.

Having learnt my lesson the hard way I realise that it’s the mouthpiece and reed that colour’s the sound the most and that having a great horn definitely doesn’t make you a good player, just practice, practice and practice.
 

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I agree that it's more mouthpiece/reed/practice that produces our individual sound than the sax itself but you also have to find the sax that works well for you. It sounds like in your case it's the Mauriat and like you said for someone else it'll be the Selmer.
 

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Your post makes interesting reading as I was thinking of getting a new sax and I guess I imagined that it would make me sound like a better player................. but I guess the truth is its is practice and more practice. Still wish my hubby would go out and buy me..........................................!!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hi Clare

Funnily enough I have just been reading all your posts about learning at a more "mature" age

I hope you are still having fun playing

Whilst others may not agree I found the thing that transformed my playing ability was actually practicing with a backing band--I found there was nothing worse that just playing a tune a day out of a book

I am OK with computers so I got myself a basic bit of software on a CD which enabled me to put in any chord progression I liked and created a Piano, Bass and Drums backing track

It was only sysnthesized sounds but it was OK--I connected the output of my computer soundcard to a small speaker / amp and away I went

I then got loads of Fake Books with the type of songs I liked to listen to--40's 50's Jazz--and created backing tracks and played along

I did simple songs to start with but I found that actually making proper "music" gave me all the inspiration I needed to take on much harder songs and then start improvising

I can honestly say that it transformed what was a long slog of playing boring tunes from "tune a day" books and classical pieces into a real joy

It helped with rhythm, phrasing and improved my sight reading by miles

I now have upgraded from the basic synth CD to a copy that has real musicians that play the backing tracks but still lets you decide the chords , style, speed, key etc

What all those guys on your other thread said is absolutely correct it has to be fun or there is no point in doing it

Regards

Phil
 

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Nothing really beats playing with someone else. There's just something about getting the feel from other musicians that gets you beyond just being on the beat to actually playing musically.

Last night they had an open mike night at a local bar. I asked the wife what she thought and she said, Go do it! You love that kind of thing and you thrive on it!

So I did. When I arrived, there only a handful of people were in the place. A guy walked up to me and introduced himself. So I asked him how this open mike night thing was going down. He said he and another guy were the drummers and they could back me up if I wanted, or I could play just solo.

So I got on the stage, said to the drummer Just play what strikes you and we'll take it from there. We played for about half an hour. Just me and the percussionist. He was laying down some really interesting rhythms and it made it that much more fun to jam. The small crowd gave us a hand each time we ended a little jam. Some people left, others came in. Thankfully those leaving only did so when we stopped playing haha.

The other drummer came up and told us we sounded good and asked if I wanted to play for a while without backup. Which I did, because I always find that kind of work really puts you on the edge of concentration. You have to create your own rhythm. While I played the two of them sat by the bar and watched me.

After I stepped down the more seasoned drummer asked me if I wanted to be in a band if he could find the right group of musicians. I liked what his qualifications were. People with a professional attitude about playing. People who were consistant and were willing to experiment and learn beyond what they thought they knew. In other words, people who didn't have oversized heads about themselves. I asked him if he really thought I would fit into such a group and he surprised me. Let's just say he said some very nice things about my playing and my attitude.

Sometimes you have to step out and just do it. And you have to accept that you're going to work with alot of different personalities. You have to put yourself out there and accept the critiques from voices of experience as well as the accolades. Remembering that whoever you're playing for only wants to fulfill a musical goal. Everything begins there. And your consistancy as both a musician and someone who sees the big picture of the band doing as well as possible can only propel you forward.

Was it hard to to play off the top of my head with a percussionist I'd never met before? I'm not going to say that it wasn't. It was as much a learning experience as everything which got me to the point of being willing to even step up there and let myself pour out of the horn. It's the next level.

Keep up what you're doing. Don't be afraid to step out of the comfort zone if the opportunity arises. And don't worry about the occasional foul ups. Mistakes shouldn't define you. Just take that PM and play it with all the passion you can draw out of yourself. People will hear music instead of instrumental technicality. Just put yourself into whatcha play.

Hey, if I can do it? The world is full of better musicians than I am. Know what I mean?

Harv
 

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Phil,
I cannot advise you on the horns. I have not yet had the opportunity to play a PM. However, I can say this. Any wife who buys her husband a Mark VI is a keeper!! :salute:
 

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Phil,
I cannot advise you on the horns. I have not yet had the opportunity to play a PM. However, I can say this. Any wife who buys her husband a Mark VI is a keeper!! :salute:
The wife, or the Mark VI ? :twisted:

(Joke aside - couldn't agree more)
 

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Keep the sax, keeep the sax keeeep the sax and definitely keep the wife, she sounds wonderful.

One day you'll grow into it and if you sold it there'd be no going back.
 

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Maybe the Mark VI is a dog. Seriously... I have played a few well set up VI's that were just plain boring and nothing special.
 

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You would have the sell the wife with it. :twisted:
not at all... the MK VI hasn't lost a bit of its value. Just explain the situation to your wife (demonstrate the MK VI and your old sax) and ask her what she would like to do with the proceeds of the sale?

A trip to Paris for example?
 

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That's a great story Phil. I've had the opportunity in a few posts to say how I love the YTS-62 that I've been playing for over 20 years more than I loved the MkVI I played for about 15 years before that. Like others have said and you've discovered for yourself - you should play the horn that best suits you. As for advice about what to do with the MkVI - I have none, but that's a nice problem to have.
 

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Play the horn that speaks to you
 

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I went crazy and bought what I thought were all the best saxes within the past 5 years. Only the practice, mp and reed combos make any difference for me. I wish I had held on to my PM 66R, but the Reference tenors sound like that sound I have in my head as my sound image.

Haven't played a lot this summer, but I'd like to settle on one of my 2 tenors. Just can't get myself to let go of either one at this point. My GAS has cost me dearly! Obviously, I am still learning the lesson that is the OP's conclusion. When I actually sell either the 36 or the 54, I will try to just settle into the horn I keep and hopefully enjoy it the rest of my playing days. GAS is a very hard to disease to kick!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Well, this might have a happy ending after all.

As some of you pointed out, selling a MKVI is not to be done lightly so I blindfolded the wife and played both saxes with an identical mouthpiece / reed combination and both slow mellow and fast bright songs

Which did she like the best--the Mauriat--so it wouldnt have been such a major problem telling her I was going to sell her birthday present

When I asked her why she prefered the Mauriat she said it was obvious that I was struggling a bit to play the MKVI especially the low notes which tended to burble and that the upper register seemed out of tune

No suprises there then as thats what I thought too

However when she helped me pack the MKVI away she noticved something that I had not noticed in the year I had been playing it

I had always looked for problems with the keywork, pads etc but she noticed an issue with the crook

At the end where the mouthpiece fits the whole was not symetrical--at one point the edge was extremely thin whereas the rest of the hole was the same thichness all round--the thin part was about a quarter of the thickness of the rest

When I looked closley I saw that the problem only went for about a quarter of an inch down the tube and then everything was OK--it seemed that the area of the fault curved slightly outwards towards the rim

The thin part was exactly at the bottom of the hole--opposite site to the octave key--- which I assumed is where the join is when it was manufactured

Was this a manufacturing fault or some sort of dodgy repair because I also noticed a slight black line where the metal thinned like you might get if some metal had been added

So what to do--would it make a difference??

What I did was get a small pencil and wrap some very fine emery paper round it and very gently curver the hole out from about a quater inch in the tube to try to replicate the area where it was thin

Now, I havent done it anywhere near as much as the thin area as I was too scared to but I now have just the last quater inch with a slight curve that matches the one in the faulty area

I'm sure some of you will tell me I've wrecked the horn and killed the resale value but the money was never the point

Mouthpiece on and see what happens--unbelievable difference!!!

Bottom notes pop out as clear as anything and its in tune in the uppper octave

I'm not going to do any more work on it to match with the very thin part unless a tech out there tells me its the right thing to do

I now have a wonderfull sounding MKVI--super sultry when played softly and still mellow when pushed

How can such a little thing make such a difference??

Any tech with an answer???

Phil
 
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