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· Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2017
Picked up a sax in 2002 and here I am.
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Personally, I dont think any intelligent and even semi-mature player believes that gear will make them a better player.

....middle school or high school, maybe...but often not even then.
Well I can't agree, as I play a lot better on the Otto Link metal piece you refaced for me! Was mediocre at best and buried in the drawer before sending it to you. Hopefully this doesn't make me a dumb ***!
 

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its just easier to buy new equipment than it its to study and practice. K
While probably true, that observation maybe introduces a false dichotomy. No one spends all of their free time practising, so what's the harm if some of us spend the wee small ones hunting for new gear? As liggy and 10mfan have pointed out, it's fun and will inspire you. Speaking personally, it's the fun factor that inspires me to play every day, even if the OP has previously described that approach as not "serious". From a musical professional's perspective, he might be right. But I'm dead serious about my saxy fun time, and spend less on my hobby than other enthusiasts spend on, say, acrylic paints or sports equipment.

As others have pointed out, it's unfair to point to Sonny or other icons who only ever played one piece because they had transcended their equipment. Even if I could accept such idealist arguments, the fact is that I'll never be that good no matter how much I practice, and need all the help I can get from my gear. Nor is it lost on me that in expressing his own transcendence of the mouthpiece game, the OP appears to identify himself with these influential musical geniuses-a clever, if bold, rhetorical move. Who knows, maybe he is just that good.

Yes, you can get used to the average mouthpiece and play it fantastically well. But would it stand your comparison with the better one?
Exactly. To believe that just because no one mouthpiece will magically make you a pro means that all pieces are therefore equal is an example of the relativist fallacy.

I feel like, here in the United States at least, we are taught that happiness is always one purchase away. We're indoctrinated, really.... That said, I think a certain amount of searching and experimenting is probably a necessary part of the growth process as a musician.
Absolutely, and that's the really important (and difficult) question that I feel the OP raises: How to reconcile the musical impulse with the business of music? What does it mean to be a real, authentic musicial artist under the condition of capitalism?
 

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I do tend to think many players old and young are lying to themselves by constantly hunting down the perfect horn or mouthpiece rather than learning,.. to fix their shortcomings. I see that tendency in myself and I constantly have to remind myself that hard work ups my game so much more than fu**ing around endlessly with reeds, mouthpieces, etc.

I do understand that for some people, the enjoyment of messing with the gear is really what it's all about and that is perfectly fine. Just don't lie to yourself.
 

· Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2013-
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From post number one: "However, a contributing factor to this equipment frenzy may be due to the fact that there is so much sub-standard gear on the market causing players to be missing something in their sound ... ."

[Apparently a great many mouthpieces currently being sold will not do the job of allowing a player to find his or her sound. Will someone tell us which mouthpieces these are?]

From post number one: "Furthermore, the newer brands of musical equipment, while may be more in tune, louder and responsive has been manufactured to be easier to play therefore causing an instantaneous attraction to it which doesn't enable the player to phrase like something that requires more effort and requires less use of one's body causing a lack of individual tone among many musicians. Our individuality is being lost due to laziness and a lust for volume and quick response."

[This part may be pretty much the same as the quote above, but perhaps it is relating to merely horns, and excluding mouthpieces. Does anyone care to identify these newer brands or the type of musical equipment being referred to?]
 

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As a consumer, it is fun to try new products...and for the conscientious producer, it inspires them to innovate.

I do believe if you are going to invest in a $250+ mouthpiece, you should invest the time learning how to get the most out of it before moving on to the next product.

Substitute mouthpiece for golf clubs. Same deal.
 

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The best mouthpiece and the greatest player on the planet will sound crap on poor reeds.

Reeds have a tremendous influence on tonal sound, the matching of reed strength, vamp shape, sealing to mouthpiece, for instance, all have a huge impact on the outcome of the sound. Even changing the placement of a reed and ligature can significantly alter the sound of a mouthpiece. I find that this forum attracts a great deal of interest in mouthpieces and not nearly enough on reeds and reed adjustment.

Just my 2 cents worth.
 

· VENDOR "Innovation over imitation"
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I couldn’t agree with you more!!!!
I’ve been pounding the reed thing to players for years and years and years.
It’s on my website and it’s the most important factor, for sure. Feel, response, articulation, tonal color, etc.
I tell everyone that players who get the most out of mouthpieces, are the ones that spend time with different brands of reeds so they can dial in what they are looking for in terms of all those things I just mentioned. Nothing more important. Experimenting with reeds is crucial, especially if you try a lot of different mouthpieces. If you have one or two that you use all the time and nothing else, you just need to go through the experimenting until you find what you want and then you can stick with that. If you do try a lot of mouthpieces, it would be beneficial to have a lot of reeds around so you can zone in what you want from each mouthpiece.
You are right on with the importance of reeds.
 

· Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru
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Very good advice and especially coming from a mouthpiece make who would be having an vested interest on advising to buy as much as possible.

I have settled a few years ago on a mouthpiece which felt comfortable and I stepped out the mouthpiece merry go round. I have done the same with reeds, now I have a firly large stock of the two brands type and strength that I use and I simply don’t care about anything.

There are already too many things to do than endlessing chasing your tail.
 

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I think this discussion is also related to great article from steve neff he wrote some times ago.

https://www.neffmusic.com/blog/2017/08/finding-the-holy-grail-of-sax-mouthpieces/

In a way, I agree with everything that was said here, but I don't think it apply to everyone. I myself is nowhere near a pro level, and more importantly I don't aspire to be. Saxophone and Jazz is truly a passion dear to be, but it is one where I can only squeeze some 15 minutes sessions between going back home from work and taking care of my baby, and few hours on the week-end. I don't aspire to ever reach the toes of Sonny Rollins, I just want (and I do) to enjoy playing.

So in that regard, I got Mark great 10MFan Robusto few years ago, and I loved (still do) it and I felt really at home with it. Yet, I still got a classic when he released it, and I also love this one. Now it's itching me to get something more gritty, and so I look around, I listen to some players, read reviews and discussions here, my heart goes toward the Phil-tone Impulse, some Theo Wanne, or a Black Widow... and so on.

Is it necessary? Is it even productive in order for me to progress? I agree with Phil Barone probable answer in that regard: No. Probably that the best way for me to improve would have been to stick to just the first great mouthpiece I had and stop trying other stuff after that. But I'm aware of that. I still enjoy the chase, I still enjoy the discovery of something new, I enjoy switching gear and getting a different feel, a different sound and I have the money for it, so why shouldn't I? That pleasure and excitement in a way help me to do the extra effort to play as much as I can in a tight planning, because I don't want to put down my horns.

I'll never be a pro, I know that what matters is my own sound, my own melodic ideas, and that equipments does not matters as much: yet, wether I need it or not (I don't), wether it improves dramatically my sound or not (it won't) if tomorrow I have enough money to trade my already very nice Yanagisawa for a high end Selmer Tenor, I would without hesitation. Because I love to have something of such high quality in my hands, because I truly appreciate the passions, the dedicated hours and the craftsmanship of guys like Mark, Theo or Phil and saxophone makers at Selmer factories and I'd rather spend my money on these rather than anything else.
 

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The best mouthpiece and the greatest player on the planet will sound crap on poor reeds.

Reeds have a tremendous influence on tonal sound, the matching of reed strength, vamp shape, sealing to mouthpiece, for instance, all have a huge impact on the outcome of the sound. Even changing the placement of a reed and ligature can significantly alter the sound of a mouthpiece. I find that this forum attracts a great deal of interest in mouthpieces and not nearly enough on reeds and reed adjustment.

Just my 2 cents worth.
Exactly. The $2000 Double Ring Link on the $20,000 vintage Selmer and you're still at the mercy of the 3 dollar reed.
I don't like messing with reeds but after I get through with the ones that play right out of the box I'll start with the rest.
 

· VENDOR "Innovation over imitation"
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Vanadiel,
Thank you so much. I can design mouthpieces from tons of Proto typing, but the craftsman end of it is not my cup of tea. I can’t take any credit for that.... I’ve got the best guy doing my pieces right now and all I can say is thank God for that! I’m very grateful that things have fallen into place so well after letting go of Eric.
 

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There are gearheads in every market. More power to'em. We need them. Bring'em on. I'm thankful for the collector, the infinite experimenter in pursuit of magic. Even when they obtain nirvana they are compelled to believe it can get even better. Yay! The world needs them. The world operates like an engine and everyone provides their little combustion to keep it purring along. As I write this, I realize, even that avante garde electroacoustic percussive twister of my aural noggin has their place in it all. Thanks Phil, you were the catalyst I needed to answer my own question.
 

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I played on a 4 Level Air for years as a teenager and liked my sound just fine until an older player told me it was "too closed". Then a got a 7 Lakey and played on that for decades until I started reading that Lakeys were junk. I found a Runyon piece that I liked and still play those on both alto and tenor.

This site convinced me that I hadn't tried enough mouthpieces, so being in my 60's now and able to afford to check out a few, I embarked on a mouthpiece buying extravaganza. It was interesting, and yeah some seem a little different in some ways, but...meh.

The pieces I play are the ones that feel most like home to me (feel the most like 'me') when I play them. I still occasionally used one of the many others just for fun, but I'm not looking for any new pieces. At all.

Honestly, I feel like I could respond to almost any post on this forum with "Fer chrissakes just play the g**d*** thing!!". And it would be the best advice I could offer.
 

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Thank you, Phil!

I studied with a guy here, was really the top gigging player back in the day, sessions, clubs, radio/TV... and I told him that my uncle who played trumpet was asking me "How does Stan Getz get that sound? Is it the reed? The mouthpiece? What?"... and I didn't know what to tell him... and this great player told me "Well, your sound actually comes from your brain."

I like what you said about Jackie McLean. I love him, and I told my wife I figured out what was so special... Honesty. His playing is as honest as the day is long. Straight from the heart. I find Pepper Adams to be the same, when I hear him play ballads especially.
 

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Now I'm confused: does your sound come from the heart or from the brain? Either way I'm screwed, as both my brain and heart are weak. :cry:
 

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I agree with Phil that there are hobby players that are spending way too much time buying new gear when they would be better off just spending all that time practicing but that is their right. They are adults and can do whatever they want with their money why would that bother anyone. At the same time, this is a fact of life with everything. You don't have to delve too far into anything before you have to start making decisions on what you like, what works for you, what is the best value for the money, what you will be happy with. When I speak to 10 people who play golf they all tell me what stuff I need and what brands, when I speak to 10 people who hike they all tell me different advice on what backback to get, what hiking shoes, what gear and brands, etc...... I just talked to someone a few months ago that said my drill was crap and from now on I should pay more money and buy Dewalt. My drill bit the dust and I went out and bought a Dewalt. You know what, this drill is much better than my old drill. I'm very happy with that purchase. Who knows, maybe I will not be happy with this drill in a few years and someone else might suggest a better drill........

I see a mouthpiece as a tool that we use to perform just like I use that drill. My old drill didn't have the power to do certain jobs. This new drill does. In my mind, certain mouthpiece might not be what I need to do the job. I need a mouthpiece that does the job the way I want it to do the job. I want it to respond a certain way, to sound a certain way, etc...... Sure, you could say just practice the tar out of that Yamaha 4C mouthpiece you have and make it work but that is like me using this sucky drill over the last two years. It was a major pain in my butt and made every project take 4 times as long with stripped screws and messed up work. You know what I thought when I bought the new drill. "Wow, I should have done this a long time ago! I would have saved myself a lot of frustration!"
Right on, Steve! I don't generally take switching mouthpieces lightly. In fact, I become a big neurotic mess going back and forth. But there does come a point where your setup may not be doing what you need it to, for a variety of reasons. Then I think it's totally rational to check things out. But I also know from rotating through the mpcs I have trying to reason through which one I should stick with when all had issues, it became a large distraction and I needed to land on something new for my own sanity.
 
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