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Beginner's situation

2104 Views 10 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  JayeLID
A little background to start with: I'm 37 and have only recently discovered a type of music I immediately fell in love with--tango jazz. An Argentinean artist, Miguel de Caro, transcribes many classic tango pieces for the saxophone, and I loved some of his work so much that it inspired me to learn to play. Here's an example, a piece called Malena:

In that video he is playing a Selmer Series II with a Vandoren T45.

My first question: I've seen many posts where people talk about a saxophone's sound in terms of bright and reedy, or dark and smoky, etc. How would you describe the sound of the saxophone in this piece?

That's what I aspire to in terms of music, sound, and skill (it's a long way off).

I started by taking private lessons in Boston for a few months early this year, using an alto saxophone rented from Rayburn. Now that I'm certain I will continue to learn, I will be switching to tenor (was more expensive to rent) and buying a horn.

However, I've since moved to India, where I will be for the next few years. I've located a teacher who tells me that I should have brought a saxophone with me when I moved because the market here is very thin. All is not lost, many people I know often travel between India and the US. But it does become difficult to try out different horns, or explore the used market, or avail of return policies.

After much reading of reviews and critiques all over the Net, I've pretty much decided to buy an ultra-cheap horn, the Venus tenor, and have it shipped to a friend who will bring it to India for me in December. There are many differing opinions on this horn, but I'm reasonably certain it will serve to learn on, for a year or so at least by which time I will certainly be making a trip to the US and can consider upgrading.

And finally, my questions (forgive the longwinded-ness):

1. One thing that everybody agrees on is that I need a better mouthpiece than the one that comes with the Venus. Different mouthpieces also change the horn's sound a good bit. So, what mouthpiece would you recommend, given the sound I'd like to achieve (in the piece above) bearing in mind that I'm a beginner?

2. Can you recommend a good tech around San Francisco or Palo Alto who would check the horn out and set it up for me? One who won't mind working with an ultra-cheap horn, and even better, is familiar with the Venus and any common issues it may have?

3. What are the issues people have usually encountered with this horn, out of the box, that I can have the tech specifically look for?

4. Given the sound I'm looking for, what horn would you recommend I graduate to, after the Venus? Or should I just start saving for a Selmer Series II? They're going for around $2k I believe.

Very grateful for all responses and suggestions.
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1) Go to either Gabe Eaton at Allegro Music in Fremont, or Tony Bigham at Anthony's Woodwind Corner in San Rafael. They are both fantastic and far less expensive (and straight-shooters) than anyone else in the bay area. (Tell 'em George says 'hi').

2) Get a better mouthpiece. Pony up $20-30 and you can get a Yamaha 4C, Brilhart Ebolin 3 or Hite Premier. They are just better and easier to blow than a cheap stock mouthpiece, which will actually probably handicap you.
Graftonite? I can't stand them, and can't fathom why on earth anyone would want to play on one.
...lordy, yes...I'll take that even further: just stay away from any Rico m'piece...they are really just atrocious and although some folks sorta like 'em in the cheapie category, I have never experienced one which I didn't abhor. Hites and Yams and Briharts are soooo much better....

3) Let the tech answer that....that's what they are there for.

4) You haven't even gotten your horn yet and you are all ready to buy another one ? Enjoy your horn, it may serve you quite well....don't be thinking ahead if you have already made the commitment to get the Venus....

Vidclip: I wouldn't call that sound dark..I'd say it fits more into the typical contemporary sorta tonal paradigm. Doesn't particularly do much for me, sounds like a moderny horn.

But again, regarding tone/ have just begun, and tone takes a long time to really nail down and even figure what it is you really want. And it's also a fluid sorta thing. So, as you already HAVE made a decision on the horn, just jump in and enjoy yourself. After a year or so on Tenor, you will be in a much better place to figure out what sorta tonal qualities float your boat.
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You should PM or talk to forum member Sirish. He lives in Mumbai, India and he may have saxes for sale. I am new to sax and have never interacted with Sirish. However, I have heard JayePDX refer to him when someone in India had inquired about buying a sax. have a good memory...but....I would have to retract my previous recommendations on that relationship, actually (long story, but while he may be a hecka musician, I cannot refer someone regarding transacting w/).
I agree...I use Rico reeds quite a bit. But that doesn't excuse their mouthpieces...
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