Sax on the Web Forum banner

Beginner's situation

2103 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.
See less See more
1 - 3 of 11 Posts
Thanks Stephen. I don't, of course, think that I should worry about producing any particular tone as a beginner. I asked because I don't know what I don't know, and perhaps there was something different about tango jazz in terms of playing style or equipment. My teacher for a short while mentioned that saxophones in classical music sound different than in jazz, but I don't remember if she told me why.

Thanks for the link; I've already read a number of articles on your website which have been very helpful and informative. May I ask your opinion of the Rico Royal Graftonite mouthpieces?

And anyone else have a comment on Miguel de Caro's sound? Or a suggestion for a tech in San Francisco? I will post this question on the appropriate board, but if anyone has a recommendation, I'd be much obliged.
Thanks for the tech suggestions JayePDX. Much appreciated.

I have a Hite Premier in an Amazon shopping cart along with a tuner/metronome. Do you have the same disdain for Rico reeds as for their mouthpieces?

And finally, I do get that I have a long way to go and that I'm getting ahead of myself with some of this, but with nothing to do but wait until my horn arrives, I have plenty of time to daydream. :)
1 - 3 of 11 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.