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Tenor: 1942 Conn 10M "Naked Lady", Alto: P. Mauriat PMXA-67R CL
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey SOTW,

For the past 3 years or so I have been playing on a Metal Vandoren V16 T6 Large Chamber for a smaller jazz band in high school, and now for a big band in college. I've come to find as a player though that the T6 just isn't really doing it for me in cutting through the Trumpets, and I've been getting headaches at the end of some rehearsals attempting to match the volume level of the band as a whole during forte sections.

I've thought it's time for an upgrade, so I ordered a Metal Berg Larsen 115/0 SMS with a Rovner Platinum ligature (which will ship in May because of COVID). My only worry I would have to say about my purchase at this point would be that the tip opening is too large. I'm mainly going for a sound that is bright and edgy (opposite to what I currently have with the Vando) and more powerful than what my current setup is offering me. I know that going from a T6 to a 115 is a big jump, but I've had the experience of playing for 10 years now, so I would like some input :)

(For reference, I have tried a softer reed but the La Voz medium-soft was too soft)

My current setup for reference is:

1942 Conn 10 Naked Lady (Horn)
Metal Vandoren V16 T6 Large Chamber (MP)
Vandoren Optimum (Lig)
La Voz Medium (Reed)

Thank you!
 

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If you ordered from WWBW or somewhere with a trial period, if it's too big just send it back for a different (smaller size)
Some guys have said a really large tip opening will not be as loud or focused as a smaller size - I found that to be true for me.
The 0 (zero) chamber size, you will probably like for the brightness and power
See how it plays for you, check for even rails, a good, even tip rail, etc - like I say, if not good just send it back for exchange or
refund. If you have a good tech close by, let him look it over and get his input.
(Most facers won't work on stainless steel or they will charge more because of the hardness of the steel) - so be sure you like the piece.
I play a modern Berg Tenor 105/1 SMS and it is a really good piece - loud and bright, good altissimo and plays easy.
Best of luck in your search Hope this helps
 

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Berg's normally measure about 0.005 lower than marked, so your 0.115 will probably be a 0.110.

I have some Berg's in big tips (150/2 and 140/0) and my 150/2 mouthpiece is actually a bit brighter and can take much more air than the 140/0.

I think you will be fine with the new Berg using a softer reed and giving it some time.

But don't expect you can compete with loud trumpets, they will always be louder!
 

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Your modern Berg may just be a stuffy, resistant piece because of a poor facing. Chances are, if you tried another .115 that was a functioning mouthpiece you could play it fine with a Med Soft. So, you can try maybe a Rico 2.5 or even a 2 to see if you can get started on the Berg. You might like that combination and over time you'll find yourself edging up in reed strength. If nothing works on it, you probably should return it.
 

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Tenor: 1942 Conn 10M "Naked Lady", Alto: P. Mauriat PMXA-67R CL
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
If you ordered from WWBW or somewhere with a trial period, if it's too big just send it back for a different (smaller size)
I ordered the piece from WWBW, so I will definitely take advantage of the return policy if I find it to be too big. I might push it down to a 105 or 110, because I've heard from some players that the 100 is a little too closed. Thank you very much for your thoughtful response!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I think you will be fine with the new Berg using a softer reed and giving it some time.

But don't expect you can compete with loud trumpets, they will always be louder!
I thought the same thing. Really anything can be used, it just takes some time to work with it and some adjustment. And yeah, the idea of not being able to play louder than the trumpets is something I've always struggled with haha, but I just have to come to the reality that a trumpet mp is only limited by the player, whereas a saxophone mouthpiece is limited by the reed and equipment (and sometimes the player too) :).

Thank you for your insightful response!
 

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For the past 3 years or so I have been playing on a Metal Vandoren V16 T6 Large Chamber for a smaller jazz band in high school, and now for a big band in college. I've come to find as a player though that the T6 just isn't really doing it for me in cutting through the Trumpets, and I've been getting headaches at the end of some rehearsals attempting to match the volume level of the band as a whole during forte sections.
It's not your job to outblow the trumpets. Seriously. Don't try to. You'll make yourself sick, and your tone will suck.

How sick? I tried to keep up with the volume of my fusion band in the '80s, and got pleurisy for my troubles.

If you need that much more volume, use a microphone. Talk to the director. Ask where you are in the mix - you may be plenty loud (you're supposed to be part of a SECTION, right?), and the trumpets may be too loud. Problem is that you cannot tell.

Been there, done that - I've been playing in big bands since the '70s. Dance bands, swing bands, contemporary jazz... A good trumpet player is listening, but from the back row, it is difficult to hear what is coming out the front. Get the director involved, and focus on being the best - not the loudest - you can be.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Your modern Berg may just be a stuffy, resistant piece because of a poor facing. If nothing works on it, you probably should return it.
Yeah, if I find that it really isn't working for me, I'll definitely return it and try something else. I had my eyes on a Theo Wayne MANTRA or a Jody Jazz piece, but I really don't want to spend a huge amount of money to get an upgraded piece. Eventually, I want to try a modern Link, since my great grandfather used a Master Link 4 Star 4 that I still have and display. I've tried playing it in the past but it was not great, especially with a 4 tip opening. Really shows how much smaller the tip openings of the past were! I'm especially going for bright and edgy on this setup though.

Thank you for your response 1saxman!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
It's not your job to outblow the trumpets. Seriously. Don't try to. You'll make yourself sick, and your tone will suck.

A good trumpet player is listening, but from the back row, it is difficult to hear what is coming out the front. Get the director involved, and focus on being the best - not the loudest - you can be.
I agree with you. I will have to put a word in with him to see what can be done. As a developing player, it is important for me learn from these experiences as a player and use them towards my development. I think my biggest problem is I came from a high school where the jazz program wasn't great and I would consistently play loud above everyone else. In our band program, we mainly had the lead players play louder whereas the people who were on second parts were considered "less important" it felt like, rather than working together as a team. I watched this great video from the US Army Field Band called "The Saxophone Standard" (
), where it explains the importance of working together and how the second parts are just as important as those who play first parts (and honestly more difficult in terms of matching timbre and volume). So, I really do think it is me and the mentality I carried with me through high school.

Thank you very much for your thought-provoking response Dr G, and I will be sure to monitor myself and those around me to determine how to adjust to this new setting. This semester (although I am home now) was my first in a collegiate jazz ensemble. I'll have to see if this new mouthpiece achieves a brighter sound because that's what I'm really looking for.
 

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I agree with you. I will have to put a word in with him to see what can be done. As a developing player, it is important for me learn from these experiences as a player and use them towards my development. I think my biggest problem is I came from a high school where the jazz program wasn't great and I would consistently play loud above everyone else. In our band program, we mainly had the lead players play louder whereas the people who were on second parts were considered "less important" it felt like, rather than working together as a team. I watched this great video from the US Army Field Band called "The Saxophone Standard" (
), where it explains the importance of working together and how the second parts are just as important as those who play first parts (and honestly more difficult in terms of matching timbre and volume). So, I really do think it is me and the mentality I carried with me through high school.

Thank you very much for your thought-provoking response Dr G, and I will be sure to monitor myself and those around me to determine how to adjust to this new setting. This semester (although I am home now) was my first in a collegiate jazz ensemble. I'll have to see if this new mouthpiece achieves a brighter sound because that's what I'm really looking for.
You're welcome, Trevor. Good luck with the band. I recently relocated and among the things I miss the most are my friends in the big band that I played with for 20 years. We either rehearsed or gigged every Monday night for those 20 years, with few exceptions.

Take some time to concentrate on tone and projection - don't let LOUD rule your world. It doesn't matter that people can hear you if your tone sucks. If you have the opportunity, play in large spaces (outdoors, parking structures, etc.) to develop a sense of filling space, not just being loud. If that doesn't yet make sense, give it a shot and you'll understand.

Enjoy the path.

Tenor - It's all that matters. To me. In my not-so-humble opinion.
 

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I want to try a modern Link, since my great grandfather used a Master Link 4 Star 4 that I still have and display. I've tried playing it in the past but it was not great, especially with a 4 tip opening. Really shows how much smaller the tip openings of the past were! I'm especially going for bright and edgy on this setup though.
Your 1935-1940 produced Four**** 4 won't do the trick. They are normally dark sounding pieces without any baffle and the 4 tip will close off very soon, unless you use very hard reeds. A modern Otto Link STM (they are another design than the 1930's pieces) probably are also not known for being bright and cutting, your Berg should better equipped for that. On the other hand, I play in a loud Big Band with a lot of solo's and use a 10* 1950's Otto Link Florida no USA with soft reeds and for me that one does do the trick in regards to volume and sound (>example<). But what works for me doesn't have to work for you or others. Experimenting is a good way to find out what will work for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Your 1935-1940 produced Four**** 4 won't do the trick. They are normally dark sounding pieces without any baffle and the 4 tip will close off very soon, unless you use very hard reeds. A modern Otto Link STM (they are another design than the 1930's pieces) probably are also not known for being bright and cutting, your Berg should better equipped for that. On the other hand, I play in a loud Big Band with a lot of solo's and use a 10* 1950's Otto Link Florida no USA with soft reeds and for me that one does do the trick in regards to volume and sound (>example<). But what works for me doesn't have to work for you or others. Experimenting is a good way to find out what will work for you.
Thank you for sharing your performance of "Sing, Sing, Sing"! You sound killer on the solo. Yeah, the 4 Star will not do the trick, and I personally don't like playing on it at all haha. It's a nice display piece though, it's a cool piece of history. And yeah, my goal with the Berg was to get something opposite of my Vando, which has a larger, huskier sound (I wanted to imitate something of the era of the saxophone, and Vandoren relates it to the "40's" sound). I wanted something more "modern"-esque. I'll get a Link down the line because yeah, they have a good mix of dark and light, depending on the kind. I've heard some great things about the FL and the New York especially. I'll have to do some more research.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
You're welcome, Trevor. Good luck with the band. I recently relocated and among the things I miss the most are my friends in the big band that I played with for 20 years. We either rehearsed or gigged every Monday night for those 20 years, with few exceptions.

Take some time to concentrate on tone and projection - don't let LOUD rule your world. It doesn't matter that people can hear you if your tone sucks. If you have the opportunity, play in large spaces (outdoors, parking structures, etc.) to develop a sense of filling space, not just being loud. If that doesn't yet make sense, give it a shot and you'll understand.

Enjoy the path.

Tenor - It's all that matters. To me. In my not-so-humble opinion.
I'll definitely cherish the years, and the many opportunities I have been given through band. I'm a Computer Science: Cybersecurity major, so my intention is to do that for a job, but I really hope to do some gigging on the weekends at least. I'm minoring in saxophone so I'm still getting lessons and gaining experience in theory and a multitude of other things. I'll definitely concentrate on tone and projection, and take your advice to work on that.

Thank you again!
 

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A 0 chamber Berg might have to sit out far on your neck cork to play in tune on your 10M unless you got a loose lip to begin with; and you might not like how it may affect your low end. Might not be the best match for your horn, though such generalizations aren't absolute.
 

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There's no way you need any more mouthpiece than what you've got (on a 10M, one of the loudest saxophones ever made) for a big band. You THINK you aren't playing loud, because you hear the trumpets blasting into the back of your neck; but actually you and the rest of the section (if they're all playing the same way) are probably covering everything in a big wash of saxophone. You can't tell because you aren't out front. Go put a recorder out front and I think you'll be surprised.

For that matter, whether you're on 2nd or 4th tenor your job almost all the time will be to fill in the harmonies and unisons between the lead alto and baritone. Most of the time you shouldn't be sticking out at all except for rare tenor lead parts (usually less than 32 bars) or solos. For that matter, trying to blow your brains out on a solo simply indicates the director's not doing his job to make sure the rest of the band does theirs - play quieter during a solo. So if you go all "grass cutter" and get a nasty sound just to be heard over a band that's not doing their job, the director won't step in and teach them how to play behind a soloist. (This isn't a professional band, this is an instructional band.)

I'm not saying being able to play loud isn't useful, but you need to learn how to play loud with good tone, by developing it the hard way. Not to brag but I think if you sat next to me and heard what I do with a 10M and a Meyer 8 hard rubber piece (around 0.090" I think) and #2.5 reeds, you would realize you don't need a 0 chamber Berg to be heard. Get that airstream going from the belly clear through the horn to the bell (conceptually, not literally/anatomically) and you won't need wide open grass cutters with 2 x 4 reeds.
 

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I've thought it's time for an upgrade, so I ordered a Metal Berg Larsen 115/0 SMS with a Rovner Platinum ligature (which will ship in May because of COVID). My only worry I would have to say about my purchase at this point would be that the tip opening is too large. I'm mainly going for a sound that is bright and edgy...
I doubt the tip size will be a problem, and in fact with a "0" chamber you'd want at least a 115 tip. That will definitely give you 'bright and edgy', but it you went with a smaller tip it would border on being shrill. But the real concern is that modern Bergs are reputed to be notoriously inconsistent; some are great, others not so great. So it's good you are getting a return policy.

I'll send you a PM regarding the Theo Wanne Mantra.
 

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Cyber - Do you know what the rest of the sax section is using for mouthpieces?

The default for a great many years has been Meyer on alto, and Link (metal or HR) on tenor.

There is a good reason that so many modern mouthpieces are based on Link geometry (medium chambers, mild baffles) - it works! A good player can deliver the goods (tone, projection, volume, articulation, etc.) on a decent Link-like mouthpiece. You don’t have to play a peashooter just because of the trumpets.

Disclaimer: I did play a Brilhart LevelAir 7* with Rico Royal 3 through high school, and I apologize for that. One of the first things I did when I moved to New Jersey in ‘73 was to visit Ponti’s in NY to buy an Otto Link Super Tone Master 7*.
 

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I own two modern BL pieces. If you currently play on a large chamber piece, the "0" chamber may feel considerably different.
I play on a large chamber piece. The difference between it and the BL chamber is substantial. Good luck and I hope it works for you.
 

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You need to trust the band director.

It is his job to get the sound mix that is needed.

Some of them like the trumpets far too much for my taste.

But I am not in charge. In fact, if I was worried I would talk to the section leader.

It is pretty common to hear the director tell the trumpets to blend more and reduce volume.

Some of them seem proud of having to be told that, for some reason.

Besides, if the band director has not said anything, then, as has been mentioned, it is probably that the trumpets are just behind your head that makes the mix out of whack to your ears.

Trust the director.

Blend with the section leader.

Go for the tone.
 
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