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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Yesterday we had combo practice (besides the 2 tenor saxes, there are 3 electric guitars, one piano, one singer with microphone, one drummer and one Bass player). Our teacher said we had to play louder, I thought I was playing fairly loud already.....
Just after that combo practice we had our saxophone lesson, I told our teacher about that remark and he said that we both played on the quiet side.....
I know that more practice will probably be a part of the solution. Though I have been practicing on long notes, going from PP to FFF and back to PP. I get the impression that I can play really loud that way, but on the loudest parts the sound tends to get rather harsh. and when I push for even louder, I get the impression that the gear can't follow. Maybe the tip opening on my soloist D is a bit to small to give that kind of volume????
I was thinking of getting a new mouthpiece (wanted to get one at the start of this year but postponed it because I needed to get my embouchure back to strength). I was thinking of getting to the shop in december and try some mouthpieces.
I remember that a few years ago I tried a metal mouthpiece that I liked a lot (probably an Otto link, cant remember). The shop owner (and one of the other customers) recommended against it for playing in a (marching) band, that it would be too loud. I ended up with that Soloist that was already way better than my previous piece.
So, what do you guy's (and girls) think? Would the right mouthpiece help to get a louder sound?
Mind you, I don't want to get a harsh sound, I want to get a warm, rich sounding mouthpiece.
 

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"the sound gets harsh" This is why you practice. Keep at it until you can maintain as constant a tonal quality and pitch as possible at any dynamic level. (You will never be able to achieve it completely, but the range over which you can maintain a relatively consistent sound and pitch will increase with practice.

As far as playing louder, you have to make a distinction between a loud sound that is all high frequencies, shrill and unpleasing to the ear (which might be fine for a marching band) and a loud sound that is full and pleasing. The way you get there is putting more air through the horn by - here's that word again - PRACTICING putting more air through the horn.

As far as equipment, I would say a Selmer D tenor mouthpiece is what most of us would call fairly closed, and it will limit how much air you can get through the horn. With extensive practice and experience one can learn how to get quite a bit of volume out of a MP like that, but you'll never be able to blow like you could on something a bit more open.

My go-to piece on tenor for everything except true rock and roll gigs is a Meyer #8 hard rubber; a bit more responsive and bright sounding than a Link. Big advantages are that they aren't real expensive; they are a very common general type of design (rounded inner walls, round medium size chamber, small roll-over baffle); and my admittedly limited experience indicates that quality control isn't too bad.

I am sure other people here have recommendations for more updated "boutique" pieces; but as noted I would stay with relatively low-ish baffle conservative designs as someone just starting out, just going with a bit more opening. My personal preference would be for hard rubber too, because (and the evidence for this is decidedly inconclusive, so take what I say with a grain of salt), I BELIEVE (again, note "inconclusive evidence") that the larger outer dimensions of a hard rubber MP will help to open the mouth cavity and provide a certain tonal benefit (again note "inconclusive evidence, just my opinion").
 

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Even with the loudest possible mouthpiece a sax is going to struggle if an amplified guitar or singer chose to go to the max, thats why Sax players in rock bands have mics.

Warm and dark and loud is a tricky combination to pull off I think. I think there is definitely a bit more volume in a larger tip, and some pieces maybe sound louder or project better but they mostly seem brighter to me (often because they have more baffle). For Xmas parades where volume trumps subtlety I get out my Guardala studio, it seems a bit louder and projects more than my standard Morgan piece, although both have similar tip openings. Its not what I would call a warm dark sound though. Even with a change in piece it wont turn the volume up to eleven.

Ultimately if you are going to have to compete with amplified instruments you need to fight fire with fire rather than push yourself beyond the point that you sound good.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Even with the loudest possible mouthpiece a sax is going to struggle if an amplified guitar or singer chose to go to the max, thats why Sax players in rock bands have mics.
Of course, at the times that we have to give a performance to the public, we get mics too. But not at practice sessions.
I know I'll have to work on my technique (tips are welcome). But I was wondering if a mouthpiece could make a difference, and what I should be looking for (or not).
 

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Of course, at the times that we have to give a performance to the public, we get mics too. But not at practice sessions.
I know I'll have to work on my technique (tips are welcome). But I was wondering if a mouthpiece could make a difference, and what I should be looking for (or not).
If you are going to mic up for performances and are otherwise happy with what you are playing now I dont see why you should have to compromise to be louder for rehearsals. Maybe everyone else should just play softer with more of an ear for the balance of the group (Well, its nice to dream!)

TBH I'm surprised your teacher is telling you to play louder. What did the other sax player have to say about the volume? Did they think they were playing loud already too?

If you arent that happy with the piece you have now then maybe its worth considering a change, but if you are one of the (three?) players on the planet who doesnt have "GAS" in my opinion its probably best to avoid going down that particular rabbit hole:)
 

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A hard rubber Berg, Otto Link, Lakey or Meyer will definitely play louder than your Selmer piece and can likely be found at your local Sam Ash or similar store. Try a 6/6* tip opening. There are lots of other types too, they might not be locally available though.
 

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Yesterday we had combo practice (besides the 2 tenor saxes, there are 3 electric guitars, one piano, one singer with microphone, one drummer and one Bass player). Our teacher said we had to play louder, I thought I was playing fairly loud already.....
Just after that combo practice we had our saxophone lesson, I told our teacher about that remark and he said that we both played on the quiet side.....
I know that more practice will probably be a part of the solution. Though I have been practicing on long notes, going from PP to FFF and back to PP. I get the impression that I can play really loud that way, but on the loudest parts the sound tends to get rather harsh. and when I push for even louder, I get the impression that the gear can't follow. Maybe the tip opening on my soloist D is a bit to small to give that kind of volume????
I was thinking of getting a new mouthpiece (wanted to get one at the start of this year but postponed it because I needed to get my embouchure back to strength). I was thinking of getting to the shop in december and try some mouthpieces.
I remember that a few years ago I tried a metal mouthpiece that I liked a lot (probably an Otto link, cant remember). The shop owner (and one of the other customers) recommended against it for playing in a (marching) band, that it would be too loud. I ended up with that Soloist that was already way better than my previous piece.
So, what do you guy's (and girls) think? Would the right mouthpiece help to get a louder sound?
Mind you, I don't want to get a harsh sound, I want to get a warm, rich sounding mouthpiece.
I always tell my students to practice at 80% volume. 100% is blowing as hard and as loud as you can. Back off from there until it is around 80% loudness. That is where you should consistently practice. This is super important because a lot of people practice at like 40-50% and then they freak out when they go to a jam session and have to play at 80% to be heard. You have to practice how you need to play "live" so that you are comfortable with that kind of volume.
 

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Yesterday we had combo practice (besides the 2 tenor saxes, there are 3 electric guitars, one piano, one singer with microphone, one drummer and one Bass player). Our teacher said we had to play louder, I thought I was playing fairly loud already.....
Just after that combo practice we had our saxophone lesson, I told our teacher about that remark and he said that we both played on the quiet side.....
I know that more practice will probably be a part of the solution. Though I have been practicing on long notes, going from PP to FFF and back to PP. I get the impression that I can play really loud that way, but on the loudest parts the sound tends to get rather harsh. and when I push for even louder, I get the impression that the gear can't follow. Maybe the tip opening on my soloist D is a bit to small to give that kind of volume????
I was thinking of getting a new mouthpiece (wanted to get one at the start of this year but postponed it because I needed to get my embouchure back to strength). I was thinking of getting to the shop in december and try some mouthpieces.
I remember that a few years ago I tried a metal mouthpiece that I liked a lot (probably an Otto link, cant remember). The shop owner (and one of the other customers) recommended against it for playing in a (marching) band, that it would be too loud. I ended up with that Soloist that was already way better than my previous piece.
So, what do you guy's (and girls) think? Would the right mouthpiece help to get a louder sound?
Mind you, I don't want to get a harsh sound, I want to get a warm, rich sounding mouthpiece.
I can get pretty darn loud on a Soloist but the ones I have played have had a .105 tip or 7*. Soloist's can get harsh when you push air through them because of that small chamber. I personally have found them to get a bit edgy on me when I really push them. A mouthpiece with a larger chamber and a more substantial baffle will give you more power but the larger chamber will make it not as edgy and harsh. Sometimes people go overboard and go out and buy a NY Link which I think is a bit of overkill as that chamber is huge. Something like a typical Link chamber is good. You can also mess with poster putty baffles in it to see what that does as far as volume and sound.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
If you arent that happy with the piece you have now then maybe its worth considering a change, but if you are one of the (three?) players on the planet who doesnt have "GAS" in my opinion its probably best to avoid going down that particular rabbit hole:)
As I said in my first post here:
"a few years ago I tried a metal mouthpiece that I liked a lot (probably an Otto link, cant remember). The shop owner (and one of the other customers) recommended against it for playing in a (marching) band, that it would be too loud. I ended up with that Soloist that was already way better than my previous piece."

So I wanted to get another mouthpiece (that otto link from a few years back or something similar) at the beginning of 2008. But at that time I felt that my embouchure needed a bit more time to get back to a decent strength. Now that is more or less taken care of. I can play for quite some time on my present setup without getting tired.
But I decided I would wait until the end of the year.
 

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As I said in my first post here:
"a few years ago I tried a metal mouthpiece that I liked a lot (probably an Otto link, cant remember). The shop owner (and one of the other customers) recommended against it for playing in a (marching) band, that it would be too loud. I ended up with that Soloist that was already way better than my previous piece."
Is ANY mouthpiece too loud for marching band????

Yes, your mouthpiece choice can definitely help you get you a louder sound. It can still be full sounding with the ability for great volume.
 

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Yesterday we had combo practice (besides the 2 tenor saxes, there are 3 electric guitars, one piano, one singer with microphone, one drummer and one Bass player). Our teacher said we had to play louder, I thought I was playing fairly loud already.....
Just after that combo practice we had our saxophone lesson, I told our teacher about that remark and he said that we both played on the quiet side.....
I know that more practice will probably be a part of the solution. Though I have been practicing on long notes, going from PP to FFF and back to PP. I get the impression that I can play really loud that way, but on the loudest parts the sound tends to get rather harsh. and when I push for even louder, I get the impression that the gear can't follow. Maybe the tip opening on my soloist D is a bit to small to give that kind of volume????
I was thinking of getting a new mouthpiece (wanted to get one at the start of this year but postponed it because I needed to get my embouchure back to strength). I was thinking of getting to the shop in december and try some mouthpieces.
I remember that a few years ago I tried a metal mouthpiece that I liked a lot (probably an Otto link, cant remember). The shop owner (and one of the other customers) recommended against it for playing in a (marching) band, that it would be too loud. I ended up with that Soloist that was already way better than my previous piece.
So, what do you guy's (and girls) think? Would the right mouthpiece help to get a louder sound?
Mind you, I don't want to get a harsh sound, I want to get a warm, rich sounding mouthpiece.
Three electric guitars? Why am I not surprised that it's difficult to hear the two saxes? I would hope your teacher occasionally reminds the guitarists that just because they have the ability to turn their amps up and play louder than everyone else doesn't mean that's what they SHOULD do.

But to answer your question, yes, mouthpieces can make a big difference as far as volume goes. In fact, I would go so far as to say that most working sax players have at least one very loud mouthpiece they keep around specifically to use on very loud gigs. The problem you're going to encounter, however, is that those kinds of mouthpieces often only sound good in really loud situations (like a rock band with lots of electric guitars) and sound overly bright or harsh in something like a jazz combo.

Now, everybody wants to find the "holy grail" mouthpiece that's perfect in every situation, but the reality is that there are almost always going to be trade offs involved. (Steve Neff wrote a great essay about this that you can find on his website.) There's no harm in trying out some different mouthpieces to try to find one that best meets your needs--as long as you don't get carried away. Searching for the perfect mouthpiece can get expensive, and it can distract you from the need to PRACTICE fundamentals of good sound. (Ask me how I know.)
 

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I am gonna go out on a very small limb here: A teacher forms a combo with 3 amplified electric guitars, and doesn't give his horn players amplification during practice.

Then insists his (young/developing ?) horn players play louder.

Before even jumping in on the mouthpiece question...am I the only one scratching my head about this ?

Three electric guitars? Why am I not surprised that it's difficult to hear the two saxes? I would hope your teacher occasionally reminds the guitarists that just because they have the ability to turn their amps up and play louder than everyone else doesn't mean that's what they SHOULD do.
No, I am not, thank goodness.

This is, IMHO, a stupid situation for a band director to put developing players in. My guess is...if you purchase a mouthpiece which could be quite loud but it didn't meet the requisites of 'warm' ....that would suit your teacher just fine.

Interesting and informative to read the suggestions here, but I still think this is an unfair burden to put on the horns.
 

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At the age of 16-18, I was playing a regular Link 7*. The band was practicing in a small basement room, all on amps exept me as the only blowwind instrument. And I trained nothing but to be loud. As a lot of guys here, I had a 20 years break and restarted 2 years ago. Now, in a band again and meeting people from the German forum, lots of people say: How can you play so loud? I really put it in my brain stem how to keep the embochure loose, take a lot of mouthpiece in and put air through the horn. But I definitely enjoy to be amped now, no sense in playing on volume 11 all the time...
 

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If you are going to play jazz, or maybe even pop, a Link is a good all-around mouthpiece. For strictly rock, a high baffle piece might be more appropriate, but it sounds like you play in a wide variety of situations. A Link 6 or 6* would be usable in a these, including concert band and marching band. It will certainly get loud enough, but can be played quietly too.

I second the recommendation to get a microphone for rehearsal. Even just plugging in to a guitar amp would help.
 

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Yesterday we had combo practice (besides the 2 tenor saxes, there are 3 electric guitars, one piano, one singer with microphone, one drummer and one Bass player). Our teacher said we had to play louder, I thought I was playing fairly loud already.....
Just after that combo practice we had our saxophone lesson, I told our teacher about that remark and he said that we both played on the quiet side.....
I know that more practice will probably be a part of the solution. Though I have been practicing on long notes, going from PP to FFF and back to PP. I get the impression that I can play really loud that way, but on the loudest parts the sound tends to get rather harsh. and when I push for even louder, I get the impression that the gear can't follow. Maybe the tip opening on my soloist D is a bit to small to give that kind of volume????
I was thinking of getting a new mouthpiece (wanted to get one at the start of this year but postponed it because I needed to get my embouchure back to strength). I was thinking of getting to the shop in december and try some mouthpieces.
I remember that a few years ago I tried a metal mouthpiece that I liked a lot (probably an Otto link, cant remember). The shop owner (and one of the other customers) recommended against it for playing in a (marching) band, that it would be too loud. I ended up with that Soloist that was already way better than my previous piece.
So, what do you guy's (and girls) think? Would the right mouthpiece help to get a louder sound?
Mind you, I don't want to get a harsh sound, I want to get a warm, rich sounding mouthpiece.
Yes and no. Higher baffled mouthpieces create the illusion that they're louder to the player but the sound doesn't fill the room as much as a piece with a lower baffle and big chamber provided you fill it up with air which is a problem for some players. I've made both types of mouthpieces and have spent quite a bit of time with God knows how many players and with a high baffle piece it sounds like something loud is happening across the room whereas a bigger chamber piece fills the room and travels further. Also, pieces with lower baffles and bigger chambers are richer and are associated with a more quality sound.

In my experience, you can also get a more personal sound from a piece with a lower baffle and bigger chamber but it's a little more work but never a problem for me. Just think of all the players that used Links. Coltrane, Dexter, Sonny Rollins, Getz, all with totally individual sounds. Today, there's not nearly as much difference in the way people sound largely because of this new wave of mouthpieces that have become popular. A mouthpiece that's too free-blowing is more responsible for the sound than the player so you can't phrase it quite as accurately or express emotions as well with your body because the mouthpiece is doing so much of the work. But if you want to sell mouthpieces the way to do it is to make them free-blowing. However, after you play them for a while and you find you can't shape the sound as well, they become boring and uninteresting and you can't grow with them. It can become quite frustrating and players have come to me out of desperation. They feel good to play which is what catches your attention in the honeymoon phase but it's like eating sugar as your main diet, it tastes good at first but it makes you fat and rots your teeth.

It's been my obsession to make a mouthpiece that is loud but can also enable a player to get a unique sound and I came pretty close, maybe even accomplished it. Some people seem to think so. Personally, I believe you can largely transcend your mouthpiece by practicing. I studied with Joe Allard and Victor Morosco who gave me two great exercises. They're on my blog so do them. It almost doesn't matter what mouthpiece I play anymore as long as I have the right reed.

Now, if you're a rock n roll player, maybe you don't care. Personally, I think a saxophonist's goal should be to constantly be striving for individuality. Unfortunately, in my business I met MANY players that have given up on their art and were only interested in volume. I find that very sad. Good luck, it's not going to be easy, especially these days. Phil Barone
 

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Yes and no. Higher baffled mouthpieces create the illusion that they're louder to the player but the sound doesn't fill the room as much as a piece with a lower baffle and big chamber provided you fill it up with air which is a problem for some players. I've made both types of mouthpieces and have spent quite a bit of time with God knows how many players and with a high baffle piece it sounds like something loud is happening across the room whereas a bigger chamber piece fills the room and travels further. Also, pieces with lower baffles and bigger chambers are richer and are associated with a more quality sound.

In my experience, you can also get a more personal sound from a piece with a lower baffle and bigger chamber but it's a little more work but never a problem for me. Just think of all the players that used Links. Coltrane, Dexter, Sonny Rollins, Getz, all with totally individual sounds. Today, there's not nearly as much difference in the way people sound largely because of this new wave of mouthpieces that have become popular. A mouthpiece that's too free-blowing is more responsible for the sound than the player so you can't phrase it quite as accurately or express emotions as well with your body because the mouthpiece is doing so much of the work. But if you want to sell mouthpieces the way to do it is to make them free-blowing. However, after you play them for a while and you find you can't shape the sound as well, they become boring and uninteresting and you can't grow with them. It can become quite frustrating and players have come to me out of desperation. They feel good to play which is what catches your attention in the honeymoon phase but it's like eating sugar as your main diet, it tastes good at first but it makes you fat and rots your teeth.

It's been my obsession to make a mouthpiece that is loud but can also enable a player to get a unique sound and I came pretty close, maybe even accomplished it. Some people seem to think so. Personally, I believe you can largely transcend your mouthpiece by practicing. I studied with Joe Allard and Victor Morosco who gave me two great exercises. They're on my blog so do them. It almost doesn't matter what mouthpiece I play anymore as long as I have the right reed.

Now, if you're a rock n roll player, maybe you don't care. Personally, I think a saxophonist's goal should be to constantly be striving for individuality. Unfortunately, in my business I met MANY players that have given up on their art and were only interested in volume. I find that very sad. Good luck, it's not going to be easy, especially these days. Phil Barone
+1

I am often sitting in with a small acoustic band for a Sunday Matinee and you are not allowed to play louder than the acoustic guitars. But with a bit of practice and the right reed you can play almost any MPC at a very soft volume and still sound good. It is not the same as blasting away and once I ended up stuffing a sock in my bell to stay within the tolerated deciBels. What I am trying to say is that you may end up with a different sound but it is not necessary a bad one - just different and if you accept it as a feature rather than a flaw then you can build on that.
 
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