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Discussion Starter #1
I've been struggling with playing notes quietly, and it seems every time i do it is always incredibly airy, fuzzy, and has no core it feels like. My tone is a bit airy in general and its hard to figure out a way to make it sound fuller. I'm fairly ok everywhere else but this part has been dragging behind and it's easy to tell. I've played sax all my life but have just recently started playing a lot more trying to get better and stuff. I'm really considering getting lessons at this point to sharpen my sax up a bit.

I use a Durga 3 mouthpiece with a #2 reed
Listen to this audio clip i recorded and any tips or tricks are much appreciated!!
(and yes its horrifically flat the first bit)

https://soundcloud.com/griffin-wagasky-137264810/call-out-my-name
 

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You are being too hars on yourself! Your sound is very nice and rather soft ( beginning of the piece) and sounds very well in control to me and very well developed.

I don’t hear any excessive airiness and it has plenty of “ core” af far as this type of sound goes. This is, now, your own sound. You may want to talk to a teacher specialized in refining the play of very good players such as yourself, but you will have to the the “ search “ work, your “ quest” yourself.

You certainly have a “ modern” alto sound ( something between Samborn and Garret) which is a combination of your sound concept and equipment. If you would want to migrate to a different sound ( Desmond? Hodges ?) you will need to start “ picturing “ that sound in your mind, maybe try something different mouthpiece-wise but I am not convinced that that will in itself impact your playing too much.

Maybe even go up a half size or change the reed to another less edgy sounding one. I would certainly try that.

You are really doing great.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I appreciate the kind words! And you put things together pretty well. I can be pretty critical about my sound because it always seems like it could be just a hair better. I think trying a harder reed is a good idea, and ultimately trying to find a good teacher, because I'd love to keep getting better. This mouthpiece has given me my favorite sound so far so I'll stick with it. Thanks for your advice!
 

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You really have a great sound to start with, no flattery , this is the truth :).

A less edgy reed is not necessarily a thicker one.

I have the opposite problem, often I find reeds that are too “ blunt” ( as in not “ sharp” or “ edgy" for lack of a better word) to me and I work on the tip to get a little extra edge.

So, you should go the opposite way.

I would begin to try Vandoren Blue box, but also Alexander ( maybe try the NY). I think that there is no need to go an half a size higher which may produce the undesired effect of airing the sound a bit more, at least temporarily.

An educator may work, at this stage of your development, he doesn’t necessarily have to be a player better than you, he needs to be one who is prepared to work with you on what you need rather than trying to change you the way he wants you to be.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
alright i'll try those ones out I've been using the vandoren java and ZZ ones and yeah i'm looking to get all the technical stuff down and work on music theory
 

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maybe then you will need different educators.

Lenny Tristano famously coached horn players like Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh and wasn’t teaching them saxophone .
 

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Sounds good, man! I was expecting the worst as we've heard some really bad players lately but this was a pleasant surprise. I go into a joint and hear this, I'm staying for a while to see what might follow. You have tremendous potential and need a really experienced teacher for the mechanics of playing, but don't let anybody mess with your style or your sound. You sound every bit as good as many of the current smooth jazz players plus you have a soulful approach to go with it.
I also would not worry about trying to play quietly - simply play like you play, whatever that volume is. It may also interest you to know that the 'airy' sound, the 'sub-tone', is a legitimate way of playing and has been used by many 'greats', like Stan Getz for example. You should have all ways of playing in your tool kit but that's just one of them.
 

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Your playing is fine. Maybe you do need lessons though. Not necessarily for the reasons you mention (it will help though), but for a little focus, direction, and motivation. Do you have an outlet for your creativity? Find a group to play with or join a community band...music is a language and is meant to be used in conversation. Have fun!
 

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After seeing the OP, I immediately looked up the specs of the Durga Mouthpieces and said to myself, “Of course JazzySax has an airy sound, it is his mouthpiece....nice size tip opening and serious baffle.”

.....but then I listened to your clip. You sound great!

I hear what you are experiencing when you play quietly. (And I also agree that this is a developmental opportunity, not a weakness). What you are experiencing is totally normal. Your mouthpiece design is not ideal for playing pianissimo with great tone quality.......but what mouthpiece could you possibly change to if you want to maintain that wonderful sound when at mf and forte?

I think I agree with the previous tips....if you love the sound of your Durga 3 mouthpiece when played by you at normal volume or loudly, I think your best solution is to get a teacher who can help you with embouchure development and breathing. Focus not just on how your lips contact your mouthpiece but how air travels through your throat and in your oral cavity (mouth).

I can’t play piano effectively with great tone quality with a baffled .110 tip opening. I have to get out an .080 or 0.085 tip opening with no baffle if I want to play p, pp, or ppp well.....of course I don’t sound very bright with an unbaffled .080 tip opening either.....so this would not be a reasonable solution for you.

Good luck. I can’t do what you do.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks guys for all the advice and kind words it really means a lot. I think finding a teacher or someone who can just help guide me through some things would help out a lot. I rarely play sax publicly and i've never been in a group or community band before so its been kind of hard doing things on my own. But that's something i'd love to do although i'm not the most outgoing person. Thanks for giving me different perspectives on things.
 

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I got to say I was impressed with your playing. The way you were describing things I was expecting the worst. I've always played with a sub-tone and had to get the reed strength right to smooth out my sound. My only suggestion to get rid of that fuzziness you were talking about is maybe move up to a 2.5 reed.
 

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I can’t play piano effectively with great tone quality with a baffled .110 tip opening. I have to get out an .080 or 0.085 tip opening with no baffle if I want to play p, pp, or ppp well.....of course I don’t sound very bright with an unbaffled .080 tip opening either.....so this would not be a reasonable solution for you....
there are many ways to skin a cat and many candidates for skinning it.

I can play very softly and I’ve been able to do so for a while.

I play of a 107 Brancher J27 ( which is reputed to be a brightish piece) on size 2 reeds ( either Rigotti Gold or Alexander classique).

The need to play softly arose from playing with singers. The first situation to ask for this soft playing was to play, unamplified, with a singer guitar player in a restaurant. If you couldn’t play soft than you had to quickly learn to.

Subtoning ( with ot without any “ fff” air sound) buy cushioning the reed with the under lip, has come fairly naturally to me because that was the sound that I gravitated towards from the beginning. This is also the thing that I find makes me use the mouthpiece in a different ways and can get be a bright and centered sound OR a warm and spread one.

Playng soft reeds requires breath pressure control and you have to do “ something” other than playing straight in the mouthpiece. I think OP does this already very well, but my favorite video to illustrate that concept is the one by Don Menza (pardon me if I post it again).

“ if you don’t move, if you don’t cushion the reed, it will never happen"


 

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Jazzysaxxy, you just need a good private teacher. You should find someone who can recognize the issue and knows exactly how to help you fix it from past teaching experience. If you are really in Nashville there should be tons to choose from. While people posting may have truly good intentions, they also may not know the best way to help you. On an online forum like this, there is also a possibility people less skilled than you are trying to offer you help. What you need is a seasoned professional private lesson teacher.
One of my pet peeves with this forum is there is no way of knowing who is the best person to give saxophone advice. So since it is an online forum, I suggest you take your issue to a private instructor rather than asking online. I would never go online and ask for a medical diagnosis. After you start taking lessons, it would be fantastic to have you back to chat about all things Saxophone, including things like gear as well as what you learned from your teacher.
:)
 

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I agree but as of right now I don't have too much else to go off of and this does help give an idea of where i need to go. I do think its time i tried to find a professional teacher and I do live in Nashville but im not too sure as to where to start to be honest...
 

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One of my pet peeves with this forum is there is no way of knowing who is the best person to give saxophone advice. So since it is an online forum, I suggest you take your issue to a private instructor rather than asking online. I would never go online and ask for a medical diagnosis.
There's a lot of truth in this statement. However, anyone who takes advice on a forum like this should be aware of the fact that not everyone on here is a teacher. Some are, some aren't. As to skill and experience on the horn, there is a wide range. So this is a discussion forum. You'll get ideas based on each person's own experience (or lack thereof) on a forum. Keeping all that in mind, there is likely to be at least some helpful suggestions.

One other thing I'd point out is there is a difference between teaching skills and sax skill. That might sound strange. I think it's true that a good teacher also must be a competent player. But there are many truly great players who have no idea how to teach.

All that needs to be kept in mind when perusing a forum like this. Obviously a competent teacher working one on one with you will provide certain things that can't be found on a forum. That doesn't negate the usefulness of a forum.

Having said all that, jazzysaxxy, I think you have a very good tone quality and when you're playing softly it sounds fine. Just keep working at it. Everyone works on their sound no matter how many years they've been playing.
 

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That Don Menza vid pops up on here from time to time, and I have to watch it....every time! Don is one of the most versitile players from a tonal perspective ever.....
 

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There's a lot of truth in this statement. However, anyone who takes advice on a forum like this should be aware of the fact that not everyone on here is a teacher. Some are, some aren't. As to skill and experience on the horn, there is a wide range. So this is a discussion forum. You'll get ideas based on each person's own experience (or lack thereof) on a forum. Keeping all that in mind, there is likely to be at least some helpful suggestions.

One other thing I'd point out is there is a difference between teaching skills and sax skill. That might sound strange. I think it's true that a good teacher also must be a competent player. But there are many truly great players who have no idea how to teach.

All that needs to be kept in mind when perusing a forum like this. Obviously a competent teacher working one on one with you will provide certain things that can't be found on a forum. That doesn't negate the usefulness of a forum.

Having said all that, jazzysaxxy, I think you have a very good tone quality and when you're playing softly it sounds fine. Just keep working at it. Everyone works on their sound no matter how many years they've been playing.
Well stated. Not every idea on the forum is going to be useful for you....and possibly even counter productive in some cases. I’ve been there. I am told there are times when a teacher is perfectly knowledgeable and instructive on the the exact issue someone struggles with. I dream of having this idealized experience. If finding a good match between teacher and student were easy as calling up the local professional, Forums like this one wouldn’t be so helpful.

The best thing you can do is practice a lot, get ideas of what would be helpful, and test them out. For some people a teacher is a lot more efficient than a forum in getting good ideas. For others they can’t find a local teacher who has both the desire and ability to teach them what they want to learn. (Every teacher I have ever used, barring one, has had a strong desire to teach what they want to teach).

I’m not an expert on the sax.....but after considering I have only 2.5 years of experience on the tenor, I get a ton of compliments from the other saxophones and woodwinds and percussion players in the band I play in—-especially for my tone quality........my primary source of advice continues to be this forum.

.......and the only teacher I have ever used who has actually taught me something I wanted to learn couldn’t blow into the sax to save his life. He plays the Tuba.....If he wasn’t my son’s trombone teacher, I never would have bumped into him. When I tell my fellow band members who my teacher is, they look at me funny.
 
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