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Discussion Starter #1
Ha,

Just kidding about the embouchure part. but seriously, I am trying to get my classical shops back in shape for a gig neck week and it is forcing me to once again look at my set up. Using a stock piece (soloist C*) I am finding it pretty fatiguing to play, in the way when you are fighting the piece more than you should have to. Having custom faced clarinet pieces has really made a difference, in fact in comparison I would rather be playing clarinet--almost at least. So this got me thinking that I would enjoy classical sax much more if I had an efficient mouthpiece that wasn't so taxing to play. (When I was studying, I just powered through the ineffiencies of the mpc--but I think that leads you in the direction of not playing relaxed, biting etc.). So I know there are better options, what are some suggestions of things I could get hold of quickly?


thanks
 

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Since you need it quick, I'd suggest a Vandoren AL3 with a Vandoren Blue Box 3. They somewhat "play themselves", in my experience with beginners, so it should make life a lot easier for you too, since you are not a beginner. It's a pro mouthpiece, so it's not like you'd be throwing your money away.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the heads up, I had a student get one of those a few years ago and I kind of forgot about them--I have tried the AL4 but I didn't prefer that. I'll have to see what I can come up with...I should order 2 or 3 and check them out...
 

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Rousseaus work well, too.
 

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Dr G said:
Rousseaus work well, too.
I agree. Both the Classic and New Classic series are excellent.


...and correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm under the assumption that ONLY vintage mouthpieces actually provide a classical embouchure with the mouthpiece...but they are hard to find and VERY expemsive.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I have been thinking more about this, wondered if anyone else has had a similar experience--I have spent a lot of time developing a relaxed embouchure for the jazz stuff I play, which is mostly it. When I was really studying classical alto in college, I was really playing much differently for both jazz and classical stuff, and it was much more of a pinched, tighter embouchure. So I am trying to reconcile the two I guess--trying to figure out a way to not fall back into the habits of what I used to do. I think a lot is the mouthpiece, though--I feel a lot of energy is being expended just controlling the mouthpiece. But I have to admit, it feels wuite foreigh--lilke I need to rediscover my classical alto sound. How weird that clarinet and flute are more approachable to me now than alto for legit stuff...
 

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ving said:
Ha,

Just kidding about the embouchure part.
Too bad! I have a special on embouchures this week.
 

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The embouchure Larry teal explains works for both classical and jazz. Nothing is ever really tight in either setting. However, it may "feel" looser in jazz simply because the style allows for more variation in tone. Whereas in classical, it feels tight because your muscles are working hard to maintain a steady consistant sound between intervals even though the reed and mouthpiece has no more pressure than in jazz.

I think the main issue is that classical requires a certain sound that is most efficient with a certain embouchure. There isn't really a single jazz sound so you can get away with all kinds of weird embouchures that do not necessarily translate into a classical setting easily.

One difference I notice with my own playing is that when I'm in jazz mode my bottom lip sticks out. But while playing my Rousseau in classical my lip is in and I make very little changes to my embouchure or tongue position. In jazz, my embouchure and tongue are all over the place coloring individual notes, etc...
 

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That reminds me of a story. After playing sax for a short time, I stepped on my metal lig and totally squashed it. So I went to a music store and asked to buy a new embouchure. The salesmen had a great time with that.

Assuming you play classical with a stiffer reed and closer tip, which I think helps in getting the right sound, yes it will feel different. You probably just need to put some time into it again, Ving. I have had a few gigs for which I play a C* Soloist, versus Meyers or similar in the 7-8 range. It's not that big a deal to switch. (But I picked that Soloist out of a whole bunch.)
I notice that the close mpc/harder reed setup is less forgiving of leaks in my horn, however.

Another point is that you really need to be more efficient and correct in embouchure with a legit setup. I'm more of a believer in the Allard school than Teal; see Phil's threads and Liebman's book. Experiment with getting the right amount of lip on the reed for best resonance. Once you get that back, you may find out you can knock the walls down with your jazz setup.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Brief update--a friend of mine brought in an optimum AL4 to try, and it is much better playing than my old soloist C* (or soloist "style" to be correct). I have known this mpc wasn't that great playing for quite a while, but I haven't put any effort into finding something better. The AL4 seems like something I could easily play on--and plays better in tune also. I understand the harder reed, smaller opening idea but I am curious how many people still play on softer reeds on their legit set ups. I already use a 3M on my tenor at .110 and also 3's on alto, so I am not using anything harder than that on the AL4 but it almost feels like I could use a slightly softer reed and be happy with that, I really dislike having to be more rigid with my embouchure when I switch to a harder reed, like even a blue box 3 on the AL4...
 

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as far as "looseness" and "tightness" go for embouchures, i think the biggest difference from classical to jazz is the size and rigidity of your cushion(lower lip where it touches the reed, where your bottom teeth touch your lip). for jazz you're probably going to have a softer, larger cushion...but the support from your facial muscles is pretty much the same. the easiest way to feel/see the difference is to make an embouchure without your mouthpiece....
the classical embouchure should have your lips pushing in toward each other with all the muscles around them supporting..if you poke your lower lip with your finger it should be rigid and more pursed....
now to change it to a jazz embouchure, use the same support from your muscles but make more of a "kissy face" with your lower lip....let it stick out..
now if you poke your lower lip with your finger you should be able to push in some because the cushion is larger...the lip muscles should still be flexed though!...it's just a different shape..
 

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ving, I've got a guy in a city band I conduct who's sound I had been been trying to "legitise" for some time. He got a Vandoren Optimum and just sounds wonderful on it; smooth, beautiful dark-ish tone. Something to think about.

Regarding the style switch, I play principal alto in our regional wind ensemble and I usually only practice on my "legit setup" a few days before a rehearsal or concert and I can always feel the difference. Normally I play pop, some jazz and when I switch to the classical side I get tired quicker. I can play lead alto in a big band all night but sometimes during a wind ensemble rehearsal I'm happy when the break comes.

I'm just mentioning this to let you know you're not the Lone Ranger. I compensate for this difference with concentrated practice leading up to a concert. BTW I have no problems with my S 80 C* and I don't particularly like the Vandorens.
 

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You can't really go wrong with a C* MP, for short time, I approve of them more for casual playing, only because I like the sound of the rascher more. It is relatively easy to play out of a normal C*, not the scroll shank, and I would recomend playing the vandoren reed: 2 1/2 & 3 . I would also recomend using a cloth ligature, as I find them easier to get air into the mouthpiece. You can pick a used off of ebay (C* mouthpiece, not lig), for $20. Use a mouthpiece cushion, and when you play, try not to use a really tight embouchure, but still make it sealed. And last of all, you want to put air through the mouthpiece, as if if were a needle that would come out the ffront of the neck, just think of a really straight line.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Gary--appreciate your comments, sounds very similar to my experience. After a week or so of shedding the legit side of things again my chops are closer to where they should be; its embarrassing how long I haven't needed to play classical alto though--the thought did cross my mind, "how do I do this again?". Anyhow, the AL4 is working well--now that I have a more reliable piece I will have to take it out a bit more so as not to feel so rusty the next time something 'pops' up... (no pun intended--)



ving
 

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ChuBerry47 said:
You can't really go wrong with a C* MP, for short time, I approve of them more for casual playing, only because I like the sound of the rascher more. It is relatively easy to play out of a normal C*, not the scroll shank, and I would recomend playing the vandoren reed: 2 1/2 & 3 . I would also recomend using a cloth ligature, as I find them easier to get air into the mouthpiece. You can pick a used off of ebay (C* mouthpiece, not lig), for $20. Use a mouthpiece cushion, and when you play, try not to use a really tight embouchure, but still make it sealed. And last of all, you want to put air through the mouthpiece, as if if were a needle that would come out the ffront of the neck, just think of a really straight line.
I disagree with this...first of all, C* mouthpieces tend to be poorly faced, and if you're looking for something more efficient, that's going to be a major problem. Also, cloth ligatures (I assume that you are talking about Rovners) tend to INCREASE resistance, not DECREASE it. (They also muffle the sound...) Also, if he's saying that his embrouchure is tight, using a softer reed will cause the mouthpiece to close off.

You are correct about the Rascher piece though. Those require a lot of control, and if you need to get your chops together quickly, they are NOT the way to go.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Actually, my old S80 C* is really stuffy, I can't stand to play on that. The AL4 is pretty good for this setting---I have been playing it with a Rovner as I was hoping that would darken it up a bit, but I may switch to a more free blowing metal lig as does seem a bit too dead with it, particulary in a more open space.
 

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ving said:
Actually, my old S80 C* is really stuffy, I can't stand to play on that. The AL4 is pretty good for this setting---I have been playing it with a Rovner as I was hoping that would darken it up a bit, but I may switch to a more free blowing metal lig as does seem a bit too dead with it, particulary in a more open space.
Try the Vandoren Optimum lig. Sounds like an obvious choice, but they work really well with the Optimum mouthpiece. Almost like they were made for each other :)
 
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