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For years I have been taking two saxes to a gig; a tenor and an alto. Feeling that some songs are more suited for one or the other, I would switch back and forth depending on the tune. I finally am coming to terms that they are two totally different beasts. Each one requires a very specific embouchure and air stream.

Last night, after some serious shedding leading up to the gig, I left my tenor at home and just used my alto. Everything went extremely well and the feedback from the audience was very positive. Also, the schlep factor was an improvement; maybe not much, but on the southern tip of my 60s, every little improvement is a factor. Based on this, I am very likely going to be an alto player from now on. It just seems to make sense on many levels.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2014
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100% with you on this. I used to take a soprano and at one point even an alto but honestly tenor is plenty. No worries about a horn being knocked over or juggling set-ups.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
100% with you on this. I used to take a soprano and at one point even an alto but honestly tenor is plenty. No worries about a horn being knocked over or juggling set-ups.
I guess came down to a toss of the coin as to which one I would settle on. Actually, I find that my current alto setup is very enjoyable to play. There is a slight resistance; in a positive way, which makes me feel like I have more control over the tone and intonation of the alto. The fun part is re-learning all the tunes I knew on tenor in a new key. Turning out to be easier than I anticipated. A couple more gigs and I should be able to leave my fake books home.
 

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Totally 2 different instruments, totally different way @ approaching each one, some songs tenor sounds better in, some songs alto sounds better...I've thought about doing this too, just leaving one horn at home, but I gotta play both, lol. Plus I play a bunch of unison parts with the guitar player in the band, (he likes the sax alot) and he likes hearing the both saxes, alto & tenor, same as me...we're playing some brecker tunes, turrentine's "sugar", joe beck & sanborn, "Cactus", etc...so got to keep on bringing alto to rehearsals and the gigs, besides alto doesn't weigh hardly anything, it's a King super 20 alto, it's very light. I love the sound of both horns, if I had to choose just one to play, it's hard to pick...it would have to be tenor!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Many of my gigs are solo with backing tracks (no I am not interested in a debate on backing tracks on this thread) and the tunes lend themselves to playing on either tenor or alto. Most are standards, ballads and a few pop tunes. With my trio, I mostly play guitar but the few sax tunes I do work very well with alto. So the one horn concept works very well for me. YMMV

Totally 2 different instruments, totally different way @ approaching each one, some songs tenor sounds better in, some songs alto sounds better...I've thought about doing this too, just leaving one horn at home, but I gotta play both, lol. Plus I play a bunch of unison parts with the guitar player in the band, (he likes the sax alot) and he likes hearing the both saxes, alto & tenor, same as me...we're playing some brecker tunes, turrentine's "sugar", joe beck & sanborn, "Cactus", etc...so got to keep on bringing alto to rehearsals and the gigs, besides alto doesn't weigh hardly anything, it's a King super 20 alto, it's very light. I love the sound of both horns, if I had to choose just one to play, it's hard to pick...it would have to be tenor!
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2017
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These days (as I age) there is a criteria for me to bring multiple saxes.

1. The stage has to be big enough
2. The pay has to be north of $200
3. The load in / out has to be reasonable

The various blues bands I play with, and the occasional pick-up gig are tenor only - mostly. I did a pick-up for a Doobie Bros tribute band recently with an alto only. It was a lot of fun.
 

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A long time ago I used to use both alto & tenor, but for the past 20 years or so, it's just the tenor. I found the tenor worked well on everything whereas the alto was not as versatile. I also play a lot of head arrangements and lines in unison or harmony with the guitarist and tenor seems to blend better for that purpose. But probably it's mostly just that I prefer the tenor; I guess it's more my 'voice'.

In any case, I prefer to bring only one horn and focus on one horn. Others may feel differently.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2007-
saxophone, flutes and lil' bit of clarinet
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Simple is good
 

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IMHO the tenor and alto are too close together in terms of range which means that one tends to think and play similarly, which isn't a good idea. Others have already covered this and it may be best for some players to concentrate on one. However... when you play saxes that are miles removed from each other then you can't help but play differently and use them very differently. Odd as it may seem to many I specialize in playing tenor and sopranino. The sopranino is just so different to playing tenor. It sings top lines and cuts through; it's a sprightly personality so you tend to play it that way. Being in different keys also has your thought processes working differently. I know that can be a problem with tenor/alto swapping, but again the sopranino is so far removed from tenor that your thinking patterns are totally different.
 
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