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Discussion Starter #1
I wanted to bring up something I've been thinking about for some time now; the concept of discussing a saxophone's response.

This term has always posed a lot of confusion for me, and I was hoping I could get some help in my understanding of what comprises response.

I read these two definitions of response through a bit of searching:

"I consider "response" to mean how quickly a mouthpiece responds to your air stream; how easily the extreme ranges of the horn speak; and how fast the articulation can be on that particular mouthpiece." - taken from here http://www.saxontheweb.net/Resources/Phil-Tone-Mouthpieces.html

and

"response is defined as the ease with which an instrument sounds every note, regardless of volume, articulation, and whether in passing or initiating play." - taken from here: http://www.cybersax.com/QA/Q&A_MouthpieceBasics.html

The main problem I have with the term response is that people discuss saxophones and mouthpieces giving "good" or "bad" response, or comparing saxophones/mpcs "saying this had better response."

Now as far as I am aware, a note either comes out the way you want it, or it doesn't. If it doesn't come out correctly, then there is an issue with perhaps:
Your embouchure
your breathing
saxophone (sealing etc..)
reed too strong/weak/not creating correct seal over mpc with lig.
mpc/reed/lig combo with your sax.
as well as other things.

From my perspective, these are all problems which can be fixed.

So basically, I'm trying to ascertain how when reviewing products, things can respond "better" than one another. Is it fair to say one product is better than the other in regards to response, if response is a factor that is generated by a combination of many things? I seem to feel the issue is more black and white; things either respond correctly or they don't.

Any thoughts or info you can share on this, would be much appreciated.
Thanks, Kurt.
 

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Kurt: I liked your post. When discussing a saxophone's (or clarinet's) response, I think about the way in which the notes speak easily with vigor. Some saxophones stumble over the break, meaning that when going for the D2 to maybe G2 from C#2 or below, the notes don't speak with confidence. That tells me there is a leak somewhere. The fix can be done but why bother unless I own the thing OR intend to buy it?

But when a saxophone gives me instant true sound on any note, especially over the break, then I consider it to have good response. I sympathize with your struggle with semantics in these issues - truly subjective. DAVE
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the insight Dave,
I often think about how unfortunate it is on the saxophone that there are so many minute things that can change the playability of a saxophone.

When you compare it to an instrument like a guitar for example, everything about the note is there straight away, no messing around.

Obviously saxophone and woodwind instruments have benefits that they don't have to worry about, which other instruments do, but sometimes I wish I didn't have to deal with small details that tend to cause big problems.
 

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All instruments have their issues that can seem small but have large effects.

The luthier who built my guitar (Michael Dunn) is one of the most respected in his field in the world. His take is that to make an instrument the most responsive possible is the most important goal and I concur with his take. Acoustic guitar notes are not there straight away for all guitars at least for acoustic. Squeeze too hard and there are intonation issues. Tuning is never quite on there are always minute compromises. Where the pick strikes, the angle at which the pick strikes, the velocity the firmness of the grip while keeping a relaxed hand etc etc etc.

All instruments are challenging to play well, just different challenges.
 
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