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So, the other day, I was trying a new mouthpiece with a harder reed and after playing for like 30 seconds stopped and thought "Yuck, it sounds all nasally, stuffy and tubby sounding" I played some more and then realized it reminded me a lot of Coltrane's sound. It was at that point that I realized "Wait, do I not like Coltrane's sound?" I picked a random recording on Youtube which was this one:


Sure enough, it was a similar sound and what I didn't like about my own sound with that harder reed, I didn't like about Coltrane's sound on the recording. I guess that got me to thinking. In the past, when I have tried a mouthpiece and not liked it because of that sound I have sent it back and not recorded a sound clip because I personally don't like that tone very much. I know many people love that sound and tone though so I am rethinking that and thinking maybe I should record those mouthpieces also even though I get a sound that is very different than my sound.

I guess what I am wondering is how many of you love his sound on this recording and how many don't? If I play a mouthpiece and get a sound even close to this sound it drives me bonkers because I don't like it so much.

Please don't take this as a personal attack on Coltrane but I'm just stating an opinion the same as if I said I didn't like broccoli. I'm afraid this discussion will turn into attacks pretty quickly but I am hoping for the best..........
 

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Coltranes 'sound' evoked an era, a time of change and civil unrest -more of a personal statement by the man and his contempories. I'm sure he knew exactly how he wanted to project his message -the whole package- notes and sound. It's not pretty and not supposed to be .
 

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I'm with you Steve. I love everything about Coltrane except his tone. Not that it's bad. It just doesn't sound all that pleasing to me.

Maybe Coltrane sounded the way he did for practical reasons. He played with such power and energy, that maybe a softer, nicer sounding reed would just collapse. This is especially evident on soprano. Not a pleasing tone at all, IMO, but he blows so hard to get the emotional impact he's after, that's the tone he ends up with.
 

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Short answer is yes it gorgeous. Its not my sound concept and perhaps not your sound, but when I hear that, I enjoy it, and it lights up my pleasure centers quite good! But Coltrane's sound is just a unique thing and can't be duplicated. His style, sound and approach here is a particularly dry and plaintive effect, no vibrato in sight and very pure straight minimalist and emotionally vulnerable and naked feeling tone. Its powerful in this regard it doesn't beat you over the head with brute power and force etc. Its coming more directly from the spiritual planes. this sort of direct and honest testifying is sort of hard to listen to in some ways, its so sincere and emotionally direct. It has an other worldly quality to it. Its his original sound for sure. It generally sounds bad when too closely imitated. Better to get inspiration from it and not attempt to copy too exactly. Thats a can of worms. I cant sound like that if I try, but I can certainly be inspired by it and get some conceptual ideas, which should be incorporated organically through my life's lens, without trying to exactly copy. He does sound like he's got a hard reed a smallish tip Otto Link here.

There are some recordings he made with the Miles Davis quintet like on the albums Cooking and Relaxing etc before he broke free from his heroin habit, and on these records, from pre 1957 that I'm not crazy about his tone. On some of these he hasn't yet fully settled into his 1st amazing period that started in 1957.... But this I really do love.
 

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*sigh* this is tough because I have a love-hate relationship with Coltrane. To me, I can't stand his sound on an ear-level e.g. it sounds unpleasant to my ear. There is so much about it that sounds nearly-messy or unrefined/out-of-control (within the context of literally one of the best sax players of all-time).

But I'll be damned if there isn't something else in there that makes his sound intoxicating, you just can't stop listening.

If I get anything *near* this sound, to me, it feels stuffy and/or that my horn isn't working properly. But If I had that amount of soul/grit/feeling/whatever in my sound, I don't think it would matter what I sounded like.

TL;DR I totally agree with you.
 

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I realize you just picked a random clip, but I feel like there is a lot of variety in Coltrane's sound - obviously there's a huge difference between Blue Train & Ascension strictly talking about timbre and not taking stylistic approach into the equation.

While I love the Trane & Johnny Hartman album, and like his tone on it, I wouldn't say I'm in love with it...a bit thin for my taste. Blue Train is another story...the tone is full, lush, and muscular.

 

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I love everything about Coltrane's sound and have for nearly 50 years. Its complex, expressive, wide ranging, far reaching, endlessly inventive and full of depth. I'm talking here just about his tone although that could apply to every facet of his playing. For me personally there has never been a more rewarding jazz musician, in fact musician period, to listen to.
 

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I probably should not respond to this, because I got hammered last year for saying I did not care much for Coltrane's sound. Now having said that, I agree that his sound is a bit stuffy on this tune, but I think that it is a great match for Johnny Hartman's vocals on this piece, and on the entire album.
However, it is not a sound that I am looking to have.
 

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Short answer is yes it gorgeous. Its not my sound concept and perhaps not your sound, but when I hear that, I enjoy it, and it lights up my pleasure centers quite good! But Coltrane's sound is just a unique thing and can't be duplicated. His style, sound and approach here is a particularly dry and plaintive effect, no vibrato in sight and very pure straight minimalist and emotionally vulnerable and naked feeling tone. Its powerful in this regard it doesn't beat you over the head with brute power and force etc. Its coming more directly from the spiritual planes. this sort of direct and honest testifying is sort of hard to listen to in some ways, its so sincere and emotionally direct. It has an other worldly quality to it. Its his original sound for sure. It generally sounds bad when too closely imitated. Better to get inspiration from it and not attempt to copy too exactly. Thats a can of worms. I cant sound like that if I try, but I can certainly be inspired by it and get some conceptual ideas, which should be incorporated organically through my life's lens, without trying to exactly copy. He does sound like he's got a hard reed a smallish tip Otto Link here.

There are some recordings he made with the Miles Davis quintet like on the albums Cooking and Relaxing etc before he broke free from his heroin habit, and on these records, from pre 1957 that I'm not crazy about his tone. On some of these he hasn't yet fully settled into his 1st amazing period that started in 1957.... But this I really do love.
Thanks for the thoughtful response. Very well written!
 

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I really like Coltrane's tone in the recordings linked, but I understand your point. The tone is harsh but I also find it energetic and powerful, it has some kind of raw energy. It suits Coltrane's type of playing :)
 

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I LOVE that sound.

IIRC, one of the reasons Coltrane gave for his series of "throwback" records in 62/63 (Ballads, Johnny Hartman, Duke) was that he destroyed the mouthpiece he was using at the time by having it worked on. If that's true - and honestly I'm skeptical, I suspect it was more a marketing decision - his sound still has a lot of that edge he had earlier on. Maybe the bottom end isn't quite as deep though. I can easily see how people might find this sound to be way too edgy.

I was recently asking myself a similar question about Trane's later sound, which to me was much more generic. I have to say THAT sound, rounder and with a wide vibrato, doesn't really do that much for me.
 

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I do love this sound. As everybody here knows, Coltrane had different sounds for different purposes, and I think the tone he's getting here in that opening solo is appropriate to the tune and the mood and the project. I hear it as kind of alto-like, Trane being tender and delicate, and a far cry from how he sounds playing "One Up, One Down" or "Mr. PC." I am probably not the best person to ask, because I love almost all of the various ways Trane sounded on record. There's always something being communicated just by the one itself. Two or three notes in, I'm mesmerized. That's just how it is.

That said, I could understand why someone would not like or want to emulate that sound. There are a number of certifiably great players whose sound I don't like at all, even though I know that many others see them as an ideal model for tone.
 

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Realize that 'Trane very well might have been playing on a Brilhart mouthpiece on this recording and not one of his metal Links. According to the caption with this photo, it was taken during the Hartman session. That's Bob Thiele btw. For whatever it might be worth.......

impulses-bob-thiele-talks-to-john-coltrane-at-the-1963-recording-of-john-coltrane-and-johnny-har.jpg
 

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Realize that 'Trane very well might have been playing on a Brilhart mouthpiece on this recording and not one of his metal Links. According to the caption with this photo, it was taken during the Hartman session. That's Bob Thiele btw. For whatever it might be worth.......

View attachment 224216
Wow! That's interesting. I never would have guessed that......
 

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As contradictory as it seems, I think that it's quite possible to actually love a specific player's tone, yet not want to emulate it or play with the same tone. To answer the question, I LOVE his tone on the Hartman recording and maybe even moreso on the Blue Train recording. Beautiful, lush, expressive, everything I could ask for. Just reading the thread title, I thought Steve was going to put up a clip of Trane's later period where he went with a very harsh, edgy tone, which I also like, but maybe not as much.

Having said all that, for my own playing style, more blues/R&B oriented, I don't necessarily want that type of tone because #1, I'm not sure I'm capable of getting it, and #2, I can't get such a tone to cut through the electric guitar mix even with a mic (I don't think I can anyway). And yeah, when I (not Trane) try to play a hard reed on a Link, I get a stuffy tone that I don't like at all. FWIW, I also love Wayne Shorter's tone, I can listen to his Blue Note recordings over and over and never tire of them, but I don't go for his tone in my own playing either.

You gotta go with what works for YOU. But Steve, your point is well taken that demoing a mpc that gives a tone similar to Trane could be useful for others who do want that tone and are looking of a mpc that helps get it, even if you don't care for it. Then again, if you can't stand it, maybe 'life is too short' and all that...
 

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It's truly amazing that Coltrane's timbre is so harmonically rich, even given that this recording is obviously very close miked and he is playing softly, considering that most players playing softly have a more flute like quality.

One thing that struck me was how 'shaky' the compression on this youtube version cut out all of the 'air' and reverb sound. I heard this, and got out my cd of this cut, as well as listening to better sounding uploads, and the impact of the sound was quite different.
Try listening to some other uploads and see what you think.
 

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I love everything about Coltrane's sound and have for nearly 50 years. Its complex, expressive, wide ranging, far reaching, endlessly inventive and full of depth. I'm talking here just about his tone although that could apply to every facet of his playing. For me personally there has never been a more rewarding jazz musician, in fact musician period, to listen to.
+1. No question for me. EVERY note was life or death with him, and we can hear it.
 
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