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I am not an alto player. Never have been. There is just something about altos that never really appealed to me as much as tenor or, my real love, the bari. I got lucky and picked up a really nice 11m from JayeSF earlier this year and have been playing the absolute HELL out of it; unfortunetly, as every bari player knows, the bigger the plumbing, the easier it is for the horn to get bumped out of adjustement.

My 11m is in the shop as of last week for a few tweaks here and there due to near constant use. I got a call two days ago from a friend who wanted me to sit in with him and another horn player we've been working with at a pretty important gig...in 2 hours. I agreed, and then immediately slapped my forehead in disgust realizing that I was lacking the bari, the other horn player is a tenor only, and there is no way I was going to bring a soprano to this gig. Great; looks like I have to bring the alto.

I haven't played my alto in well over a year. I got her readjusted in 2009, played her twice and just left her in the case. Praying for the best, I grabbed Luci (my 298xxx 6m viii), a meyer 6m, box of reeds, and my tuner, jumped in the truck and went to the gig, expecting the worst.

I got there, tuned up and wasn't surprised that I was waaaay off. Spent the time and got her zeroed in before we went on and practiced a few riffs.

Holy crap. Once we got up, Luci was no longer a horn, she was an extension of my body. People I have played with and who have seen me play before kept coming up to me and asking "Why have you not brought that horn before? It sounds AMAZING." I figured they were just buttering me up.

I got a call last night from my friend who had me sit in that consisted of "Tom's got a recording of the gig. You need to be here right now."

The tone was something I had never heard come out of my alto before. The best way to describe it is to envision an early 20th century starlett with a martini in one hand and cigarette in the other. Big, husky and almost liquid. I've always had a really bright, cutting alto sound even with this horn, but something is different.

Gentlemen, I am in love again. This time with an alto. Don't tell my wife or the bari, please.
 

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Love the description...is this sorta what you had in mind?
 

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I usually play Bueschers, but like to change it up once in awhile. I pulled out my 1952 6M last week and it was like the same feeling. Totally revigorated my practice routine. Variety is the spice of life and 6M's are great saxes!
 

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Esb said 6M, not tranny.
There was a total retooling in 1931 that resulted in more or less what we call model 6M - left-side bell cups, underside octave lever, new body tube - they just weren't marked "6M". These are what we call Transitional 6Ms, and run till 1936.

Before that - about 1929-31 - there were altos with a few 6M features, such as the curved side key for high E, but they were still more or less the old opposite-side-bell-cup (Chu Berry) alto. These we call Tranny Chus. (There were tenors like this too, made till the retooling of model 10M in 1934.)
 

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F#¢!!

I can't believe I only just now got it.

I have been, as the young folks say when playing their little games, PWND.
 

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IMHO, people who spend a long period of their lives on bari tend to find that, upon going back to tenor or alto, that they have learned a new embouchure and new air shaping, in my experience. This changes the sound that comes from their smaller horns, because they fill up the horn in different ways than they did before their bari experience. I have been there. Anybody else want to address my theory?
Sax Magic
 

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IMHO, people who spend a long period of their lives on bari tend to find that, upon going back to tenor or alto, that they have learned a new embouchure and new air shaping, in my experience. This changes the sound that comes from their smaller horns, because they fill up the horn in different ways than they did before their bari experience. I have been there. Anybody else want to address my theory?
Sax Magic
Made the same experience. Nothing better than spending a year or so on bari.
 

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IMHO, people who spend a long period of their lives on bari tend to find that, upon going back to tenor or alto, that they have learned a new embouchure and new air shaping, in my experience. This changes the sound that comes from their smaller horns, because they fill up the horn in different ways than they did before their bari experience. I have been there. Anybody else want to address my theory?
Sax Magic
Yes indeed, so true.
 

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Works for tenor too. I played a lot better alto after I started spending most of my time on tenor.
 

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EsbSpecial, I loved your post. That's what it is all about.
I've concentrated on tenor about six months now, and when I played my alto the other day, my wife said "Wow! You sound great."
 

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A few weeks ago I found the same thing in reverse. I usually play a vintage Conn tenor. Now, I'm a rank amateur, but no matter. I have a like-new Antigua winds alto that's been sitting in the closet for a year because it came with a plastic doorstop for a mouthpiece. I finally bought a new Link and tried the horn out. I know the horn's in good condition because I took it into the shop and had it set up and some pads replaced when I got it. I found I was having a lot of trouble getting the low Bb B C & D notes out so I spent some time working on long tones. AFter a 20 minutes of that I had a decent sound on the alto. Then I went back to the tenor, and voila! My sound was completely different. Freer, fuller, big and juicy. So now I'm taking the long tones seriously like you guys are always talking about.
 

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A few weeks ago I found the same thing in reverse. I usually play a vintage Conn tenor. Now, I'm a rank amateur, but no matter.... I found I was having a lot of trouble getting the low Bb B C & D notes out so I spent some time working on long tones. AFter a 20 minutes of that I had a decent sound on the alto. Then I went back to the tenor, and voila! My sound was completely different. Freer, fuller, big and juicy. So now I'm taking the long tones seriously like you guys are always talking about.
Sounds like you had a confidence issue that was choking you up somehow, and you loosened up during your break with your alto. Sometimes when you're dealing with a problem, that process leads to other problems you're unaware of.
 
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