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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Need a little feedback. I played sax all through middle school and HS. My last 3 years, they switched me from alto to tenor (played in both regular and jazz bands). Then I stopped playing entirely until about 4 years ago (I am now 60). Went crazy, and am now on my third (and hopefully final!) alto. I chose alto because it's smaller, lighter (I had also had neck surgery which I though might preclude me from heavier instruments but the newer back straps make that a non-issue). Honestly I love alto and tenor equally in terms of sound.

But....I have the tenor bug. Here is my question: I seem to recall tenors being a "little easier" in terms of wind required, or blowing force, resistance, call it whatever. Maybe it's just the one I had (it was the schools, a King, probably a lower end model but it was a sweet horn). My current alto (Selmer SA80) is just fine, it's pretty free-blowing but there is "some" resistance there, which is good. I realize a lot of this equation is the mouthpiece too. But I'm just curious.....is my memory poor, or could a general statement be made that alto or tenor is "easier" in the resistance dept?
 

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In terms of resistance, I think your memory is correct. The alto, being smaller, tends to be a little more resistant and requires a bit firmer embouchure. On the flip side, the tenor takes more, and requires more, air. So to recap, tenor is a bit less resistant but requires more air. Of course there are other variables such as the reed, mpc, and brand of horn, so hard to generalize.

I don't know if you can say one is 'easier' than the other.

I want to say, get the tenor, but then I'm biased. I much prefer to play tenor. And in general I prefer the sound of a tenor, but of course it depends on who's playing the horn. I love both horns in the 'right hands.'
 

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Need a little feedback. I played sax all through middle school and HS. My last 3 years, they switched me from alto to tenor (played in both regular and jazz bands). Then I stopped playing entirely until about 4 years ago (I am now 60). Went crazy, and am now on my third (and hopefully final!) alto. I chose alto because it's smaller, lighter (I had also had neck surgery which I though might preclude me from heavier instruments but the newer back straps make that a non-issue). Honestly I love alto and tenor equally in terms of sound.

But....I have the tenor bug. Here is my question: I seem to recall tenors being a "little easier" in terms of wind required, or blowing force, resistance, call it whatever. Maybe it's just the one I had (it was the schools, a King, probably a lower end model but it was a sweet horn). My current alto (Selmer SA80) is just fine, it's pretty free-blowing but there is "some" resistance there, which is good. I realize a lot of this equation is the mouthpiece too. But I'm just curious.....is my memory poor, or could a general statement be made that alto or tenor is "easier" in the resistance dept?
Nah, depends on your setup. Anyhow, I can say, tenor is much different from the other saxes. The difference is almost like going from tpt to double-horn, difference-wise.
 

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Had a Buescher Aristocrat tenor which was noticeably lighter than King Cleveland, or any of the other tenors my son has (Mk 6, PM 66, Buffet SD). It played well. He used it for marching band, but he could have used it all the time as it had a great sound. You might try one out, see if the weight difference will help you.
 

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Any horn with wide bore geometry matched with an open tip open throat mouthpiece is free blowing. I have an R&C tenor that takes an enormous amount of air. It's more like it sucks the air out of you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the replies! I'm sure set-up is a big part of it, no question. But, JL I think you articulated (no pun intended!) what I was trying to say but didn't say correctly - more "air" for the tenor but a "less firm" embouchure. That makes sense in my "memory's mind".

Obviously the answer is to go play one. But I'm afraid once I do.....I'm a dead duck. And money is a bit tight now (not that that ever stopped me before!).
 

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Recommend using a sax harness type of strap rather than a regular one to save further injury to your neck.
I use the jazz lab one, but there are others.
It's not the best for playing when sitting down, but I've dealt with it.
I think steve neff has reviews of alternative straps.

http://www.neffmusic.com/blog/?s=strap
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Even for my alto, I bought one of those things that criss-crosses your back and goes around your sides. Overkill for that horn, and my neck is probably fine, just being cautious. I'm not crazy about the strap though, it's kind of a PITA, I'll check out your link!
 

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Even for my alto, I bought one of those things that criss-crosses your back and goes around your sides. Overkill for that horn, and my neck is probably fine, just being cautious. I'm not crazy about the strap though, it's kind of a PITA, I'll check out your link!
The jazzlab is so the most comfortable strap I've ever tried.
I can play for as long as my embouchure will hold and I barely notice the weight of a tenor.
Weight is on shoulders rather than neck. Not as natural when sitting and sax to the side, but it's been fine for me.
 

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I would probably figure on what we call a 'stock' mouthpiece like a Selmer C* for the tenor with a 2 1/2 or 3 reed. This will take less pressure and air to play. A good tenor for this purpose might be another King like you used to play or maybe a Martin Indiana. You also might find a good buy on a Yamaha TS-23 although with school starting right now any of those lying around might be already snatched up for marching band. OTOH I see them on ebay right now starting at $350.
 

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I agree with JL: tenor requires more air, but the embouchure's less picky, and it's easier IMHO to get a decent tone than with alto.

You don't need to spend a lot. Having played alto, some soprano, and lots of clarinet off and on since junior high, I bought my first tenor last year--a very cheap, lightweight, and free-blowing Armstrong 3055T with high F#, rolled tone holes, and a big Teutonic voice. I sometimes even choose it over my new Buescher TH&C tenor, which I play almost every day.

My awesome King, Martin, and Kohlert altos call out to me every few days to remind me to pick them up, and I still gig on alto occasionally, but at the moment prefer the challenge and tone of my tenors. It'll likely even out eventually once the novelty of the tenor's worn off--at which point I'll pick up a bari.
 

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In terms of resistance, I think your memory is correct. The alto, being smaller, tends to be a little more resistant and requires a bit firmer embouchure. On the flip side, the tenor takes more, and requires more, air. So to recap, tenor is a bit less resistant but requires more air. Of course there are other variables such as the reed, mpc, and brand of horn, so hard to generalize.

I don't know if you can say one is 'easier' than the other.

I want to say, get the tenor, but then I'm biased. I much prefer to play tenor. And in general I prefer the sound of a tenor, but of course it depends on who's playing the horn. I love both horns in the 'right hands.'
Agree completely with JL. But I have the same tenor bias.

BTW, I got back into playing about 10 years ago after an almost 40 year layoff after high school. I had a tenor from back then, but bought an alto with the same idea that you had. But I found the tenor to be easier to play and to get a good sound out of, and I do like the sound of the tenor better in general. I also find the tenor to be more versatile, in that I play in a few bands across different styles (R&B/blues band, jam band, jazz bands) and it just seems to fit in better. The only other sax I've been toying with is soprano with the jam band, but that is even harder to play than alto.
 

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Had a Buescher Aristocrat tenor which was noticeably lighter than King Cleveland, or any of the other tenors my son has (Mk 6, PM 66, Buffet SD). It played well. He used it for marching band, but he could have used it all the time as it had a great sound. You might try one out, see if the weight difference will help you.
One important point of clarification, the Buescher 156 Aristocrat tenor (latest in the Big B run & still later with script engraving) is relatively light in weight. But the earlier 'series one' and early Big B Aristocrat (with smaller bell flare) is noticeably heavier. So the specific model makes a difference.

I know this because I have both a series one 'Crat and 156, as well as a MkVI. The 156 is lighter than the other two and yes it is very noticeable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I'm thinking of going out this weekend and trying a tenor out. I'm sure my local store would have a Yamaha or 2 but I want to careful, I don't want to try out their best horn like an 875 and then be disappointed with whatever I pick up used (limited budget). I just want to get a feel for it and see if it "feels right" or if I'll be like "this is just too unwieldy for me at this point". (I doubt that). I mean, I'm in good shape, my neck is basically fine (I would use some sort of backstrap anyway), so it's not an issue there. Just want to see if it's a fit.

JL, funny you should mention Buescher Big B, I'm looking at one online right now that is calling my name. It's a '48 I believe, so is that a 156? I'm not familiar with this "Bueshcer tenors are different sizes" thing at all.
 

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JL, funny you should mention Buescher Big B, I'm looking at one online right now that is calling my name. It's a '48 I believe, so is that a 156? I'm not familiar with this "Bueshcer tenors are different sizes" thing at all.
Probably it's a 156, but I'm not sure of the exact date when they brought in the 156 model. I'm sure someone here can tell you.

They aren't 'different sizes', just different models (I don't know what makes the 156 lighter, but it's likely the thickness of the brass in the body). There were three different Aristocrat models in the tenors with Big B engraving. The earlier ones were basically the same as the series one 'Crat, just with different bell guards & engraving. The next one that came out was the '155' and that was followed by the '156.' The 156 has a larger bell flare and at some point they stamped '156' below the serial number*. If you can post a photo of the horn, we could probably tell if it's a 156 (due to the larger bell flare and the shape of the bell).

*From what I understand, the earliest 156 models did not have that stamp, but you can still identify them by the shape of the bell and the larger flare at the end of the bell.
 

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sthsquid -
Interesting question you have posed - "Is the tenor easier in the resistance department" From reading your post, I would have supposed your first question would have been, "What challenges do you see for my neck if I were to switch to tenor?" If you have the tenor bug, you will figure out how to play the tenor. With common mouthpiece tip openings available between 60 and 110, I don't think you will have a problem finding a mouthpiece for the air support you can produce.

Your bigger challenge is that the tenor is a heavier instrument and that is going to be hard on your neck. There are several models of neckstraps that forum members have had success with. The standard one aren't so good. I'd start a separate post asking for input on recommended neck straps for someone who has been a neck surgery patient. (I haven't gone down this path yet, and for some stupid reason I continue to use a basic style that wraps directly around my neck......and deal with the muscle tightness around my neck and shoulders every day).
 

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I'd start a separate post asking for input on recommended neck straps for someone who has been a neck surgery patient. (I haven't gone down this path yet, and for some stupid reason I continue to use a basic style that wraps directly around my neck......and deal with the muscle tightness around my neck and shoulders every day).
If that's the issue, you might look here:

https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?307505-Balam-Saxophone-Backstrap-Review-and-Comparison
 
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