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Discussion Starter #1
I have 3 questions:

1- Has anyone ever gotten their horn gold plated and if so how did it change the sound?

2- Does gold or copper plating on a horn really change the sound noticeably (as I suspect), and if so HOW does it change the sound? Does it make it warmer? Bigger? More spread? Louder? Softer? More bright? Less bright? What?

3- Is it possible to copper plate a sax? How might that affect the sound in comparison to gold??


Note: Right now, I'm considering getting my unlacquered Yamaha Custom Z either gold or copper plated if possible (not the neck, it's already silver plated). This was the recommendation of an old sax teacher who I spoke to recently.

I'm looking for a smoother, more vibrant, vocal like sound on my horn and I feel that I get too much of a "brassy" sound (even with other mouthpieces). I could just get the horn lacquered, however I'm not confident that lacquer would give me the sound I'm looking for (that is if lacquering my horn would even change the sound much at all anyways). My experiences tell me that plating affects the sound way MORE noticeably than lacquer.

I know how silver plate affects the sound and in my experience mellows the sound out and gives a more "linear" sound IMO which isn't what I'm looking for. I'm looking for more vocal like depth, smoothness, and vibrancy. So, hopefully this is a good enough background info for my questions.
 

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Plating makes absolutely no difference. It will not change your sound.

Going to the shed will help you to achieve a smoother, more vibrant, vocal-like sound on your horn.

- Saxaholic
 

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Copper corrodes very fast. It would surely be a liability in terms of mechanics eventually, even with a lacquer coat.
 

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1) Plating does not change the sound of a sax (I haven't had any done in gold, but have had silver plating done, as well relacquering and stripping of lacquer...it doesn't change anything). People sometimes make the argument that it does, sometimes similarly to this type of comment: "I played a silver plated x model and it sounded brighter than the same model in a lacquer finish". What isn't taken into account are the variances between the actual two saxes that can and will make them sound different (regardless of finish).

Any drastic changes when it comes to the traits you mentioned (spread/focused, bright/dark, etc) have to do with the actual design of the sax.

2) Have you considered the cost? Gold plating a tenor will likely set you back at least 4,000 if not more around the 5,000 range...as it also has to be completely overhauled as part of that since the sax has to be stripped bare for plating (ie: pads corks etc).

As far as copper goes...brass is an alloy that happens to include copper, so your sax already has some!

Gold and copper are both options in terms of plating, but as noted above...plating won't change the way your sax sounds.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Plating makes absolutely no difference. It will not change your sound.

Going to the shed will help you to achieve a smoother, more vibrant, vocal-like sound on your horn.

- Saxaholic
I'm not gonna argue with you on that, however I go to the "shed" plenty enough as it is..... I have enough people online and at shows as it is complimenting me on my sound, however I personally don't like my sound. I feel I've reached an equipment limitation. My old private sax teacher was the one who recommended this change. If he thought I was having problems related to not practicing enough, he would have told me (trust me on that one ;) but thanks for the response.
 

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You reached an equipment limitation with an 82Z?!? That's special. I wonder if Joe Lovano has the same problem with a Mark IV, Conn 10M, or Buescher Aristocrat -- all of which he's likely to play on a gig.

I had my 1949 Buescher Aristocrat tenor gold plated in 1972. It made no difference in the sound of the horn. Still doesn't, 40 years later. :)

Did look better AND STILL DOES. :king:

That's the primary benefit of gold-plate. Longevity of the finish, if you take care of it. 24k gold is pretty soft and VERY easy to scratch.

Cost me $400 to do that in 1972. Probably cost 10 times that to do it now.

Can't speak with experience to plating a horn in copper, but I suspect it will turn green and flake off in a hurry. Won't make any difference in the sound, but will speed the inevitable evolution to a bare brass horn again.
 

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I'm not gonna argue with you on that, however I go to the "shed" plenty enough as it is..... I have enough people online and at shows as it is complimenting me on my sound, however I personally don't like my sound. I feel I've reached an equipment limitation. My old private sax teacher was the one who recommended this change. If he thought I was having problems related to not practicing enough, he would have told me (trust me on that one ;) but thanks for the response.
Trust me, you haven't reached an equipment limitation. That's an excuse players come up with when they're not progressing as quickly as they'd like.

The answer is to listen more and shed more. Your teacher has no idea what he's talking about if he thinks plating changes the sound.

The real answer is to develop the concept in your brain. Know what you want to sound like, and start working towards that.

Our progression as saxophone players isn't a linear path upward. It is 2 steps forward, 1 step back, 2 steps forward, 1 step back.

It sucks when you're doing the 1 step back! But the 2 steps forward will come, even if it takes longer than you want.

- Saxaholic
 

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Plating makes absolutely no difference. It will not change your sound.

Going to the shed will help you to achieve a smoother, more vibrant, vocal-like sound on your horn.

- Saxaholic
Exactly my experience. I have a Silver plated horn, a bronze(high copper content, I don't believe there are any copper plated saxes) and a brass lacquered horn. I can't hear any difference, No one has ever commented that they heard a difference and they don't sound any different on a recording. The finish is strictly a cosmetic issue.
 

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While everything associated with tone is a result of 2 things -- your head (what you want to sound like), and the shape of the vibrating column of air inside the sax, there are equipment changes you can make that will make a difference in order of relevance.

1. Mouthpiece -- these can make you vary quite a bit from super bright and thin to very dark and dead, however the material it's made from is pretty meaningless. Plastic v. hard rubber v. steel v. brass will all sound the same if they are shaped exactly the same inside.
2. Reed -- even within a brand, you can change your sound by changing reed strengths or brands. A thinner reed will sound brighter and thinner. Different brands of reeds have different cuts, so changing the brand might make a substantial change for you.
3. Neck -- the taper of the neck can make a pretty profound change on the sound of the instrument -- but it could destroy your intonation if it's not well matched to the rest of the instrument.
4. Amplification -- if you're using a mic, not all mics are created equal and can make a difference.
5. Horn brand -- far more subtle than the above, and hard to discern 5 feet beyond the bell. Different brands of horn have slightly different tonal characteristics due to the air column physics associated with the measurements of their construction. Some are shorter and thinner, some are longer and fatter, and that changes the tone slightly. Most people think modern horns, including Yamaha's, are pretty bright, Taiwan horns are brighter yet, while vintage Bueschers/Selmers/Conns tend to be a bit darker and fuller -- which is why there's a bunch of us on here that play them. That said, this is a pretty subtle difference that only the player and a practiced ear can hear and it comes at the cost of losing the modern ergonomics.

Nothing else is meaningful in terms of tone quality, including construction material (brass, copper, bronze, silver, gold, plastic, etc). Finish (or lack thereof) is completely meaningless in terms of tone production.
 

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I have 3 questions:

1- Has anyone ever gotten their horn gold plated and if so how did it change the sound?

2- Does gold or copper plating on a horn really change the sound noticeably (as I suspect), and if so HOW does it change the sound? Does it make it warmer? Bigger? More spread? Louder? Softer? More bright? Less bright? What?
It will make it sound just like you think it will.
3- Is it possible to copper plate a sax? How might that affect the sound in comparison to gold??
I don't think you mean copper plate. High copper content is bronze

Note: Right now, I'm considering getting my unlacquered Yamaha Custom Z either gold or copper plated if possible (not the neck, it's already silver plated). This was the recommendation of an old sax teacher who I spoke to recently. I have one. Sounds just like lacquered brass.

I'm looking for a smoother, more vibrant, vocal like sound on my horn and I feel that I get too much of a "brassy" sound (even with other mouthpieces). I could just get the horn lacquered, however I'm not confident that lacquer would give me the sound I'm looking for (that is if lacquering my horn would even change the sound much at all anyways). My experiences tell me that plating affects the sound way MORE noticeably than lacquer.

I know how silver plate affects the sound and in my experience mellows the sound out and gives a more "linear" sound IMO which isn't what I'm looking for. I'm looking for more vocal like depth, smoothness, and vibrancy. So, hopefully this is a good enough background info for my questions.
I owned a lacquered 82Z and now I own a silver plated 82Z. It looks cool in silver but it sounds the same. The marketing hype you hear about plating and unlacquering is to make you think you need a new instrument.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
however the material it's made from is pretty meaningless. Plastic v. hard rubber v. steel v. brass will all sound the same if they are shaped exactly the same inside.
That, I cannot agree with. Not to go on a tangent here, but I've personally played 30-40+ different sax mouthpieces over the last 9 or so years (mainly on alto sax, just a few on tenor and soprano). ranging from stainless steel, to hard rubber, to brass, even to copper to silver plated brass to gold plated brass and copper. Apart from design, I can hear how material makes a noticeable difference-- maybe not as much of a difference as the design, but to me it's a noticeable difference... perhaps not all ears are sensitive enough to hear it. The biggest difference in sound that you should be able to hear is the difference between a hard rubber mouthpiece and a metal one. If you can't hear the difference, I'd question your ears (just being honest dude, not trying to be disrespectful). Recently, I chose to go with a custom made copper mouthpiece because copper sounds different... copper spreads out the frequencies overall, but what's noticeable moreso is that you (or I) can hear how copper spreads some of the mid range frequencies into the lower end frequency range of the sax tone WHEREAS brass mouthpieces will give you more mid and upper mid range focus of frequencies with less low range frequencies in the sound unlike what copper gives you. The differences are subtle, but I hear it and have friends who are sax players who can as well (but not all of them).

Different types of metal have certain vibrational/sonic characteristics which is why they make cymbals and other instruments out of-- bell bronze, malleable bronze, brass, copper, nickel silver, and different mixtures of these metals. You don't see people making cymbals out of plastic or hard rubber or tin, do you? Some companies have researched different metal mixture types so they can find a certain mixture that gives their product the sound that they feel is best. So to say material type doesn't matter is disregarding this fact IMHO. You can tell me that I'm making up the perceivable differences in my head... however, I will be bold enough to say that not everyone has the same ear and not everyone hears at the same level which cannot be disputed-- it's like winetasting, not everyone is suited to be a winetaster, and not everyone can taste the difference in the wood types of the barrels by which the wine was aged in while some people can. And this perhaps would be the hardest thing for some people to accept. I apologize for the tangent. I'm not here to debate this and I won't say a word more, however that just stuck out to me as something I couldn't agree with and felt strongly about.

I appreciate that response and agree with everything else. I'm gonna start looking into different reeds (that was a good idea) as well as necks. I also would like to try out different horns. While I've played on 30 or so other alto saxes, I've only played on a small handful of tenors-- reference 36 and 54, a cannonball black nickle tenor, a silver plated jupiter artist tenor, and a yamaha custom Z (which I have). I've tried a mark 6 but it had leaks and was a poor representative of mark 6s.

I appreciate the response!! :)
 

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I find no differences in sound. The gold plating used today just doesn't hold up that well. To make it stick, the horn needs to be silver plated first. I would just lacquer the Yamaha and get on with it. Silver plate is not that expensive and I would guess it adds $300-400 to the overhaul. I would need to check with Andersons but my guess to gold plate would be about $2,200 + the overhaul.
 

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The only significant difference you are likely to feel when changing the finish of your sax will be the lightness of your wallet.

Yes it may sound/feel/play different but that will most definately be down to the repad and associated work needed once a sax has been re finished.

If you removed all the keywork and got the body refinished then replaced the keywork I doubt very much if there was a difference in the sound.

Your'e far better changing your mouthpiece/reed/lig or getting a custom crook in order to try and change your sound IMHO
 

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That, I cannot agree with. Not to go on a tangent here, but I've personally played 30-40+ different sax mouthpieces over the last 9 or so years (mainly on alto sax, just a few on tenor and soprano). ranging from stainless steel, to hard rubber, to brass, even to copper to silver plated brass to gold plated brass and copper. Apart from design, I can hear how material makes a noticeable difference-- maybe not as much of a difference as the design, but to me it's a noticeable difference... perhaps not all ears are sensitive enough to hear it. The biggest difference in sound that you should be able to hear is the difference between a hard rubber mouthpiece and a metal one. If you can't hear the difference, I'd question your ears (just being honest dude, not trying to be disrespectful). Recently, I chose to go with a custom made copper mouthpiece because copper sounds different... copper spreads out the frequencies overall, but what's noticeable moreso is that you (or I) can hear how copper spreads some of the mid range frequencies into the lower end frequency range of the sax tone WHEREAS brass mouthpieces will give you more mid and upper mid range focus of frequencies with less low range frequencies in the sound unlike what copper gives you. The differences are subtle, but I hear it and have friends who are sax players who can as well (but not all of them).

Different types of metal have certain vibrational/sonic characteristics which is why they make cymbals and other instruments out of-- bell bronze, malleable bronze, brass, copper, nickel silver, and different mixtures of these metals. You don't see people making cymbals out of plastic or hard rubber or tin, do you? Some companies have researched different metal mixture types so they can find a certain mixture that gives their product the sound that they feel is best. So to say material type doesn't matter is disregarding this fact IMHO. You can tell me that I'm making up the perceivable differences in my head... however, I will be bold enough to say that not everyone has the same ear and not everyone hears at the same level which cannot be disputed-- it's like winetasting, not everyone is suited to be a winetaster, and not everyone can taste the difference in the wood types of the barrels by which the wine was aged in while some people can. And this perhaps would be the hardest thing for some people to accept. I apologize for the tangent. I'm not here to debate this and I won't say a word more, however that just stuck out to me as something I couldn't agree with and felt strongly about.

I appreciate that response and agree with everything else. I'm gonna start looking into different reeds (that was a good idea) as well as necks. I also would like to try out different horns. While I've played on 30 or so other alto saxes, I've only played on a small handful of tenors-- reference 36 and 54, a cannonball black nickle tenor, a silver plated jupiter artist tenor, and a yamaha custom Z (which I have). I've tried a mark 6 but it had leaks and was a poor representative of mark 6s.

I appreciate the response!! :)
You have no idea what you're talking about.

A saxophone's sound is created by the vibrating air column inside the instrument. The material has NO effect on this air column vibration. It is purely the dimensions on the inside that matter.

You may have played 40 different mouthpieces, but you've never played one EXACTLY the same in 4 or 5 different materials. Whether it's copper, sterling silver, brass, or whatever, it sounds the way it does because of the inside dimensions, not because of material.

Cymbals are not saxophones, nor are the sounds produced in the same manner, so your "comparison" is irrevelent.

You can keep on thinking there's a difference in plating, material, and whatever....however, scientific fact has already proven they make no difference in the sound of a saxophone.

- Saxaholic
 

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Just as a point of reference...here's past input from someone who actually makes mouthpieces (Phil Barone).

I've made mouthpieces from seven materials including wood and sterling silver and when the mouthpieces have the same inner dimensions they sound and play exactly the same. Phil Barone
I made my NY tenor model out of brass, solid silver, copper and black ebony. You'd never know which was which if you heard them blindfolded. They all sounded exactly the same. Charlie Parker's recording of him playing the plastic sax is a pretty good example though. It sounded just like any sax. Like I've said a thousand times, there's a book of theory, Fundimentals of Musicals Acoustics by Bonade in which he says it right in there. Phil
(http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?137250-Myth-Buster-Does-mouthpiece-material-make-a-difference/page3&highlight=material+make+difference)
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Yes, I'll give you one example out of many. About 4-5 years ago, I tried out a bunch of Berg Larsen mouthpieces. It was the same design, just 2 different materials, 2 different mouthpieces-- mainly the "0 chamber" (the highest baffle) with .080" facing-- the 2 mouthpiece materials I tried were ebony and stainless steel, both played with the same type of metal factory ligature and with same reed and same alto sax. The stainless steel one was louder, more bright sounding, and more "biting". The ebonite was "thicker" sounding and had a different dimension or "depth" to the sound. I couldn't get as much volume out of it as the stainless steel-- I couldn't really push the ebonite one much. The responsiveness was about the same and they both took the reed well. So the stainless steel version of the same mouthpiece was more "digital" sounding whereas the ebonite version was more "analogue" sounding. The ONLY difference between these 2 mouthpieces was that they ebony model had a slightly larger outside shell (it was thicker). The internal chamber design and facing were the same, and same metal ligature. This difference is what I find to be true for all other mouthpiece material brands when comparing rubber or wood to metal.

You quote phil barone yet leave out other sax mouthpiece makers who who said the opposite to me directly... gary sugal for example in addition to many pro players I've talked to (joe lovano who uses a granadilla wood mouthpiece). And I gotta make it clear that I'm not disagreeing with you that design affects the sound and is the main determining factor of it, I'm just saying that mouthpiece material creates subtle changes in sound. So my argument was not about the plating but specifically about mouthpiece material. I just believe that good premises could be given for both opposing conclusions. If you don't agree, then we'll have to stop here because once arguments start, no one's opinion's gonna change and nothing get's accomplished. You answered my initial question. I answered yours.

peace out.
 

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#1. Don't believe anything Gary Sugal tells you.

#2. You just admitted those Bergs you tried were different. Not only that, but Bergs are not known for their consistency and I can guarantee you the internal dimensions were different, regardless if they were the same model.

Phil Barone hand made and hand measured exact copies of a single mouthpiece in 4 different materials. They all played the same.

It's not a matter of opinion. It is fact, scientifically proven. It doesn't matter what ANYone says, if they tell you mouthpiece material matters, they're wrong. Whatever difference you might think exists is in your head.

Now what COULD matter is comfort level. Some people feel more comfortable with metal, rubber, plastic, whatever. But for raw sound, there is no difference.

- Saxaholic
 
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