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vi tenor/alto, yss-62 soprano, the martin baritone, muramatsu flute, R13 clarinet
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been playing a lot of baritone the last couple of years and I think I have a decently fat sound on it. I'm playing a The Martin baritone with an Otto Link TE 7*. It's not the loudest sound I've ever heard, but it's nice, it's thick, it's got low EQ and it rumbles. I can also play it at a whisper volume.

My current issue? I told our local college big band that I could help them out and cover the bari chair for their concert next week and I've had two rehearsals now. I think I did well except, actually, I have no idea if I did well. I couldn't hear a frickin' thing I played.

Is it a requirement now-a-days to slap a high baffle rock mouthpiece on your baritone just so you can hear yourself? How do you guys deal with this? Intonating is difficult, soloing is difficult, and certainly being musical is difficult. Is this something you just get used to playing down in that register or am I a total wimp?

Cheers, Rick
 
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Depends on the group, but I've been using my Jet more often than not lately. It's just hard for those low tones to come through compared to the rest of the sax section (not to mention the trumpets).

When I played bari with an excellent local big band a couple weeks ago my rubber Link style piece worked great ... but we were mic'd well.
 

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A lot depends on the room’s acoustics, and if the overall volume in the room is excessive, but it’s true that it’s often difficult to hear oneself, especially on baritone. I often say you’re probably playing the right volume level, and take it on faith that there is noise coming out of the bell!
 

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Environment has much to do with balancing the section/band. So does the mic setup. Try turning it into a duet or trio: match the person next to you and the lead alto if you can't hear everybody else.
 

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This.
My first serious baritone chair was as support in a school big band. When I switched from a gentle Amati to a more present SA-II, I realized I was cutting through much more. I asked the band leader, and he said something like “the baritone never is too loud”.
There certainly are exceptions, but, in general, low horns get more swamped in tuttis, so you really need to have that power and projection ready anytime.
You also get lost in the bass line, the guitar if there’s one.
Check Basie’s original Lil’ Darlin’, and how C. Fowkles cuts through, with quite some edge in the tone.
I remember selling my first and last Link STM by then. Berg Larsen steel for years, and now Jody ESP for the last decade, with brightish Carbon reeds.
This applies for bands. In sax 4tets, totally different needs.
 

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This is kind of a tricky question because you yourself are not actually sure if you're loud enough or not, which we can't answer. Though if you can't hear yourself, that can certainly be problematic.
At any rate, I'm a big fan of Link type pieces which may be more difficult to project with than a high baffle piece, but normally they will take all the air you've got, so with enough work you can project very well with a big, dark sound. Like anything, it might just take some practice. Maybe what was FF for you before isn't enough for this setting. So try practicing long tones, and scales all in this new FF. I think with that Link you'll find with a little work, you might be able to double your volume. Of course, if in the past you didn't realize you'd need that volume, it would make sense you didn't try.

I think it's fine to play on a piece like a Lawton or Berg if that's the type of sound you want, but I'm against doing it just for the volume. Personally, I play on big tipped, low baffle, Link like pieces. My main bari piece now is a Benjamin Allen 10E (dedicated to Doc Tenney, or inspired by his Jazzmaster design) in a 10*. With that I can play plenty loud but it still has a deep, dark, core sound.
So, not to suggest you try different gear, but if you do want to experiment with mouthpieces I'd recommend trying a big tip Link before going for a high baffle rock piece that seems to be the opposite tonally of what you want.
I've actually got a Link STM 9* just laying around at the moment if you'd like to try it.
 

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IMO, modern big band charts require a barI mouthpiece design with some baffle in it and a bari sax with a low A. “Require“ is a bit strong since you will get by without them. But you will not provide the anchor the arranger and other players want.

I played a YBS-52 with a metal Runyon Quantum 11 for most of my gigs before I retired from playing bari due to the weight.
 

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The volume is only one aspect, maybe not the priority. What you need are a good amount of high harmonics which help the band, the listener and yourself to capture the articulation, and not just some low frequency rumbling. Obviously good technique and the right reeds can give you that on any decent mouthpiece.
Having been playing for 25 years now, maybe I should give a STM type mouthpiece a new chance. The high prices of bari mouthpieces and my global happiness with my current setup are enough to keep me away from bari gas. Tenor has taken its toll for the past 12 months….
 

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This is kind of a tricky question because you yourself are not actually sure if you're loud enough or not, which we can't answer. Though if you can't hear yourself, that can certainly be problematic.
At any rate, I'm a big fan of Link type pieces which may be more difficult to project with than a high baffle piece, but normally they will take all the air you've got, so with enough work you can project very well with a big, dark sound. Like anything, it might just take some practice. Maybe what was FF for you before isn't enough for this setting. So try practicing long tones, and scales all in this new FF. I think with that Link you'll find with a little work, you might be able to double your volume. Of course, if in the past you didn't realize you'd need that volume, it would make sense you didn't try.

I think it's fine to play on a piece like a Lawton or Berg if that's the type of sound you want, but I'm against doing it just for the volume. Personally, I play on big tipped, low baffle, Link like pieces. My main bari piece now is a Benjamin Allen 10E (dedicated to Doc Tenney, or inspired by his Jazzmaster design) in a 10*. With that I can play plenty loud but it still has a deep, dark, core sound.
So, not to suggest you try different gear, but if you do want to experiment with mouthpieces I'd recommend trying a big tip Link before going for a high baffle rock piece that seems to be the opposite tonally of what you want.
I've actually got a Link STM 9* just laying around at the moment if you'd like to try it.
Agree on the Link for Bari. I have a 7000.s STM 6* and is certainly louder than the Vandoren B7 - which has the Berg like design. Yep I'd like to try bigger but I just started playing Bari
 

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Use a single earplug and at least you’ll be able to hear yourself. Hopefully the band is dynamic enough to let you shine on your solos
 

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Link, Berg, Lamberson DD, or Theo Wanne Durga - those were the pieces that our bari player used. I played briefly on a RPC .105R before I settled into the tenor chair. It’s tough in a big band to find that balance in a section - especially if yours is set up with a row of trombones behind you, and yet another row of trumpets standing behind them. +1 to the comments above of blending locally - maybe you can hear two chairs down. Depending on the gig, there were times I could never hear the other and of the section. I will say that when the bari player switched to the Durga III 8, I could hear the bari a lot more often. You really need to depend on the director for some feedback, and hopefully have a couple of rehearsals where you focus on balancing the section.

G’luck and enjoy the ride!
 
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