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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Don Menza on tone

Start at 4:40 for a great object lesson in what has the greatest influence on what we sound like when we play. :bluewink:

This is not to discount the rest of the video which demonstrates the talent and musical genius of Don Menza.
 

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Great clip John. Thank you. It's weird that in the space of about a day there've been 2 clips on SOTW showing great players being able to mimic their idols (Tim Price posted a clip of Konitz mimicing Lester Young). It just shows how these guys have really got into imitating the styles and sounds of earlier players. Very interesting.

Shame he was playing such a junker.
(that's just my little joke, SOTWers)
 

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I'd still like to see a video of him doing his infamous mouthpiece demo where he takes 3 or 4 different mouthpieces and makes them all sound the same.
 

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Great video, great playing, great lesson on tone production, & unfortunately - terrible audio quality. [rolleyes]

Awesome jazz saxophone history lesson!

Thanks for the link jbtsax!
 

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I'd still like to see a video of him doing his infamous mouthpiece demo where he takes 3 or 4 different mouthpieces and makes them all sound the same.
The rights to that clip have since been bought by the big 3..or 4 or 5...and through the combined efforts of NAAM. It has since been buried for eternity :bluewink:
 

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There's an inverse relationship between the skill of the player and the importance of the horn/mouthpiece. The better the player, the less the equipment matters.
 

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There's an inverse relationship between the skill of the player and the importance of the horn/mouthpiece. The better the player, the less the equipment matters.
To whom? The listener may be impressed, but the better the player, the more the player notices the limitations of the instrument, the mouthpiece, and the instrument/mouthpiece combination. I never met a single pro player who wasn't picky about what they chose to play on.
 

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To whom? The listener may be impressed, but the better the player, the more the player notices the limitations of the instrument, the mouthpiece, and the instrument/mouthpiece combination. I never met a single pro player who wasn't picky about what they chose to play on.
Absolutely agree. Sure, a great player can make any horn/mpc work, but that doesn't mean they'd be happy with inferior equipment.
 

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To whom? The listener may be impressed, but the better the player, the more the player notices the limitations of the instrument, the mouthpiece, and the instrument/mouthpiece combination.
To the listener, Lance. The OP is not talking about how "happy" a pro is with an inferior horn, only that the better you are, the better you can make it work.

I never met a single pro player who wasn't picky about what they chose to play on.
However, you have no doubt heard about some of the horns that Charlie Parker played in "desperate" times. There are certainly less gifted pros in similar straits. Pros can certainly "feel" a good horn from a bad one, but they are much more adept at masking the difference in front of an audience.
 

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To the listener, Lance. The OP is not talking about how "happy" a pro is with an inferior horn, only that the better you are, the better you can make it work.

However, you have no doubt heard about some of the horns that Charlie Parker played in "desperate" times. There are certainly less gifted pros in similar straits. Pros can certainly "feel" a good horn from a bad one, but they are much more adept at masking the difference in front of an audience.
Well, yes. That seems like an amazing trick, until you play well enough to be able to do it yourself. Then it's a non-issue, it's just the way you play, and what you think about is, some horns/mouthpieces take more work than others to get them to do what you want, if they do it at all. Usually, the audience has no idea what's going on between you and the horn, for whatever worth that information might be.

As far as what matters to the audience, many live listeners actually do show strong preferences for what horn or mouthpiece the player is using. I have been asked quite a few times why my saxophone wasn't shiny and nice looking like the rest of those being played in the band. The gorgeous sound of the instrument was totally unimportant.:bluewink:
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Since no one else has mentioned it. The player's concept (and ability to control the sound) is by far the factor which has the greatest effect upon the tone produced. The equipment is simply a means to that end. As someone mentioned, some set-ups are more efficient and allow the PLAYER to produce the desired sound with less effort, but the PLAYER still produces the sound---not the equipment!

The object lesson I believe is that if more time were spent on listening to great players and developing a concept and practicing to elevate ones ability and less time wasted on searching for THE PERFECT MOUTHPIECE and SAXOPHONE there would be a lot more good and even great players.
 

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Finding the equipment that is transparent - allowing the player to go where he or she wants is the goal. That has always been my search parameters.
 

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Since no one else has mentioned it. The player's concept (and ability to control the sound) is by far the factor which has the greatest effect upon the tone produced. The equipment is simply a means to that end. As someone mentioned, some set-ups are more efficient and allow the PLAYER to produce the desired sound with less effort, but the PLAYER still produces the sound---not the equipment!
Well, no one ever saw/heard a saxophone playing Giant Steps all by itself, without a player or a robotic controller, I'm sure. :bluewink:

The object lesson I believe is that if more time were spent on listening to great players and developing a concept and practicing to elevate ones ability and less time wasted on searching for THE PERFECT MOUTHPIECE and SAXOPHONE there would be a lot more good and even great players.
I have seen countless young players struggle and become discouraged only to resign from any musical aspirations, trying to play on incompatible equipment, while those fortunate enough to have found a setup that works, become inspired and excel in music.

You imply that one mouthpiece/horn combination is as good as any other, which we both know is not the case. The search for the perfect mouthpiece/saxophone combination is an essential task that every serious player must undertake. You have to find what works for you. Period.

There would be a lot more good, great, and even greater players, if the player knew how and what to look for in the search for THE PERFECT MOUTHPIECE and SAXOPHONE combination. Including the acoustical aspects of the instrument along with the study of scales, fingerings, musical styles, embouchure is the solution.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
You imply that one mouthpiece/horn combination is as good as any other, which we both know is not the case. The search for the perfect mouthpiece/saxophone combination is an essential task that every serious player must undertake. You have to find what works for you. Period.
That is utter nonsense. I never implied any such thing. What I did was to put things in the proper perspective. Nice try but I'm not going to get sucked into another of your endless "pissing contest" arguments. Have a nice day.
 

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Finding the equipment that is transparent - allowing the player to go where he or she wants is the goal. That has always been my search parameters.
That's the secret. The search is essential. Equipment is no substitute for having musical ideas, but the right equipment is more conducive to creative musical expression than lesser gear.
 

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Mouthpiece and horn combinations aren't about sound. They're about comfort.
 

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