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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey

the title says it all. I've only been playing a couple of weeks (obviously I know tone production takes years) but I'm interested to know at what point I might start to enjoy my own tone. Tenor sax is my fifth instrument so the problem I being possibly over critical of myself when it comes to what sounds good. I'm sure everyone had it when they first started playing an instrument, everything they did sounded good/okay to them and they were less self critical. I'm having a tough time enjoying practicing when I feel my own tone sounds thin and brash. For reference on tones I like Pharoah and Trane are my two favourite players (obviously two people who practiced for years) but another on is Nubya Garcia: https://youtu.be/lUmNtpJpm9o?t=55

So yeah how long did it take for you to like your tone?
Also when practicing things like long tones, what shall I be trying to do / change.

Cheers
 

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I'm 10 years into my re-boot, I'll let you know when I'm happy with my tone.
 

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Hey

the title says it all. I've only been playing a couple of weeks (obviously I know tone production takes years) but I'm interested to know at what point I might start to enjoy my own tone. Tenor sax is my fifth instrument so the problem I being possibly over critical of myself when it comes to what sounds good. I'm sure everyone had it when they first started playing an instrument, everything they did sounded good/okay to them and they were less self critical. I'm having a tough time enjoying practicing when I feel my own tone sounds thin and brash. For reference on tones I like Pharoah and Trane are my two favourite players (obviously two people who practiced for years) but another on is Nubya Garcia: https://youtu.be/lUmNtpJpm9o?t=55

So yeah how long did it take for you to like your tone?
Also when practicing things like long tones, what shall I be trying to do / change.

Cheers
I started in 7th grade and I remember at times really starting to dig my own sound at times in 10th grade. By 12th grade I was digging my sound more and more. In college I was digging it most of the time. I was playing alto at the time. I took up tenor my second year of college and didn't dig my sound on that horn until 4 years later also. So for me........4 years.........
 

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About two months. I slapped on a mouthpiece, blew into the horn, practiced long tones regularly up and down the registers until I achieved sonic stability.... let myself sound like me....and started learning songs.

After that I didn't think about "my tone"..."my sound".

Beyond that, I just play and try to improve. If I hit a patch where my tone is starting to be inconsistent, I practice what might be causing me problems until I can produce a consistent tone on it.

People overthink this "my tone" stuff.

It gets sorta ridiculous, and quite honestly a bit egoistical, IMHO. People write books on this sh#t, trying to make it seem like The Search for the Grail.......People hear a player and wanna emulate their sound. But then they hear another player and wanna emulate THEIR sound. It gets rather silly.
Just appreciate that different players have different sounds/tone, and keep playing your horn.

Sax is a challenging instrument already. This can become one big digression.

Yeah if you sound like a wounded beast, get help on tone and proper blowing technique, of course. But once you have the fundamentals of producing a consistent tone...just play the damn horn.

Find your axe, find your setup(s), and just practice and play and enjoy. Over time you will dial into how your blowing can effect what comes out of your horn.

You will develop your tone.

And your tone will be your tone.
 

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The first years were dreadful. Even though I went through several private teachers. I hated my sound.
They never focused on tone nor embouchure. All of them found it necessary to read music from a page.
Never ever did they teach me stuff like long tones, vibrato, overtones, jazz articulation, mouthpiece exercises, altissimo, improvisation, etc…
Maybe I picked the wrong teachers.

It took me another few years to relearn my embouchure. In fact a lot I’ve learned comes from SOTW and YouTube of course.
I took me 10 years to feel good enough to join a band. After a good 20 years I really began to dig my sound. I’m probably a slow learner.
 

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I started in 7th grade and I remember at times really starting to dig my own sound at times in 10th grade. By 12th grade I was digging my sound more and more. In college I was digging it most of the time. I was playing alto at the time. I took up tenor my second year of college and didn't dig my sound on that horn until 4 years later also. So for me........4 years.........
I should add a detail here. What I'm talking about here is "being in love with my own tone". Like it was heaven for me and I wouldn't trade it for anyone elses tone. That's how I read the question but after seeing some of the responses I realize that some are just talking about "liking their tone" For "liking" I think there were multiple moments off and on within a couple of months where I started digging it with certain notes but more often than not, there would be another note that I couldn't stand..........
 

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Talking clarinet, I played for many years and thought I sounded OK. Then I joined a symphony orch. and realized I needed to work on my sound. It took a few months of hard work, a couple hours daily on long tones and the lit. but it made a big difference. Now, after several yrs. out of the symphony, I sound OK, again. Not like I know I could sound like. I'm working on it, but less than an hour a day...it's gonna be a while. :treble::bass:
 

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About two months. I slapped on a mouthpiece, blew into the horn, practiced long tones regularly up and down the registers until I achieved sonic stability.... let myself sound like me....and started learning songs.

After that I didn't think about "my tone"..."my sound".

Beyond that, I just play and try to improve. If I hit a patch where my tone is starting to be inconsistent, I practice what might be causing me problems until I can produce a consistent tone on it.

People overthink this "my tone" stuff.

It gets sorta ridiculous, and quite honestly a bit egoistical, IMHO. People write books on this sh#t, trying to make it seem like The Search for the Grail.......People hear a player and wanna emulate their sound. But then they hear another player and wanna emulate THEIR sound. It gets rather silly.
Just appreciate that different players have different sounds/tone, and keep playing your horn.

Sax is a challenging instrument already. This can become one big digression.

Yeah if you sound like a wounded beast, get help on tone and proper blowing technique, of course. But once you have the fundamentals of producing a consistent tone...just play the damn horn.

Find your axe, find your setup(s), and just practice and play and enjoy. Over time you will dial into how your blowing can effect what comes out of your horn.

You will develop your tone.

And your tone will be your tone.
I agree with most of this.

On the other hand, it took me probably two years before my alto sound was decent - but I never thought I sounded bad, just that it took that long to develop a proper and robust embouchure. I think my alto sound is quite similar today to what it was 40 years ago. I have actually been recognized after 30 or so years, by my alto sound.

I picked up tenor shortly thereafter and despite having played, off and on, tenor for 41 years now, and probably earning more gig money on tenor than on all the other saxophones combined, I STILL don't really get on with tenor and have never thought I sounded all that great.

I first started working on baritone seriously in '84, and I feel like I was sounding much like myself in a couple weeks of serious familiarization work - long tones, interval exercises, etc. The baritone sax voice really made itself "my voice" almost immediately.

That's the kind of thing that's hard to explain - why one or another instrument can be "your voice" and others, not.

In descending order:

Piccolo: don't play enough to know
Soprano sax: have never really been comfortable, but I think if I had the opportunities to play a lot of soprano I feel I could have a voice.
Flute: Have played a ton of flute, and it has never really been my instrument.
Alto sax: one of my three preferences
Tenor sax: not really, despite having playing many thousands of hours and hundreds of gigs
Baritone: second of my three preferences
Bassax: Too undeveloped to say
String bass: third of my preferences
Piano: Took lessons for many years, never liked playing piano, still don't like playing piano. No resonance with me at all.
 

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Tenor sax is my fifth instrument...

So yeah how long did it take for you to like your tone?
A few months for me. I had already invested several years on clarinet and bassoon. Tenor sax was a magical transformation - my calling, if you will.

What are your other instruments? Have you had any private instruction on wind instruments? Reeds?

Good air support and embouchure are critical to sound production. If you are winging it (self-taught - and that includes "learning" from the internet), it will take you a lot longer.

Of course, one work-around for liking your tone sooner is to lower your expectations. :twisted:
 

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I switched to tenor about 20 years ago, after 10 years on alto. It took me the best part of the first 10 years to become really comfortable playing tenor, and to really like my sound.
 

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Well, I started playing when I was in 4th grade and never thought about whether or not I liked my tone until...shoot, college? And even there, it wasn't a specific "do I like my tone," it was always "is this appropriate for the music? Can I easily play?"

I don't think I thought of like or dislike, I always thought about feel and context with the biggest goal being did I enjoy playing. But coming to a new instrument now, I can see how it would be hard not to over-analyze your tone compared to what you usually do.

Just play and feel good, the tone will come if you practice what you are "supposed" to. I do not believe tone happens in a vacuum, it happens in conjunction with technique. Keep developing technical facility and your tone will also come along. Not 100% (you need to do tone building exercises). If you stop nitpicking your tone and keep practicing, you may surprise yourself the next time you do give it a listen.
 

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I always liked how i sounded. At the time. All 10m and Berg Larsen and strident.

At some point, i realized that I had changed, and sounded a lot better than i ever had. A fatter, less cutting sound. But still big and bold. Much more complex.

But I never "worked on it" or tried to sound like somebody else.
It just turned out that way. Alto was easy after decades of making all of the mistakes on tenor.

Definitely not the quick n easy way to get there. It took a lifetime.
Like Damascus steel now sorta.

You just do you.

Dat
Sax
Man
 

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I'm still working on it. I go through periods of being happy with my sound and periods where I feel like something needs to improve. That's only natural, I think, and I know that overall my tone is a lot better than it was 5 or 10 years ago.

For a beginner, I would say that you should be able to get a reasonably pleasant tone with a couple of weeks of serious effort. This is assuming that your horn is in good condition, and you're using a mouthpiece and a reed that are appropriate for someone who's just starting out. Having a big, beautiful sound like your favorite legendary player will take years, if not the rest of your life, but you should be able to get a decent sound fairly early on.

For me, working on overtones really helped me make a leap forward at a certain point. I did it mainly because I was trying to get better at altissimo, but what I found was that spending 10 minutes a day doing overtones really improved my tone overall.

Another thing was playing along with recordings. Hearing my tone alongside, say, Trane's helped me to hear what I needed to do to improve.
 

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I always liked how i sounded. At the time. All 10m and Berg Larsen and strident.

At some point, i realized that I had changed, and sounded a lot better than i ever had. A fatter, less cutting sound. But still big and bold. Much more complex.

But I never "worked on it" or tried to sound like somebody else.
It just turned out that way. Alto was easy after decades of making all of the mistakes on tenor.

Definitely not the quick n easy way to get there. It took a lifetime.
Like Damascus steel now sorta.

You just do you.

Dat
Sax
Man
Are you familiar with the work of Wadsworth and Sherby?
 

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P.S., FWIW, and OBTW...

Although I was happy with my early sound, my concept has significantly evolved over the years. I would no longer tolerate listening to my early "accepted" tone.

The Brilhart Level Air days are long gone. Apologies to anyone who heard those - regardless of my enthusiasm at the time.
 

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Ha! I'm still playing a LA on baritone! I bet you sounded pretty good on that LA.

Anyway, I started on baritone after a couple years on clarinet which was a waste of time. The school bought a new Martin baritone and since I was the worst clarinet player they let me have it. That marked a tremendous turnaround because I did great on the sax. I talked the director into buying me a Brilhart Ebolin 5* for it. I don't remember being concerned about my tone or sound - I just wanted to be louder on the field and street. At 16, my parents gave me an old used tenor sax - a King Super 20, 1st model. Of course I didn't know anything about 'models' at the time or I would still have it. My mentor then gave me a Berg Larsen 90/2/M (steel) for it and since I was already playing bari in school combos, the switch to tenor was easy. At the time, anytime you turned on a radio you heard sax on every song. I loved that big tenor sound and began to learn to emulate all those guys - that was when I became interested in sound, more so than 'tone'.
'Sound' really is a combination of your sound and your style, which naturally must fit hand-in-glove. For example, Stan Getz's sound does not mesh with Boots Randolph's style. You start playing a certain way and the correct sound/tone for that style just happens. The best thing you can do is keep on practicing but you must also be listening to as many of the great sax records of the past as you can, all available on 'You Tube'. One day things will begin to come together for you.
 

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I didn't find my "sound" until I stopped looking for it.
I've only played tenor for 4 years (after 20 on just alto). Got a new mouthpiece, switched to a different brand and strength of reed, and still not happy... so I just rolled with it for awhile and just played. Last week, put those different reeds on an older mouthpiece I'd consigned to the drawer, as an experiment... and lo and behold, there's that tone!

So, 4 years and some serendipitous equipment swapping is what it took for me to reach this point. I'm sure my sound will keep developing, and will hopefully be pleasing to other people some day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Appreciate the replies.

Glad to hear it is something that takes time and I will just have practice and play through.

Cheers
 

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Appreciate the replies.

Glad to hear it is something that takes time and I will just have practice and play through.

Cheers
So what are your other instruments, and how long have you been at it?
 
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