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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I myself have a cheap Boston Alto. A brand I can't really seem to find any information on anywhere which I'm sure isn't a good sign.
A friend of mine has a relatively more expensive Yamaha as he was fortunate enough to have had his parents buy a sax for him at a young age.

Now I've established I have a signifigantly better embochure, breathing technique, I'm faster on the keys and am generally a better player than him in every way.
However, he still manages to create a better tone than me.
So how much does your horn effect your playing?
 

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I switched from a Selmer Mark VI bari to a Yamaha 52 bari. Sure, I got plenty of compliments of how I sounded on the VI, but since I've switched horns I've gotten MANY more compliments on the Yamaha. To most this may seem odd, but I made another change besides just the horn. I started practicing long tones with a tuner on a regular basis. My embouchure became stronger, my sound improved by leaps and bounds.

The horn is a tool to make music. Like any other tool, some versions of the same tool are better then others, but all will get the job done, it just depends on the work you're willing to put in.

If you want to sound better then your friend just put more time into long tones and focus on your tone. If you can match or surpass him on your cheaper alto, just imagine how much better you will sound when you do get a better alto!

-Scott
 

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This is a tricky business, although I fundamentally agree with TenTen.

Without a competent recording and playback you can't
really make an objective comparison of your sound
vs. your pal's. This is a common error and a bigger deal
than most understand, IMHO.

Here's the point I'd like to make: I think it's most important
that the horn sounds good to the player while he's playing it.
That's why they call it self-expression.

So, if you borrowed your pal's horn, would playing it be more
gratifying (which seems implicit in your question) or not?
How would the sound as you play your pal's horn compare to
the 'better tone' you hear when he plays it?

It seems sure though that the last 10 or 15 percent of your
tone ends up being defined by the equipment regardless.
When you spend the bread make sure it satisfies your ear.
 

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There's two things that you've mentioned - "tone" and "playing" and I would say they're affected differently by getting yourself a new horn.

The tone will always be a combination of you, your mpc (which you haven't mentioned - do you have the same mpc as your friend?) and your horn (although perhaps the horn is the least of those three) so your tone is likely to change if you change horns, especially to a different brand. I also reckon that one player might have a (subjectively) better tone but the other person could still technically be a better player.

Your "playing" is what you do with your horn rather than the horn itself. In theory it shoudn't make any difference whuch horn you happen to be blowing, unless your current horn is holding you up because of mechanical issues. In practice of course, subtle differences will make one horn more comfortable to play than another, plus one might inspire you more than another.

At the end of the day I reckon that the biggest factor is generally the player, not the instrument. I reckon rabbit's 10-15% is spot on!
 
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