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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, friends.

I've just started taking both instruments to gigs, for variety, and because some songs lay better with one instrument than the other, not to mention that the pitch of one fits some songs better than the other, even when in the same key. (You professionals already knew that, but it took me years to figure it out, myself)

Anyway, do you have any time-saving suggestions for switching from one to the other at the same gig?

I find that my posture is different for each instrument, so I need to adjust the mic stand and the music stand as quickly as possible, which is not easy to do on short notice without leaving an unpleasant period of silence for the audience to listen to, in the meantime. So the only solutions that I have come up with, so far are these:

1. Put on prerecorded background music for a couple of minutes, while I make the switch.

Drawback: A) this could be cumbersome if done frequently. B) the audience or the host may notice.

2. Use only one instrument for the entire set, wait until break time, put on background music, make those adjustments for th eother instrument, and then play the other instrument for the entire new set.

Drawback: in that case I cannot slip in any songs that suddenly come to mind for the other instrument.If I say, "Hey, they are going to cut the cake now. This would be a perfect moment for that romantic tune on the other instrument," I would be "back to the drawing board."

3. Buy an extra music stand and an extra mic stand, and have everything in place beforehand, each according to the posture required, so that I could just move the sheet music alone from one set-up to the other.

Drawback: A) I would still have to move the mic from one stand to the other, or else buy a second SM57 for over $100 and leave both in place, each in its own stand. B) It adds to the clutter and detracts from the visual stage presentation, if I even have one.

What is your own solution to this problem? Heck, if you are switching from alto to tenor suddenly, we can add to the crisis the need for additional sheet music in the right key for the second instrument.

(Incidentally, I did not post this in the section on "doubling" because we are talking about the same instrument in the same key, basically, and only as it applies to solo performance, as opposed to playing wth an orchestra or band.)
 

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Hello, friends.

I've just started taking both instruments to gigs, for variety, and because some songs lay better with one instrument than the other, not to mention that the pitch of one fits some songs better than the other, even when in the same key. (You professionals already knew that, but it took me years to figure it out, myself)

Anyway, do you have any time-saving suggestions for switching from one to the other at the same gig?

I find that my posture is different for each instrument, so I need to adjust the mic stand and the music stand as quickly as possible, which is not easy to do on short notice without leaving an unpleasant period of silence for the audience to listen to, in the meantime. So the only solutions that I have come up with, so far are these:

1. Put on prerecorded background music for a couple of minutes, while I make the switch.

Drawback: A) this could be cumbersome if done frequently. B) the audience or the host may notice.

2. Use only one instrument for the entire set, wait until break time, put on background music, make those adjustments for th eother instrument, and then play the other instrument for the entire new set.

Drawback: in that case I cannot slip in any songs that suddenly come to mind for the other instrument.If I say, "Hey, they are going to cut the cake now. This would be a perfect moment for that romantic tune on the other instrument," I would be "back to the drawing board."

3. Buy an extra music stand and an extra mic stand, and have everything in place beforehand, each according to the posture required, so that I could just move the sheet music alone from one set-up to the other.

Drawback: A) I would still have to move the mic from one stand to the other, or else buy a second SM57 for over $100 and leave both in place, each in its own stand. B) It adds to the clutter and detracts from the visual stage presentation, if I even have one.

What is your own solution to this problem? Heck, if you are switching from alto to tenor suddenly, we can add to the crisis the need for additional sheet music in the right key for the second instrument.

(Incidentally, I did not post this in the section on "doubling" because we are talking about the same instrument in the same key, basically, and only as it applies to solo performance, as opposed to playing wth an orchestra or band.)
If you're standing you shouldn't need to adjust your music stand. At any rate, get one of the Manhasset stands then you can just step on the base and pull it up or push it down. Takes all of 3 seconds.

As to microphones, I think you could just pivot the mike upward when you switch to soprano and back down for tenor; might be 5 seconds. Or, use a gooseneck. Or, use two mikes.

But frankly I can't see how it can take more than 10 seconds to raise/lower a normal Manhasset music stand and pivot a mike to a new position.
 

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When I used to need a truly rapid switch, I would just pick up my sop and leave the tenor on the neckstrap. Done.

Nowadays, I might take a few more seconds and actually switch horns.

I suggest that you determine whether you can find a neutral compromise for your mic, music stand, and posture. I can understand needing to dial in the mic, since an SM57 has a short range, but I don't understand why you need to adjust music stand and posture - especially posture. Maybe a different mic could help find a better solution.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for your input, Turf.

Of course, I should probably "mark" the two ideal heights for tenor and soprano, and that would help a bit. I am using microphone booms, so it is not just a question of pushing up and down, although I can certainly figure out a better approach, to see if I can leave the boom itself in one spot lengthwise, and adjust only the angle.

Typically I angle the boom down for soprano, but swivel the microphone around, to point upward from below. I keep the whole thing slightly behind the music stand, so that the mic itself is just under the lower edge of my sheet music, more or less. As for the music stand, I have to lower it to compensate the angle of holding the soprano slightly pointed toward the ground by about 30 degrees, so that, while looking downward by 30 degrees, the music is down closer to my line of sight. Using eyeglasses makes that even more necessary.

for tenor, I typically raise the mic boom upward, but swivel the microphone itself around to point downward at a 45 degree angle perhaps, pointing toward the bell of the horn. In other words, the boom angles slightly above the bell, but the mic angles down toward the bell, from above. Then, because of the position of the sax body and neck, I cannot see the sheet music anymore unless I slide the top of the music stand way high, to shoulder level or highter, like slightly above the neck, or somewhere thereabouts.

If these postures are wrong, let me know. But to make the adjustments perfectly takes at least two minutes, with all the loosening, sliding, screwing, tightening, and then briefly testing. Then I move the mic from the one stand to the other (in the scenario of using two mic stands). So far I have not bought a second music stand, but only a secondary mic stand, for using the same one microphone.

(Incidentally, if you have tested and proven an inexpensive substitute for the SM57, please tell me which model to buy as a back-up or for this one)
 

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Typically I angle the boom down for soprano, but swivel the microphone around, to point upward from below. I keep the whole thing slightly behind the music stand, so that the mic itself is just under the lower edge of my sheet music, more or less. As for the music stand, I have to lower it to compensate the angle of holding the soprano slightly pointed toward the ground by about 30 degrees, so that, while looking downward by 30 degrees, the music is down closer to my line of sight. Using eyeglasses makes that even more necessary.

for tenor, I typically raise the mic boom upward, but swivel the microphone itself around to point downward at a 45 degree angle perhaps, pointing toward the bell of the horn. In other words, the boom angles slightly above the bell, but the mic angles down toward the bell, from above. Then, because of the position of the sax body and neck, I cannot see the sheet music anymore unless I slide the top of the music stand way high, to shoulder level or highter, like slightly above the neck, or somewhere thereabouts.

If these postures are wrong, let me know. But to make the adjustments perfectly takes at least two minutes, with all the loosening, sliding, screwing, tightening, and then briefly testing. Then I move the mic from the one stand to the other (in the scenario of using two mic stands). So far I have not bought a second music stand, but only a secondary mic stand, for using the same one microphone.

(Incidentally, if you have tested and proven an inexpensive substitute for the SM57, please tell me which model to buy as a back-up or for this one)
Are you playing against a high background noise level? If not, try backing off the mic, and aiming it mid-horn instead of into the bell. If looking for another dynamic mic, look for a wider cardioid pattern. I don't know the current mics that would fill the need in that price range. I use a decades-old Sennheiser 421.
 

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Get in a real band sometime and try to hold up the show while you fart around with your stuff. Put a horn down, pick up the other horn and blow. I change from tenor to baritone and back twice in one 10-minute mini-show! Plus I play alto on a couple of numbers and dual saxes (tenor/alto) on a couple more. I use a 'tipped-bell' soprano so I don't have to mess with the mic. I don't use music (generally) but my main group has tall 'fronts' for the horns. Its convenient for my song list, phone with tuner app and of course shades for night and day. They are great in hiding wrinkled old eyes. LOL
Seriously, you should play the reed parts in a pit orchestra sometime where if you survive the first rehearsal, you'll learn how to switch horns quickly, quietly and without beating them together. I guess most of my 'hurry-up' switches take about ten seconds.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
That's encouraging, Saxman. Mabe I've just been a bit of a perfeccionist, all along, and need to just learn to switch without worrying about the details. Good advice.

As for the SM57, I don't believe it is a dynamic mic, since I have to aim right at it. I like it, because I don't want the background noise to go in it, but sometimes I wish it had a slightly wider "capture range." I don't remember why I had to be so close, but I will do some testing. It seems that I could not turn up the volume more without feedback or something. I've been toying with the idea of buying a clip-on mic, which would be yet another possible time-saving solution, to eliminate the issue of adjusting the mic stand. I guess I would have to have two: one for each instrument.
 

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As for the SM57, I don't believe it is a dynamic mic, since I have to aim right at it. I like it, because I don't want the background noise to go in it, but sometimes I wish it had a slightly wider "capture range." I don't remember why I had to be so close, but I will do some testing. It seems that I could not turn up the volume more without feedback or something. I've been toying with the idea of buying a clip-on mic, which would be yet another possible time-saving solution, to eliminate the issue of adjusting the mic stand. I guess I would have to have two: one for each instrument.
You have an opportunity to learn about and experiment with mics. I suggest you take both horns to your local sound shop (music store) and ask to try out some mics. FWIW, the better clip-on options for straight sop have two mics - one mid-length and another at the bell (which adds a level of difficulty for racking the horn when not in use).

It seems that you may be confusing dynamic and condenser mics, the SM-57 is indeed a dynamic mic. Condenser mics are among those with the widest patterns, and require a voltage source, either internal or phantom.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I see, Dr. G. Thank you for pointing that out.

so clip-ons are still an option? I will have to look into that discussion on anothe rpart of the forum to see the ins and outs, I guess, in order not to devaite here.

Thank you.
 

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I see, Dr. G. Thank you for pointing that out.

so clip-ons are still an option? I will have to look into that discussion on anothe rpart of the forum to see the ins and outs, I guess, in order not to devaite here.

Thank you.
Clip-ons are an option, but either mediocre or expensive.

Mics are nice for many reasons. You just need to weigh yours.

I still suggest that you visit a music store that has a room and a salesman dedicated to sound reinforcement. Make an appointment and tell them what you hope to achieve. If you can visit during slack time, you might find that the sound person is interested in your challenge.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you, Dr. G. Nice advice. I'll do that.
 
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