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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,

I'm playing on a Ponzol Brass M2 110 opening with Vandoren Blue Box 3.5 or 4 strength for tenor and I find that I'm still getting a thin sound! When I play on the mouthpiece alone, I'm playing a concert G which I read is the pitch I'm suppose to be getting. Am I biting too much? Is it thin due to it being a high baffle piece? Would more long tones solve this issue? I feel like I shouldn't be playing on a 4 strength reed with a 110 opening. Any advice is appreciated. I'd like to not change mouthpieces if possible! Thanks.
 

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Mabye your reeds are too hard.

Did you ever try a softer reed together with putting a lot of air through your mouthpiece?

Avoid biting and open up your throat.
 

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Hi,

I'm playing on a Ponzol Brass M2 110 opening with Vandoren Blue Box 3.5 or 4 strength for tenor and I find that I'm still getting a thin sound! When I play on the mouthpiece alone, I'm playing a concert G which I read is the pitch I'm suppose to be getting. Am I biting too much? Is it thin due to it being a high baffle piece? Would more long tones solve this issue? I feel like I shouldn't be playing on a 4 strength reed with a 110 opening. Any advice is appreciated. I'd like to not change mouthpieces if possible! Thanks.
Holy crap!!!!

That's like trying to play a 2 x 4 laid across the mouth of a subway tunnel!!

I am not familiar with the specific MP but I would strongly suggest something like a #2 reed on a 0.110" opening, not that you would necessarily stay there, but it sounds like you need to work on air support and getting sound out without resorting to an extreme setup. When I was playing a lot of rock and roll back in the 80s the go-to setup was a Dukoff D7 (0.105") but most guys were playing a #3 regular reed which would be about a #2.5 Vandoren, and they were blowing their brains out at very high volume.

If you will work for a few months with softer reeds in the #2 Vandoren range, and you will do tone building exercises, you will learn how to control the reed and play at a high volume without having it close up, and you will have enormously improved tonal flexibility. At that point you may well end up playing a reed that's a bit stiffer.

Why do you think you need to work so hard?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
What's weird is I don't feel like I'm working hard. I can get plenty of volume, but the sound is thing. If i went to a softer reed I feel like my pitch would be totally lost. I'm more concerned about fullness/fatness than volume (since I'm plenty loud and can cut through in an R&B band).
 

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In my experience, I have found that a "thin" sound can be exacerbated by a high baffle. For me, getting a less pronounced baffle has helped my "thicken"/"deepen" my sound while still having an edge that I desire.

But remember, what you hear as "thin" might sound "cutting" to someone else. But if you're unhappy, then try something. The reed is the easiest thing to change, so start there (as suggested). Are you mic'd for the R&B band? Hearing yourself through a mic is a wildly different experience than no enhancement and can give a lack-of-depth to the sound.
 

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We had this conversation two years ago, and you are still playing a too-hard reed. (Check your posts from 2017 about stiff reeds on a .115 tip opening.)

Back off on reed strength, and back off on the biting. Get your pitch under control, and THEN start blowing with more efficiency.

Or just keep doing the same thing, and hope that the results will change...
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Sometimes I'm have mic and sometimes not, only if the room/bar is super small. I still hear this thin sound even when playing in my room alone. With the 4 strength reed I sometimes get the perfect sound that I want but that's like 1 reed our of 10! It can't be the reeds are that inconsistent. I've tried a few different reeds and still go back to the blue box. Maybe more long tones with the 3.5 may do the trick?
 

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I am going with the too hard reed theory.
Just getting back into it from a long period of no sax I can say that the first thing that happens when my embouchure starts to weaken is my high notes wimp out.
As my face muscles strengthen I will be able to play longer sessions.
Keep playing and I think you will get it.
 

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Sometimes I'm have mic and sometimes not, only if the room/bar is super small. I still hear this thin sound even when playing in my room alone. With the 4 strength reed I sometimes get the perfect sound that I want but that's like 1 reed our of 10! It can't be the reeds are that inconsistent. I've tried a few different reeds and still go back to the blue box. Maybe more long tones with the 3.5 may do the trick?
Read your old thread - the advice remains the same: https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showt...-strong-enough-for-8*-!&p=2729546#post2729546

Don't just do long tones on a too-stiff setup. You'll only reinforce bad habits (but you know that, because you still have the same problem after two more years).
 

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I think you are a power player who should do exactly what you think you should do. I think you already know that you need a more open high-baffle mouthpiece to put the fat into your sound, and you're afraid of what some here will think about that. I say, listen to Grover Washington Jr. - 130/0 Berg Larsen w/#5 reed. King Curtis - 140/2 Berg, unknown reed but probably 3.5. Plas Johnson - 160/1 Berg w/#1.5 Plasticover baritone sax reed. I'd recommend for you a Laser-Trimmed Guardala Super King if you can find one in new, original condition. Its about a 125 and you should be able to play a #3 on it. That will put some fat in your sound. These are around for about $250.
 

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OK, I think you're playing way too hard a reed. 1saxman says there are some players who can manage such a hard reed on such an open piece.

Actually, we aren't disagreeing, really.

But what I bet he would agree with me on is that a thin sound is coming not from an embouchure problem but from an air problem. I tell you what, you put as much air through your horn as King Curtis did, and you will have a beautiful fat sound that also cuts and projects. Or, you can do like a lot of players and either go with a smaller opening or a softer reed, and you can still put a huge amount of air through the horn and if you do so you will have a beautiful fat sound that also cuts and projects.

Until you learn, practice, and internalize till it's second nature the proper airstream, diddling around with embouchure and setups will make no difference. Once you learn how to put serious air through the horn, the embouchure will basically take care of itself, and the setup won't really matter.

I remember, some 35 years ago, when I really started seriously working on tone and airstream. Suddenly, when I was putting a real grown-up amount of air through the sax, all the stuff I had read about embouchure made sense. With a puny undeveloped airstream, the descriptions of embouchure sound kind of odd, if not impractical, but when you start playing the thing the way it's meant to be played, it all falls into place.

My recommendation is long tones, outdoors, from the lowest note on the horn to the highest note on the horn. Start at pppp, crescendo to ffff, and then back down to pppp. A VERY IMPORTANT part of this is to let the notes drop out at pppp and break up and sound like poo at ffff. You are not practicing mezzo-forte tone, you are training yourself to play at the extremes of dynamics and to fill the horn with air. After a couple years of this, your pianissimos will be so much more pianissimo, and your fortissimos will be so much more fortissimo, than before. And managing the airstream and embouchure under those extremes of dynamics will train your muscles into the way they should go.

Similarly, when I started playing lead alto, I first went to my high-baffle grass cutter pieces, but in the end I went back to my old practice routine, built up my chops and airstream, and was able to get better sounding results with a middle of the road Meyer mouthpiece.
 

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What's weird is I don't feel like I'm working hard.
So this could be the problem, your aren't working. Mny people use a hard reed and it bis actually easier than a soft reed. But soft reeds can need a lot of work to get the best out of them.


If i went to a softer reed I feel like my pitch would be totally lost. .
Exactly my point. I would recommend a soft reed but work hard at air support and embouchure so your pitch doesn't suffer. That way you will have a more flexible sound and more control of your tone (and dynamics)
 

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Hi,

I'm playing on a Ponzol Brass M2 110 opening with Vandoren Blue Box 3.5 or 4 strength for tenor and I find that I'm still getting a thin sound! When I play on the mouthpiece alone, I'm playing a concert G which I read is the pitch I'm suppose to be getting. Am I biting too much? Is it thin due to it being a high baffle piece? Would more long tones solve this issue? I feel like I shouldn't be playing on a 4 strength reed with a 110 opening. Any advice is appreciated. I'd like to not change mouthpieces if possible! Thanks.
Perhaps best advice you could get would be from Peter Ponzol. Frankly, however, a mouthpiece with a high baffle is designed to have a thin, brilliant sound. That being said you should seek the help of a local professional in your area whose sound you like and take a couple of lessons from him. On a forum like this, one can only guess what the problem may be.
 

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Perhaps best advice you could get would be from Peter Ponzol. Frankly, however, a mouthpiece with a high baffle is designed to have a thin, brilliant sound.
Hmmm...not all of them.
 

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a thin sound is coming not from an embouchure problem but from an air problem.



Until you learn, practice, and internalize till it's second nature the proper airstream, diddling around with embouchure and setups will make no difference.

Yes to this......
 

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You may try experimenting with a mouthpiece pitch lower than a G. Jazz players often play lower on the mouthpiece pitch which allows a more relaxed embouchure, farther reed travel, and a fuller sound with more overtones. The mouthpiece pitch of A for alto and G for tenor are generally better suited to the "rounder" classical concept of tone with fewer of the higher overtones. Vanessa Rae Hasbrook has written an in depth study of alto sax mouthpiece pitch and its relation to styles of playing.
 

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I feel like I shouldn't be playing on a 4 strength reed with a 110 opening.
I would agree with you on that. It would be different if the #4 reed was working fine for you. The fact only 1 out of 10 reeds works for you is a one good indication you are using a reed that is way too hard. The other is that most (not all!, but most) players would find a reed that hard to be unsatisfactory (I've found reeds that are too hard to result in a 'dead' sound, for me anyway). It probably forces you to bite too hard even if you think you aren't, which would contribute to a thin tone. If you can't play a medium strength reed (2.5) reed in tune, you need to work on that issue. That's not a good reason to play a super hard reed.

I had an M2 mpc at one time and liked it ok, but eventually found it too bright. At the time I had to move to an RPC 120B in order to get a fatter tone (a larger tip opening helps warm the tone on a high baffle mpc). So the mpc might be partly why you feel the tone is too bright/thin, but I'd say it's mostly the fact you are playing a reed that is way too hard.
 

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Biting, putting too much pressure on the reed or playing with the sax angled down will create a thin tone, I know because I had to overcome both habits.
i re-centered my pressure so that now I'm able to bend a note down and up from in tune and keep the mpc perpendicular to my face.
It takes more control but allows flexibility.
I use 2/12 or 3 reeds on all my horns.
 

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As many others have said already, but I'll add to the chorus, Vandoren blue box 3.5-4 are popsicle sticks on a wide tipped mouthpiece IMO. The cut is also designed for classical playing with the thicker tip and heart than their other cuts. If it were me, I'd start with a Red Java 3 and see what that does for you, and maybe even a 2.5

Focus on blowing from the gut with as little tension in the neck/shoulders/jaw/face as possible. See what that does. There's no reason you shouldn't have a "fat" tone on a Ponzol M2.
 

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Perhaps best advice you could get would be from Peter Ponzol. Frankly, however, a mouthpiece with a high baffle is designed to have a thin, brilliant sound. That being said you should seek the help of a local professional in your area whose sound you like and take a couple of lessons from him. On a forum like this, one can only guess what the problem may be.
Many mouthpieces are designed to have a brilliant sound, but I don't think any (especially a Ponzol M2) are designed to have a thin sound.
 
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