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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been playing soprano and tenor for many years and have a strong individual tone on both.

Soprano - sweet, masculine, in tune - Damn it Jim, it's a saxophone, NOT a clarinet, oboe, recoder, kazoo, etc. Wouldn't change a thing.

Tenor - NOT sweet. Big Texas Tenor. Dark, raspy, growls on it's own. That's my tenor tone concept over there in the 'avatar' window. Would like a bit more 'space' in the tone, but not at the expense of what is already there.

Alto - I'm pretty sure I've got one somewhere down in the music room.​

Anyway, I played baritone for a while in a blues band and had no problem getting that vintage Conn room-shaking low register. I'm not sure I ever even played anything in the second octave, though.

Now I'm (temporarily?) playing bari in the big band and in at least some places I get to do more than punch the low notes. I find that when I first pick up the horn, this wonderful Muliganesque sound comes out of the 2cd octave, that almost multiphonic sound with the low fundamental, the higher overtones, and sort of a hollow, 'woody' middle.

The problem is that the tone is not locked in, and the more I work on it and related things like dynamic range, intonation, etc., the more it cleans up toward a generic sax tone. If I take a break for a while and come back the tone comes back, at least until I start to concentrate on it again.

Obviously the problem is in my brain (yes, several places...), but mainly unconciously my ears and lips are trying to cleanup the sound. It seems to be the reverse of the typical problem, though, as the sound I want is there. But the usual methods of locking it in (e.g. long tones) seem to be counterproductive.

Anyone ever run into a similar problem?

bari - 1927 Conn New Wonder II 208,xxx Otto Link Metal 8*, Hemke/Rico Royal #3
tenor - 1972 MKVI, Otto Link Metal 7*, Hemke/Rico Royal # 3
sop - MKVI, rubber/plastic Wolf Tane # 9, clarinet reeds​
 

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Do you unconsciously close your throat or tighten up? Relax in the upper register to make it sound full. Maybe a softer reed might help too?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Do you unconsciously close your throat or tighten up? Relax in the upper register to make it sound full. Maybe a softer reed might help too?
That must be what's happening, as the sound is great as long as I don't think about it. I lose it when I try to 'bring it under control'. I haven't had to 'try to relax' on soprano or tenor for many years.

I think in the long run the reed strength is perfect, but maybe I need to get more comfortable 'relaxing' first. I've got some 2 1/2 reeds, I'll give those a try and see how it feels.
 

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I play a Conn of a similar vintage with a Link 7*. Really, It doesn't matter what mouthpiece I play, as long as it's a good one. Some late model Babbitt Links are dogs and need to be tweeked. If your having difficulty manipulating the 2nd octave, perhaps the curve of the mouthpiece facing is off a bit.

You can confirm this with a mouthpiece tech or you can play a bunch of other Links and see if the problem persists.
 

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You can confirm this with a mouthpiece tech or you can play a bunch of other Links and see if the problem persists.
Well, since he has a good sound when he does not think about it, it's probably not mouthpiece related.

Try to play the notes in the upper register as if they are actually in the lower register. That helped me when I switched from alto to baritone.
 
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