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Lately I've been trying to get that "commercial" or contemporary (how do you call it) pop-alto sound. Not that I love that sound so much, but there're many occasions where that kind of style and sound is needed in bands that I play in.

What I've found so far (here's the trivial part) is that the style, ofcourse, comes from the player. Listen to those kind of players and emulate their style- that has been my method. So far, so good. I've practiced this style with my HR Meyer 6M and Buescher 140 alto. IMO I can pretty well nail the style but the sound isn't bright and cutting enough. Well, I'm expecting a Beechler Bellite #7 to arrive soon. I'm not hoping miracles.. like when I'll blow the Beechler for the first time there's an instant Sanborn-sound coming from my horn ;-) I'm hoping that the new mpc will emphasize brightness and add more cut to the sound.

I'm going to record few samples (if anyone is interested) for comparing purposes. I'll try to play with contemporary style using a standard HR piece (Meyer) and a metal high-baffle piece (Beechler) to see how big part does the contemporary sound play itself compared to the playing style.

It's also interesting to see how much the horn itself makes a difference. When I had a Yamaha alto few years ago, I felt that all my playing sounded too contemporary (no matter what mouthpiece I used). Too cutting and bright in other words. It will be interesting to see (or hear) can my vintage Buescher alto turn into a real pop-music-alto-monster ;)

Any of you trying or tried to emulate that sound and how well have you succeeded?

Opinions.

Ps. I'm also taking recommendations for the reed choice for the metal Beechler. Currently I'm thinking of trying Rico Royals 2.5's first.

Thanks,
-TH
 

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Looking forward to hearing the clips. I needed to use 3 strength Javas to get screaming altissimo on my Conn 6m/Lakey 7*3.
 

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I play a bellite 7 with plasticover 2 or 2.5 reeds. Rico Royal 2.5s would be a good start point I think.

I dont really think of the bellite as having a high baffle, its more of a long rollover...I dont think it has quite the rock and roll raspyness of a true high baffle piece.

I really like my bellite, its quite flexible, but it took a while to get used to the small size, even coming from a metal selmer.
 

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This may be stating the obvious (or way off topic), but could it be that the sound you're looking for is as much the product of studio and/or stage miking techniques as it is the horn/mouthpiece set up?

Rory
 

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Don't expect instant results with that Beechler. It takes a few years to really learn how to play it. But it's worth the time and investment, believe me.

La Voz medium is the standard for that mouthpiece (7 facing). That's the reed that's used in play-testing the mouthpieces (was told to me by Judy Beechler). It's what I use and it's been a blast.
 

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rleitch said:
This may be stating the obvious (or way off topic), but could it be that the sound you're looking for is as much the product of studio and/or stage miking techniques as it is the horn/mouthpiece set up?

Rory
Certainly a consideration I would think. Good point.
 

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rleitch said:
This may be stating the obvious (or way off topic), but could it be that the sound you're looking for is as much the product of studio and/or stage miking techniques as it is the horn/mouthpiece set up?
Yes, but the mouthpiece is where it starts. There is a reason why pure jazzers play Meyers and the contemporary jazz guys play Beechlers.

There's a lot of sound processing done on Snidero on his Strings CD but surely his sound is different from say Eric Marienthal's. There's only so much that compression and reverb can do.
 

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Charles Bay makes some great contemporary and traditional jazz mouthpieces. They are faced very well and are top-notch quality. Definitely worth checking out.

Some of Bay's models for metal:
A-Y: Classic metal mouthpiece in the tradition of Otto Link. Medium-medium large chamber, slight bullet shape on the baffle, and has some rollover baffle at the tip. Has tons of warmth but can project easily.

A1: Very Berg Larsen-ish, but a lot more refined. Has a medium chamber and bigger bullet-shaped baffle than the classic 'Y' series. I would place this as in between the classic Y series and the A3 EJ series. I am using one of these now and it can cut like Eric Marienthal's sound or like Jackie McLean, or play very smooth and round like Peter King's sound. Very nice mouthpiece.

A2: I think the model 2 is still in the prototype phase, but I assume from talking to Bay that this will be much like the Selmer metal design.

A3: Bay takes the EJ line of hard rubber mouthpieces and duplicates them in metal. Has an open chamber and step baffle similar to a dukoff or guardala. They are definitely for rock and fusion playing. Big bright sound without a ton of harshness like the dukoff.

A4: I don't know too much about this model. From what Bay has told me it is more powerful than the A3 and has a smaller chamber and slightly longer step baffle.

A5: This is a small chamber version of the 'Y' classic series. Still has the slight bullet baffle shape.

I hope this is helpful. I will update the info next time I talk to Mr. bay.
 

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I am going to try to get some sound clips together of me playing on a few different models. It may be a week or two before I can have access to some quality recording equipment.
 

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The Jody Jazz DV is a really nice comtemporary piece. Very pricey but well worth it in my opinion.
 

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The olny way to get that sound is to listen to it, over and over. And try and experimenting with different reed set-ups. Our of my Morgan 6M, I can go from big band to pop with just a slight shift in embouchure. Kepp Shedding!
 

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trahansax said:
The olny way to get that sound is to listen to it, over and over. And try and experimenting with different reed set-ups. Our of my Morgan 6M, I can go from big band to pop with just a slight shift in embouchure. Kepp Shedding!
I can't agree more. I'm using a NY Meyer and can go from classical to bebop to lead alto big band to contemporary jazz. Learn to be versatile w/one mouthpiece and it'll lead you to a better sound overall.
 

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I like my alto sound best when it's brighter and edgier than a Meyer but not too Dukoff-y/Sanborn-y. I play a black lacq A990 - and a tweaked Ponzol HR Custom gets me what I want in this regard.

Having said that, I DO wish to have that ultra-contemporary/Sanborn sound at my disposal and it's most readily attainable for me through a Dukoff D or similar styled piece. The one I keep in the case for these purposes is a high baffle brass Ackerman that is, essentially, a brass Dukoff D chamber. Yeah - I did my "thing" to it to get it where I want it - but not on the order of what I'd have to do to a stock Dukoff to get something as cooperative and reed-friendly.

I had the pleasure of seeing Dave Sanborn in concert last Friday (opened for Tower of Power). I was 30 rows back at an outdoor amphitheater, so way too far back to hear his natural sound through the PA sound which was being controlled through a mixing board about 50 yards BEHIND where I was seated - behind the lawn seats. With the sound system set up for anyone hard of hearing (or completely deaf) in the most rearward section of the venue, it was hard to judge how he "really" sounds. I do believe that the concert must have been sponsored by an audiologist looking for new clients.

For the four or five times Dave ventured below D1, his sound was unnatural - completely devoid of any bass-EQ frequencies. This was likely to accomodate the mix and balance with the intense guitar and keys (both were marvelous - his whole band is).

So while I could hear his notes, per se, I could only hear that part of his sound that the mix would allow me to hear. Same is probably safe to say of his studio recordings - you only hear what they want you to hear. I suppose anyone lucky enough to hear him play in a small, moderately amplified venue might have a better idea as to his true sound. The other instruments were mixed with a full, balanced sound - so it was all in the mix and was probably intentional. I have not seen him in concert before, so I can't say if this was any different than any other venue he's played in.

So I guess what I'm getting around to (finally and predictably) is that a certain piece or horn setup might give you the capability to get into that intense contemporary tonal spectrum. But don't bang your head against the wall if you can't shatter any windows without the help of audio processing.

Playing a more open alto piece with a reed like a Fibracell 2 will also help get you over the top. That's my favorite reed to play on pieces that are .085+ when I want a super quick response and that laser-like intensity.
 

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Yes, I had a few Saxworks mpcs. They were essentially refined Dukoffs, in fact based on Sanborn's mouthpiece. They definitely gave me modern sound, so as Ed said starting with a Dukoff makes sense. I would have a hard time getting a similar sound from a Meyer.

Not as extreme in baffle, I have a Rovner metal perfected by Ed for sale. See the mpcs FS thread. It is much more modern sounding than your usual HR alto mpc but more flexible than a Dukoff IMO. In other words it can do jazz or rock/fusion. The Dukoff or Saxworks to me sounds more out of place in jazz.

Good points by the folks who mention the audio processing/EQ factor.
 

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Andrew said:
I can't agree more. I'm using a NY Meyer and can go from classical to bebop to lead alto big band to contemporary jazz. Learn to be versatile w/one mouthpiece and it'll lead you to a better sound overall.
Can't disagree with this...:D
 

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using a hr rubber or lower baffle certainly can play contemporary stuff. but only how close it is. even sanborn also using his dukoff for playing standards.

But it is impossible to sound like a dukoff or belite using a selmer soloist or meyer. It just a vibe that the modern players prefer.
 

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I just heard Nigel Hitchcock yesterday for the first time and he has an incredible sound and chops. Modern yet Phil Woodsish. I don't know what he uses though for his set-up.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks for your replies!

I was also thinking of the effect of sound processing. That probably plays a big role in how do these modern players sound.

As I said in my first post I can pretty well emulate that _style_ with my current setup (to all those who just suggested more shedding). The missing part is the bright and edgy sound which is related to this style. I can only slightly change my basic sound to become brighter and edgier but not enough. That's why I want to try completely different mpc design. IMO There are limits how much you can change your sound with one mouthpiece. I can't believe that you have a dark and smooth traditional classical sax sound and an aggressive edgy funk sound using the same mouthpiece (ofcourse you can play great classical saxophone music with a Dukoff but the sound what we expect to hear is not there). Correct me if I'm wrong.

In another thread I was asking about how to play split-tones. I tried it hard few days ago. I can only split f#2 and g2. There were some conversation on how different horns and mouthpieces make it easier but the main factor is the player (as always :D ). I can do it with my clarinet! But not properly with my alto. So I was wondering how much can a more radical mpc (Beechler in this case) help. This effect is much used in contemporary playing.

Thanks,
-TH
 

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trahansax said:
The olny way to get that sound is to listen to it, over and over.
So how did the first person to get that sound come up with then with nothing to listen too?;) Equipment is certainly part of the equation, that and recording techniques, and practice.
 
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