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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm playing a hard rubber Meyer 5 on lead alto in my 8-member swing band. I like warmth in my tone, but I can't compete with the brass, or even the tenor player who is using a metal mpc. Is there a mouthpiece that might help me get louder without losing the warmth? I wondered if a metal mpc would increase the volume without making it too bright if I got one with a large enough chamber? Or does one need to go bright in order to rise out of spectrum? This mpc is a great blender, compliments any other instrument really well, but I just struggle when it's my time to solo. Most people do play rubber on alto. There's probably a reason... The hassle with shopping for mouthpieces is that you can't just walk in a store and try them out in my area. See my signature for my setup.
 

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I’d recommend a Vandoren v16 A5 s plus. It’s got a smaller chamber but still retains a good core sound that projects and can be warm or bright depending on how you voice it. You can get one on Amazon for not much more than $100 I think.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I’d recommend a Vandoren v16 A5 s plus. It’s got a smaller chamber but still retains a good core sound that projects and can be warm or bright depending on how you voice it. You can get one on Amazon for not much more than $100 I think.
Thanks. That sounds like good news!
 

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Yes, I should add I have one and it’s a very versatile mpc. Might be a good fit for you since you’d be coming from a comparable size of your Meyer...and I’ve used select 3S or v16 2 1/2s for reeds too.
 

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I'm playing a hard rubber Meyer 5 on lead alto in my 8-member swing band. I like warmth in my tone, but I can't compete with the brass, or even the tenor player who is using a metal mpc. Is there a mouthpiece that might help me get louder without losing the warmth? I wondered if a metal mpc would increase the volume without making it too bright if I got one with a large enough chamber? Or does one need to go bright in order to rise out of spectrum? This mpc is a great blender, compliments any other instrument really well, but I just struggle when it's my time to solo. Most people do play rubber on alto. There's probably a reason... The hassle with shopping for mouthpieces is that you can't just walk in a store and try them out in my area. See my signature for my setup.
Alto players have been successfully blowing that size tip for decades - it’s all about dialing in your efficiency.

There’s another issue at play too - if the band is already loud, you don’t need to get louder - the rest of the band needs to BACK OFF ON THE VOLUME!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Alto players have been successfully blowing that size tip for decades - it’s all about dialing in your efficiency.
I'm not sure what you mean about dialing in my efficiency. Are you talking about coning to make the air speed greater, or what?
 

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Give some more air support, try to take in some more mouthpiece, vary with the positioning of your lower lip and focus on the tone you want to hear.
A big sound is not about being bright..
 

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I'm not sure what you mean about dialing in my efficiency. Are you talking about coning to make the air speed greater, or what?
First off, the band is probably too loud (it's the tenor player's job to be quieter than you). But before changing mouthpiece, you can learn to project a lot on a Meyer 5. I used to take lessons with Bob Martin, who was 2nd alto with Buddy Rich for years, and Bob has a huge sound on a Meyer.

I'm not sure how long you've been playing, and none of what I'm going to write should replace basic rudiments, reading, studies or lessons etc. These are just a few things that helped me (I was already playing professionally whilst doing these)

As well as stressing the importance of using the diaphragm and keeping the lower lip and mouth relaxed I learned to practice with too much mouthpiece until it felt normal. Don't try to make your sound pretty like that, just phrase and blow. It feels really weird, but my projection when playing normally improved a lot.
I also used these 'running with weights' ideas

1. Practicing with your top lip off the mouthpiece. Sounds awful, and you lose so much air. But when you play normally...(that's from joe Allard)
2. Playing the low register with the octave key on (again..not pretty)
3. Overtones, especially getting C3 whilst fingering low F (really gets your throat to open)
4. Play along with Phil Woods, Charles McPherson or Jackie McLean recordings!
5. Practice huge crescendos for 15mins, twice a day. Just on the main six keys.

Hope any of this might help. Best of luck!
 

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Before you try to build a log cabin with a screw driver, let me ask you this: Do you think anyone in the group is going to spent 15 to 20 minutes a day so they a learn to play softer? I know the SOTW Kool-Aid is to spend your entire life playing long-tone and crazy breathing exercises but let's talk reality. The brass will never play softer, your tenor guy apparently doesn't care about ensemble sound, and just because one guy at one time played super loud on a Meyer doesn't mean it's going to work for you.

You've got two choices:

1) Spend hours a day trying to get your VW Beetle Mouthpiece up to Formula One Speed (Although with a Legere Reed or Rico Plastic Covered Reed - you could get up to NASCAR Speed)

or 2) Go get a Lakey or Jumbo Java mouthpiece and enjoy yourself blasting away.

There is a 3rd Option - Try to play with musicians that are musical - very rare these days.
 

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Well, I would suggest going a bit larger on the tip (maybe a #7 Meyer) and learning how to blow through the thing. However, if your own personal configuration needs something a little brighter, it's not crazy to try that out. One of the Vandoren pieces might well be the ticket here.

What I see a lot of is players who have been yelled at for being too loud in concert band so long they don't know how to put air through the horn. Blending is not the job of the lead alto; your job is to LEAD.

If you get a high baffle mouthpiece and try to play it with a puny underdeveloped airstream that comes from years of trying to blend at all costs, it'll sound worse but it won't be any louder. Whether you go to a higher baffle brighter sounding piece or not, you still need to play with proper air stream and support. Equipment will not allow you to avoid this part of your development.

There's a reason why those of us that have been doing this a long time have largely moved away from extreme mouthpiece designs to more moderate ones.
 

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Good advice on learning how to build your sound and be most efficient with your air. I would apply the same approach on the v16. I would stay away from anything with a more extreme design like the jumbo java, etc. While yes the Meyer 5 is a great starting point for building a good core sound, I would not like playing lead alto on one, as I would really have to force it into overdrive to play over a band. And the reality is most bands do play too loudly, unfortunately.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
First off, the band is probably too loud (it's the tenor player's job to be quieter than you). But before changing mouthpiece, you can learn to project a lot on a Meyer 5....Hope any of this might help. Best of luck!
Wow, thanks! I appreciate it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Good advice on learning how to build your sound and be most efficient with your air. I would apply the same approach on the v16. I would stay away from anything with a more extreme design like the jumbo java, etc. While yes the Meyer 5 is a great starting point for building a good core sound, I would not like playing lead alto on one, as I would really have to force it into overdrive to play over a band. And the reality is most bands do play too loudly, unfortunately.
Yes, they're good players, but they like to play out. They aren't nasty-blasty, but there is room for improvement on blend awareness, especially under the singer. They are all better players than I am in other respects, except for possibly intonation, so I think I just need to get better about projecting. I've played sax 8 years or so, but only had lessons the last two years. My lessons have been focused on improv more than on technique and tone. I can blow them out of the water volume-wise on soprano, but then it's octave is up and out of the mix. On soprano, I'm the one who has to lie low and be extra-sensitive, so I know how it feels to have to tip-toe around. It would be better if I could produce more sound for them on alto. I'll talk with my teacher about the mouthpiece possibility and the other suggestions. He's a tenor player who has always used the same mouthpiece with great success, so he doesn't necessarily feel my pain.
 

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I think you may also get some mileage out of a different reed. If I understand you correctly, your soprano is louder than your alto and that sounds a bit weird (not impossible). Different altos can be very different with respect to volume but I would give the Eastman 2.5 reeds a shot and even though the Meyer 5M may not be a soft MPC per se, it may be that your particular one is a bit on the soft side. On a side note, you are playing a 7 facing on the soprano and a 5 facing on the alto and there is nothing wrong with that but try a 7 facing on the alto. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, maybe even one of the "dreaded" Rico Metalite (I hate them but they are cheap and loud) will get you what you need.
 

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Try a Plasticover or Fibracell Reed.

Yes these reeds will brighten the sound but will still be more balanced and provide better intonation than switching to a smaller chamber or high baffle mouthpiece (in my opinion).
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Try a Plasticover or Fibracell Reed.

Yes these reeds will brighten the sound but will still be more balanced and provide better intonation than switching to a smaller chamber or high baffle mouthpiece (in my opinion).
Anytime I have put a Fibracell on, my teacher immediately tells me it's too buzzy (even if I've already set it up before he comes in). But my lessons happen in his living room, so his ears are pretty close to the source of the sound. A friend at church who plays a Mark VI uses Fibracell and a C* and sounds much louder than I do. His tone doesn't come across as buzzy.
 

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But before changing mouthpiece, you can learn to project a lot on a Meyer 5.
Indeed. I use a Meyer 5 on my ancient Modele 26 and have no problems playing loud enough to compete with two rock guitarists and a half-deaf keyboard player.

As others have said, it may very well be the band as a whole needs to play more quietly. It could also be that, rather than play louder, you need to learn to hear yourself within the maelstrom of instruments - that can be a skill all of its own. It wouldn't surprise many who've played in groups if your fellow musicians suffer precisely this - one person plays louder because they're struggling to hear themself, so the person next them has to play a little louder so they can hear which means the person next to them... etc. etc.

Or it could be that you need to be physically in a different part of the band layout so that you're not competing with other instruments in the same frequency range or so that you don't have horns and bones pointed right at your head.

The only time when I really haven't been able to hear what I was playing was at a rock gig where the sound engineer lost control of what he was doing so that the audience-facing PA was running at full volume (with the reflected volume deafening everyone on the stage), which meant everyone on stage then demanded their monitors be turned up and that meant another 7 sets of monitors running flat out all while he forget to unmute me in the monitor mix. It was so loud I had ringing in my ears for over a week - I actually thought I'd done serious damage.
 

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Indeed. I use a Meyer 5 on my ancient Modele 26 and have no problems playing loud enough to compete with two rock guitarists and a half-deaf keyboard player.

As others have said, it may very well be the band as a whole needs to play more quietly. It could also be that, rather than play louder, you need to learn to hear yourself within the maelstrom of instruments - that can be a skill all of its own. It wouldn't surprise many who've played in groups if your fellow musicians suffer precisely this - one person plays louder because they're struggling to hear themself, so the person next them has to play a little louder so they can hear which means the person next to them... etc. etc.

Or it could be that you need to be physically in a different part of the band layout so that you're not competing with other instruments in the same frequency range or so that you don't have horns and bones pointed right at your head.

The only time when I really haven't been able to hear what I was playing was at a rock gig where the sound engineer lost control of what he was doing so that the audience-facing PA was running at full volume (with the reflected volume deafening everyone on the stage), which meant everyone on stage then demanded their monitors be turned up and that meant another 7 sets of monitors running flat out all while he forget to unmute me in the monitor mix. It was so loud I had ringing in my ears for over a week - I actually thought I'd done serious damage.
The players who can't "hear" often play sharp for the same reason.
 

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Brighter is usually louder...

At least it’s perceived as louder by the listener.


On another note, you can just ask the tenor player to hold back or even just not play during your solo.
 
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