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I was listening to a few guys play the other day, some good, some not-so-good. A couple of guys really had a "lush" sound. I asked my son, who is a freshman sax major, why some sounded like this. He said he imagined it was their embrochure, that some guys just played that way. Is there more to it than that? It had nothing to do with talent, as some of the better players did not have this sound. I actually heard a beginner once that had that really mello, lush sound too. Thanks.
 

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Just a guy who plays saxophone.
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I think it just speaks a lot to how much our individual physical make up/ characteristics shape our sound. Yes, you can make changes to the way you sound through emulation and practice, but there is a physiological reason that each of us sound the way we do. I've heard just as many mediocre players with a great sound (I like to think I fit in here) as great technical players whose sound didn't really do much for me.
 

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TENOR, soprano, alto, baritone
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I was listening to a few guys play the other day, some good, some not-so-good. A couple of guys really had a "lush" sound. I asked my son, who is a freshman sax major, why some sounded like this. He said he imagined it was their embrochure, that some guys just played that way. Is there more to it than that? It had nothing to do with talent, as some of the better players did not have this sound. I actually heard a beginner once that had that really mello, lush sound too. Thanks.
It actually has everything to do with talent. 'Better players' are usually just better trained players. Getting a full, lush sound just comes naturally to some. To me, sound is far more important than technique, although obviously the best circumstances would be to have both.
 

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It depends on how much you drink!

But seriously, I think it has a lot more to do with your influences (who you listen to, and emulate) than anything. To me, lush is Ben Webster, Zoot Sims, Joe Lovano, etc. I associate lush with big, and warm tenor sounds. If you're listening and heavily influenced by players like Coltrane, Brecker, Bob Berg, etc that mellow, lush sound wouldn't be as present in your playing. That's not to say that Coltrane, Brecker, Berg, etc don't have lush sounds, or can't acheive lush sounds, but it's not as immediate in their sonic spectrum.
 

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A tenor player I knew bought a Mark 6 tenor from the widow of an old farmer who decided he wanted to play sax but never followed through on this. When he died this tenor player bought the sax from the widow. I'd heard this chap over a long period and he was a rather ordinary player. But one Sunday I was running late to a jam and as I approached the venue I heard this beautiful lush rich tenor sound and when I arrived I saw it was this bloke playing on this newly acquired sax. I couldn't get over the difference in this bloke's playing. So in this case I believe it was the sax itself which was the difference, He was fortunate to have bought one of the really good Mark 6's. Same thing happened with the young bloke who later bought this same sax from him. He likewise sounded much better than he was capable of. So it was definitely the sax doing the trick.
 

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The suggestions that things such as talent, influences, training, physical makeup etcettera make a difference to the sound we get out of our saxes are right for sure, but I'm a little surprised that noone has mentioned mouthpieces yet.

If I'm palying with my sax quartet I put my Slemer Soloist C** on with a 2½ reed. It's a pefect setup for ensemble work which gets me that lovely lush sound we're talking about which blends beautifully with the other three. But if I'm with my concert band doing a bunch of swing stuff with the occasional let-it-rip solo, then I put the Link STM 7 on with a 3½ reed - totally different sound, and never the twain shall meet.

I have to say though, and this is the first time I've realised it really, I approach these two kinds of gigs with completely and totally different minds sets. If I'm off to a quartet gig then even as I walk out the house I'm in ensemble mode. I'm thinking timing, body language, dynamics, precision - it's a very special kind of mind set. That's not to say that these things aren't important in the concert band, but as I walk out the house for a concert band gig I have a completely different mind set. It's all about volume, sound, tempo, swing - very different. As I say, I've never really thought about that before but it's definitley the way it affects me.

So is it the mind set or the mouthpieces which produce the sound? Well put it this way, I could no more use the Link for the quartet and the Selmer for the concert band than I could poke my own eyes out, even the thought is just totally out of the question. So maybe it is a combination of mouthpiece and mind - who knows?
 

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10MFAN MOUTHPIECES "Innovation over imitation"
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For me----the sound comes from a combination of reed, mouthpiece, horn, and inner concept of sound.
 

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10mfan you nailed it!!!!
 

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lushest sound I can get is from a mouthpiece i got from you ;)
 

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I think your setup can effect your sound drastically, but 90% of your sound comes from your embouchure and your concept of sound that you hear in your head. In a studio class my professor did, he played a wide variety of his student's horns (from Selmer series II and III to Cannonball, Yamaha 875EX, etc. with all different combination of mouthpieces, ligs and reeds). You could definitely hear differences in his sound, but it was also easy to tell it was him playing. No matter what setup you use, people will still recognize your sound. Your sound stems from who you listen to and try to emulate, and especially who you study with.
Embouchure also plays a big role. If you take in a lot of mouthpiece, your sound will probably be bright because you're allowing a lot of the reed to vibrate in your mouth, which creates a lot of high overtones in your sound. If your bottom lip is close to the tip of the reed, your sound will be darker. This is because you hear more of the low overtones in your sound when you take less mouthpiece.
 

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i think 65% is more like it ........... ive spent all day today comparing 3 horns,as well as pairing them with different mouthpieces... they simply inspire me to play differently....and i certainly play MUCH differently with a berg larsen than with a link slant
 

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Threads like this one are the reason I read SOTW-. I disagree with much in the above posts but that's OK. I still learn from them.

As to my concept of a lush sound, first and foremost I believe that it must come from within. No matter how nerdy we might perceive it to be, I really think that if you cannot "hear" the sound you want in your head, you will never be able to produce it on your horn. That head tone is acquired through active listening. I think that one must listen to others who have the sound you want and then try to embed that perfect, to you, sound deep in your conscious and subconcious so that when you hear it made, either by another or yourself, you will recognize it instantly.

Only then, in my opinion, can you begin, or continue, the hardware chase for horn, mouthpiece or reed.

One man's opinion, I could be wrong,
SG
 

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If you're listening and heavily influenced by players like Coltrane, Brecker, Bob Berg, etc that mellow, lush sound wouldn't be as present in your playing. That's not to say that Coltrane, Brecker, Berg, etc don't have lush sounds, or can't acheive lush sounds, but it's not as immediate in their sonic spectrum.
Saxophone players put a lot of emphasis on the importance of tone but having heard the sax more than most people, their ears get tuned to it. While tone is more obvious to a sax player, after careful consideration, I feel a lush tone with subtones would be appropriate and important for old ballads and slow music.
 
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