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Hi, I'm new to the forum and, I suppose, an intermediate player on a good day. I currently use a Jody Jazz HR* 7 with a Rovner Dark ligature. I use a Legere American Cut reed. My sax is a Yamaha YTS480.

I'm looking at changing my sound to something a bit raunchier; I'm not sure that bright describes what I'm after. Any suggestions?
 

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What strength reed? You probably have a very 'sterile' sound, like most sax players today, who seem to have a problem in standing out from the crowd. Without changing the mouthpiece, which may or may not be a good one, I would go with a cane reed and Rovner SS ligature.
 

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Your setup is probably fine. The most effective and cheapest thing you can do right now to get the sound you want is to find sax solos where the player has the sound you’re looking for, and spend a few weeks transcribing each one. It’s not a quick fix, but you’ll come out the other end a much better player, and it won’t cost you a cent.

If, in a few years, when you’re most of the way to the sound you want but there’s still something missing, that’s a good time to consider changing your setup. If you feel uncomfortable with your setup—as in, it’s too hard to play—try using a softer reed. But you have exactly the kind of setup you want for where you are as a player: something neutral that gives you the freedom to build a sound you like without developing bad habits.
 

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Not really familiar with the Jody HR*, but generally those “tame” HR mouthpieces on tenor remain… tame. Furthermore, Rovner Dark ligatures take their toll on high frequencies and response.
The most common middle of the road versatile more lively setup would be a Link Super Tone Master 7*, with a metal ligature. Or one of the zillion of copies and spin-offs.
Try to borrow one or two, and look what happens.
I recently settled on a Vandoren V16 metal, one of the better copies of the Links made in the great jazz decades. They still go within reasonable budgets. But I played more than a decade on a bunch of Link STMs, switching between 8 and 8*.
 
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Yanigasawa S-6 soprano, Yamaha YAS-62 Alto; Selmer Mk VI Tenor; Martin Committee III Baritone
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Ditto for a reed change. Rico orange box, La Voz, Vandoren Java, Rigotti Gold would all help give you some more edge. Use softer reeds and take lots of mpc in your mouth.
 

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SOTW Columnist/ Forum Contributor 2014, Disti
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Rovner SS ligature
Agree, or a Rico H lig with a pasticover reed (which most players do not like) but the good plasti's can get you a little more towards that raunchy (buzz). Add a little trial and error embouchure adjustment (which most will disagree). Purchase several boxes of the plasti's so you will find the ones that do the job. Add just a shade of periodic growl once in a while (which most will disagree) :)(y)
 

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Yanigasawa S-6 soprano, Yamaha YAS-62 Alto; Selmer Mk VI Tenor; Martin Committee III Baritone
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+1 on trying a different reed, for a start. The Legere I've tried (Signature) played really well in the lower register, but it lacked something in the mid to upper range, and it definitely lacked edge up there. Plays really well, but kind of dull, for lack of a better term. In cane, Rigotti Gold would be a good choice.
 

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The American Cut Legere reeds I've tried are even more towards raunchy/edgy than plasticovers in my experience. But I'm a fan of plain old cane reeds - the lowly orange box Rico does everything I could ask of a reed.

I have an HR* soprano piece and I find it to be capable of anything between soft and mellow to raunchy and extreme - I haven't tried the HR* tenor but I have been playing on an HR* Custom Dark tenor. I would expect the HR* to be less dark than the Custom Dark and I have no trouble going from soft and mellow to raunchy as you want with the Custom Dark ... so I'd expect the HR* tenor to be pretty versatile too.

It is more the player than the setup (as long as your setup is decent to begin with and the HR* is far better than just decent) so I agree with @Homely Saxman that you will get more benefit from listening to people with the sound you like and transcribing and playing along. You will learn to alter your breath/throat/mouth/tongue/embouchure etc to produce the sound you are after.
 

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Not really familiar with the Jody HR*, but generally those “tame” HR mouthpieces on tenor remain… tame. Furthermore, Rovner Dark ligatures take their toll on high frequencies and response.
The most common middle of the road versatile more lively setup would be a Link Super Tone Master 7*, with a metal ligature. Or one of the zillion of copies and spin-offs.
Try to borrow one or two, and look what happens.
I recently settled on a Vandoren V16 metal, one of the better copies of the Links made in the great jazz decades. They still go within reasonable budgets. But I played more than a decade on a bunch of Link STMs, switching between 8 and 8*.
I actually firmly disagree with this. Modern STM Links are much darker than something like the JodyJazz HR*, which while not my favorite mouthpiece, is pretty neutral and versatile. The HR V16 is my usual recommendation for a first jazz mouthpiece, but if OP already has a good mouthpiece in that price range, it's a lateral move. Also, the idea that Rovners darken your sound is one of those myths that's so obviously silly that I can't believe it persists.

Besides, even if OP gets a new mouthpiece further down the road, it's best for them to start by exploring zero-cost options like transcription or overtone practice, which will have a much more dramatic effect than the mouthpiece carousel. Mouthpieces are expensive, and I think we can be a little too flippant about going through lots of them. That isn't to say I'm above GAS--I'm absolutely not--but it shouldn't be the first thing a player tries.
 

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Cannonball Vintage Reborn Tenor Sax with Cannonball 5J hr (Meyer clone produced by JJ Babbitt))
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I did not care for the Jody Jazz HR when I tried it, but it is a well made mouth piece. Other than going to cane, the synthetic American Cut is pretty buzzy for me on a Meyer clone. You could try to move the ligature back a bit and see if that gains more highs. A standard metal ligature will also gain highs. Try not to overtighten the Rovner ligature. That also will smother the reed a bit.
 

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Keilwerth saxes (S/A/T), Selmer clarinets (S/B), Altus Azumi flute
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Your setup is probably fine. The most effective and cheapest thing you can do right now to get the sound you want is to find sax solos where the player has the sound you’re looking for, and spend a few weeks transcribing each one. It’s not a quick fix, but you’ll come out the other end a much better player, and it won’t cost you a cent.
100% this.

There's a couple of recent Bob Reynolds transcription videos that illustrate this. In one he's transcribing a Chris Potter solo and in another he's transcribing a Stan Getz solo. While Bob never changes his setup (nor, I think, is he deliberately trying to change his sound), it's incredible just how different he sounds in each case, and how much he sounds like the soloist he's currently transcribing.
 

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Exactly - you first have to be able to play like the one you want to emulate - that means you could change from Boots Randolph to Stan Getz if you play Yakety Sax and then One Note Samba. The secret to this is CONTEXT - you won't be successful trying to play Yakety Sax like Getz but if you play the Samba, you can evoke Getz by association. Any good set-up will allow this to varying extents, and even though you won't sound exactly like the one you wish to emulate, I think any of us would recognize the style.
 

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A 7* JJ mp with a dark lig and a 2.5 reed is guaranteed to deliver a mushy, indistinct sound. If we assume the mouthpiece to be at least okay, you will have to work up to a #3 Rico reed in order to get anywhere. A ligature change would probably help you. I will not argue about 'Rovner v. metal' but I always recommend Rovners. The change I mentioned would bring out some 'sizzle' in your sound but you're playing a very soft set-up. I use 2.5 on a Guardala 'King Curtis' that measures .116" and that is a little soft too depending on the reed, but most of us here would instantly close up your set-up and not be able to play it. It takes years to get 'chops' on a sax, and that's what you need to work on first.
 

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The HR* is a great MP. Consist, great intonation, good finish, versatile. I’ve gotten to where I recommend it for almost all my HS and college students as a great overall jazz MP. That said I’d try different reeds start with, Java, Java red, rigotti blue box.

For the lig I’m one that feels they don’t make a ton of difference, that said personally I like the vandoren optimum with the HR*.
 

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It is mostly educated guesswork, rather than shots in the dark.

I’m a big believer in emulating those players you want to most sound like both through transcription and simply playing along.

Just for the sake of the experience, try playing the exact setup you currently have but with a slightly more ‘lip out’ approach to your embouchure. Very slightly protrude your curled bottom lip so it’s dampening the reed less. You’ll note an immediate increase in volume and bite in the tone.
 

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the idea that Rovners darken your sound is one of those myths that's so obviously silly that I can't believe it persists.
Oh, well.
Seems to be time to get out of here.
Why did I persist ?
 
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