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One meaning of "too closed" is that the reed, especially a lighter one will be touching the mouthpiece itself as it vibrates, coloring the tone and (in my experience) producing a fairly stuffy sound. In fact, it can be "close" enough that the entire opening closes completely as the reed covers the entire tip opening. It's a dance. I'm with some of the other folks here in that I play a Berg 115/3 medium with a #1.5 Plasticover reed (very soft.) For me, that allows me to utilize a lot more of the chamber, tip, and roll-off baffle to shape the tone. The reed is vibrating very freely. This takes more air to fill out the sound, but your lip might thank you for it when you are playing long or back-to-back gigs. The soft reed requires very little lip pressure to control it, but you do have to have a sensitive lip to make actual music out of it.
 

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It is normal for the reed to completely close off for a brief moment during its cycle at loud volumes on sax.
absolutely, but that is a very different predicament of the one caused by chocking the reed by a too pointy and tight embouchure, which I have observed many times.

Once a remember a person was getting red in the face and squeezing like an idiot, but producing no sound whatsoever. she had only a couple of mm of mouthpiece in her mouth.

Even after some instructions she would take a bit more mouthpiece abut still producing unarticulated noises but no real good sound. She was biting on that mouthpiece like mad!
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
Thank you to everyone for your inputs! They are very helpful.

My underlying motivation for asking about the "big sound" concept wasn't really because I was after that kind of sound. It was actually more of a concern that my neighbors would start complaining regarding the volume when I practice haha (I live in an apartment)!

So as a follow-up question, would getting a smaller tip opening (B3) allow me to play more softly? Or is the tip opening size difference (0.1 difference between B3 and B5) an insignificant factor when it comes to volume (i.e. I'll disturb my neighbors no matter what mouthpiece I choose)?
 

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If it has not been mentioned there is a huge difference from a big sound and a loud sound.

A great deal of this comes from experience. Gear can be helpful but I have heard plenty of players with a big sound on small tips and a small sound on big tips.

Some played big tips and some mpcs were big tipped but the sound that came from the player and the gear in the absence of a really good player sounded small...yes it was loud but it lacked depth and expanse. There are good players that can sound big while actually not sounding excessively loud.

It takes time and experience to get a big sound so dont fall into the trap thinking a loud sound is a big sound. Find something comfortable and work on developing your skills in general.

I can tell you in my experience that a younger player will tend to have a rounder and bigger sound on pieces that are not overly bright with big baffles....they will simply be loud.

They are good questions to ask but the solutions will come over time.
 

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playing softly is something that you have to learn to do independently from the mouthpiece. the more you control your embouchure the softer you will be able to play.

Listen to what Don Menza has to say...Sound is what you make of your equipment, way more that the equipment itself is capable of doing for you... Good luck!

 

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I recently bought a Berg SMS 105 2 for my alto.
Now that is an opened mpc for alto,way too open in my opinion!
I don t like it and prefer way more my mid 80 s Meyer HR 6.
Bigger opening is nt alway the solution,and like many said,if it s too opened,it will be more difficult to play well,etc
All the best
Saxobari
 

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I recently bought a Berg SMS 105 2 for my alto.
Now that is an opened mpc for alto,way too open in my opinion!
I don t like it and prefer way more my mid 80 s Meyer HR 6.
Bigger opening is nt alway the solution,and like many said,if it s too opened,it will be more difficult to play well,etc
All the best
Saxobari
A Berg 105 on alto. I'd love to hear a beginner try to play that,
I play a .90, 6 Link, on tenor. With a mouthpiece that open on alto I don't see how you could articulate anything.
 

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A Berg 105 on alto. I'd love to hear a beginner try to play that,
I play a .90, 6 Link, on tenor. With a mouthpiece that open on alto I don't see how you could articulate anything.
Whaler,i do agree with you.
I never meant to suggest to get that opening on alto,specially not by a beginner.
Was just talking about on how big that 105 is,and certainly not an easy player.
I also definitely prefer closer tips on alto and soprano saxes.
All the best
Saxobari
 

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When I got my first sax, I had a cheap, small tipped, mouthpiece with a 2.0 Rico Orange reed. I quickly learned that that mouthpiece/reed combination was a mess. I squeaked constantly, and I was loud. This piece lasted me for a week.

After a bit of time I figured out a few things.

1). When you are starting out, you are going to be loud regardless, because you don’t have the embouchure control to allow the reed to vibrate properly without blowing a lot of air through your horn. You are also going to be very sharp because you don’t have a strong, flexible embouchure yet.

2). Closed tip openings and soft reeds are generally easier to play softly....but both are prone to a lot of squeaking. Within a week of playing my first mouthpiece, I couldn’t stand the squeaking anymore and I was on the hunt for a different mouthpiece.

3). A fellow forum member recommended that I try a Hite Premiere mouthpiece. They cost about $35. I was so, so much happier the the Hite Premiere. It was a larger mouthpiece and had a larger tip opening. This helped with 2 major problems - Squeaking, and being way too sharp.

4). This mouthpieces lasted me for about 12 months. I have since mailed it off to another saxonetheweb member because I had out grown it.

If I had to do it again, I would start with the Hite Premier again. (Even though this mouthpiece has a large tip opening, its facing curve is such that it doesn’t make the reed feel too hard in my opinion.)

Good luck......just remember that any mouthpiece is going to be a challenge for at least a few months. I once had a teacher tell me not to bother trying to play in tune for at least a year. I think he was right. It can take that long to get your embouchure into a ‘barely suitable’ situation.
 

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1). When you are starting out, you are going to be loud regardless, because you don't have the embouchure control to allow the reed to vibrate properly without blowing a lot of air through your horn. You are also going to be very sharp because you don't have a strong, flexible embouchure yet...

I once had a teacher tell me not to bother trying to play in tune for at least a year. I think he was right. It can take that long to get your embouchure into a 'barely suitable' situation.
There must be something more to the story than this. It is irresponsible of the teacher to encourage a student to ignore intonation for a whole year. That establishes a really bad habit.

It is not impossible to at least put the mouthpiece in the correct position on the cork. I contend that if a student can hear when they are out of tune, are close enough to do something about it, they will tend to play closer to correct pitch.
 
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