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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just how important percentage wise is the mpc. to the rest of the sax in endeavoring to attain the sound you are after? Does the mpc. only contribute a small percentage to the type of sound or 50% or a major percentage in your opinion.
In other words could a particularly good mpc.make a big difference in sound of a not so good sax and vice versa all other things being equal?
Your opinions would be valued.
 

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I believe it's an equal balance. But, I believe that it starts in your head. You have to have a sound concept first, you need to know what you want to sound like first. Mouthpiece, reed, ligature combinations, i.e. setups, can be complicated. the slightest little adjustment can drastically change your sound. Your mouthpiece can make you sound bright or dark depending on the chamber and/or baffle, your reeds can do the same thing depending on the cut and strength. But, then to complicate my answer even more, your horn, depending on it's uniqure bore size configuration can make your sound really fat or really puchy.

I would say this. It's cheaper to change your setup than it is to change your horn.

But yes a really good mouthpiece can add so much more to a really good horn. But I weigh everything out equally.
I would not put a really good mouthpiece on a beginner horn and expect to sound like me though.
 

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Indistinguishable Resident Buescher Bigot and Foru
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Lot of words on this subject have gone under the bridge already.

My take on the consensus is the following in order of importance to sound:

1. You = 75%
2. Mouthpiece (15%)
3. Acoustics of the room or PA = 5%
4. Horn bore/taper/etc, but excluding material or finish = 3%
5. Reed = 1%
6. Everything else together = 1%

Yes, a good mouthpiece can make a difference on a crappy horn, but it's far better to be a good player with a crappy setup than it is for someone that sounds likes an overblown sewer pipe on a good setup.
 

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Indistinguishable Resident Buescher Bigot and Foru
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Well, I tend to, but there are minor variations in the sound that come from the mouthpiece construction. Bulk of it's the player. Everything else is subtleties.
 

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I use to think the horn wasn't as important as the mouthpiece in terms of sound but I have changed my mind after playing a lot of different horns lately. I hadn't done it in a long time and I found big differences from horn to horn. I also know my ears have grown a lot so I'm hearing things in tone that I used to not hear as well or at all. A good mouthpiece is a good start and worth the money. Same for a quality horn but it really must come from inside you. you need to listen to yourself recorded and listen to other players. If you don't have a clear idea of how you want to sound you wont really shape your sound at all.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2013
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Lot of words on this subject have gone under the bridge already.

My take on the consensus is the following in order of importance to sound:

1. You = 75%
2. Mouthpiece (15%)
3. Acoustics of the room or PA = 5%
4. Horn bore/taper/etc, but excluding material or finish = 3%
5. Reed = 1%
6. Everything else together = 1%

Yes, a good mouthpiece can make a difference on a crappy horn, but it's far better to be a good player with a crappy setup than it is for someone that sounds likes an overblown sewer pipe on a good setup.
Agreed!

I will add the following to the excellent inputs from Maddenma:
1. Ligature
2. Microphone (if recording)

Though I will think my allocation of percentage will differ.

it is a lifelong pursuit to get our tonal concept, especially when our taste change (mature hopefully).

enjoy the journey!
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2013-
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"Does the mpc. only contribute a small percentage to the type of sound or 50% or a major percentage in your opinion."

I love this topic.

I think mpcs can make a huge difference in sound, and with some horns the whole problem with the beast may be finding a mpc it likes. According to my readings here (that is the ones I have found persuasive), the sax is a conical creature, with the one end a point and the other that part of the bell where the flare stops doing anything but changing the looks. A proper mouthpiece will contain that part of the cone in volume which is missing from the end of the neck to make a proper proportion required for the horn. In some horns it seems to make little difference. In others finding a match can be tricky. For one thing I conclude the problem is non linear. Another factor is that I only have vintage horns.

In specifics, I have a Claude Lakey tenor mpc, very bright, that only worked at all after it was sent to a refacer, and even then is quite loud on all horns, and cannot be made to work correctly with my oldest horn, a true tone. I have no doubt that in the proper hands it could be fine for any horn, but for me it would take a lot of work. And I think that is the key. With work, with application, it seems to me that any decent mouthpiece will work with any horn. The difference is when the mouthpiece matches ability and the horn's general preference.

Like when I put an STM on my Conn. Jay Zeus, what a thing! I like the horn and the mouthpiece, but together there was an exponential positive effect. I am fully prepared to believe that this outcome is the result of my being a scrub player, but I do not care. That mpc gets out of my way on that horn and allows me to sound more like what I hear in my head with less work thru the range.

Another example is my Malerne Artiste tenor. It is easy to get a sultry and smokey timbre out of it that I dig, but the filthy thing motorboats down low, more or less, with every mouthpiece in my collection. With the exception of the mpc that was in the case when I got it - a serial numbered Brilhart Special - with which it makes no offer to stutter down low even at ppp. That is the only mpc I use with that horn.

Great hulking chambered ancient hard rubber jobs (conn steelay, buescher vintage, Bundy) tend to make it hard for yours truly to hit high notes cleanly. Again, I have no doubt a better player would have no such difficulty. My Ronald Caravan, however, has a big chamber and plays for me high up quite well, with a nice tone.

In short, no doubt any mouthpiece will work if you are willing to put in the effort or are so proficient it makes no difference. For a schlub like me it is worth some searching to get a mouthpiece that matches the horn, feels comfortable, and gets out of my way so I can go where I want to without thinking so hard all the time.
 

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I can only speak for myself, of course. I got a late start as a sax player (late thirties) and have only been playing for a little over twenty years (I'm 61). Honestly, most of those years I had a couple of mouthpieces and mostly one type of reed that seemed to work for me for the majority of the music I do. Generally I've been happy with my sound and concentrated on technique and style. Only recently have I started to play around very much with my setup, trying different mouthpieces (some I've had for years but just didn't use) as well as different types of reeds and ligatures. Not only has it been lots of FUN, but I've been able to get sounds dramatically different from what I've had before, ranging from very dark, mellow tones to bright and edgy. I don't think my concept or my mental construct of how I want to sound has changed all that much but I've learned a new appreciation for what a difference equipment can make. I think this turned out to be a good choice for me, to have played this long without worrying too much about my setup. It seems to me that some of the younger players get a little frantic about their equipment and spend lots of time and money chasing after the "right" horn or the "right setup", never really settling into something and putting most of their effort into building skills as a player. So basically I'm agreeing with much that has been said here. I'm not sure what percentage any one thing merits in calculating the value of factors toward the production of a good tone, but I know that, for myself, my first concern needs to be technique and skill building. Now I can have fun experimenting with different sounds and setups, but it isn't a big distraction from the joys and labors of simply playing, practicing, and trying to learn a little more each day about being a sax player. Thanks, guys, for all the very insightful input on this topic. You are great teachers and continue to help me find new ideas and creative ways to keep growing as a player. I really enjoy SOTW so very much.
Peace.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2012
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Different cuts of reeds make a difference in tone using same, good mpc on a leak free saxophone.
Percentages are arbitrary.
 

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As stated before lots of water under the bridge on this subject................:)so I can only speak for myself. I find the mouthpiece make a huge difference in tonal qualities as well as projection and that since I play in several groups that demand a different sound and skill set I find myself playing different mouthpieces at different times.

I guess it's an evolution in finding mouthpieces that work in any given situation.

Mouthpieces have to get out of the way but the player has to find the equipment that speaks to them personally because 99% of my audience could care less what I am playing or about my tonal concept. Its all about being comfortable and being able to play what is in your head, and feel good after the performance is over.

B
 

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Mouthpieces have to get out of the way but the player has to find the equipment that speaks to them personally because 99% of my audience could care less what I am playing or about my tonal concept. Its all about being comfortable and being able to play what is in your head, and feel good after the performance is over.
Well said! I can't think of anything useful to add.
 

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Lot of words on this subject have gone under the bridge already.

My take on the consensus is the following in order of importance to sound:

1. You = 75%
2. Mouthpiece (15%)
3. Acoustics of the room or PA = 5%
4. Horn bore/taper/etc, but excluding material or finish = 3%
5. Reed = 1%
6. Everything else together = 1%

Yes, a good mouthpiece can make a difference on a crappy horn, but it's far better to be a good player with a crappy setup than it is for someone that sounds likes an overblown sewer pipe on a good setup.
Not a bad shot at the percentages. I would rate the reed more than 1%. A 2 strenth would sound a lot different IMO than a 3.5 strength on the same mouthpiece. But of similar strength cane reeds, I do not think there is much difference in sound. In synthetics, a Legere sound a lot different than a Bari plastic reed.

Effects are a big deal too if your target sound is based on a player that uses a lot of reverb, eq, etc.
 

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Distinguished Colorful Mouthpiece Designer
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Lot of words on this subject have gone under the bridge already.

My take on the consensus is the following in order of importance to sound:

1. You = 75%
2. Mouthpiece (15%)
3. Acoustics of the room or PA = 5%
4. Horn bore/taper/etc, but excluding material or finish = 3%
5. Reed = 1%
6. Everything else together = 1%

Yes, a good mouthpiece can make a difference on a crappy horn, but it's far better to be a good player with a crappy setup than it is for someone that sounds likes an overblown sewer pipe on a good setup.
Reed 1% ?!?!?

put it in the second place just after the player and before the mouthpiece...

Stan
 

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Indistinguishable Resident Buescher Bigot and Foru
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Reed 1% ?!?!?

put it in the second place just after the player and before the mouthpiece...

Stan
The percentages are pretty arbitrary on my part and we can certainly debate the numbers at length, but I was attempting to illustrate my answer to the question that the OP was asking -- which has the bigger effect, horn or mouthpiece.

All things being equal (horn in playing condition, reed likewise), I sound quite a bit different 6 feet from the bell as I move from a high-baffle, small chamber piece to a low baffle, large chamber piece. This is a MUCH more pronounced effect than I get because of changing from a #3 Vandoren to say a #3 Rico, and certainly more pronounced than the difference between an old Buescher or a new Barone.

Tonal differences between brands of horn are quite nuanced and much more prominent to the player than they are to the audience. Brands of reeds and ligatures are even more subtle than the horn. However, a mouthpiece can make a big difference in sound to the audience and the player. And then my ultimate point was that you can sound great or sound like crap no matter what you play on, as it really is mostly the player.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2013-
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Nefertiti from another thread:

"I've told this story before, but when I was younger I was trying to sound like Sanborn with a Caravan alto mouthpiece and it drove me crazy (the good thing was it drove me to practice a ton to try to get there. I never did get there on that Caravan though)"
 
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