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New and better gear: new and better player?

1338 Views 8 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Jolle
The oft heard debate about new gear vs better chops was vividly illustrated for me this weekend past. I visited a good friend who is a jazz instructor, and regular gigging musician. Very talented, very skilled, very experienced (at least 30 years on sax). Certainly has played often with many of the best players locally and nationally. His horn: usually a 62, but currently a school YAS 23! With a plastic yamaha 4C mpce! We had an interesting discussion about equipment, and his bland comment was that he has never 'got into' the equipment thing. He plays what he can lay his hands on. For him, its about playing the horn, rather than the horn itself. He told me how he learned sax on really bad horns, and had to learn to compensate, learn how to make each note speak, and which notes should at times be avoided etc. Teaching at a somewhat underfunded school, he has learned to make do, and teachers his students the same. He noted with conviction, that whatever he plays, he just sounds like himself. I've always taken this to be a cliche, but was startled to hear him play some licks on his YAS 23, then side by side play my MK Vl. SObering stuff. Yeah, we agreed the VI sounded richer, and more centred, but damn, he sounded so much better than I ever do on my six, when he played that 23! This was a very useful experience for me. Perhaps you had to be there to understand this, but I am going to be saving a lot of money on mpces from now on!
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Personally I have not owned very many saxes, but luckily have owned nice ones. but in the end, if the person playing it is not continually trying to improve it really doesn't matter about the horn. If the horn is in good shape then time is always better to be spent practicing new, more challenging stuff or improving certain areas of technique than spending time testing, playing, searching for new equipment.

I also sounded very good on my old Vito tenor, tonal-wise not as good as on my Selmer for richness etc but pretty good from ppl hearing me play.

So .. the most important thing is the player then the horn (which can be broken down by mpc, neck, horn, lig, reed, et all for those suffering from GAS)

the major diff between that Vito and my Selmer (and for thet Couf/JKs I had) was the ergonomics. For me, the ergonomics was key in being able to improve my playing ability. Some/most ppl may not have a problem per say, but i have a certain "fused" problem in my wrists which causes issues with key layout - even playing a Couf tenor for years, I picked up a Selmer and in A/Bing them i could outplay myself on a Selmer due to the ergos.
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