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Your not the only one Lydian!

I can confirm the possible pitch control issues, playing a modern Otto Link STM 9* (0.110") on alto (about once every two years!).
Once every 2 years? Pitch control in that light makes tip opening irrelevant...a mere week away from the alto & you're going to start drifting...hard to imagine expecting to have control over much of anything after that length of time away...
 

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Once every 2 years? Pitch control in that light makes tip opening irrelevant...a mere week away from the alto & you're going to start drifting...hard to imagine expecting to have control over much of anything after that length of time away...
I bought a cheap alto many years ago just for fun, but I think I didn't play it more than 10 times in total (and also only privately, not during a gig). But I play a big tip mouthpiece (Link .138") on tenor, so playing the 9* STM on alto is not an issue, but having 'real' alto chops is of course another story (I never had those!). I know alto is one of the toughest horns to play and in order to do it well you should play it regularly, especially when using a big tip mouthpiece.
 

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I know alto is one of the toughest horns to play and in order to do it well you should play it regularly...
If that is true, add it to the list of why I don't play alto anymore. :cool:
 

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As mentioned by others, there may be many factors.
I just received a new mouthpiece. When comparing it to my current set-up (same tip opening, baffle, large chambers, rubber), my current set-up is considerably darker (the rails? the external size of the MP? the tip width? the external company branding/logos?).
 

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As mentioned by others, there may be many factors.
I just received a new mouthpiece. When comparing it to my current set-up (same tip opening, large chambers, rubber), my current set-up is considerably darker (the rails? the external size of the MP? the tip width? the external company branding/logos?).
I'm going with logos, or possibly heavy mass ligature screws.

Is your setup so dark that you now play everything in minor keys?
 

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As mentioned by others, there may be many factors.
I just received a new mouthpiece. When comparing it to my current set-up (same tip opening, large chambers, rubber), my current set-up is considerably darker (the rails? the external size of the MP? the tip width? the external company branding/logos?).
Probably a lower baffle on your current set up? You didn't say 'same baffle' so I think that's a good candidate for the difference. It takes a miniscule change in a baffle to make a noticeable difference.
 

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Probably a lower baffle on your current set up? You didn't say 'same baffle' so I think that's a good candidate for the difference. It takes a miniscule change in a baffle to make a noticeable difference.
Agreed. I noticed that @germanwatches has now edited his post to say "same baffle" but, if the mouthpieces are different models made by different manufacturers, that's almost certainly false. They may look superficially similar, but there are almost certainly differences. Moreover, I'd bet that there are other differences in the chamber shapes as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #48 ·
This thread has been both entertaining and thought provoking. As I mentioned in my original post, I am quite satisfied playing smaller tip openings. As a player of only meager talents I usually do whatever I can to make playing easier for me. I generally rate ease of play over tone (within reason), so I'm not tempted to try larger tip openings. None of my ensembles would welcome me playing any louder. I play bari sax in community wind orchestra and its easy to play too loud. I've had to become an expert at playing ppp on bari! When you are playing in unison with bass clarinets, the conductor usually wants to hear a section, not a bari sax solo. On alto I'm usually playing just for myself or in a recording or in a sax quartet. Small tip openings are my jam! LOL
 

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Agreed. I noticed that @germanwatches has now edited his post to say "same baffle" but, if the mouthpieces are different models made by different manufacturers, that's almost certainly false. They may look superficially similar, but there are almost certainly differences. Moreover, I'd bet that there are other differences in the chamber shapes as well.
You are 100% correct. To my untrained eyes, the differences are undetectable. They look like brothers, but they are not brothers.
 

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This thread has been both entertaining and thought provoking. As I mentioned in my original post, I am quite satisfied playing smaller tip openings. As a player of only meager talents I usually do whatever I can to make playing easier for me. I generally rate ease of play over tone (within reason), so I'm not tempted to try larger tip openings. None of my ensembles would welcome me playing any louder. I play bari sax in community wind orchestra and its easy to play too loud. I've had to become an expert at playing ppp on bari! When you are playing in unison with bass clarinets, the conductor usually wants to hear a section, not a bari sax solo. On alto I'm usually playing just for myself or in a recording or in a sax quartet. Small tip openings are my jam! LOL
Small tip openings are perfect for all the applications you listed. Big tips are for a powerful jazz sound, like in a big band, or a really lush jazz sound. I think you'd get a lot of dirty looks if you showed up in concert band sporting one of MrPeeBee's mouthpieces, and you wouldn't blend very well with the bass clarinets and bassoons.

Open tips also require a jazz embouchure. A classical embouchure on a big tip is a recipe for disaster. I've seen classical players try open tips before where they simply close it down to the tip opening they're used to using their jaw or embouchure, resulting in a terrible tone with even worse intonation and pitch control. But I have to say I can also do ppp on my bari and tenor on quite large tip openings.

I hope we were able to answer your question(s) somewhere in all of that.
 

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I think you'd get a lot of dirty looks if you showed up in concert band sporting one of MrPeeBee's mouthpieces, and you wouldn't blend very well with the bass clarinets and bassoons.
Actually I can play a very soft subtone on my 10* Link and don't have issue to blend well with the Big Band sax section in quiet parts. The advantage of the 10* comes when it's solo time and the extra volume is requied. I've used a Ponzol 120 Super for a very short time, which is very high baffle mouthpiece. With that piece the solo's could go even louder, but it was too loud for blending with the section in the quiet parts. That's why I stick with the Link.

I also fully agree and understand the usuage of smaller tip pieces. You have to find what works the best for you and the type of music you have/want to play.
 

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You bet it is! That's why I was surprised to read I'm apparently the only one with pitch control issues on such a beast. Even with my 40+ years experience, it's a challenge. That's why I ultimately sold them in favor of a much more controllable .090.

I'm also surprised about the lack of feedback on the demo recordings posted. Nobody hears any difference in sound quality on more open pieces? Isn't that what the thread is about? Come on, give a listen and chime in. If they're terrible examples, say so. If you can't hear any difference, say so. It takes time and effort to post recordings, even short ones. Personally, I can hear the pitch flexibility, darkness and fullness differences. That's what draws me to more open pieces, which was one of the original questions.
I don't hear a lot of difference in sound, maybe a bit more core in the smaller tip with the larger being louder and slightly less focused. You don't hold the notes out as long with the larger tip probably because it takes more air. There may be more difference in a drier recording and I'm sure you hear/feel more difference from behind the horn. Overall you're a solid player with a well developed sound concept so you make both openings sound very similar. The question, based upon my own experience with tip opening comparisons, is, how long can you play the larger tip before it becomes a struggle to control? I can only manage larger (.110+ for tenor) for 45 minutes or so before my intonation and tone begin to go. My observation has been that very very few amateur players if they are only on the horn a few hours a week can really handle these large tip openings. Most sound like they are playing a kazoo and their intonation is all over the map.
 

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The question, based upon my own experience with tip opening comparisons, is, how long can you play the larger tip before it becomes a struggle to control? I can only manage larger (.110+ for tenor) for 45 minutes or so before my intonation and tone begin to go.
I'm very surprised you can't play long on an 8 tip tenor piece Keith, because I think to remember that you play a lot. But not everyone is the same physically, so I don't think you can apply a generic rule to all players here. Matching the right reed to your mouthpiece will help, a big tip with a softer reed is not much more difficult to play compared to a smaller tip mouthpiece with harder reeds.

My observation has been that very very few amateur players if they are only on the horn a few hours a week can really handle these large tip openings. Most sound like they are playing a kazoo and their intonation is all over the map.
I actually only know one amateur player who doesn't play a lot and plays a 10* Link. He just finished this evening a 3 hours Big Band rehearsal without issues and without the band leader complaining about intonation or blending issue (he did complain a lot about the intonation of the trombones!),
 

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I don't hear a lot of difference in sound, maybe a bit more core in the smaller tip with the larger being louder and slightly less focused. You don't hold the notes out as long with the larger tip probably because it takes more air. There may be more difference in a drier recording and I'm sure you hear/feel more difference from behind the horn. Overall you're a solid player with a well developed sound concept so you make both openings sound very similar. The question, based upon my own experience with tip opening comparisons, is, how long can you play the larger tip before it becomes a struggle to control? I can only manage larger (.110+ for tenor) for 45 minutes or so before my intonation and tone begin to go. My observation has been that very very few amateur players if they are only on the horn a few hours a week can really handle these large tip openings. Most sound like they are playing a kazoo and their intonation is all over the map.
Good observations. I didn't notice the note lengths. That may very well be the case.

I played a .120 in my youth and could handle it since I was playing a lot. In my old age, you're exactly right, it was too hard to control after a while. If I play regularly, I can play the .115 a couple of hours, enough to get through most rehearsals and gigs. If I don't play regularly, I can get worn out in half an hour. Never in a million years could I play a .135 unless I played a 1.5 reed.

Even though you may not hear much difference (I'm going to sound like me regardless of equipment), I can feel the difference. Subtone on the closed piece is quite tricky. If I could find a closed tip that I could get a big, easy subtone out of, I'd be all over it. But I don't think such a thing exists. I think it's just the nature of the reed having more space to flap on an open piece.
 

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Normal tip with a good mouthpiece and normal reed gets the most brightness.
I play a Rigotti 2 1/2S on a EB Link 6 STM or Tone Edge and both can get really bright.
 

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To be fair, I've heard variations on this comment from several players, all of whom have been at least a couple of decades older than I am, and I suspect it has to do with age-related hearing loss.

People lose quite a bit of their hearing as they age, and it's not uniform; sensitivity for the higher frequencies degrades much more quickly than that for lower frequencies. So it's quite possible that what sounds good (e.g., not too bright or edgy) to younger players and listeners sounds bad to older listeners because they can't hear the high-end edge or sizzle unless it's overwhelmingly loud.
You’re right, people do lose hearing as they age. I was able to watch my decline pretty closely, because I was required to get an annual audiogram for work, and because I have meniere’s disease, a mild case, as well.

I think there’s nothing we can do about general loss over the frequencies, but our brain is able to adapt to a large degree and interpret the information our ears give it. I bet you and i would listen and agree on whose sound is dark and whose is bright. Although I would play it at higher volume than you.

I’m right at the edge of needing some amplification, so I have tried hearing aids that were optimized (EQ’d) for my hearing profile, and the high frequencies were almost unbearable. The dr said it takes time to adapt to that input again. Reverse a prior adaptation I guess.
 

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You’re right, people do lose hearing as they age. I was able to watch my decline pretty closely, because I was required to get an annual audiogram for work, and because I have meniere’s disease, a mild case, as well.

I think there’s nothing we can do about general loss over the frequencies, but our brain is able to adapt to a large degree and interpret the information our ears give it. I bet you and i would listen and agree on whose sound is dark and whose is bright. Although I would play it at higher volume than you.
Right, note that I am a perceptual scientist by training and occupation, so I know about perceptual adaptation. But there are certain things to which we can adapt and others to which we cannot.

In this case, the key is the fact that sensitivity to the high frequencies declines much more rapidly. If your sensitivity to high frequencies is sufficiently diminished, then you may not be able to hear them at volumes at which the lower frequencies are comfortable to listen to (and, indeed, you won't be able to hear certain frequencies at any volume). Your brain can't "EQ" a signal that doesn't exist or that is below your perceptual threshold.
 

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Right, note that I am a perceptual scientist by training and occupation, so I know about perceptual adaptation. But there are certain things to which we can adapt and others to which we cannot.

In this case, the key is the fact that sensitivity to the high frequencies declines much more rapidly. If your sensitivity to high frequencies is sufficiently diminished, then you may not be able to hear them at volumes at which the lower frequencies are comfortable to listen to (and, indeed, you won't be able to hear certain frequencies at any volume). Your brain can't "EQ" a signal that doesn't exist or that is below your perceptual threshold.
True, you can't adapt to a signal that doesn't exist, and I get that there's only so much we can increase volume before the lower frequencies are uncomfortably loud. I'm a little bit rare because I have high frequency sensitivity loss due to noise exposure, and the low frequency loss that is the meniere's signature. But lucky that it's mild enough that I don't really need hearing aids, and probably won't. I wouldn't hesitate to wear them if it became necessary, but I wish you could have heard what i heard when i tried them. Not good. I'm very accustomed to the steep threshold rolloff from 45db at 4000HZ. You don't know what you're missing, it's so much better!
 

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Good observations. I didn't notice the note lengths. That may very well be the case.

I played a .120 in my youth and could handle it since I was playing a lot. In my old age, you're exactly right, it was too hard to control after a while. If I play regularly, I can play the .115 a couple of hours, enough to get through most rehearsals and gigs. If I don't play regularly, I can get worn out in half an hour. Never in a million years could I play a .135 unless I played a 1.5 reed.

Even though you may not hear much difference (I'm going to sound like me regardless of equipment), I can feel the difference. Subtone on the closed piece is quite tricky. If I could find a closed tip that I could get a big, easy subtone out of, I'd be all over it. But I don't think such a thing exists. I think it's just the nature of the reed having more space to flap on an open piece.
Yeah, this doesn't surprise me. The player always feels and hears more difference than anyone else. I just wanted you to know that there are some of us out here who do listen to these sound clips, we just don't always comment on them.

I'm not quite sure how subtones work. It never felt to me like the reed was closing all the way but it must be. Takes a ton of air to subtone those bell tones on tenor on a big piece.


I'm very surprised you can't play long on an 8 tip tenor piece Keith, because I think to remember that you play a lot. But not everyone is the same physically, so I don't think you can apply a generic rule to all players here. Matching the right reed to your mouthpiece will help, a big tip with a softer reed is not much more difficult to play compared to a smaller tip mouthpiece with harder reeds.


I actually only know one amateur player who doesn't play a lot and plays a 10* Link. He just finished this evening a 3 hours Big Band rehearsal without issues and without the band leader complaining about intonation or blending issue (he did complain a lot about the intonation of the trombones!),
Well trombones are only sort of approximating the pitch to begin with ;)

I went on a bender about 10 years ago shortly after staring to play with rock and funk bands and bought a bunch of large tipped high baffle pieces. Even after playing these for 18 months or so I wasn't comfortable with the sound and could just get through 2-2.5 hour gigs. Of course those were Steely Dan tribute band gigs and the 2nd sax book if you're playing the standard Covey horn charts is a lot of half and whole notes almost like long tone exercises with a few iconic horn licks thrown in here and there. I left that band after a while because I was just bored with it. All the action is in guitar, keys, and Sax 1. I play mostly on a JJ DV Chi .108 these days with a 2 1/2 reed. It's enough work to play that and plenty bright and loud for what I need. The rest is up to the PA and sound mix as far as I'm concerned.
 
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