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For those who play multiple saxes but have a clear strength in one (in my case tenor is my preferred but I like to dabble in alto and my (rock) band needs alto for some songs), how do you choose your optimal mouthpiece tip opening in the less preferred horn apart from trial and error i.e is everything in proportions or are there other pearls of wisdom out there. My current setup for tenor 7 and 7* (JJ DV CHI and Lebayle)works best for me, I am happy with my tenor sound. I use 6 (Meyer and JJ DV) on my alto having tried smaller and larger tip openings as demos in shops and settling on the 6 for that reason mainly. I have never been completely happy with my tone on alto which is mainly due to 80-90% of my time playing tenor I'm sure.
Interested in the forum's thoughts and experiences
 

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Distinguished SOTW Columnist/Official SOTW Guru
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The best advice I've been given, is to go for a setup that offers similar resistance, feel and response to your main axe. Don't get sucked into thinking that you have to play the currently fashionable tip opening. YOU'RE the one that's gotta play the piece, not everyone else.
 

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For those who play multiple saxes but have a clear strength in one (in my case tenor is my preferred but I like to dabble in alto and my (rock) band needs alto for some songs), how do you choose your optimal mouthpiece tip opening in the less preferred horn apart from trial and error i.e is everything in proportions or are there other pearls of wisdom out there. My current setup for tenor 7 and 7* (JJ DV CHI and Lebayle)works best for me, I am happy with my tenor sound. I use 6 (Meyer and JJ DV) on my alto having tried smaller and larger tip openings as demos in shops and settling on the 6 for that reason mainly. I have never been completely happy with my tone on alto which is mainly due to 80-90% of my time playing tenor I'm sure.
Interested in the forum's thoughts and experiences
The tip openings that you describe in your post sound perfectly reasonable and adequate. Your problem with the tone on alto is probably simply the result of not playing it much, not a tip opening problem. In my experience, the alto is in fact the horn that is more difficult to get a good, personal sound on.
 

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I try to keep a similar feel on all the horns I play. I use a pretty open piece on Bari (my main horn) so I use fairly open pieces on my doubles too (alto and clarinet).
 

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The tip openings that you describe in your post sound perfectly reasonable and adequate. Your problem with the tone on alto is probably simply the result of not playing it much, not a tip opening problem. In my experience, the alto is in fact the horn that is more difficult to get a good, personal sound on.
I have exactly the same experience: the alto might be the easiest to approach in the SATB family (often recommended to beginners), it is the most "jealous" if it isn't your main horn, making it a real challenge to achieve your own tone.
 

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I decided to go to hard rubber pieces on all my horns to make it easier to go back and forth and maintain a consistent feel. Like you, I play a 7* on tenor; a 6 on alto; 7 on bari; an S25 on soprano. There was a time a played a 10 on tenor, but found it difficult in going to the other horns. These days I just go for the middle of the road.
 

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I use very similar pieces as you, but I started on Alto although Tenor is my main axe. Lately, due to new tenants upstairs, I've taken to practicing scales on sop, and have found it has really hurt my Tenor tone. So my guess on the alto tone is it really comes down to practice.

BTW, nice turbo quattro coupe in your avatar...
 

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I play a Selmer C* on alto, a Brilhart 5 (also have a 5* for the softer reeds in the box) and the transition is easy for me. I'm not a fan of open mouthpieces as I've found I get a lot more volume out of them, and I don't want to blast my wife into the next room.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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, how do you choose your optimal mouthpiece tip opening in the less preferred horn apart from trial and error i.e is everything in proportions or are there other pearls of wisdom out there.
Not so much a pearl of wisdom as the voice of bitter experience.

No, everything is not in proportion, i just because you use one tip opening on tenor does not mean you need the same on alto. Also, unless you are comparing identical models of mouthpiece, tip opening alone 9without taking facing curve into account) is a meaningless measurement, e.g. a large tip with a long curve can be more equivalent to a smaller tip with a shorter facing curve than it is the same tip with a shorter curve.

FWI (using Link measurements as standard) I use a 7 on baritone, 9* on tenor, 7* or 6 on alto and 5 on soprano. There is no correlation that I can see so yes, it's pure trial and error to find out what works.
 

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Just to make it more confused: I try to "standardize" my use of synthetic reeds, which basically works (and makes life easier, but that's another story). No way I could use the same brand (not speaking of model and strength) on all horns. And alto always turns out to be the trickiest. As mentioned in my signature, alto just doesn't feel and/or sound right with Fiberreeds. So it shares the Légère Signature exception, together with the Bb clarinet).
 

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I play Ponzol HR mouthpieces on tenor and alto, both with the same reed cut and strength.
The tenor is a .115 and the alto is .083 (refaced).
 
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