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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Alot of people say it's not the horn, it's the player. So if let's say you are a proffesional, and you have the cheapest sax money can buy, and you play John Coltrane's "My Favorite Things".... that's not going to sound diffrent on say a Mark V or Selmer or Martin or any other $3,000+ sax?
 

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Should be closer to the original than ... hm ... let's say let it play by an absolute beginner with a 5000$ horn.

:)

Greetings
Flower Power
 

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I definitely think the horn makes a difference, but not as much as the abilities of the player. Two equal players: one plays a good instrument and the other plays a crappy one, the good instrument is going to sound better. But a good player will sound better on a bad horn than a bad player on a good horn.

From most to least influential (IMHO):

Player's abilities
Mouthpiece and reeds
(some might say neck here, but I don't know, personally because I've never experimented)
Saxophone

But sure, if the discrepancy in saxophone quality is great enough, it will certainly trump the other factors.
 

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Will it sound different?
Probably only slightly.

However, a pro horn will probably have quicker key response and better intonation.

This is my own opinion so take it at face value.

Just keep one thing in mind:
If a horn gets too cheap, it may not be well constructed and end up unplayable in a short time.
 

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THink of it like a mechanic. You can have a great mechanic and if you give him a set of metric tools with only imperial system (inches) parts, he can still get the job done, mostly, but it won't be as quick and easy as if he had the exact matches. Now, give me both metric and imperial tools and the only thing I can guarantee bout your car is that it probably won't run for much longer if at all.

So, you may have the right tools, but you still got to put in the effort to learn how to use them. The mechanical principles of playing the sax are mostly transferrable. So, you can still learn on a cheapo as you would on a 10,000 dollar SBA with the dried spittle of John Coltrane himself still on it.
 

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The bigger question is, what makes one player sound like he/she does. Is it the pure tone of the horn,,(take each and blow a g2), or is it more his tonal concept, how he approaches the notes, how she attacks the sound, her musical ideas?

I suggest its the latter, and that is why an experience player will sound pretty much the same on any horn/set up as will a beginner. the horn is only one ingredient in the recipe.
 

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With pro-anykind of equipment, there is one commonality. It's built to LAST. This is the difference between pro audio gear and audiophile gear, a military hummer versus a Chevy Blazer, a mobile home versus a brick and mortar, and a Chinese versus a pro horn.

Thanks for listening.
 

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I see fellows wander in with a student horn (name your model Bundy, Vito, AW, ect.) and blow everyone in the room away.

Phil Woods loves to tell the story about how unhappy he was with his sax. He hated the sound, the ergos, the altissimo, the neck strap. Until he handed it to Charlie Parker (or Coltrane, I forget) and was blown away with the performance. From then on, according to Phil, he realized, it's rarely about the instrument. It's all about the player baby!
 

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hakukani said:
With pro-anykind of equipment, there is one commonality. It's built to LAST. This is the difference between pro audio gear and audiophile gear, a military hummer versus a Chevy Blazer, a mobile home versus a brick and mortar, and a Chinese versus a pro horn.

Thanks for listening.
Except that beginning instruments are often built to take more abuse. The bodies are made thicker so they're more dent resistant.

But as far as leaks and staying in alignment and stuff and making sure the horn is playable, you're probably right.
 

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Yes, I should have been clearer. Pro equipment is built to LAST and WORK CONSISTENTLY.
 

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Of course it is the player, but a sub-standard horn will not make it easier to get to a good level. Problems will just make you frustrated. Just as important: you must like the horn/(mpc). If you do not like the tone you will put the horn down, instead of practicing. But it does not have to cost a lot of money. A $5k+ axe is probably one fine horn. But a good player will sound good on other horns as well. It is the effort, not the $$$ that count. (It is about having fun!)

My $0.02

:)
OsloSax
 

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Good thread this, I play much better guitar than sax, and this is a common question for most musicians.

Sometimes you pick something "cheap" up and it just sounds right. I have a $200 acoustic guitar that I got in the mid 80's that is just so funky and crappy that is sounds good. My teacher has a student horn kicking around, and I had a blow on it and it was nice, tinny, but different.

Look at Parker and his Graftons. No way on earth were those plastic horns tone monsters (read the review on the shwoodwind site) but they suited his (kazoo) like tone well.

I still love picking up old battered guitars at my mates houses and making them sound good.

Having said all that, I think the instrument has to keep you motivated and interested, and a sense of pride is a good thing, so buy the best you can afford!
 

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Which would you rather be a passenger to cross town in at rush hour... a Ferrari with a learner driver at the wheel or a Mini with a grand prix driver at the wheel?
 

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JazzItUp said:
Alot of people say it's not the horn, it's the player. So if let's say you are a proffesional, and you have the cheapest sax money can buy, and you play John Coltrane's "My Favorite Things".... that's not going to sound diffrent on say a Mark V or Selmer or Martin or any other $3,000+ sax?
1. It's MOSTLY the player and not the horn, mouthpiece/reed combo, etc. However, if you give a pro a POS Saxpics Mark V alto that is leaking from every tonehole and give the pro a cracked Brilhart special mouthpiece and a split Rico reed, he's not going to sound good.

The percentage is north of 85% the player and south of 15% the setup.

It is true that some horns just don't play right. That's why you need to be wary of really inexpensive or really odd brand names. However, if you give a pro a horn that's in good repair and a mouthpiece and reed that are decent, he should sound OK.

Some horns are also way too bright. You *might* be able to tell a difference between the tone of John Coltrane on a Mark VI as opposed to John Coltrane on a Yamaha 25.

2. I've just copyrighted the Mark V brand name. see them on my new line of saxophones this fall, along with the Mark IV. Darn shame that Beuscher is already taken.

3. I agree with the point that a pro horn is generally very well made and does what you want it to more consistently. However, some pro horns do have features/construction that make playing easier. For example, the bell on a Yamaha 62 bari is one piece. It makes playing the bell key notes easier, by a bit. However, not by so much that I'd buy one over a Yamaha 52 (and I didn't).
 

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Rick Adams said:
Which would you rather be a passenger to cross town in at rush hour... a Ferrari with a learner driver at the wheel or a Mini with a grand prix driver at the wheel?
I used to work for a gentleman that used to do driving for McLaren. He had a public car smaller than a Mini. He wrecked it. He used to drive with his legs -- to keep his hands free for coffee, the paper, etc.
:D
 

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My 2 cents before I get Martysaxed (on another matter).

A professional on a student horn will sound like a professional player.

A student on a professional horn will sound like a student player.

A professional on a professional horn will sound like a professional player, but he doesn't have to work as hard.

Lots of music magazines have ads in which the name player endorses the student line instrument with the text that says he sounds so good that he could play a concert on the student instrument and no one would be able to tell the difference. That's a lie. The player could tell the difference and that's why he plays his own axe when he performs in concert.

John
 

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saxpics said:
I used to work for a gentleman that used to do driving for McLaren. He had a public car smaller than a Mini. He wrecked it. He used to drive with his legs -- to keep his hands free for coffee, the paper, etc.
:D
Well that's my smartarse analogy gone for a burton then :( I suppose it could have been worse, at least it was his legs that he used :) :) :)

I think what you said earlier is spot on saxpics, so long as the student sax is in reasonable working order the pro on the student sax is always going to sound better then the student on the pro sax. I have a pro sax and I am only too aware that I sound like a student on it :|
 

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jbtsax said:
Lots of music magazines have ads in which the name player endorses the student line instrument with the text that says he sounds so good that he could play a concert on the student instrument and no one would be able to tell the difference. That's a lie. The player could tell the difference and that's why he plays his own axe when he performs in concert.
Endorsements don't always mean what you think they do. Pete Christlieb endorses Cannonball saxes but when he's at home in L.A. he uses his Mark VI. When he's on the road, he uses the Cannonball because he doesn't want to put the wear and tear of travel and new climates (humidity) on the VI. When the Cannonball wears down they send him a new one. He was on his 3rd or 4th Cannonball when I played with him.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Oh thanks my peeps! I got it now! A cheaper horn will break easily, and a new one does sound better but it's really what the player does. But then why is there always so many hype of the setup? when I see sax clips,videos and whatnot people always ask what mouthpiece is that? what reed are you using? what sax is that?
 

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JazzItUp said:
Oh thanks my peeps! I got it now! A cheaper horn will break easily, and a new one does sound better
Be careful here, the amount ofd money a sax costs does not necessarily tell you how good the quality is. Some cheaper saxes are excellent and some more expensive saxes may not be as good as you'd hope.

Also, like anything there's a law of diminishing returns - you don't get twice as good a sax for twice the money, you get a sax that's a little better. If you're a top end pro then "a little better" is worth the money. If you're not then maybe it isn't.

JazzItUp said:
but it's really what the player does.
Definitely!

JazzItUp said:
But then why is there always so many hype of the setup? when I see sax clips,videos and whatnot people always ask what mouthpiece is that? what reed are you using? what sax is that?
Ah well, you asked about saxophones... reeds and particularly mouthpieces actually dictate the tone, articulation and dynamics a lot more than saxes do. This is where each player starts to tailor his/her set up to suite their individual abilities, concept of sound and musical requirements.
 
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