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Discussion Starter #1
I'm playing an alto right now, but I'm watching, waiting and saving for the right soprano, which is my favorite of the sax family. I appreciate the experience of all the contributing forum members with the various instruments out there.

One of the reasons I like the soprano so much is that it can be used to create such a variety of effects. For example, here's the great Sidney Bechet playing a bright almost trumpet-like sound.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwrPRZT12n0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJuZPr90IwI

Here's a more saxy flavor.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jwsO-nTOIg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjq6rcEZ-J4

This one is almost flute-like.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zpaPX_5hwo

This one is oboe-like, although I've sopranos sound even more reedy. BTW I like the reedy sound too, but that may be because my bassoonist daughter got me into this to play with her.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjrH5waRRZA

OK, no doubt discussion will come around and say that a lot relies on the player, the music and the range. But is it also the horn and the set up: mouthpieces, reeds, etc.? What are the more important elements here?

An additional question is can you describe that kinds of sounds do you prefer and what set up do you use to get those flavors?

Thanks
 

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Besides the player, the biggest differences I'm hearing there are the SPACES the recordings are in and the recording equipment.

The Bechet clips have a reduced quality from the mics and recording equipment used then. The guy in the subway is in a brightly reflective cave and the orchestral clips have a lot of natural reverb from the hall they're in.

Dont confuse the sound of the horn with the sound of the space.

With a decent horn, I still think it's down to the sound of the player....
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks, yes, I forgot to mention the recording environment and ask if how much that is a factor in what we are hearing. I've heard at least some of these different effects in person though. And these recordings were just examples to save me thousands of words of explanation.

So, factoring in the recording differences, are the different colors primarily the player then? How important is the set up? Does a good horn, mouthpiece, etc. just give me flexibility to do what I want to do or does it direct me in a certain direction? What's your experience?

Sorry, I know these are NuB questions. I've never changed the set up on my Alto and I've only ever tried to get a cleaner, smoother, sax-like kind of sound.
 

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I think the playing environment has a tremendous effect on how a saxophone sounds (and responds). Being in a recording studio is a lot different than a live performance being heard and/or recorded in a hall (or wherever).

I don't play into microphones and because of that, my playing in a public performance requires me to project while at the same time, blend with the ensemble - no engineer to make it all correct.

In a recording studio, it is entirely different (for me) and I end up holding back so as not to bleed over or over-balance the "take". While it seemed to work in the limited number of recordings I've made (in cooperation with the recording engineer), there IS a difference.

Let us assume that a saxophone player's equipment is as good as he/she can make it (which it should be for anyone doing a public performance or a recording-in-studio). If that is true, I think the quality of the reed being used may be the most important factor in how the horn comes across. If the player is fighting the reed, that will make a huge difference in how the player sounds. Been there - done that.

Many of us carry more than one mouthpiece with us (for each horn, mulitple mouthpieces) to help blend in the particular environment where we play. Dull rooms may require one set-up; live rooms may require something different; over-amplified electronic instruments or playing outside are yet another story altogether.

The need to switch set-ups has not happened to me that often, but changing reeds is what I find myself doing when needed. DAVE
 

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And now there are the curved ones ....
 
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