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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Several years reading posts on this forum as well as my own experimentation has led to what I hope is an interesting conclusion. Repeatedly, the phrase I see often in here is "It is not the horn, or the mouthpiece/reed combination. It is the player." The more I try different combinations the more I am prone to agree. For good or for bad, I sound like me on any horn I play; if not at first, eventually.
Every time I get my hands on another horn, either on trial or I have purchased, I go into my studio and ask my wife to listen to a blind test. I just refer to them as "horn number one" and "horn number two." (Throughout this post, you can substite mouthpiece with horn. It is the same thing either way.) Almost without exception, she hears the subtle differences at first then, as I go back and forth and continue playing she has trouble differentiating between the two. In all honesty, after playing a newly acquired horn for a while, it starts to sound like me. Sure, there are always going to be a little variation here and there, but as I adjust, it comes out pretty much the same. So why the big variety of horns and preferences?
Here is my theory. Ultimately it is not the sound as much as it is the feel. Have you ever had a horn you just can't put down? One that seems to go wherever you want it to and whatever you hear in your head just seems to pour out of the instrument. Have you ever found that horn that just becomes one with you? An extension of yourself? If you have found that dream horn, could it be that it is the feel of the horn more than the sound? The resistance, airstream and tactile sense under your fingers, in your lungs and embouchure are just perfect for you. Whether it has Conn, Selmer, Buescher, Keilwerth, Buffet or any other name on the front it becomes your perfect horn. I submit that the feel is at least as important than the sound. If it feels like your soulmate it will become that regardless of the initial sound.
I realize this sounds more like Philosophy than Saxophone or Music, but it is something I have experienced and truly wonder if anyone else has.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2014
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I wholeheartedly agree. 90 percent of your sound is between your ears. Having played many mpcs from a Geo. Bundy, a D Dukoff, to a NY Link, I learned that equipment only gives you a variation of your sound, like it or not. There's much to be said about the feel of a horn, but again, it only varies the sound you project from your head. I discovered this while working quality control, play testing horns for a retail and repair music company. This is the main reason that I've stuck with the same horn for the past 35 years.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2009
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I wholeheartedly agree, although there is more than feel to it as well. Our sound technician can tell quite quick on which tenor I'm playing without looking. It's not the "sound" perse, it's more the amount of color (some horns give more toptones than others), the produced volume and clarity. He calls it the "cutting ability".

Meaning : I sound the same on both horns, but one cuts better through the band then the other.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Jolle said:
I wholeheartedly agree, although there is more than feel to it as well. Our sound technician can tell quite quick on which tenor I'm playing without looking. It's not the "sound" perse, it's more the amount of color (some horns give more toptones than others), the produced volume and clarity. He calls it the "cutting ability".

Meaning : I sound the same on both horns, but one cuts better through the band then the other.
Good point! There will always be minor differences, not only among different brands, but even within the same brand.

I also want to point out that I am not talking about comparing a YTS-23 to a Mark VI (or fill in with the appropriate names of your choice). I, for example, am constantly torn between my Big B, my Bundy Special, and my recently acquired Selmer USA. (Tenors) Each one has it's own personality and sound, but it still is "me" coming out the bell.

Cuarrently, I favor the Selmer, but when I go back to the Keilwerth or the Buescher, I re-discover what attracted me to them in the first place. I think that, when choosing a sax, (or mouthpiece) a person would be well advised to go with the one that is the pure joy to play, regardless of the name on the bell or the initial tone. (I once had a Yamaha made Vito Alto that was killer! Never should have let it go.) If you can't put it down, you will ultimately be better off. Of course, the setup is extremely important, a well set up student horn will outplay a leaky 10M, but this goes without saying.

I realize I am, in most cases, preaching to the choir, but I think it is an important point for newer purchasers to consider.
 

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rsclosson said:
Good point! There will always be minor differences, not only among different brands, but even within the same brand.
:sign5: Our sound technician wouldn't classify that as a "minor" difference. But then again, some people tend to see problems everywhere ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Jolle said:
:sign5: Our sound technician wouldn't classify that as a "minor" difference. But then again, some people tend to see problems everywhere ;)
True, but isn't it also true that sound techs are a totally different breed? :director:
 
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