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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Someone here recently described a certain mouthpiece manufacturer's website as "sheer porn" & we all know what he meant.
Could it be an illusion that an exquisitely finished horn or mouthpiece is, of necessity, a good product? We imagine that anyone who takes such care in terms of finish & appearance must, almost by definition, make a good product.
I believe that it was Mozart's father who claimed that the beautiful scroll work on the head of some violins gave no indication of the instruments' tone.
We have all seen mouthpieces in the hands/mouths of players with a lovely sound that we would not touch with a pair of tongs...let alone put in our mouth.
A well known mouthpiece manufacturer discontinued a very good mouthpiece because he could ask a far higher price for it's more flashy replacement, which, in the opinion of some, was inferior in terms of performance.

Are we all, even marginally, tempted to buy with our eyes rather than our ears?
To what degree do we fall for it?
 

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If people weren't influenced by the look of things car manufacturers wouldn't spend so much money on the appearance of their vehicles. I, personally, tend towards a function over form perspective to the point that I tend to dismiss products where it's obvious that there has been a lot of effort put into the appearance. That's my bias and I try to be conscious of it when I'm buying things or doing business.
 

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I think a nice cosmetic finish on the exterior of a mouthpiece is fine BUT when I see mouthpieces (which there are several out there today) that are all polished up to a mirror finish inside I get very leery. I can personally attest to a couple mouthpieces that I did trials on that the tone and response was not there because the internals were not quite right because the "company" was more worried about making a pretty mouthpiece over a good mouthpiece. I'm not going to say names, don't ask!

JR
 

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I think a nice cosmetic finish on the exterior of a mouthpiece is fine BUT when I see mouthpieces (which there are several out there today) that are all polished up to a mirror finish inside I get very leery. I can personally attest to a couple mouthpieces that I did trials on that the tone and response was not there because the internals were not quite right because the "company" was more worried about making a pretty mouthpiece over a good mouthpiece. I'm not going to say names, don't ask!

JR
What works for you works. I am finding that the older I become, the better my older mouthpieces perform. [Caveat: I haven't played professionally in over 20 years, and I am just now returning to playing as a serious musician]. I DO recommend Ernie Northway as a custom builder.
 

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As a life-long pro sax player quickly headed to senior-citizen status, I find function more important than bling. That doesn't mean looks don't fit into my personal 'formula' for picking saxes, guitars and whatever else I play.

It is show business, and what you look like has a big impression on the audience who listen with their eyes as well as their ears.

Most modern mid to high-end saxophones are definitely adequate for the job. While playing to the average audience you would get better reactions playing a shiny second-tier saxophone than you would with a vintage but ratty looking Mark VI or Silversonic.

And looks are also important in your dress and personal grooming.

It's just the "facts of life" in the entertainment business.

Of course the "proper look" depends on the type of music you are playing and the audience you are playing for.

I recently bought a MacSax because Mike was the only manufacturer that would put silver colored nickel plate on a sax and guarantee that I'd like it or be able to return it. I figured I'd get a decent sax for the money, and it would look good in the yacht and country clubs that I often perform in. I was pleasantly surprised that not only did I get a great sax for the money, I got a great sax for any price, so I'm doubly pleased. It has the bling, tone, and responsiveness that I want.

I bought my Parker DF guitar for the quality of construction (Parker is great at this), the versatility of sound choices, and the looks. Some people like to play "distressed" guitars, and that works for the appropriate crowd, but when playing for an audience that often wears tuxedos and evening gowns to the gig, ratty looking instruments just don't make it.

But that doesn't directly answer your question, does it?

If I am faced with two instrument choices that for all practical purposes are equal in fulfilling their needs on stage and close in price, I'll take the one that I like the looks of. Bling is of secondary importance, but it is important to me.

Other than instruments, it depends on the product. Some things are entirely chosen by function, others by looks and most others a compromise between the two.

Insights and incites by Notes 鈾
 

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Different strokes for different folks (porn pun intended I suppose).

I think a lot of people listen with their eyes today. In fact, I think more people listen with their eyes than actually listen with their ears. I see musicians do it much more than I care to admit. I don't think we would be that much of an exception.

On another note. Let us not forget that yes, we may not wish to even touch some of those other players' mouthpiece. But there are many who's setups we may not even find playable. Yet they obviously do find them playable. This goes for everything from reeds to engravings. Some of it may be necessary, some of it may not be. Back in the day, some guys had their horns all decked out (Don Byas and Johnny Hodges come to mind). Take Don Byas for a classic example here on this point. Hardly anyone plays Dolnet's anymore - they don't even make them now. Does this mean he was more concerned with the "look" of his Dolnet then how well it played? Obviously 1,000's of amateurs (and pros) felt like they were inferior horns. Why didn't he?

I've heard some very respected players rank on what I think are some very good horns, mouthpieces and the like. Who's right?

My brother was a mechanic and a Ford man (First On Race Day) and hated Chevrolet ("ma, it's not junk unless they're Chevy parts").

Lot's of good mechanics and great drivers like Chevy.

Yeah, we can be influenced by the way things look. I think the bottom line is - can you play it. And when you play it can you PLAY it.

I think porn is an apt analogy. Or rather, the inference of physical attraction as the primary interest to establishing and maintaining a relationship.

Their are some people who seem to be able to work in relationships with certain types of "baggage."

But we must all remember "however amazing you think some woman (or man) is, there is already someone else, somewhere who is sick of them."

I love Otto Link moutpieces. I know plenty of great players who can't stand 'em. Which one of us knows what we're talking about?

And just because someone isn't all that great do they really have no say in what works for them? It's very confusing.

So to assume that their is form over function in a product is to assume we know and understand fully it's function and our ability to understand that information is based solely on whether we think it meets our needs. I don't play classical music in any kind of "legitimate" setting and yet I would probably trash any generally accepted and respected "Classical" moputhpiece based on whether I think it performs adequately on my gigs. So who's right?
 

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It is show business, and what you look like has a big impression on the audience who listen with their eyes as well as their ears.

Most modern mid to high-end saxophones are definitely adequate for the job. While playing to the average audience you would get better reactions playing a shiny second-tier saxophone than you would with a vintage but ratty looking Mark VI or Silversonic.

And looks are also important in your dress and personal grooming.

It's just the "facts of life" in the entertainment business.
I agree with this for sure. I do still play my ratty-looking VI on a lot of gigs, but also play a beautiful silver-plated Aristocrat tenor with a gold-wash bell. That Buescher is some serious bling, even though it predates my VI by 25 years. Luckily it also sounds great. i don't think the audience really notices the mpc very much.

From the buyer/player's perspective, bling definitely sells, as does all sorts of hype, true or not (usually not).
 

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Bling (appearance) influences our perception whether we want it to or not. I try to not let it affect my choices in gear too much, but uneven rails on a mouthpiece or uncentered pads on a sax aren't things I proactively look for in a sax, but if they happen to be there on a great playing piece then I am not going to worry about it...

...I think. :bluewink:
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Bling (appearance) influences our perception whether we want it to or not.
Of course it does, like advertising....that's the whole point.
The question is to what degree?
Could you "persuade" yourself to buy something that you find aesthetically pleasing, (& invariably expensive), instead of another item which you, in your heart of hearts, know is better & more appropriate?
 

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On an instrument, for me bling comes after:
Sound - Function - Reliability - Ergonomics - only then what does it look like. So I might be influenced on looks, say, on an Oleg neckstrap, I'd pick the one that looks the best because they all function so well. On an instrument, it wouldn't occur to me. Although, I keep my instruments in good shape, and some are newer and look nice. Some are not good to look at but that would never keep me from playing on them.

anchorsax
 

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I think the more you know about a subject the more critical your eyes view the superficial aspects of it. That happens in all aspects of my life. Especially when meeting new people. You may even say that after having been around the block a few times, I become blind to the bling. Or..... as blind as possible.

I don't buy hardly anything (not just music related items) that looks "incredible" without investigating the bottom line. Does it perform correctly. Even then, it may not be what I want. If two items perform the same and one has bling, it does influence me but one mans bling is another mans gaudy mess so I can't say that bling influences me in a positive way.
 

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This is pretty timely for me.

I have always admired those gold plated mouthpieces that really catch your eye. You know, the Jody Jazz, certain Theo Wanne's, etc. But, now I find myself negotiating a deal for a Sakshama Custom Z. It's not the prettiest piece I've ever seen, but from what I have read, I really want to try one for the sound and feel; not for the bling. I will admit that I would like for it to look like the Jody's, but I've gotten to where I want the sound, function and feel to be first priority.
 

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Welcome to the world of MTV. How many musicians can't make it because they don't have anything to show, only music to hear? How many performers are out can't really perform but rely on lip sinking and their "Eye Appeal."
 

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Lots of people suffer from ADOS. Attention Deficit Oooooh Shiney for those of you who haven't raised a teen-aged girl.
If it's new and shiney it HAS to be the most wonderful thing in the world. You could sell them dog poop if it was covered in glitter.
Then there are those who couldn't care less about the way something looks as long as it does what it's supposed to do.
Don't get me wrong. It is nice when your gear looks good, but it doesn't mean you're any better as a player.

Shiney gear, shiney cars, shiney women... I think 'POSER', but hope I'm proven wrong. :)
 

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I It's not the prettiest piece I've ever seen, but from what I have read, I really want to try one for the sound and feel; not for the bling. I will admit that I would like for it to look like the Jody's, but I've gotten to where I want the sound, function and feel to be first priority.
This is the difference maker to me. It isn't just about the way the thing looks but all the written superlatives describing it that really sets the hook for many people. This "descriptive bling" seems to be even more powerful than the visual bling. Sure JJ and Wanne are making great looking mouthpieces that folks are paying $600+ for but what about those old Guardalas with pink bite plates and full of tool marks that are going for $1000+. The combination of a good looking product, well written advertising copy, positive reviews, and a professional endorsement seems to be almost irresistable for some.
 

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Of course will are all influenced by "bling".

Music itself can even be considered "bling" or aesthetics. As a Gospel musician I often find it interesting that my friends in the "Church of Christ" denomination believe all music made with instruments is just aesthetics and not fit for worship. To them, playing Amazing Grace on the saxophone is just shallow non-substantive "bling".

So this is all just a matter is opinion. One man's bling might be another man's communication with the Divine. And keep that in mind when viewing advertising too. Buying something that is attractive is really not that different than buying food that taste good or even music that sounds good. And even when the attractive advertising has nothing fundamentally in common with the item being sold, it still builds mystique. And mystique factors into almost every buying decision we make. I like my old beat-up hammer because it was made in the US and has withstood the test of time. That makes me feel good about my hammer, but in reality it is just mystique. A $10 Chinese hammer from Walmart is probably just as good. And even though I know this, I still like the old hammer.

There you go; an answer with religion, human nature, music and Walmart. Nobody can top a response like that. :bluewink:
 

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Let's look at the question from the other side (with deference from bandcougy). If the mouthpiece looked like a dog **** would you put it in your mouth?
 

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Let's look at the question from the other side (with deference from bandcougy). If the mouthpiece looked like a dog **** would you put it in your mouth?
Yes..... That is a type of bling. As long as we know that it isn't real dog ****, it would be another form of bling. I'm sure it would sell if for no other reason than it looked like a dog ****.
 
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