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Hi everyone!

First off, let me go ahead and admit that I do not play the saxophone. I actually I play guitar in a three piece rock group. What am I doing here, then?

Okay, here's the deal. The music my band plays is a mixture of jam, rock, funk, punk, and third wave ska (think Sublime meets Primus meets Tool meets Phish meets...well you get the point). It just so happens our drummer's kid brother plays the saxophone is quite talented. He has recently joined us during practice and his horn compliments the band tremendously, but the sound a sax makes only works with a small fraction of the of music that we play.

Now I'm no tech buff, but I'm thinking to myself if my effects pedal can make my guitar sound like a record playing backwards, surely there is a tool out there that can make a saxophone sound like virtually anything a person could dream up. I once heard a guy play a guitar through a processor that made it sound like a piano for god's sake! If we had that sort of solution at our disposal then 'little brother' (as we so affectionately call him) could use his sax to add some spice to every song we play in a very liberal and freaked out fashion. Essentially, the band's predetermined prognosis of genre skitzophrenia would no longer pose a barrier to 'little brother's' participation in it.

So I come to you for help. I know a few things about guitars but I couldn't tell my head from my butt when it comes to enhancing (or completely distorting and bastardizing) a wind section. Can anyone point me in the direction of such an effective gadget? Thanks in advance for all of your suggestions.

Incidentally, I hope no one takes this post as a bash on the true sound of the saxophone. It's a great instrument all by itself; just one that happens to be difficult reconciling with speed metal - although we have been experimenting. :)
 

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It's very simple really.
Get him a mike... (Shure Beta 57A), plug it in to an old guitar amp, add guitar effect pedals to the mix, and let him go wild! You will need a line transformer to go from low impedance to high impedance...
Sax players have been doing this for ever,(since mid 60's anyway)Listen to Sonny Stitt and his varitone, of John Klemmer and his echoplex(Tape Loop delay box). The possibilities are quite endless, but first you need to get his sax in the mix, so to say,...In the Rock idiom, I use my own Guitar amp, because I'm tired of deaf sound-men controlling my sound.
I play jazz acoustically, with the sound of the room, but with Those funky fusion charts from the early 70's, Our sound guy hooked me up to a Harmonizer,(Like Breckers)so in the middle of the solo ,i hit a foot switch and the sound is split up into quartal harmony(In fourths), or preconceived voicings that I programmed into the unit. The audience would freak out, and look around the room, it was unreal! I felt more free harmonically to go outside the changes in order to take advantage of this technology. Some people would think that today, this sounds dated,, but that was in 1988.
It's possible to bring it all back. Why should guitar players have all the fun?
Us Saxophonists deserve to experiment with different effects, but most importantly, make sure he learns how to play the sax first!
 

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Rig Him UP!

I couldn't agree more with King Koller.

I used to play in an indie-type waaaaaaayyyy out-there band and used my effects module to create whacked-out chorus, flanger, and phaser sounds from my saxophone. You hit one of those and start wailing and people's eyes pop out of their heads (a little messy but really cool).

If you're already set-up with a lot of pedals for your guitar, then do some experimentation. Set Little Brother up with a mic. An SM-57 or 58 will suffice if you don't have the Beta-57A. At this point, I'd use what you have. Buy an "IMP" (http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/Whirlwind-Little-IMP-Lo-to-Hi-Impedance-Matcher?sku=427600) if you don't have one and hook him up through your pedal board.

Now have him wail while you try out different pedals and pedal combinations. Remember what you like and look for that in either a rack-mountable or pedal configuration. The rack-mountable effects processors generally sound better but the pedal effect processors are a bit easier to deal with in a live situation.

I haven't been on the market for one of these. I like my Digitech S-200 but that's a rack-mountable unit and can mix only two effects at once. Little brother may be better off with one of their foot-pedal effect modules like this one http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/DigiTech-Vocal-300-Vocal-Effects-Processor?sku=150177. You have foot pedals for program changes, an expression pedal, and can mix up to 7 effects at once. I have been told it's best to stick with vocal processors as the frequencies they're set-up for are similar to that of the saxophone. Guitar effects processors may work too.

Please note, there are other pedal manufacturers that are as good if not better than Digitech. I only mention their name because I've been happy with the product I have.

Good luck and have fun with it!

- Mike
 

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Yeah - I've used the above setup too and it's great. But I have found in some live situations that the unbalanced mic can pick up some noise including radio stations! Lately I've been using small cheap submixer so I can use an XLR mic cable. Then I connect the pedal to the send/rtn on the mixer.
 

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Forget the guitar pedals. Use a vocal effects processor. It's well suited for a mic'ed sax. Digitech 300 is a popular one. It has tons of effects. I like the reverbs and delays, but there's a lot of extreme stuff on there for your kind of music.
 

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The hell with everything said thus far, except the digitech comment. DO NOT PLUG A MIC INTO A GUITAR AMP!

The impedance does not line up. Ultimately a TC Electronics VOICELIVE is the device you need, and probably hooked up to a laptop so your horn player doesnt have to bend over and sift through a million menus. (drool...)

http://www.tc-helicon.com/VoiceLive
 

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CiaranAudio said:
The hell with everything said thus far, except the digitech comment. DO NOT PLUG A MIC INTO A GUITAR AMP!
It's really hard to plug a mic into a guitar amp. The XLR male doesn't match the 1/4" female.:) It's easier if you use a tranfomer that changes low to high impedence.

There are other reasons not to use a guitar amp. They use crappy speakers (that are entirely appropriate to a guitar) that throw away anything above 10k, and the rest of the frequency response kinda colors the sound, too.

TC makes fine processors, but I'm not sure I would want to cough up $799.00 for a toy that just makes my sax sound funny.:D
 

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Has anyone ever tried a vocal harmonizer box to try to create a 'sax section' in a rock band? Apparently you can set the key you are in and whether you want a 3rd, 5th above/below etc.
 

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hakukani said:
It's really hard to plug a mic into a guitar amp. The XLR male doesn't match the 1/4" female.:) It's easier if you use a tranfomer that changes low to high impedence.

There are other reasons not to use a guitar amp. They use crappy speakers (that are entirely appropriate to a guitar) that throw away anything above 10k, and the rest of the frequency response kinda colors the sound, too.

TC makes fine processors, but I'm not sure I would want to cough up $799.00 for a toy that just makes my sax sound funny.:D
I have an XLR-F to 1/4" male cable I have tried this whole mic into an amp thing, but of course the guitar amp isnt a preamp for the mic and they are totally the wrong impedance.

Now, if the sax player had a REAMPING box (basically, a reverse DI for taking a balanced signal and flipping it to Hi-Z to drive a guitar amp in the studio) and some kind of basic mic preamp (like a 2 channel Behringer or something), one could theoretically use guitar pedals in the chain after the REAMPing box.

Nothing wrong with the speakers in a GOOD guitar amp. And they certainly DO NOT roll off everything above 10K! And even if they did, I can't see a practical situation in a live performance application that would require any saxophone above 10K!!! I tend to shelf -12db at 12K, and then a VERY HARSH gouge at 6K with a wider Q. Then a very subtle boost (because one shouldnt boost, but cut other things... ;) ) around 200, for warmth.

Imagine a soprano sax through a Marshall 4X12 with Wah pedals and distortion! (drool...).
 

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CiaranAudio said:
Nothing wrong with the speakers in a GOOD guitar amp. And they certainly DO NOT roll off everything above 10K! And even if they did, I can't see a practical situation in a live performance application that would require any saxophone above 10K!!! I tend to shelf -12db at 12K, and then a VERY HARSH gouge at 6K with a wider Q. Then a very subtle boost (because one shouldnt boost, but cut other things... ;) ) around 200, for warmth.

Imagine a soprano sax through a Marshall 4X12 with Wah pedals and distortion! (drool...).
1) Have you done any measurements of guitar amp speakers? (I have, and I guarantee that there are very few guitar amps that are within +or-3 dB for any part of the spectrum) And I agree there's not much above 10k in a sax sound, except maybe some transients from the articulation. That doesn't mean that you cut it out in all situations. You also need to take into consideration, in a live miking situation, that other instruments do have sounds that the mic pick up in the upper part of the spectrum.

2) If you put that kind of EQ on my sax I would have your head on a platter, unless it was in a live situation and you were having feedback issues. I have WAY too much experience playing and mixing to have these kinds of 'pat' EQ settings. ....Not to mention this is BS because it depends on what mic you're using, the distance from the horn, the timbre the player has, the style of music, and how the sax 'sits' in the mix, etc.

As far as a mic into a guitar amp with a hi impedence converter... while it's not a good solution, it does work, maybe not with guitar pedals in line, I personally wouldn't use guitar pedals on my horn--I worked WAY too many hours to get the sound I want. I've used the converter solution in 'emergencies'. Pros know the rules, but don't always follow them.;)
 

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hakukani said:
1) Have you done any measurements of guitar amp speakers? (I have, and I guarantee that there are very few guitar amps that are within +or-3 dB for any part of the spectrum) And I agree there's not much above 10k in a sax sound, except maybe some transients from the articulation. That doesn't mean that you cut it out in all situations. You also need to take into consideration, in a live miking situation, that other instruments do have sounds that the mic pick up in the upper part of the spectrum.

2) If you put that kind of EQ on my sax I would have your head on a platter, unless it was in a live situation and you were having feedback issues. I have WAY too much experience playing and mixing to have these kinds of 'pat' EQ settings. ....Not to mention this is BS because it depends on what mic you're using, the distance from the horn, the timbre the player has, the style of music, and how the sax 'sits' in the mix, etc.

As far as a mic into a guitar amp with a hi impedence converter... while it's not a good solution, it does work, maybe not with guitar pedals in line, I personally wouldn't use guitar pedals on my horn--I worked WAY too many hours to get the sound I want. I've used the converter solution in 'emergencies'. Pros know the rules, but don't always follow them.;)
That kind of EQ was specifically for my soprano only, and used as an example of what I (as an engine-head AND sax player) would use/like. As a rule of thumb, I only eq for scientific reasons. My EQ settings are not BS. I've used them with much success, and so before you throw the BS card, take a deep breath and stop being so presumptious.

I dont like to change the sound of a man's horn! But there are a lot of variables we must of course consider. The room, the gear (in my case, srm 450s and swa1501's), the mics (AKG C419 clip on, else a Beta 57), and a whole shwack of other things too. I've been in situations where the mic on the horn became a fancy decoration because I didnt even need to turn it on! It is called "live sound reinforcement" and not "live sound amplification" for a reason.

Basically, I would work with you until you got the sound you liked AND I was satisfied that everything was stable.

As for the whole sax-through-guitaramp thing, I only bring it up because I'm insane and really get off on stuff like that. I practice my 90 minutes a day same as everyone else here, but my musical tastes/goals certainly do include processing devices, seeing as my playing style is modelled much more after heavy-metal & blues guitarists instead of saxophonists.

I'm very sorry if I miss-represented myself. I am young (24) but have engineered over 250 shows now (with all my own gear that is paid for, insured for 20 grand) most with horns, almost all loud-*** rock n roll shows (avg 20-24 channel mix, 4 sets of monitors), and usually the horn players especially like what I do, as far as their monitors and how they percieve themselves in the FOH.

I'm not claiming to be some almighty sound guy or something, but I hope you wouldn't have your sound guy's head just because he EQ'd a certain way that perhaps compromised some sliver of your sound only you would notice anyway.
 

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Oh, and here is my actual gear list, fyi incase your playing in Calgary at any point:

6X Mackie SRM 450
2X Mackie SWA 1501
Poles (duh)
Mic Stands(all in a nice long case)
Soundcraft Ghost (24 channel)
Ally n Heath 16:2 (16 channel)
2X RANE DC24 2 channel compressor
DBX 1066 2 channel compressor
SAMSON S-Gate4
3X RANE ME-60 2 channel graphic eq
TC ELECTRONICS M-One 2 channel multi-effects processor

Beta 52 (kick)
5X SM 57
2X Beta 58
4X SM 58
2X AT-Pro 37 (overheads)
8 tall stands,
8 short stands

150' 24 channel by 8 return XLR snake.

All cables, clips, DI boxes and trinkets.
 

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That's a nice Little PA.:)

Sounds like you get the bar gigs.;)

Here's what's left of my rig from when I moved to Hawaii (I'm retired from sound gigs) some of it's old, but it was new at one time:

Dbx 166A dual compressor/gate
Alesis Quadraverb 2 effects
Lexicon Reflex verb
Rane PE16 parametric EQ
AB 231 two channel 1/3 octave Graphic
Kurzweil K2500XS


I pretty much only record now. For that I have a Mackie Onyx 1220 with the firewire card to a Tibook with Garageband ( don't love GB, but I tried Traktion--hated it-would rather have ProTools or Logic).
AT pro 35 wired clipon
Samson Airline 77 with lav, and AH1 wind instrument wireless clipon
3 57s
3 58s
Two AKG 3000B
Canon XL-1 for video with decent sound.

Anything else I need I borrow or rent.

---Oh, and a nice (open beam construction, 3/4" T 'n G walls and ceiling, bamboo floors---NO DRYWALL) room to put it all in.
 

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2nd vote for the Digitech vocal processor... I use it, and love it.
You can do the harmonizer thing, by setting a patch at whatever interval you want, above or below.
THere are two models, 300 and 400 I think. I have the 300.. the only difference between the two is on the 400, you can usb connect it to a Pc to do your patch editing.. and its priced a little higher.
You have 80 presets... 40 factory, and 40 additional that you can set up.. MORE THAN Enough. You control and create each patch for whatever you want with Reverb, Chorus, etc...
Most of the presets are kind of crappy, but there a good foundation, you can tweak them, and go from there. Everything at your feet, to adjust how you sound, rather than relying on a soundman.
 

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crashkahuna said:
Has anyone ever tried a vocal harmonizer box to try to create a 'sax section' in a rock band? Apparently you can set the key you are in and whether you want a 3rd, 5th above/below etc.
I experimented with doing this in the early 90s with a blooze band. You have to be really careful what you play, and learn what will and won't work. Simple is generally better, at least with the stuff available then.

Truthfully, if I wanted (and I've sorta been getting GAS for this) to do all these electronic effects, I think I'd go all the way and just get an EWI or WX controller.
 

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Acoustic guitar amps

Probably most guitar amps are designed to be overloaded, as in rock playing, and the speakers are designed for that purpose. There are other guitar amps, used by jazz musicians and acoustic guitarists, that allow a more faithful reproduction of what you feed them. These amps are often marketed as "acoustic guitar amps". They are not intended to be distorted, and they are flat well above 10k, at least according to the manufacturer. Many of them have XLR inputs, too. Some examples are Acoustic Image Amps, any Raezer's Edge cabinet, or the SWR California and Strawberry Blonde combos.

One advantage of an acoustic guitar amp for a saxophonist I would think, is that you don't need to project a deep bass, so the acoustic guitar amp may be better pound for pound than a piano amp or a general PA. The Acoustic Image and Raezer's Edge gear is pretty pricey, because it's about as good and about as lightweight as it gets. But there's cheaper stuff, like the CA Blonde, which I own and like.
 

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hakukani said:
. . . .Truthfully, if I wanted (and I've sorta been getting GAS for this) to do all these electronic effects, I think I'd go all the way and just get an EWI or WX controller.
If you do, it's a fairly different ball game from playing a real sax. I own a WX/VL70m. The WXs at least allow "reed" bending as an effect (pitch or other, depending how you process the input). I believe the latest EWI (4000?), still has the tube you blow into. One other thing: The EWI has an on board synth - great for travel - but the WXs require an external processor (e.g., Yamaha VL70m or some MIDI).

They're interesting, and a nice way to quasi-double, but just not like the real deal IMHO.


PS: To clarify: the fingering is pretty much the same; the feel and responsiveness are different.
 

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LampLight said:
Probably most guitar amps are designed to be overloaded, as in rock playing, and the speakers are designed for that purpose. There are other guitar amps, used by jazz musicians and acoustic guitarists, that allow a more faithful reproduction of what you feed them. These amps are often marketed as "acoustic guitar amps". They are not intended to be distorted, and they are flat well above 10k, at least according to the manufacturer. Many of them have XLR inputs, too. Some examples are Acoustic Image Amps, any Raezer's Edge cabinet, or the SWR California and Strawberry Blonde combos.

One advantage of an acoustic guitar amp for a saxophonist I would think, is that you don't need to project a deep bass, so the acoustic guitar amp may be better pound for pound than a piano amp or a general PA. The Acoustic Image and Raezer's Edge gear is pretty pricey, because it's about as good and about as lightweight as it gets. But there's cheaper stuff, like the CA Blonde, which I own and like.
I always got the impression that the ones with an XLR input were marketed as keyboard amps. Nice to know that the marketing has become more flexible.;)
 

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The Original Question

I believe the original question was - more or less - whether there were some effects you could put on a sax that would help "little brother's" sound in a jam-band environment.

The hell with everything said thus far, except the digitech comment. DO NOT PLUG A MIC INTO A GUITAR AMP!

The impedance does not line up.
For testing purposes - to determine whether effects combos are going to give the desired results, why not?

I am simply attempting to give a relatively cheap ($15 for an "IMP" assuming they have a microphone laying around) way to determine whether or not different effects will give them the desired result.

You are not going to break anything by trying this: microphone, amplifier, or pedals. No, it's not what you want to use going forward (and I never said it was).

I would rather do this than advise someone to fork-out $200 to $1,000 on equipment that, in the end, doesn't give them the results they want.
 

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vermontsax said:
I believe the original question was - more or less - whether there were some effects you could put on a sax that would help "little brother's" sound in a jam-band environment.



For testing purposes - to determine whether effects combos are going to give the desired results, why not?

I am simply attempting to give a relatively cheap ($15 for an "IMP" assuming they have a microphone laying around) way to determine whether or not different effects will give them the desired result.

You are not going to break anything by trying this: microphone, amplifier, or pedals. No, it's not what you want to use going forward (and I never said it was).

I would rather do this than advise someone to fork-out $200 to $1,000 on equipment that, in the end, doesn't give them the results they want.
Well for sure. Maybe rent something that is going to work a little more effectively out of the box though. Like a digitech rental couldnt be more than 30 bucks for the month. More than enough time to see if they want to fork out for something. I was thinking maybe a device that allows for a laptop interface.
 
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