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Forum Contributor 2016, The official SOTW Little S
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I am interested in two sounds of the sax. A dark jazz sound and a classical. I am currently using the stock mouthpiece and ligature that comes with Yanagisawa alto saxes.

I need your advice. Obviously I don't have a setup for a dark jazz sound but I am interested in getting one.

I also have a budget of no more than a hundred and fifty dollars per setup. What's your dark jazz sound setup?

Sorry if this has already been posted. It seems like a common topic. I used the search function and if I managed to oversee it, my apologies.
 

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I don't know what prices for US pieces are like, but firstly what mouthpiece you get will depend on your horn, your throat cavity, and also how you like to blow. Plus your definition of dark. I think Cannonball had a dark sound and he played a Meyer 5 which are usually very bright pieces (the ones I've played at least).

Plus your choice of reed will change things as well. Add to this that certain reeds don't work well with certain mouthpieces and/or certain horns and really all you can do is try a few things.

That said rubber Otto Links are pretty dark. Of course the older ones are much better (better rubber, better facings, better quality control) but they're also far more expensive. I've heard good things about rubber Berg Larsen pieces as well although again the vintage alto pieces can get pretty expensive.

Whilst there's no substitute for blowing them, why not look at rubber Links, rubber Bergs, and maybe a Selmer Soloist piece. The new versions of these aren't quite as good as the old ones but they're much cheaper.

Alternatively check out what your favourite sax players play and see if you can get something similar.

-Dan
 

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I have been using my S80 C* for years, it is reliable, and versitile. I would also recomend a Runyon Custom, dang good piece a little brighter. I would probably get away from that stock mouthpeice though.
I know it is different, becuase it is a different horn. But on my Selmer Tenor to try and keep my sound dark and Classical. You might consider a Rovner Eddie Daniels ligature its a Leather ligature very nice, also on the high end of the price range. I probably need to buy a few of them in the following months for my new mouthpieces. :( Very nice though.
 

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Go buy a used selmer C* ($50-60 tops). If you can get one for $50, then you'll have $250 to spend on a jazz mouthpiece (I'm assuming you meant $150 per mouthpiece).

Whose sound do you consider dark (jazz wise) on the alto saxophone? That'd help us be able to give better recommendations as far as jazz goes. Do you want to emulate your tone after someone? If so, then who? Feel free to PM me if you'd like. I'm always up for a discussion!
 

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Great question! I'd like to know some setups for tenor also. I know the RPC 115B is a little bright for me. I'd like to have a darker sound too.

My Tenor Mouthpiece Tone Comparison:
  • Otto Link Tone Edge 7* is the darkest piece I own. I describe it as 'buzzy' compared to the RPC. I like the buzzy sound, but have trouble with projection on this piece.
    Next brighter piece is my Otto Link NY STM 7*. Great classic jazz sound...really just right!
    Next is the RPC mentioned above. Speaks very easily from mid register on up. Just a little resistance down low. Again, just a little brighter than I would like.
    Dukoff D8 is an awesome piece I'm just now starting to get the chops to play. I can blow some serious air through this piece and can play it from medium dark to laser bright.
    Brightest is a Berg Larsen 95/0M - this thing is a laser even if I'm using a 4 or 5 reed.

I know this will flame some people, but I just don't see any difference in the ligatures I use on these pieces. :?

I use a Rico Jazz Select 2M these days. I've tried lots of reeds, but the batch of RJS's I'm playing right now are the best I've found.

...as always, YMMV :D
 

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Yanagisawa! Yanagisawa! You have a gem right in front of you and you don't even realize it! A 5 tip opening, if I assume correctly.

I can tell you want to just spend some money and stuff, and that's cool. I like doing it too. Music and mouthpieces. Really. Spend it on music or something like that. Or buy me a Nintendo DS. Black, please.

If you want to experiment with ligatures and stuff, try the Bonade. A slight improvement, IMO. I'd get the non-inverted one.

Really...the stock mouthpiece is like magic. Of course, you won't know until you try other things and learn the hard way.
 

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I play on alto:

For Classical - S80 C*. I think it's great - never had a problem. However some people say you don't get a pretty enough tone out of it (which I think is baloney ) Apparently its due to the square chamber. If you have a problem with it get yourself an S90 equivalent. These are both Selmer Pieces.

For my Dark Jazz sound - I play an early Babbitt otto link HR 7*. They aren't that expensive. I got mine for $130 AUD. So thats like 110 - fantastic value! I don't think I'm going to out grow this one. I will say it takes alot to learn to play this piece. If you feel the need to blow alot of air into your horn get an Otto Link but make sure you check out 4 or 5 of them if possible, cuzz like they say the quality control sucks! If you want something with a bit of control try a E. Rousseau JDX - I had one in a 7 and it was great until I started wanting more air in the horn. It's got a small baffle and a big Chamber which means there's a dark sound with easier projection/control.

on tenor I just play a Otto Link STM 8*- however I need to get my tenor fixed .;.. then I can really get mouthpiece shopping!

hope that was helpful
 

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The Yanagisawa mouthpieces are very good. People who tell you to "get rid of the stock mouthpiece" probably have little or no experience with Yanagisawa and assume that they package a crappy mpc with their saxophones, like many other companies do.

Another direction you may want to go in is with Phil Barone. I often play one of his NY alto mpcs. I've never played his "Jazz" model mpc, but it is described as "darker" than the NY. The prices on his website are higher than what you have to spend, but he often lists that NY Alto on eBay for less. There is a very good chance you could get one within your budget. I'd recommend giving him an e-mail or call and discuss what you're trying to achieve tonally, and I'm sure he'd be able to help.

Good Luck!
 

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Generally: large, round chamber (also rounded sidewalls) + little to no baffle + reasonable tip opening = dark sounding jazz piece

No matter which piece you choose these criterion have to be met unless you naturally have a very dark sound, which I'm assuming you don't if you're looking for gear? I sure don't!!
 

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bluesaxgirl said:
I am interested in two sounds of the sax. A dark jazz sound and a classical. I am currently using the stock mouthpiece and ligature that comes with Yanagisawa alto saxes.
...
And how would you characterize your sound on that mouthpiece relative to your tonal goals? Is this the type you have?

Yani mouthpiece

I ask because I think those are excellent, flexible jazz-oriented mouthpieces.
 

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I have to agree with Carbs on the S80 C*. It's definently the most versatile mouthpiece I've ever played.

After a bit of work, you can create a classical and a jazz sound. I prefer to use Hemkes for classical, and Rico Jazz Select for jazz though. Also alternating with my Meyer.

I wouldn't recommend you get a Meyer unless you're only looking at a jazz mouthpiece. I have trouble with creating a classical sound with it, prefering to use my C*.
 

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I'm able to achieve a dark alto tone using a LeBayle hard rubber piece with the jazz facing. I use Java reeds with it. Fred's work is beautiful. I think Junkdude carries them here in the states.

 

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Daniel Scott said:
Plus your definition of dark. I think Cannonball had a dark sound and he played a Meyer 5 which are usually very bright pieces (the ones I've played at least).
Indeed, this proves how subjective it is. I love Cannonball's sound, but I would describe it as anything BUT dark. I think of his tone as rather bright, but then he plays with a "bright" concept overall, so maybe that's what I'm hearing.

Anyway, I'd go along with an Otto Link HR as a fairly dark mpc. I have a Tone Edge alto mpc that is fairly dark.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
chitownjazz said:
And how would you characterize your sound on that mouthpiece relative to your tonal goals? Is this the type you have?

Yani mouthpiece

I ask because I think those are excellent, flexible jazz-oriented mouthpieces.
I've heard that. I guess its just the hype of having a "mouthpiece collection." :D
 

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Recently I started playing a gig where I wanted a dark, "old school" kind of sound. Some of the good people on this forum recommended Morgan mouthpieces. I've been playing a 7L, with a Runyon dark lig and Java 2-1/2 reeds on my 64 10m and I absolutely love the sound I've been getting- really dark and broad, not stuffy at all, just really thick and dark.
 

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I use a Meyer 5M with a Rovner Dark lig and Vandoren blue box 2-1/2's (although 3's are in my near future) on my Mark VII alto. It's dark in contrast to other alto sounds I've heard.
 
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