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Thread: Alto sound

  1. #1

    Question Alto sound

    Okay, so I know that asking what mouthpiece to use is like asking "how much does Texas weigh"! I've been playing for 20+ years but honestly just a hobby. I play some rock and roll and a little jazz every now and then. I don't own a top-line horn but the Yani does what I need for now. My problem is that it's way too "pretty". My tone is very pure and virtually has no real character. I'm playing a Meyer (think it's a 6M or something like that) and while it's a little more "dirty" than the stock C*, it's just not what I'm looking for, especially when recorded. Even when I overblow it, it's really hard to get any kind of rasp or air in the tone. Anyone want to at least point me toward the right ideas on this? I use a Link metal on my tenor and can easily get the sound I want from that thing but really have never been able to get it from Alto. I've tried a Dukoff D6 and honestly, it was just LOUDER. I'm using Vandoren JAZZ 3's. Thoughts?

  2. #2
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alto sound

    Quote Originally Posted by jkeefauver View Post
    Okay, so I know that asking what mouthpiece to use is like asking "how much does Texas weigh"!
    Not quite, the answer is probably more subjective than that.

    One part of me is tempted to say that you will get what you are after mostly from working on your tone and embouchure rather than getting a different mouthpiece. The other part of me wants to recommend an RPC.

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    Default Re: Alto sound

    Sounds like you got good gear. I'd look elsewhere for the answer.
    "The key to improvising is being able to play and listen at the same time."

  4. #4

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    Softer/different reeds and listen to Phil Woods? He gets plenty of grit when he wants on a Meyer.
    UNT Jazz Grad Student/Freelance Saxophonist - DFW Private Lesson Instructor
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    Default Re: Alto sound

    Ever try plasticovers? I really like Marc Russo's sound on alto, and I believe he's using a Meyer 5 w/plasticovers.

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    Distinguished SOTW Member EgilF.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Alto sound

    I just refaced at new Meyer 6m, the tip opening was .069 a 6 should be .076 and the table was concave - together this made the mpc play like a selmer C* and felt much like you describe your. A standar reface made it play like a meyer should.
    Yanagisawa Cuved Soprano - Runyon Custom .065 - Java 2.5 / Cannonball Big Bell Stones Series alto - Beechler Custom Bellite .080 - Red Java 2.5 / JK SX90R Tenor - Sugal KW II .113" - V16 3

  7. #7

    Default Re: Alto sound

    I struggled with it too. For me the solution was using a Lawton BB mouthpiece and later on making my own reeds. Although as stated often the MPC and reed have the most influence on the sound, I find that the instrument plays also a huge role. Recently I bought me an old Buescher TH&C and I like it very much for the music I play (R&B), still more than my Bauhaus-W. M2S.
    Pete Thomas: Why is'nt there a PPT Alto MPC?

  8. #8
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alto sound

    Quote Originally Posted by heckstall View Post
    Pete Thomas: Why is'nt there a PPT Alto MPC?
    I didn't develop PPTs consciously to market.

    I developed the PPT tenor originally purely for myself, to get me a sound and versatility that no other mouthpiece (stock or custom made that I knew of) could do. I was after something very special. It just happened that having made them for myself, other people liked them and so i started to sell them.

    I then made the baritone to do a similar thing (but not in the same way) and then a soprano. The baritone PPT is not just a bigger tenor PPT, it's more like a Link. The soprano PPT is not just a smaller version, it's more like a Selmer Soloist.

    I currently have no need for an alto mouthpiece other than the RPC I use. If I could find something better, that would be an alto PPT but as I have no need of anything different at the moment, there isn't one.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Alto sound

    Great stuff guys. Pete, I totally agree with you that working on my tone and embouchure would certainly help me. I'm sure some of you can sympathize but I'm a single dad with 2 little monsters running around. Makes "productive" practice a bit difficult Anyhow, I think I'll go grab a few softer reeds and see if that helps me even a little. How soft would you guys go? (2, 2 1/2?) I've always liked Vandoren and the quality control on the JAZZ line seems to be pretty good but hey, I'm open to new ideas. Maybe then I'll look at the RPC or refacing the Meyer. I really don't have a good woodwind store close by, at least not one that has much of a mpc selection so it's largely an internet buy for me which can be frustrating. Might be worth the drive to DC or Baltimore to a larger store.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Alto sound

    I use a C* with Java 3.5's. With a bit more air and a little work with opening up in terms of throat stuff and it dirties up just fine.
    Proud alum of Mattawan High School bands. SMAM 2011 European tour. FIU Marching Band member 2011-.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Alto sound

    I wouldn't go below a 2 1/2 on a 6M. Try putting more lip on the reed and opening your throat. Be more selective about the reeds you play. Some reeds are just dull sounding. I usually only get 3-6 out of a box of ten that I like. Whatever edgier player you want to emulate, play with their recordings a lot and really wrap your head around their tonal concept.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Alto sound

    plasticovers gives me my sound that i want too. bright and edgy.
    runyon mouthpeices-no need to look elsewhere

  13. #13
    Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2010 harmonizerNJ's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alto sound

    If you don't already practice overtones, it can improve your sound and give it more of a "ring", which might provide *part* of what you are looking for. Opening the throat may also help.

    I transitioned about 3 years ago from a Meyer with a large tip opening to an RPC 95R, which has a rollover baffle, and the first time I tried the RPC I felt like someone had put a high powered machine gun in my hands for the first time. The RPC is not *that* different from a Meyer, so it might be a reasonable choice for you. But if you are playing a Meyer 6M you might want to consider the RPC 80R or 80B (not sure if Ron makes both types?) which have a more medium size tip opening than the 95R. So I think an RPC mouthpiece also might help you somewhat in your path. You *can* also play soft on these things, once you get used to it. It took me several months to get there, so have patience if you take this option.

    I am an alto player who is relatively new to rock/pop, and I feel like I don't have the "dirty" sound - I'm really more of a pop sax player than a rock sax player, so I can understand where you are coming from.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Alto sound

    The common theme I'm hearing from you guys is practice (tone, open throat....just practice). I really think I'm going to make an effort to practice a couple times a week while kids in school. (I work from home when I'm not traveling). To that end, can you guys recommend a method. I can understand that concept of "open your throat" and "work on embouchure" but I really have no practical manner of practicing those things. I know Pete offers some material that looks very nice and I certainly love the sound he's getting on the youtube videos. It just feels like before I have RPC make me a mpc, I should have the technique to really take advantage of it. I think whatever method I use for practice needs to concentrate on tone as well as technique. My fingers certainly don't work quite the way they did when I was 25!

    Thank you all for your help. Having just joined your forum, I'm quite impressed with the great advice and wealth of topics covered here. Congrats to those responsible.

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    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alto sound

    Quote Originally Posted by jkeefauver View Post
    It just feels like before I have RPC make me a mpc, I should have the technique to really take advantage of it.
    very sensible.

    One thing to work on is a growl. You don't have to use it all the time or like a Rock & roll heavy growl, it can be added very subtly and effectively in a jazz context as well, Bird, Phil Woods, Davis Sanborn and many players etc. can add just a hint of growl to add some edginess where appropriate in various styles.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Alto sound

    Also playing 2nd octave tones without octave key and intonate high works good for me; adds a bit of lower octave tone. Intonation depends on make and type of saxophone!

  17. #17

    Default Re: Alto sound

    Ten years ago I had a Yani alto with a beautiful liquid chocolate sound. But at the time I couldn't make it rasp.
    I was wondering whether the OP has made any progress???

  18. #18

    Default Re: Alto sound

    Is there a specific player whose sound you really want? Someone who embodies the sort of gruff sound you want? If so, find a solo of theirs you really dig and spend some good time transcribing it. And don't just learn the notes; play along with the recording every chance you get. Eventually, you will subconsciously adjust your embouchure and throat position in order so that you sound more like the player in the recording. And even if that doesn't get you the results you want, you can then be a lot more sure that some part of your equipment is the problem.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Alto sound

    Quote Originally Posted by jkeefauver View Post
    Okay, so I know that asking what mouthpiece to use is like asking "how much does Texas weigh"! I've been playing for 20+ years but honestly just a hobby. I play some rock and roll and a little jazz every now and then. I don't own a top-line horn but the Yani does what I need for now. My problem is that it's way too "pretty". My tone is very pure and virtually has no real character. I'm playing a Meyer (think it's a 6M or something like that) and while it's a little more "dirty" than the stock C*, it's just not what I'm looking for, especially when recorded. Even when I overblow it, it's really hard to get any kind of rasp or air in the tone. Anyone want to at least point me toward the right ideas on this? I use a Link metal on my tenor and can easily get the sound I want from that thing but really have never been able to get it from Alto. I've tried a Dukoff D6 and honestly, it was just LOUDER. I'm using Vandoren JAZZ 3's. Thoughts?

    Hi

    The Drake vintage resin Jazz (VRJA) is what works for me. Have a listen to Carl Cox on this page -
    http://www.drakemouthpieces.com/Vintage_Resin_.html

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