Home Alt Forums General Questions Any advantage to change sax ?

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    Hi Johnny, Hi everybody,
    I have been playing on a Yamaha YAS 280 with Selmer S90 170 mouth piece for 3 years and I’m not happy with my sound. (Especially the medium range)
    In your opinion is it interesting to change sax for a better one (SELMER for instance).
    Better sound at my level ?
    Thanks for your answer


    interesting, when i bought my 1st and only sax, i went in the music store just to buy a Yamaha alto Sax, and i tried out the Yas280 and the Yas480. I was going to buy the 280, but when i compared the alternative fingering sounds with normal fingering sounds they were badly out, but when i tried the 480 the alternative fingering sounds were better compared to the normal fingering sounds. So that put me off the 280 and i bought the 480 instead.

    Several years later in a music lesson, my neck strap broke and my sax fell on the floor and stopped working.
    My sax teacher let me use his Selmer mark 7 with my own mouthpiece in the lesson, to be honest it only sounded slightly different, it just had a stronger sound. In fact in music lessons side by side my alto sax sounded just like his selmer.

    However, and a big however, when my teacher let rip on his selmer and played the selmer took on a more flowery flavour of sound, which my yamaha is incapable of doing. So imho yes different manufacturer brand Saxophones do sound a lot different.


    The problem with sound pitches is our brains in general don’t know the correct in tune pitches. So your brain doesn’t know if you are playing in tune correctly, until you hear the correct in tune pitch played by someone else. Your brain then tells you that you sound too sharp or too flat so you automatically adjust your pitch.

    It’s far better to play in tune with a sax pitch generator than rely on a tuner needle. When you play alongside a pitch generator, the minute you play off key, you can hear different wave sounds speeding up or slowing down, and they disappear when you play spot on in tune.

    Why am i telling you all this?

    When you play alongside a professional player, you don’t realise it but your mind automatically corrects your pitch to be in tune with the pro, as you can hear when you go in and out of tune.

    I noticed this the 1st time i played in an orchestra alongside several alto sax players, i sounded exactly like them.

    The same thing happens with speech you sound like your class mates who come from the same region. Sax playing is no different.

    If you are pitch perfect then your sax pitches will be perfect.

    Jumping to another sax is only good if you move from a cheap student sax to Pro model sax. Where we live a lot of cheap saxes are for sale used by serious students after several years of playing.

    There are a lot of variables when it comes to sound not sounding good.
    Sometimes you could be using the wrong reed for your mouth piece, it could be the wrong mouthpiece for your embouchure. A difference in ligature will change your sound. Do Johnnys Altissimo course, that will work wonders for your sound and really expand your tonal range.


    Christian, of course each horn will have it’s own sound but I doubt you’d hear too much of a difference, maybe more in how they feel.
    It’s my experience that the biggest things that will change your sound are the mouthpiece and the reed.
    give me my preffered mouthpiece and reed to play on any horn and I’d take that over playing the most expensive one with something other than my preferred mouthpiece and reed.

    so if I were you I’d focus on your personal setup first. I’m not saying don’t ever upgrade your horn, but if it’s just the sound that’s bugging you try mp and reeds first…also much cheaper.

    I;’ve had hard rubber Selmer piece4s in my early playing years but moved on from them pretty quickly.
    Think about the type of sound you do want to be getting in the near future.
    I think that mp you’re playing is probably more suited to classical music (I may be wrong cause it’s a different model than my old Selmers)
    so think about ehat you do want to sound like and think about it from that point of view…
    If you want a more “ligit” tone then stick with a similar one but maybe try a wider opening tip or slightly different chamber etc.
    If you want to be a bit more bright such as in rock, blues etc then you need to get away from that type of mp.


    it reminds of Harry Potter.

    The mouthpiece chooses the type of reed, and the player chooses the size of reed.

    Two variables, look at different brand reed comparison charts.
    Start off with the current size of your reed, and look up the equivalent size reed of a different type or brand of reed.

    Then buy a bunch of different brand reeds or types of reeds, don’t buy them by the box, just buy individual reeds. Try them out and settle for type of reed first and foremost, then buy a reed lower in strength and a reed higher in strength.

    Don’t throw away any reed, keep the weaker reed for when you go up a mouthpiece size, and keep the stronger reed for later on when you want to move up a reed size.

    Moving up a reed size will train you to blow harder, it will give you a stronger sound and a steadier note. It will also put more feeling of expression possibly a warmer richer sound, depending on the mouthpiece type (classical vs Blue).

    The next hurdle is choosing a mouthpiece, that’s when i leave the room, you’re on your own mate. Best solution is to pay for a couple of sax lessons with a working Sax Pro and get his help, these pro’s usually have a box of mouthpieces to try out and will give sound feedback.

    Checkout youtube mouthpiece’s being played, but be cautious, check the reviewer to see if he gets commission, if he does, chances are he may be biased and give a glowing review to gain comission.

    Once you get your new mouthpiece, then start all over again finding a new reed.





    checkout ligatures as well, they can alter the tone from dull to pin sharp crystal clear


    Another interesting fact, is some sax manufacturers in the past have designed there own mouthpieces to work with their saxophones and to work with specific reeds which add more to the confusion of choosing reeds and mouthpieces.

    It could be all down to how you feel.


    Thanks Johnny and James for your advices.I’m going to look for reeds and mp.


    You’re welcome!

    After i had been playing a couple of years, my teacher moved me up to a size 180, i wouldn’t jump too high up in mouthpiece sizes as your mouth will get tired very quickly after a couple of minutes, and you would be forced to use a much lower strength reed.

    The mouthpiece you have is mainly designed for classical music although they do say jazz, but its more like classical sounding style jazz.

    I would try different types of reeds before changing mouthpiece, you would be surprised in the differences in tone

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