What happens when two saxophone players try each other’s horns? The fact is that pretty much all saxophone players are biased towards the saxophone that they play on. So with few exceptions, someone who plays a Mark VI is going to be biased towards their Mark VI. Somebody who plays Yanagisawa is going to be biased towards Yanagisawa saxophones.
In last week’s video I compared the new Selmer Supreme tenor saxophone to my vintage Mark VI, as well as a Yanagisawa TWO33 and you guys left hundreds of comments as to which ones you thought sounded better. Thanks for the participation. I find it incredibly interesting reading what you have to say, but there was a lot of bias in those comments. In particular there were quite a few Mark VI owners who were adamant about their ability to identify the unique and superior sound of the Selmer Mark VI.
So just to make sure, I’ve set up a blind test. Now’s your chance to prove that you can really hear the uniqueness of the Mark VI when played up against several other saxophones. This should be really easy. I’m going to play the same thing on five different tenor saxophones, only one of them is a Mark VI.
I’ll tell you what the other ones are later. For now, just put in the comments which one is the Mark VI. Listen to Play test #1. Got your answer? Put it in the comments.
Sax Gear in this video
I was playing on my BetterSax Burnin’ mouthpiece and soon to be released BetterSax Jazz Cut Reed for every example. The microphone is an AEA N8 ribbon, going through my Universal Audio Apollo Twin. In addition to the Mark VI, there were two Yanagisawa tenor saxophones, a TWO2 as well as a TWO33. I also threw in there the Selmer Supreme and another very exciting saxophone (soon to be released), the BetterSax tenor that I know many people have been waiting for. I put links to everything being used in this video in the description.
Now that you know all the saxophones that are in the mix, listen again and see if you can identify each one of them. That’s not going to be so easy. Listen to Play Test #2. How did you do that time? Put your answers in the comments.
Number one was the Mark VI, number two is the Supreme, number three is the BetterSax, number four is the TWO33, and number five is the TWO2. If you’re a Mark VI player, I want you to be honest. Did you get it right? There is a 20% chance that any random guess would have been correct, and I would bet that the answers are going to be about 20% correct.
The only point I’m trying to make here is that there are a lot of saxophones that sound great and the prices can vary quite dramatically as a player. You’re going to hear and feel a lot more difference than the listeners on the other end are going to hear. We are always going to sound like ourselves no matter what instrument we play, so in choosing a saxophone for yourself, the most important things to consider are how it feels to you when you’re playing it and your budget. Yes, the more expensive instruments have more exquisite engraving, they’re made out of more expensive materials and sometimes they’re even made out of magical brass whose formula has been forever lost.
It’s really nice to have one of the top of the line instruments, I’m not gonna lie. There’s also nothing wrong with being biased towards your particular saxophone. It’s human nature. The real takeaway that I hope everyone can agree on is that these instruments and any other ones we would throw in the mix are more similar than the they are different. They’re all saxophones after all, the instrument we love. Once you’ve chosen your ideal saxophone the thing that’s going to make much more of a difference in your sound is the mouthpiece and that’s why I always recommend people upgrade that first. But where do you start when it comes to choosing the best mouthpiece? Go watch this video next where I tell you everything you need to know.