All posts by ericdano

Polymath, musician, awesome.

The State Of Saxophone Mutes

Let’s face it, trumpets and trombones have some great practice items. All kinds of practice mutes, and then you have the pretty cool Yamaha Silent Brass system. But what is there for saxophone?

You can get these “mutes“. But honestly, they aren’t going to do much if anything. Maybe the low Bb will be damped, but if you are practicing palm keys stuff……forget about it. There is the E-Sax practice thing, but that seems to be for Alto sax? No tenor sax? And there seems to be this bag, the Oval Saxophone mute. But it doesn’t seem unavailable to purchase? Not sure how much damping it does.

The most promising muting device is the Saxmute ONE for alto and tenor saxophones. At almost the price of the E-Sax mute, it doesn’t have the bells and whistles the E-Sax mute has like a built in mac, line in, or reverb. Though I’m not sure how good those things are on the E-Sax Mute. The Saxmute ONE seems bigger, and has a TON of padding in it (check out the Facebook page). And one reviewer did mod his Saxmute ONE out with a microphone setup.

So…..I guess there are three choices?……:-/

Review – Pyle Pro PDMIC78 Microphone

Having a good microphone around is essential to a performer. While microphones like the AKG Pro Audio C414 XLII Vocal Condenser Microphone, and the Sennheiser MD 421 II Cardioid Dynamic Mic are my main “go to” microphones, one of the most compact and versatile microphones ever made is the Shure SM57-LC Cardioid Dynamic Microphone. At $100, it is a great microphone to just have in your bag “just in case”. Still, the SM57 isn’t exactly cheap. And if say you have a band or some situation where you need to microphone up stuff, using the venerable SM57 can get quite expensive.

Enter the Pyle-Pro PDMIC78 Microphone. This microphone is basically a Shure SM57 clone. Except they wired it strangely (or wrongly). Basically, you need to re-solder two connections and then you have a mic that sounds like a SM57….for $20 rather than $100. In fact, there is slightly more gain and it sounds a little more “crisp” than my SM57. Actually, it sort of sounds almost like a BETA 57. I have all these microphones and will link to a sound shoot out of them.

In all, a great deal if you can handle doing the small bit of soldering required. Amazon sells these guys for $20, though the author in the video below got a bunch of them for something like $10 each.

I have modded 4 of these now. You basically need to take the red (hot) from the capsule to pin 3, take pin 1 to ground, break the bridge they have from pin 1 to 3 to ground (so they have 2 pins going to ground) and run the other wire from the capsule to pin 2. You then get a balanced mic that sounds like a SM57 for 1/4th the price.

Review – Zinn and the Art of Saxophone

There are a TON of books out for saxophone. Go do a search of Amazon.com. Everyone seems to have a book out, be it on jazz improvisation, or perhaps a book just dealing with cool patterns or ways to play over certain types of chords, or using a specific scale in jazz. Lots of books. I know, I own just about every saxophone book known to man.

But while I love the pattern books, the scale books, the improv books, what books can I point to that I can say to anyone, regardless of what style of playing they want to do, as a reference to acquire technique on saxophone? The obvious one that we all know are the three Joseph Voila books Technique of the Saxophone: Scale Studies. Another contender for acquiring technique would be Walt Weiskopf’s book Around The Horn: 21 Modal Scales and Arpeggios Every Jazz Musician Needs To Know

With any one of these books, anyone can acquire some great technique on saxophone. But having a book or set of books isn’t the complete solution. How does one use the books? Once you get through the books, is that it? Is that the end? Did you reach the goal and now you are the master and you don’t need to practice anything anymore? You can acquire a tremendous set of skills if you can play through all the Joseph Viola books. But how do you maintain those skills? Do you start the books over again? Play them backwards?

Saxophonist Dann Zinn has been pondering this issue for over 20 years now. Perhaps longer….it is hard to tell, Dann is a man of few words (other than “go practice”). His new books Zinn and the Art of Saxophone is the culmination of decades of teaching, and thought about saxophone. What skills should one acquire in their pursuit of saxophone? In what order should one acquire the skills? How does one go about acquiring the skills?

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