Category Archives: Articles

General Saxophone related articles, opinions, questions, etc, etc

History Of The Saxophone

The State Of Effects Pedals in 2016

Lots of saxophonists use or have used effects boxes with their saxophone. Some my favorite recordings of the Brecker Brothers from the 70s where he uses and octavider and an envelope filter for those sounds hear on the recordings.

More modern saxophonists, like Jeff Coffin, are using a Q-Tron and a Line 6 M Series Effects pedal. Q-Tron gives you a great funky sound, and the Line 6 gives you a ton of options.

Dean Mongerio has a pretty sweet pedal setup I covered before. It is worth checking out.

But what else do people use? I see a lot of people using vocal effects pedals like the Boss VE-20, and TC-Helicon pedals. But there are tons of other pedals as well.

My current setup is a Q-Tron like Jeff Coffin, and a Eventide MixingLink which I love. The MixingLink allows we to blend the Q-Tron with my sax sound, and I can bypass the Q-Tron all together. That is helpful as my Q-Tron has no Redlight to tell me it is currently engaged. I am looking to add some sort of Harmonizer. If I had the $$$ I would get the Eventide Pitchfactor or a Eventide H9. Though the Boss VE-20 looks interesting…..

What effects pedals are you guys using?

Record Making With Duke Ellington


Sheet Of The Week – Pokemon GO Theme

Here is one of the themes from Pokemon Go. The Map/Walking theme.

  Pokemon Go Walking Theme for Eb Instruments (65.1 KiB, 4 hits)
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  Pokemon Go Walking Theme for Bb Instruments (62.9 KiB, 2 hits)
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forScore 10 Announced

forScore, for iOS, announced a new version of their amazing music software for iPads. Some notable new features.

  • Crop – Taking pictures with an iPad can be cumbersome, and getting perfectly aligned photos of pieces of paper is nearly impossible. That’s why we added a crop tool to forScore’s Darkroom. It lets you re-frame your photo after the fact to cut out everything except the page.
  • Enhance – Framing is just one part of it, though. For the best results, you also need to account for lighting and other factors that can turn your perfectly legible sheet music into a muddy mess.
  • De-skew – PDF files are ubiquitous, flexible, and well-supported across platforms. They can also vary wildly in quality, from pristine, digitally-created masters to terrible, crooked scans. We’ve received a lot of requests over the years to add a way to fix these files, and now we have.
  • Setlists – For many users, setlists are the real workhorse of forScore. They’re flexible and essential to a lot of people, but they can also start to get out of hand if you create a lot of them. Some people upload and archive their setlists in the cloud, but with forScore 10 we set out to design a better way for people to organize and archive their setlists.

Some of these, like De-skew, should be done when you make the PDF using something like Adobe Acrobat. But I guess if you are taking pictures or perhaps scanning directly to the iPad, that is not an option.

I use forScore a little. The bulk of my gigging iPad usage is on my iPad 1 (original iPad) using unRealBook.

Awesome Stands by Woodwind Design

Being a woodwind player is a pain. You generally have a ton of horns to take to a gig, plus you need to bring stands. And this becomes a BIG problem when you start bringing a Baritone to gigs.

My current stand for Bari is a Hercules stand. It nice, but it’s big. It doesn’t fit in the smallish bag I have for the other stands I bring. Not that I’m complaining. I want a stand that is sturdy…..but I would also like one that fits in a proper bag.

I came across this stand by Woodwind Designs. Whoa. Carbon Fiber stand, and it will fold up and go inside the bell? W…T….really? I’m starting to save my shekels for this.

Check it out.

Gig Bag Essentials

While on the net, I came across this article, 10 Gig Bag Essentials. While it is more geared towards Guitarists, there were some things that I also put in my “Gig Bag”. And what do people put in their “Gig Bag” nowadays anyhow?

Here is a list of things I keep in my “Gig Bag”.

  • Spare Reeds – A low hanging fruit to be sure, but it does need saying that you should probably have extra reeds in the bag for all the instruments you are planning on playing at the gig. I generally keep two reeds for each instrument and if there is oboe involved, I bring a small reed emergency kit for oboe as well.
  • Spare Neck Strap – I cannot remember the LAST TIME I forgot my neck strap. It must be close to 10 years now, but I do have another neck strap in the bag just in case.
  • Tuner – “Back in the day” I’d carry a tuner in the bag. This has been replaced years ago by having an “App” on the iPhone to tune.
  • Tape – Scotch tape is great to have in case something goes wrong on a horn.
  • Multitool – There are a ton of multitools out there, and at some point I’ll find a better one and write about it, but having a multitool is great. The screw drivers are small enough to adjust the screws on most all the horns I take out. Pliers, knife….so many things you can use.
  • Pencils/Pens/Highlighter – Some groups still use paper *gasp*. You need a device to write on paper. Usually a pencil. A pen is sometimes useful as well.
  • Hearing Protection – Sometimes groups can play really loud. Protect your hearing.
  • Battery Pack and Cables – A battery to charge your iPhone or iPad. You can also bring a power cable, but these battery pack things are like $20 and can fully charge your iPad and iPhone no problem.

Additional things to put in the bag if doing a gig that requires electronics. This would be like a R&B or Pop group gig, where you’d have a mic and stuff. Some groups have a dedicated “sound guy” so they might have some of these things, but it still is a good idea to have a set for yourself.
Extra microphone – I generally use a clip on Mic for gigs on saxophone, but I still have the trusty Sennheiser 421 in the bag (well, it’s in a box) just in case. This mic has saved my bacon a few times.
Extra XLR Cable – A lot of gigs don’t have a dedicated sound guy. It’s usually good to bring an extra XLR cable in addition to the one you should already be bringing with your microphone. At least 6 foot
Electrical Tape – In case something needs fixing
Gaffers Tape – This stuff is sorta like “Duct Tape” for musicians. It’s better and safer to usually tape down your cords once you are set up. It could be tragic if the bass player trips on the XLR cable and takes your sax with it’s bell mic with it.

Jason Lyon Reviews Band In A Box

Jason Lyon reviews Band in a Box

So props to PG Music, the somewhat earnest Canadian company behind this product. It seems to be increasingly proving, year on year, something we’ve all suspected (and perhaps dreaded). That most kinds of “blowing” music are really just about putting little bricks together in some kind of random fashion.

This program gets better every year, but I am still waiting for a redesigned interface for it….

St. John Coltrane Church fights eviction

From an SF Gate article:

Archbishop Franzo W. King, who co-founded the Fillmore district church, says he has received a three-day notice to vacate the space in the West Bay Conference Center, a meeting hall for hire. King says the center’s director, Floyd Trammell, has not accepted his rent of $1,600 per month for two years, and King is now waiting for the sheriff to serve eviction papers.

The real problem is the out of control rents happening in the San Francisco Bay Area. Lots of loop holes landlords are using to jack up the rent of people and businesses. It is really going to suck for these landlords when the tech bust happens and their properties sit unoccupied.