Category Archives: Articles

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

Sheet Of The Week – Look At What You Made Me Do (Tayler Swift)

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Robot Conducts Orchestra

No more dealing with Conductors!

Pedal Board 1.0

This is my current pedal board, minus the Q-Tron (which was in the upper left corner of the board).

This board was designed for using an EWI and a Microphone input at the same time. One issue I have found performing is that sound people are usually very inconsistent. They are either the set it once and they leave type, or the not playing attention type. Hardly does one get a sound guy who’s actually doing their job. My biggest problem was that a LOT of sound guys would have the EWI level too low, so when I did switch to it, it almost always was too low in volume. The solution is on the right side of the board. The EWI input comes in from the side of the board into the MXR micro amp. This gives me the ability to boost the signal, which I usually do. The signal then goes into the volume pedal, so I can tweak it even more. Then the signal goes into the Eventide MixingLink. This little box is great. You can basically mix TWO inputs and send things to effects chain. The EWI comes in the “Instrument In” input, and the microphone input I use for my sax. I can then either BYPASS the effects chain right there on the Eventide, or I can send it to the effects chain but get some of the real sax or ewi sound mixed in, or I can get just all effects.

First effect in the effects chain is the Electro Harmonix Nano POG. This is a fun pedal that you can do an octave above, and/or an octave below plus your current sound mixed in. Next effect would be the Q-Tron, which is on injured status right now. The Q-Tron is a little fickle. I have the old version, the big one like Jeff Coffin has. Pretty much the same settings he uses. What I DON’T like about it is that you cannot tell if it is engaged or not. There is no RED LIGHT to tell you it’s engaged. Maybe they fixed that in the newer versions? Final pedal is the Eventide H9. This pedal…..is……awesome. I suppose if I had the FUNDS to do it, I would have TWO H9 pedals and ditch the POG and Q-Tron. The H9 does everything. It has a great reverb. It has great pitch shifting. It has all sorts of amazing effects. PLUS, it’s bluetooth controlled, so on my iPad, I can switch between presets easily. That works great. The thing not good about the H9? You can only do ONE thing at a time on it. So, if you wanted to run the cool Pitch thing and the neat reverb…….you can’t. So, the solution would be to get another H9, or a reverb pedal. Since the Q-Tron is down for the count, and I found something on the H9 that is very Q-Tron-ish, I have been really temped…..maybe a reverb pedal at least.

Anyhow, that is the current pedal board right now. Hope to get the Q-Tron working over the weekend. Someone recommended cleaning the inputs on the 1/4″ jacks.

Effects Pedals Videos

The Woodwind and the Brasswind has some lightly educational videos about playing saxophone with effects pedals. They seems a little more geared towards them selling stuff. Not the greatest videos or examples, but it is a thing that saxophone players are using in performance. One of the best examples of someone who uses pedals is Dean Mongerio.

I think the one they did not show is an envelope follower, like a Q-Tron. If you are into the Brecker sound from the 70s, you want a Q-Tron type pedal. I’m planning on doing an article about pedals soon. I have been doing playing with pedals off and on for a while, starting with a Digitech Vocalist Live. I’ve now gone more “traditional”. What I would say is that I’m not a huge fan of using an all in one box to do effects for various reasons.

Anyhow, if anyone has any good videos with effects pedals, submit them in the comments!

SABre

I heard about this a while ago. A way to “augment” one’s bass clarinet. Though the original looked like it would completely wreck one’s bass clarinet.

I mean, look at all the stuff bolted on it. No way. Plus those demos? I dunno about that contemporary music stuff…..very strange.

Now though, they have the sensor down to a little box that straps on your clarinet or saxophone. Gives you all sorts of possibilities. No idea how much it costs.

FinaleScript to Format for iPad

I do a LOT of scripting. From writing Bash shell scripts, to Python code to AppleScripts, I do a lot of coding. It makes life easier. Why reinvent the wheel when you can script it once and be done with it.

Anyhow, since about 2011, I’ve been formatting things for use on an iPad. One thing you can do to get your printed things out of Finale on to an iPad easy is to format the page for an iPad. Sadly, there is no “default page setting for iPad” thing in Finale. However, with a little bit of FinaleScript-ing, you can format things for an iPad. Here is my script

This script basically sets your top page at .5″, left and right to 0.10069 and then the bottom to .12153. These are sorta the settings I found that look good on an iPad. I leave just a little bit of boarder “whiteness”.

The script can be fired off by doing a Ctrl + Opt + Shift + I, or from the FinaleScript menu.

Enjoy!

Aodyo Sylphyo

Yet another entry into the Electronic Wind Instrument category, the Aodyo Sylphyo. Seems to be completely wireless (that is a plus), and has interesting things like gyroscopes in it so you can do gestures with it, like tweak it to the side, and it can trigger another sound or effect.

Outrageous Dual Screen E-Ink Reader

Most musicians are using some sort of tablet to store music. And why wouldn’t you? A tablet is small, allows you to store tens of thousands of pieces of music, and you can organize your music for whatever you need. Set lists, practice lists, etc. And you can “write on it” using your finger or a stylist. Heck, I’m STILL using my original iPad as my primary music reading device for gigs and practice.

However, then something like this comes along…

Ebook readers use e-paper displays for two reasons. First is the innate nature of such screens, which are easy on the eyes and batteries. Second is the cheaper costs of such components, which translate to a more affordable retail price. If you thought the latter would be true of the Gvido music sheet “tablet” and its two 13-inch e-ink screens, you’d be shocked to find out the truth. Because when the Gvido launches later this year, it will cost just as much as two 12.9-inch iPad Pros.

Ridiculous. If this product was like $400. Maybe……MAYBE. But $1,600? I could get 4 iPads for that. FOUR. FOUR. Or I could get a 12.9″ iPad Pro (maxed out), with an Apple Pencil, a stand mount and a bluetooth foot controller and still have money left over.

Insane. Though I LOVE my iPad for music. I really hope an iPad Pro with pencil is in my future…..

Bob Franceschini Pedal Setup

A lot of saxophone players are using pedals to change their sounds and stuff. I found the video below where they guy is going through equipment setup of Dennis Chambers and Victor Wooten for an upcoming gig of Victor Wooten’s Trio (which is most excellent by the way). Anyhow, they focus for a few seconds on Bob Franceschini’s (the saxophone player in the trio) pedals. From what I see, he is using the following:

  • Eventide H9
  • Line 6 DL4
  • TC Electronic Ditto Looper Pedal
  • MXR M82 Bass Envelope Filter
  • Morley ABY Switcher
  • Xotic EP Booster Pedal
  • Dunlop DVP4 volume pedal
  • Digitech CR7 HardWire Stereo Chorus

The first part of the video there is a Line 6 M9 (like what Jeff Coffin uses) shown, but it appears not to be set up. I think there is also a Dual DI box under the Booster pedal(?), but there is one pedal, left of the Eventide I’m clueless on. Anyhow, check out the video, and see.

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?……:-/