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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000165.txt from 1994/05

From: Matthias Ferdinand <mferd@-----.DE>
Subj: Re: Matthias Ferdinand comments on sound character
Date: Fri, 6 May 1994 18:49:41 -0400

Sorry for replying late, but I can't go mailing too regularly.

I wrote:
> For saxophones, the material of the body and its surface (lacquered or
> plated) surely matters. I know this from trying several variations
> of the same model with Selmers, Yanagisawas, Guardalas and Keilwerths.

Dan Leeson wrote:
> That summary is this: "Of course there
> is a difference, because I can hear a difference between wood and
> metal and hard rubber."
Which is the best reason why one should choose a given material (or
instrument or whatever), IMHO. This is not meant to miscredit any
argument about physical, measurable effects.

> But the issue
> is whether he hears a real difference or if he thinks he is supposed
> to hear a difference.
Well, again talking about me testing saxes:
(oh, not again, this is a clarinet list! :-)
When I checked the Guardalas, they had four tenors you could simply take
and play to your liking (Musikmesse Frankfurt). One silver plated, one
normally lacqered, and two models with black lacquer. I was curious why
they had two black ones and tried both, and they sounded different. Not as
different as the silver one, but noticably different. THEN I talked
to the salesperson about this, and she told me that the brass they
were made of are different (or had different lacquers under the black, I
don't rememeber correctly). So I heard a difference before I knew they
were different.

> Would an impartial panel, hearing Matthias play a variety of saxophones
> behind a screen come to that same conclusion?
Most probably, they would not. But this is due to the fact that the
player has more influence on the sound than the material. When I
switched to a new mouthpiece no too long ago, many people did not
recognize any change. But others, mostly people I often play with so
they knew how I sounded, were surprised at how much my tone changed.
(I have to admit, this is a quite lousy example, since the new mouthpiece
has an entirely different interior design and we were talking about

> We are conditioned by many factors (our teachers, marketing pressure,
> old wives tales, common sense, rationality) to come to certain beliefs
> about material and its effect on sound character. But such beliefs
> are not necessarily supported by scientific evidence.
Absolutely true. E.g., the widespread claim (believe it or not), that you
need to learn clarinet first before you can learn to play saxophone.
I, too, have no scientific answer for the debate, but nothing has
yet convinced me that material has no (noticeable) effect.

Matthias Ferdinand (

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