woensdag 27 oktober 2010

On tour with the Amstel Quartet, 2

Quite an intensive day today. No playing though, well, no concerts. Today was our shopping day, Dutch style: Only looking, not buying. In the morning we rehearsed, then we went to several music shops. First to buy a new case for me. My old case was falling apart, and since it is holding an instrument I had been looking for for 12 years, I figured it was a good idea to invest in a new case, which I found in, of all places, Los Angeles. After, we went to the Guitar Centre and Mesa Boogie on Sunset to try out guitar effects. One of our next projects will involve electronics, pedals that guitarists use to change their sound. We want to use them to add color to the saxophone quartet to make it sound like an organ. We found some great effects and sounds and by next year we should have an effective electronic set up for all four of us.

We had a late lunch in a Mexican restaurant across the Guitar Centre (what a horrible shop!) and met a fellow saxophonist, Doug Webb. He hooked us up with several interesting saxophone and sax accessories creators: Oleg and International Woodwind. Oleg was quite a character. I knew some of his products from shops in the Netherlands but today I got to know the person and his philosophy. Oleg believes that all the saxes we play in the quartet are essentially in tune. The neck however determines whether this comes out or not, in combination with the Oleg ligature (the thing that holds the reed on the mouthpiece). His opinion on the matter was very strong. We got a free saxophone lesson at the same time! Oleg says you should be able to play the saxophone without manipulating the intonation. The saxophone should do the work. While we were like most of us, raised with the knowledge that all saxes are out of tune and that we should fix it with fingerings and embouchure. For Oleg, this should be unnecessary, With his neck and ligature and a completely relaxed embouchure everything should work fine. I wish we had more people like Oleg working in our business. In the end I was not specifically attracted to his products, but the man had a great passion and vision.
I have noticed that the saxophone business is an amateur business. Selmer for example, makes good saxophones for a reasonable price. But professionals just want a good instrument. Clarinets, flutes, bassoons, they all cost a lot more than a saxophone. As a saxophonist, I also want quality, consistency and perhaps a bit of innovation. I think saxophones can be better; ease of playing, better intonation, smoother legato, etcetera.
But while I am writing this down, I realize that I might be looking for the Holy Grail: Something that I will never find, but that I will always keep looking for. I own great saxophones. Horns that I selected from a tens of saxophones at the time. I looked for 12 years to find my baritone saxophone. And I am always on the lookout for saxophones that I like better. And it is also because of the relatively low price that I don't have to think twice to buy an instrument I really like.

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