• Material Matters … NOT (Part 2)

    by  • July 22, 2010 • Uncategorized

    Or, more accurately, The Ongoing Series.

    On the Woodwind Forum we got a thread started about the limited-edition Yamaha 875EXW white-lacquer alto saxophone.  Now, I had just looked at the picture and pronounced it pretty, but I thought it looked a little too much like a marching-band horn.  What I missed was a quote from the Yamaha blogger that I missed:

    I gave one to Greg Vail in December to see what he thought, and he pointed out something that makes a huge difference on this horn.  While the lacquer on the inside of the bell may seem to be a purely cosmetic difference, it actually makes a pretty big difference in the sound of the instrument.  For players that are typically very ‘bright’ players, the white lacquer may in fact be the ‘darkest’ sounding instrument.  Greg figured that the lacquer coating is thicker than the black lacquer 875EX (true), and by adding lacquer to the inner bell (which has a lot of surface area) it gave the instrument even more focus.  Since the lacquer coating changes how the metal vibrates, changing the inner bell to a lacquered finish would certainly have some impact on the tone.

    Yah, sure.

    I argued, as I have before, that the material a saxophone is made out of doesn’t make a difference.  I also referenced my first article in this series, as well as another one that was written by Stephen Howard.

    Another WF member replied to me, offline, that he had seen an article from Selmer that argued that material DID make a difference and there was science to back this up.  I replied that the tobacco industry also has science that says that smoking doesn’t cause cancer (I can turn a phrase, can’t I), so I’d like to review this article before changing my mind.  The article doesn’t appear to be online, but I’m still searching for it.  I may e-mail Selmer Paris and see if I can get the study.

    ANYHOW, while I was doing research, I found a couple of interesting articles:

    * Clarinet Mouthpiece Matters … NOT.  An article that is basically in the same vein as my first article.

    * Does Saxophone Mouthpiece Material Matter?  Conclusion: no, if the mouthpiece has the same dimensions.  Dude’s got a PhD in physics, so one would assume he knows what he’s talking about.

    I’ll clean up this post when I have time!