Paul Desmond

How did Paul Desmond get such a smooth sound? Is it, by any chance, and some of you may think I'm a little stupid for suggesting this, but is it that he uses a ridiculously strong reed? Like 4+ cos I tried a 3 1/2 the other day, and it sounded smoother than *que smooth thing* :L so yeahh. I think I found an answer. The sound you get from your saxophone is about your ability to respond to resistance of two varieties: Lip pressure and air pressure. That's why reeds are made in varying strengths and cuts. Some players get that airy sound in the manner you have described (Stan Getz immediately comes to mind); others, by using a thin reed and using the so-called "no embouchure" approach (Lee Konitz strongly resembles this remark). According to information found at his setup is somewhat middling- a Gregory 4 is fairly close (see ), and a Rico 3 1/2 does not require anywhere near the breath or lip pressure that a Vandoren 3 1/2 would (see ). Ultimately, which way your tone goes is purely personal and subjective. The quest for a certain sound is ultimately more about what to avoid than what to embrace since you'll probably settle in on something that gives you the results you seek as soon as you find it. After thirty years of playing and developing my personal sound, my own quest is the setup that allows me to go down a reed strength without sounding reedy or losing my altissimo techniques- I know what I sound like and enjoy it (most of the time, anyway- when I don't, I close the books and transcriptions and work on tone issues only), but I'm always looking for a way to play longer phrases to develop my ideas a little longer than I'm presently able.