How to Fatten Your Sax Sound busking_saxophone

Do you love the deep, resonating sounds of saxophones? If the ‘fat’ sounds of Jesse Davis get you excited, then this post is going to help you add a bit more resonance to your playing.

Fattening your sax sound can be done in many ways and a combination of the following tips often works the best. So let’s get started!


Find the Right Setup

First, it is important to note the ‘fat’ sound isn’t just down to your playing style. Your gear also plays a crucial role in the sound, as you are probably aware by now, having played the instrument for a while.

By selecting the right horn, neck, mouthpiece and the reed, you can influence the resonance in the sound. You can read more about selecting the right sax gear from our previous blog posts (mouthpieces and reeds) and check with sax manufacturers if you feel your setup isn’t perfect for a resonating sound.

Add Specific Exercises to Your Playing

But naturally, the best way to fatten your sound is through practice and simple changes to your playing style. You can improve your playing and add more resonance and volume by practicing in a specific way.

You’ll improve your volume and depth by constant exercise of long tones, vibrato exercises and by playing different melodies slowly. But if you are specifically looking to fatten the sound, practicing wide intervals are definitely the right way forward.

Wide Interval Practice

Wide interval training involves everything above the third interval. So, you’d b playing the fourths, the fifths, the sixths and so on. Do the following exercises regularly and you’ll start noticing the difference.

There are two great exercises to add to your practice routine. The first is to practice the wide intervals within the octaves. This means playing:

  • Perfect fourths
  • Tritons
  • Perfect fifths
  • Augmented fifths and minor sixths
  • Major sixths
  • Minor sevenths
  • Major sevenths and octaves

You should also include octave displacement to your routine. This means displacing a specific note of a scale or a particular chord. This gives you larger intervals such as the ninths, the tenths and so on.

Start with the perfect fourths first, as they are the least ‘wide’ of the wide intervals. You can play any major scale of your choice – simply arrange the major scale into perfect fourths by beginning from the seventh degree of the scale and ascending.

Adding it to Improvisation

Once you get a hang of playing wide intervals, make sure you include them to your improvisation practice. Take one of the backing tracks from Pro Music Tutor and add this vertical movement to your playing.

You can listen to saxophonists such as Eric Dolphy and Donny McCaslin and you’ll hear this wide interval practice in their playing style. Add octave displacements, for example, to songs you know and love already.

As you keep practicing these intervals, you’ll start hearing the difference in your tone – it should become more resonant and have more depth. If you find it hard to play the fourths clearly, then you might need to practice note-voicing skills a bit more.

Like with any sax practice, you most likely won’t nail it on your first try. Just keep practicing and you’ll eventually add much more dynamism to your playing!

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