Why Are Saxophones So Loud? (Explained)

Why Are Saxophones So Loud? (Explained)
Written by Corey Morgan

Your neighbors or even your parents might have complained that you’re ripping their ears with how loud you play the Saxophone. But even when you try to play quietly or softly, it doesn’t help, you still get scolded for playing too loud. You might be asking, “why are saxophones so loud?”

Saxophones can be loud for a number of reasons, one can be having powerful toned and a bell-like design makes it a louder wind instrument. Just like other woodwind instruments, like the clarinet, the Saxophone produces sounds that emanate from the bell. The Saxophone has a larger bell which causes more vibrations and overtones when playing.

Why Are Saxophones So Loud?

A saxophone has an upward-curving bell that produces sound that echoes throughout the area it occupies. Overtones heard with the pitch being played give a saxophone note more loudness. A saxophone has a volume that exceeds 100 decibels.

How loud the notes are in the highest and lowest octaves all depends on the player. The warmth and richness are perceived as being louder since the saxophone plays numerous frequencies for each note.

Do The Mouthpiece And Reeds Affect The Loudness Of The Saxophone?

The player, mouthpiece and reed combination, is likely the most significant element in determining how a saxophone sounds. What does a mouthpiece have that allows it to help you mold your sound?

Loudness and tone are the two primary factors to consider in this situation. Although there may be disagreements about how to describe tone or what makes a good tone, everyone can agree that it exists. However, loudness is a little more complicated.

The sound of a saxophone is composed of numerous overtones and different frequencies. Generally speaking, sounds between 2 and 5 kHz, or what we might refer to as the brighter frequencies, are the ones that the human hearing system is most sensitive to.

Below that, we might consider the sound to be warmer, darker, or bassier. People become less responsive to higher frequencies as they age. This means that a mouthpiece intended to emphasize particular overtones may look louder overall, however this may vary from person to person.

You might have heard that a mouthpiece’s tip opening alone may be used to determine how strong, loud, or resistant the sound is. However, that is just a frequent misconception. It can imply very little if it isn’t at least accompanied by the measurement of the facing curve because that curve measurement also matters.

A narrower tip can feel more resistant with a shorter facing curve whereas a wider tip can seem less resistant with a longer facing curve.

Since it takes more effort to get the reed to vibrate enough to hit the tip and produce a full sound to speak, you may anticipate that a wide tip should be louder given a similar facing curvature. However, this is not always the case if you choose a softer reed.

Same goes for stiff reeds. To make the piece of wood vibrate, a lot of air must be moved. The issue is that playing quietly, especially on the lower notes, is difficult with this kind of arrangement.

Why Are Saxophones So Loud

Limit, Cost, And Control

  • Limit

There is a threshold beyond which you cannot speak any louder without losing tone. The same applies when playing the sax.

More air flowing through the mouthpiece causes the reed to vibrate farther in a perpendicular direction to the airflow. That may eventually cause the gap between the mouthpiece and reed to close, and when it does so and approaches its limits, the sound may become distorted.

Using a stronger reed or a more open mouthpiece, both of which demand greater pressure, will allow you to play louder. To play louder, you essentially need more power.

  • Cost

Continuing to use your current mouthpiece while switching to a harsher reed is the least expensive choice.

Changing your mouthpiece will cost more money. You’ll need a larger open tip and perhaps a baffle or other features to get louder.

Metal mouthpieces are frequently made to produce increased loudness. Your sound may vary as you speak loudly. Designs come with trade-offs.

  • Control

Using a different mouthpiece and/or a harsher reed may make it more difficult for you to control your tone. You can keep trying and will probably adjust if you only have a little issue with it. You could be in a bad position if everything looks utterly out of control.

As a result, you should definitely start with a different reed, and if you want a new mouthpiece, you should test it out before determining that it’s what you want.

Can I Play Softly On My Saxophone?

Technique development is necessary if you want to play softer on the saxophone. You have more control to perform softer dynamics if your embouchure is good. By taking out your mouthpiece and blowing into it until you hear a pleasing sound, you can strengthen your embouchure.

A loosened bottom lip produces a richer, more powerful sound. To create a quieter sound, tuck your lower lip over your bottom teeth and lift your tongue. Less mouthpieces can be inhaled to reduce the volume of your voice. Your mouth’s positioning will close the space between the reed and mouthpiece, reducing the volume of your playing.

To learn to manage how much air you blow into the saxophone, practice playing lengthy tones. To create a softer sound, strive for a continuous airflow that is under less pressure. To silently practice your mouthpiece, you can use a silencer like the Jazzlab Silencer for Saxophone and Clarinet.

What is the right mouthpiece for playing softly on the Saxophone?

Playing softly on the saxophone is possible. With the right mouthpiece and reed, the saxophone is a flexible instrument that can be adjusted to play softly or loudly. Trial and error is the greatest method for choosing the right reed and mouthpiece to achieve the desired results.

Test mouthpieces with various tip apertures at a nearby music store. The mouthpiece should be paired with various reed strengths until the softest sound is obtained. A softer reed on the saxophone requires less air to play a note. The less force you apply to the instrument, the quieter your playing will be.

Playing gently will improve your sound quality if you’re a beginner. You may play the saxophone quietly without sacrificing the sound quality if you practice these techniques over time.