Finding a Consistent Saxophone Set-Up: Advice from David Bixler

Date Posted: May 19, 2016

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Hello, my name is David Bixler and I am here to talk about Vandoren. I am a jazz saxophonist and an educator. I am a recording artist and Director of Jazz Activities at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, OH. I’ve been using Vandoren reeds since I was a kid, and I have been using the Traditional #3’s basically for, I’m guessing, 30 years. At the present moment, I am using a V16 A9 small chamberand the M|O gold plated ligature.I just want to tell a little bit about my story of coming to Vandoren.

I’d use the same mouthpiece with the Vandoren reeds but not a Vandoren mouthpiece, and I was coming to a point of frustration - I had been using the mouthpiece for 20 years. I did a gig with a Vandoren artist and he gave me the number of one of the artist representatives with Vandoren. I was going to be in Chicago (which was about 7 or 8 years ago) and when I had the combination of the reed with the mouthpiece, everything kind of fell in to place. As an artist, you have a sound concept in your head; what you’re trying to convey, and I just find that using this setup (the Vandoren mouthpiece, ligature and reed) facilitates me getting at what I’m trying to get as an artist.

One of the things that I love about Vandoren, and you’re probably going to hear from everyone, is the consistency and quality. This mouthpiece was just pulled out of the box for me (because I play so much, the one that I had been using wasn’t very photogenic). They gave me one that was easier than Photoshoping the “funk” off my mouthpiece. I’ve played 30 seconds on it and here I am. It plays pretty much exactly the same as the mouthpiece I’ve been using for the past 6 years.

The consistency of Vandoren is something that I can trust when I am helping my students pick equipment. I know that when I bring them mouthpieces to try or they’ve ordered themselves, that they’re going to be getting a quality product that’s not going to vary. If something were to happen, such as a mouthpiece fall or break or something, they can be assured that they can call, order what they had, and they’re going to be getting the same thing again.

Also wanted to speak about the versatility of the set-up. The blue box gives me the body and the endurance that I need in playing in a lot of situations. I’ve played lead alto in the big band of Arturo Farrell for fifteen years. A very loud band that lets me cut through the percussion and brass there, I also use the same mouthpiece in performing my saxophone concerto and also in several other small jazz groups that I perform with; it performs on every level.

One of the things that I appreciate about Vandoren is how they listen to the musicians. They’re asking questions about “what do you need, what are you looking for in products and we have this new product, will you come try it out, and what do you think about this?” Rather than just doing something and saying, “here it is,” I think there is a relationship between the musicians, the players, and the company that I think is making this whole endeavor a great success. More and more players that I see are switching to Vandoren because of the same thing.

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