Thoughts on Student Saxophone Equipment with Sunil Gadgil

Based in the North Austin/Central Texas area, Sunil Gadgil directs Sax Pro Workshops which provides masterclass opportunities and summer camps for saxophonists throughout the area. In addition, Sunil maintains a thriving private studio of 50 students as well as a saxophone studio at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.

Tell us a little about the Austin saxophone community.

I’m incredibly privileged to be a part of a thriving classical saxophone community in the Austin area. The support, expertise, and fantastic studios of my colleagues make it possible for me to run Sax Pro Workshops and to co-direct ASEYouth, the youth saxophone ensemble arm of the Austin Saxophone Ensemble. I’m happy to be in the midst of such a great saxophone world here in Central Texas!


What are your thoughts on equipment for students?

In an ideal situation, a student’s equipment will allow them to discover things about musicianship and their own playing without getting in the way. The reed, mouthpiece, and ligature should work together to allow the student to use their air expressively, achieve light and clear articulation in all registers, and alter their sound to blend and adjust to various playing situations. The mouthpiece doesn’t make the sound – after all we are not robots! The equipment should simply allow the student the freedom and flexibility to achieve their own sound.

What equipment have your students found success with?

I typically recommend the Vandoren Optimum AL3 or AL5 mouthpieces for classical alto saxophonists and the V16 A5 medium chamber for beginning jazz players.

The Optimum TL3 or V5 T20 are great for classical tenor (the V16 T6 for jazzers), and the Optimum BL3 or BL5 are my recommendations for baritone players.

I have absolutely fallen in love with the Vandoren M|O ligature for all my instruments – a beautiful clear sound, and very easy to articulate! It has been universally beneficial for my students.

Depending on the rest of the set-up, I will have my students play on Vandoren Traditional or V•12 reeds, strengths 3 or 3.5. For soprano, I like to recommend a bit of a harder reed – usually Vandoren Traditional 4 or even Vandoren Clarinet V•12 strengths 3.5 or 4 (along with a Vandoren SL3 mouthpiece). This is because harder reeds tend to stimulate better use of air and throat settings, which are crucial for achieving a great sound in the high register on soprano.

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