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The question has been partially answered here before but for an inexperienced, self-taught musician who lacked the skills to control volume through embouchure adjustments.

I was wondering if there were any effective ways of reducing the played volume of saxophone (alto and "down", soprano and "up" doesn't really need it that much) to make it possible to play with other musicians or practise at home without disturbing the neighbours too much.

I have jammed a number of times with a friend who plays harmonica. He put his speaker up to a 100%, and we still had to play in different rooms. I had to ditch the low end and upper end/altissimo as well, as they require a bit more airflow to work properly. We plan on playing outside eventually, and neither one of us really knows how that will happen given the huge volume difference.

My opinion on saxophone mutes suggested as a solution for the other question is that they either don't work or mess up the resonance of the instrument where it's like you're playing a different horn. The same effect can be achieved by sticking a sock down the bell, as my teacher likes to joke.

The majority of my experience comes from playing with big orchestras, so I have not encountered that problem before.

One possible solution would be to play an EWI instead, but I would still like to know if anything could be done about a regular instrument. There's plenty of discussions on the net, but I personally couldn't find any solutions.

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First of all, there are sax mutes which are basically small plush pillows to jam into the horn.

However, the proper answer is, you guessed it: practice, practice, practice. It does take a lot of strength and training to play almost any wind instrument pp and maintain good tone.

One other mechanical thing to try: get a plastic or rubber mouthpiece with a relatively narrow face gap (opening between reed and mouthpiece). That will make it easier to play quietly at the expense of top dynamic range. (as opposed to a honkin' awesome Otto Link metal :-) )

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  • I know saxophone mutes exist, but they're useless, in my opinion. They tend to muffle the low end only or change the dynamics way too much and make playing extremely uncomfortable (the expensive full-body ones). My mouthpiece is definitely a problem. I play a hard rubber 8* 10MFAN Merlot which has a ridiculously huge chamber. Thank you very much for the advice, it's very helpful. I will invest more time into practising pianissimo playing. – Pyromonk Feb 13 at 22:31

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