Saxophone Forum


by mattia
(8 posts)
8 years ago

Zoot Sims' setup???

Does anyone have any idea what tenor setup, mouthpiece/horn/reeds/lig/etc, Zoot Sims used? I've been listening to his album 'Zoot Sims and The Gershwin Brothers', and he just sounds fantastic, blows me away. I'd love to be able to capture that sound myself, but I haven't had any luck finding much Zoot info on the web. It just so happens that I'm in the market for a new mouthpiece for my tenor, a 1931 Selmer 'Super Sax' (similar to a cigar cutter), and I thought if I knew what Zoot may have used, it might be a good starting point, especially since his is the sound that I'm looking for. The cover of the aforementioned album has a picture of him and his horn/mouthpiece, but I can't tell what it is. It's definitely hard rubber, but beyond that I don't know. Any insight would be greatly appreciated, and any other mouthpiece suggestions for my old Selmer would be welcome as well. I'm looking for a big husky tenor sound, not contemporary whatsoever, for playing straight ahead jazz, able to wail and whisper, and preferably in a mouthpiece that's under $300. (is that too demanding?) thanks, Mike Tampa, FL

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  1. by SchlockRod
    (1 post)

    3 years ago

    Re: Zoot Sims' setup???

    One thing you might want to bear in mind if you want to sound like Zoot Sims: Someone once asked him "How do you play so well when you're all F*^@!d up, Zoot??!!" His answer: "I practice all F*^@!d up!"

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  2. by kingkoeller
    (4 posts)

    2 years ago

    Re: Zoot Sims' setup???

    Zoot played an old hard rubber Brilhart mouthpiece. What a great tone!!!

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  3. by puzzleboston
    (1 post)

    8 years ago

    Re: Zoot Sims' setup???

    Well, I own what is said to be Zoot Sims Selmer Cigar Cutter sax. ser 18601, making it the 5th last cigar cutter made by selmer before the radio improvised model. I was told this was Zoots primary horn. This horn was acquired from Zoot by Tom Hall of "Your Neighborhood Saxophone Quartet" and other groups. We know Zoot primarily played hard rubber. Might I add, I am right selling the horn on ebay. Hope the info is usefull!

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    1. by odden
      (2 posts)

      8 years ago

      Re: Zoot Sims' setup???

      I listen too my favorite tenor player Zoot i the early 80:s at the Stockholm Jazz Festival i june that year. Pianist was Hank Jones. Zott gave it all, couldn´t stop playing int this bright sweden summer afternoon. A big audience was spelled. Fast swing, jump ballads - divine playing. When he was leaving, he really was glad to hear my comments ( he was very humble to a "corny" listener). Well, i´m still playing my horn 68 years old in the Brothers style - 10m conn/otto link. When me commenting his sound he snapped his finger on the bell and said: "It´s the metal, a very old Selmer." His mouthpiece was a hard rubber Brillhart, not a plastic one with white inlay. Odd Evertsson, Sweden

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    2. by hugh von kleist
      (1 post)

      4 years ago

      Re: Zoot Sims' setup???

      is zoots cigar cutter still for sale? hugh

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  4. by Donnie The B
    (282 posts)

    8 years ago

    Re: Zoot Sims' setup???

    I listen to Zoot quite a bit and have maybe a dozen or more LP record albums with him. I can't tell for sure, but from knowing it's a Selmer and from when he started playing, I'd guess the model as an early Balanced Action or perhaps back to the Radio Improved or Cigar Cutter (aka Super Sax) for his first recording horn. However, on one LP you can see the newer octave mechanism design with the S that came out in 1954. Mouthpiece seen is hard rubber. From the sound, I would guess it was fairly open. I recently went to a rubber Link 7 with my Mark VI, but used a Soloist C* exclusively for years - and got plenty of open jazz sound as well as honky rock'n'roll when needed. I think Jim's play test was with a metal 7* (see that posting elsewhere here). Let us know what you've tried now. But even if you duplicated Sims' set-up exactly , you would sound like you - not Zoot. You can practice opening your throat up more and probably loosening your bottom lip some. But then you'd have to remember to tighten that embouchure for legit! A real nice 1960's Selmer Soloist D piece sold recently for about $125. You might want even more open than that - which is about a Link 6*, I think. Also Zoot seemed to push quite a bit of air. But nobody else sounds exactly like Sims do they? One thing about Zoot Sims that I strive for is to try to attain his inate sense of rhythm (no matter what he was playing). Man that cat could swing. I guess he's my favorite tenor man, and has been for 40 years. But really, I have dozens of favorites - and they all sound somewhat different. And would even if they were using the same exact equipment as Zoot. Good Luck.

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  5. by Donnie The B
    (282 posts)

    7 years ago

    Re: Zoot Sims' setup???

    I found an interesting list of mouthpiece/reed combinations chart for various musicians at the website of Denver University - Lamont School of Music. This was stumbled on through an ask.com search for saxophone mouthpiece: www.du.edu/lamont/mpce.html They did not list Zoot Sims set-up. I was somewhat surprised at the range of tip openings among this diverse group of sax-men. Check this out - don't know how precise it would be. Later.

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    1. by odden
      (2 posts)

      7 years ago

      Re: Zoot Sims' setup???

      Referring to my earlier letter describing my short conversation with Zoot I remember his Selmer tenor sax: It was an old model, "pre super balanced action" with "simple shelters" - string/bars over the cups for the lowest tone holes. The mpc was definitly a hard rubber Brillhart. This was 1982 or 1983. Earlier in 1958 or 1959 he was touring in Sweden with an US "jazz show". He begun his set just tapping his foot very fast and played "Sunday" for his first number - another marvelous concert!! This time he played a Martin tenor sax. odden

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    2. by Saxyboy
      (52 posts)

      6 years ago

      Re: Zoot Sims' setup???

      Just needed to bump this discussion to the top for a guy. Try this website for interesting info on set-ups of the pros.

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