|Q: What is the easiest and cheapest way to record myself playing? I've heard the PC is the way to go?
A: PC recording is probably the least expensive way to go, you already have a PC. But that can get expensive as well. You need a mic, I reccomenda d simple dynamic like a Shure SM58. Next a pre amp. I use a small Behringer mixer that also provices phantom power. You may not need it now, but there is built in expandability. Next coems software. There are some good shareware products out there that will let you record and edit. One I reccomend is Goldwave
There is a free trial version and to register is inexpensive as well. That is a wav recorder and editor not a multi-track.
If you want to multi-track, say record yourself with midi backing or a track from a playalong CD, there are some freeware software out there that will do it. I reccommend and Audacity. be sure to download the lame encoder so you can export as mp3 files.
One thing to keep in mind is that unless you have a laptop, PC recording isn't all that portable. So if you want to record at gigs, or if your practice space isn't near the PC, you run into trouble.
Another option is a small pocket studio multi track recorder like the Tascam Pocket Studio, or the Zoom PS-04. There is a great forum for the Zoom product here
Q: What is the best position for micing a sax?
A: Since sound emanates from all over the horn, you don't want to just mic the bell. A mic on a stand about 6 inches above the bell and slightly to the players right, aimed toward the middle of the horn is about the best placement. Remember the closer you get to the mic the more it will accentuate the lower harmonics, and the further away the more it highlights the upper harmonics of the tone. This is not a bad thing, it just is, and can be used to your advantage to color your sound, known as "working the mic."
Q: How do you adjust sax reeds?
A: Basically if you hold the reed up to the light you can see if the grain is even on both sides. The area of the reed corressponds to the range of the notes. Low notes are affected by the lower part, nearer the vamp, the high end affected by the area of the reed closer to the tip. You want the reed balanced, so if one area seems thicker, take a few light strokes of sandpaper to that area, then play test. Take a little off at a time and then test, you can always remove more but you can't put it back. You can also play test one side against the other to see if it's balanced. This will help in case your mpc likes one side stronger than the other because of imperfections in the facing. You can make a reed softer all over by sanding the back (the side that touches the mpc) by laying it on a flat piece of sand paper and moving in back and forth lengthwise. You can check for it's "flatness" by then rubbing the back side of the reed on white paper until it shines, you want it to shine evenly,. If there are shiny and not shiny spots, the shiny spots are high spots that need to be sanded down. You want to stay away from the heart, we all know what it means to have no heart ;-)
Bootman's reed drilling process opens up the lower end of the range by freeing that area of the reed, while retaining the strength near the tip for strong upper range notes.
Or you can do what I've done.... go synthetic! ;-)