What the Pros Play – Saxophonist Everette Harp
Woodwind & Brasswind Contributing Writer – Greg Vail
Everette Harp is an outstanding, versatile musician and saxophone player that has made a name as an artist and sideman over the years in a variety of pop, rock and jazz styles. We discussed his saxophone set up and I found he is a loyal fan of using whatever works, and seldom changes anything. He rarely even tries anything if he is happy with the sound of that instrument.
For instance, Everette has played the same soprano since 1981, when he first started playing soprano, and has never tried another soprano. He plays a Selmer Mark VI that is all original, with a Selmer G rubber mouthpiece, stock ligature and medium hard La Voz reeds. This set-up has always worked for him and there has never been any reason for him to question it. They say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and Everette is a living example. He says, “It’s just easy!”
Harp’s alto saxophone and tenor saxophone are both made by Guardala. He purchased the two back in 1995 and loves the control has when playing them.
The Guardala alto is played with a Beechler Custom 7 metal mouthpiece with the Beechler ligature and medium hard La Voz reeds. He said that this set up plays even from top to bottom and he loves the warmth of the instrument. There are no modifications – everything is stock.
Everette’s tenor is the Guardala New York Series Skyline which is a real looker, beautifully engraved with the skyline of New York City. He is playing a Guardala Studio 7 silver plate with the standard Rovner ligature and La Voz hard reeds. The combination is smooth and even playing, easy to control and great sounding in all registers.
Harp recounts his earlier tenor, a King Super 20, “That tenor controlled me.” The Guardala put Everette in charge, allowing him to play smooth or more rockus on it. “If I need to manhandle them, play with some edge or even play some rock and roll, the Guardala’s lets me go there.”
A few common themes became evident as we talked. The player’s ability to control the instrument, flexibility to cover a variety of styles, evenness of the response thru all ranges, and a warm tone quality seemed to be key decision makers that surrounded each instruments set-up.
There is another instrument that is related to the saxophone; the Akai EWI. Everette owns the new 4000 and the older 3000 models, but still performs on his original 1000/2000 when AKAI first introduced their version of the EWI. When I ask Everette why he still played the 1000 he said it has a sound that just didn’t transfer to the later models. There was a warmth and expression he didn’t feel on the new EWI. He plays his EWI straight into his effects rack, and I would agree, there is something special about the sound he gets on it. Harp says, “That sound is one of my voices on the instrument. I just love it.”
Talking about change: “I’m not really akin to change. There are guys that are used to experimenting, used to finding and constantly making changes. And then those of us who find making a change, any type of significant change is unsettling and you have to find your way back to you.”
He continued, “There are so many variables that could take me away from what I am doing, that would screw me up mentally, because it’s more of a mental process for me as well.
I tried a Guardala Fatboy once. Everyone was raving about it, and I kept trying it for over a month, to a point where I just didn’t feel like I could play the sax anymore so I started looking into a civil service job. Seriously, it was horrible. So I am definitely not one for change.”
Take a listen to Everette Harp and you will hear a beautiful sound that needs no more than a microphone and a great song to sound amazing. His latest CD project is “First Love”, more of a straight ahead CD. He is working on new music for a solo project with information on all the latest music by Everette Harp available at his website - www.EverrettHarp.com.