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Mouthpieces Rico Graftonite C5 Alto Mouthpiece

I was sent the Rico Graftonite C5 alto mouthpiece as part of a promotion on tamingthesaxophone.com. I had bought a copy of The Midnight Playalongs, and the two arrived together. So I loaded up the backings CD and began a comparison with my usual alto mouthpiece, a Vandoren A35.

Equipment Used
According to the mouthpiece comparison chart at http://www.jodyjazz.com/facings.altosax.html, the opening of the Rico C5 and Vandoren A35 are similar, so I used the same Vandoren Blue Box 2.5 reed on both. The Faxx alto ligature that I have fits the Rico mouthpiece, so any standard alto mouthpiece ligature should be fine. The saxophone was my very early Trevor James "The Horn" from 1990.

Feel of the Mouthpiece
The Rico Graftonite C5 alto saxophone mouthpiece is pictured at the end of this article. I have shown the baffle, facing and table. The table is raised from the main body of the mouthpiece. Consequently when a reed is attached, there is a groove just above it that can be felt when playing. I didn't trap my lower lip in it, but it felt in the way to me.

There is a short straight dip just behind the tip rail, leading to the curved baffle. I think that this is what gives the mouthpiece some extra brightness.

The mouthpiece is made from plastic, but it is well finished, with no burrs around the window. The fit was slightly tighter than the Vandoren, so you might have to sand down your cork if this is to become your main mouthpiece. Tuning was consistent once the mouthpiece was in place.

What does it sound like?
After warming up, I tried the mouthpiece with two of Pete Thomas's pieces: "Another Kind of Blue" and "Love Them". I played first with the Vandoren piece, and then with the Rico.

I noticed a distinct difference in sound. The Vandoren was a darker piece, more subdued. The Rico was brighter, and asking to be played loud and fast. However I was trying to play slow and bluesy, with feeling. This came more easily through the Vandoren piece. I also felt that the Vandoren had more colour, a more complex sound that could be shaped by the player. The Rico seemed straight ahead and simple in comparison.

I'll be sticking with the Vandoren A35 as my main alto mouthpiece. I can see a use for the Rico when the saxophone is part of an amplified group, competing with electric instruments where beauty and subtlety of tone are not major considerations, and the ability to scream comes to the fore.

The price of the Rico is under £15, and for the money you get a useable mouthpiece. By comparison, the Vandoren is around £100. For the money, I'd expect the Vandoren to play much better, and it doesn't disappoint. So the Rico could be useful for a beginner who isn't sure that they'll stick with the saxophone, but who nevertheless wants a functional mouthpiece (the freebies included with budget saxes are of a questionable quality). The Rico will prevent the mouthpiece from causing the beginner to give up prematurely. However it isn't a mouthpiece for life, and I would expect the player to benefit from a further upgrade after a year or two.

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Good overview of the main points of these pieces, however readers should take the time to read Andy Hornblower comments about chamber sizes.
Good review.

The C is the smallest chamber version of these, and the 5 is in the middle of the range for tip opening. I own a B5 and an A7. The B5 works fine, but I wasn't all that excited by it. The A7 - largest chamber, largest tip opening, was a lot more interesting to me. I still have them both, but I bought a second hand Selmer Super Session F, which is what I now mostly use on my alto. I'd probably have been quite happy to just stick with the A7 and get used to it.

Really, my point is, the C5 (which I haven't tried) isn't representative of the whole range, except that it's well made and quite capable. I'm sure you didn't mean to imply that, but it might be what people take away from reading this.

The A7 and B5 are very different. The A7 suits a softer reed, because of the larger tip opening - actually larger than my Super Session F - which is good for note bending, but not so good for tuning stability on the high notes. Good fun though.

The different chamber size probably does contribute to a different sound, which they definitely have. The A chamber size might have been more what you wanted, and maybe closer to the darker Vandoren in sound.
Interesting to hear your views
Nice and simple! Great review
A great review
Useful thanks David
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