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M/Pieces - Ligs £15 Beginner Alto Mouthpiece Review!

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
After a fair bit of time playing each of the 3 mouthpieces featured here is my verdict on some of those available for approx. £15.

The mouthpieces played were:
1. Windcraft Plastic - (provided via Dawkes).
2. Rico Royal Graftonite B5.
3. Bari Esprit II

The mouthpieces were all used with my Selmer Ref54 alto sax, Rigotti Gold 2.5 reed and Francois Louis Pure Brass Lig.
I played each mouthpiece for 5/10 mins unaccompanied - scales, improv, all registers etc. and then the same musical piece "Modal Behaviour" from Creative Saxophine Improvisation (Santin & Clark) with backing.

1. Windcraft Plastic:

This is a well presented mouthpiece - black and shiny with name and pattern stencilled on. The opening is 0.065" which compares with the Yamaha 4C and Selmer C*.

The 2.5 strength reed proved strong enough and overall it was a decent mouthpiece. Intonation was very good, it had a tone which avoided thinness, particularly in the upper register. It was moderately bright, and had a pleasant light tone. It had some buzz and character, but could not escape that it was made of plastic and sometimes sounded a little insubstantial.

I think it sounded better when playing it unaccompanied than with the backing track. I can envisage it being more than adequate for learners who want to make a pleasant tone with character, and did not demonstrate the famous sock like quality that has been spoken of in certain circles. I think it would work well with jazz and blues, less so with rock, pop and funk. Good effort!

2. Rico Royal Graftonite:

A nicely presented mouthpiece - the heaviest of the three. This had a larger tip opening (0.080") which I think contributed to a more powerful tone, and is one that I have played a number of times. The Rico had a slightly brighter tone and good intonation, but not as good as the Windcraft. It was more substantial in the mouth and slightly less comfortable to play. It had a solid tone and more buzz, and came into its own with the backing track
due to having more presence. I liked it less when doing unaccompanied practice where it lacked a little subtlety in comparison to the others.

I think it would be great for rock, funk and pop, less so for Jazz, and certainly not Classical!

3. Bari Esprit II.

Another well presented mouthpiece - in matt black with gold and red lettering, which was more distinct and quite appealing. Again it had a 0.065" tip opening but the reed avoided any closing. This mouthpiece produced the mellowest sound of the 3 - balanced between bright and dark. It had a good body to the tone and had a pleasant vibrancy which avoided anything thin and insubstantial. It was very comfortable in the mouth and had a slightly smaller profile than the others.

In the unaccompanied it was very good - there was good character in the sound and intonation was as good as the Windcraft, with some richness. It was good in all registers and had the nicest lower register of the 3.
The backing track exercise was also very good indeed and I felt that I could get stuck in very comfortably with improvisation etc.

I think that it would cope well with all the genres listed above so would possibly suit a wider range of beginners than the other 2.

Conclusion:

My favourite piece was the Bari Esprit II by a fair margin. It had a lovely balanced sound on all registers and a pleasant vibrancy when given some air. It had sufficient subtlety for quieter practice sessions and performing in various settings. It had the best tone overall, though the Windcraft did what it did very well, despite having a more traditional vibe.
Interestingly the Bari Esprit II has been adopted by Trevor James as its stock sax mouthpiece since it was first introduced in 2011. The Rico Graftonite was just shaded by the Windcraft Plastic as a beginner mouthpiece in my
opinion, but is a lively blow. I have a Rico C7 on Tenor which is a great Rock/Funk piece that can hold its own in quite exalted company, but I think that the Alto piece has some new rivals, particularly the Bari.

Fascinating how much you can get for £15 these days!
Regards
Tom
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Interesting. How easy were the different mouthpieces to control? And are you going to add the usual nominations - Runyon, yamaha? Others? Be interesting to see how the Selmer S80 C* (or thereabouts) compared, especially as it's so much more expensive - and much maligned (unfairly imho). Can lend you a couple of Selmers if you want. Just pm me your address.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
I'm working on a £40 Alto Sax mouthpiece review - so will not be appropriate for a Selmer. Thanks for the offer, though! I should have got hold of a Selmer Goldentone for the £15 review. If anyone has a Yamaha 4C they could lend me for the review I would be grateful. I have played one but not in the past year and want to do a live trial.

The £40 will also include a Runyon 22, Windcraft Etude, & Fobes Debut, when it gets here from the States. Interestingly the Bari Esprit II has a square chamber.

Kind regards
Tom
 

Profusia

Senior Member
Messages
984
Sufficiently impressed to order one yesterday (the Bari Esprit II that is). Will report back how I get on with it once I've got accustomed. Thanks a lot for the review Tom.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
I hope you like it as much as me. I now have the set of Bari Esprit mouthpieces on soprano, alto and tenor (only alto is Esprit II) and they are all very good indeed in my opinion. I look forward to hearing how you get on.

Kind regards
Tom
 

Profusia

Senior Member
Messages
984
Hi Tom,
Ordered yesterday, arrived today! Fantastic service from Ackermans!
Tried it this evening but haven't been able to give it a good test as its extremely tight on my new alto's neck hence got terrible motor boating. I've actually posted both a fix and a question re this on the "Burbling Bottom D" thread (in technical queries section) to see if anyone can advise on dealing with tight pieces on thick corks.
Rgds,
 

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