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M/Pieces - Ligs A Possibly Slanted Review of the New Slant Link

Phil

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694
I will put my possibility of being biased for personal reasons right up front so that hopefully the reader is aware and we can move on. I make mouthpieces and I do a lot of work on Links. That being the case I had to see this piece and review it.


Visual Inspection:
The baffle is much nicer than in the past. They took the weird lake at the bottom of the baffle out which is a good move.

The rails were uneven. I dont put too much stock in this as the thickness of each rail in reference to the other doesnt make much difference. I suspect some peoples got even ones.

After this I checked for flatness of the table. Like every Modern Link the table is concave.

The facing is parallel due to hand work and extra efforts by hand. The curve is not nailed but definitely not bad.

There is no clearly defined tip rail. I was a little concerned about that.


Tone and Playability:
By this time the the reed was soaked so it was time for the important parts. I tried some reeds on it and the piece played quite well. It blew pretty efficiently and wasnt stuffy and resistant. The tone was generally good. The low end was nice and had resonance, the mids were strong but the highs considerably thinner than I have grown accustomed to on a good link. What I really missed was the complexity of a good link. That enveloping, expansive tone and the thick singing highs.

I wondered why this was present until I changed to a Custom Link. The answer became apparent, the new Link has a smaller chamber. The difference on the cork was very significant. I stuck my fingers inside from the tip portion as well and felt a significant difference as well.


Final Thoughs:
To be blunt (flame me now) This is not an Otto link (in the traditional sense). It looks, smells, and tastes like one but its a contemporary piece in Otto Length clothing. Simply put the new Slant is NOT a large chambered mouthpiece. The new Slant is a medium chambered mouthpiece with a low rollover Link style baffle with a long facing length that rounds out the low end of the horn. If you were to put a medium facing length on this mouthpiece it would be closer (maybe brighter) than a HR V16. When I really took a look at the chamber I was shocked at how small it really was in comparison to some pieces I consider to have medium to medium large chambers. For those playing vintage horns that really struggle with intonation on lesser chambers and rely on Links to fill the bill I suspect this is not your answer.

I wont say Im disappointed. Babbitt has made a nice mouthpiece that sounds good and plays well out of the box. Its presents in the spirit of days with better Links and this is to be applauded. However, (yes, there is a big however) given the price of the mouthpiece (and I expect the price to increase) you can still buy a regular modern Link, spend the additional money to have it reworked by a number of mpc guys that do great work on Links, and end up with a superior product in terms of precision and tone.
 
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davhudson

Member
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162
you can still buy a regular modern Link, spend the additional money to have it reworked by a number of mpc guys that do great work on Links, and end up with a superior product in terms of precision and tone.
Thanks for the review. I have not seen a lot a flaming here, I think we are more into considered discussion.;}

I would like to pick up on something you said...
As a beginner could you tell me a little about what sort of work can be done on a mpc - what is to be gained from this and what sort of money we are talking about?
 

Phil

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Commercial Supporter
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694
It all really depends on the mouthpiece. Since we are talking about links a lot can be done to make them play and sound much better. I will never claim to make slants. I think its a lot of market hype to suck money out of nonsuspecting players.

First tables can be flattened so that there is a better reed seal. This improves response. A good facing curve that is parallel and proper in radius can be applied (some use non-radial facings but most dont). This too improves response, efficiency and the core tone of a piece.
Next, in modern links there is a ton of material in the throat of the mouthpiece that makes it sould like a sock has been shoved in it. Chamber work can be done in different areas to get a freer blowing piece with more resonance.

Finally, the baffle and facing curve have to be tonally ballanced and the baffle done right so it doesnt blow stuffy.

This is not all that can be done to a piece by far but its some of the basics.

Links take a lot of work to sound good but its worth it. In terms of money...I charge 75-80 bucks to do the job if someone supplies the blank. I also stock Links and sell them completed.

Not every mouthpiece needs refacing but I find that most benefit. Of course I dont have to pay for it since I do it myself.

I dont want to give the impression that I thought the new Vintage Link is a bad mouthpiece. It just doesnt meet the full expectation of what a link can be. What I consider to be production shortcuts have made a very solid mouthpiece but as a result it still lack the depth and core of traditional links...specifically in that the chamber volume is now considerably smaller.
 

Saxby

Member
Messages
86
Thanks Phil for the information regarding the New Links and mpce re-facing in general.
Also glad you have become a member of this site and are happy and willing to share your knowledge.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Phil, thanks, really interesting. So how does a beginner tell and old link from a new one? & what should one look for? Won't be changing 'til I've been playing for a t least a year, but I keep my eyes on ebay, and if something comes up at a good price, I'd like to put it away for a first sax anniversary present.
 

Saxlicker

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,932
Final Thoughs:
However, (yes, there is a big however) given the price of the mouthpiece (and I expect the price to increase) you can still buy a regular modern Link, spend the additional money to have it reworked by a number of mpc guys that do great work on Links, and end up with a superior product in terms of precision and tone.
Hi Phil,
From the above,
I'm getting that,
The chamber is larger on the modern tone edges than on the new slant?
The rubber is the same on the modern tone edge and the new slant?
Hence in the hands of a knowledgeable MPC guy he can create closer to the original slant than babbit have done, largely because of the chamber?

As a side, what about comparision to an early babbit? I don't know the difference between early babbit and original slant models.
I have read the SOTW pages and listened to samples too. I preferred the EB to the new slant for complexity of sound but I don't know whether the sound difference is because of the findings you mention.
Thanks
Saxlicker.
 

Phil

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694
I dont have an early babbitt to compare to but the EB, as far as I know, startes with a standard Link. I do very much belive that the difference in complexity comes from part of what I said earlier.
The other critical factor is that the EB, my pieces, and those comming from individuals are genearlly play tested and very minor adjustments made to bring out the best in a mouthpiece. You would be suprised at how a single pass or two of the file across the baffle alters the piece in terms of response and tone. A half milimeter in facing length can be the difference between a ballanced tonal range and one that isnt quite nailed. You can make a piece by the numbers but hedging those numbers with actual experience can make a world of difference.
 

Saxlicker

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,932
My sister who lives in the USA is currently visiting the family in the UK.
Very kindly, she has bought me a a new vintage HR otto link mouthpiece from tenor madness.
I have had minimal time on this piece and here are my unbiased findings/comparisons of how it plays.

The piece is an 8 which is a bit smaller than all the high baffled pieces I have always favoured.
My previous 10 years playing has typically been on Guardala's and over the last 18 months or so an RPC .115B.
The RPC gave me more depth and versatility over the studio (hand made) and the WWBW MBII that had been my main pieces.
Before this, I never thought anything would convert me to rubber after some disappointing trials with pieces produced in the late 80's...I was completely turned off.

So thanks to the RPC, when the link was presented to me I was more excited about it than I would have been in years gone by.

I warmed up on the RPC and changed to the link after 10 mins or so. Initially with the same ligature and reed.
First impressions were that it was small in sound and too close a tip opening for me.
I persevered with it for a similar time to the RPC and swapped back.
EEK!
Is this the same RPC I took off? all of a sudden although a free blowing piece still, the sound was so bright, going on shrill.
I played it and tamed it back to a sound I was getting before.
I've never felt the need for this before and it was clear that for me to get the best from either piece, I had adjusted my technique over the duration of playing without a concious effort to make it work.
Once the RPC was tamed, it was OK but something dark, thick and complex that was in the link, was not available in the RPC.
I switched to the link for longer periods and enjoyed it more and more. Getting many colours from it that were also present in the RPC yet retaining those extra colours unique to the link. I started to dabble with reeds and ligatures buut not to excess.
You can see where this is heading right?
Even the volume, edge and brilliance of the RPC were starting to become available on request from the link but I couldn't get the link character from the RPC.
I was now used to the tip opening and it is at this point all one way traffic!!!
 
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Phil

Member
Commercial Supporter
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694
Nope your not going to get a link sound from an RPC. Its a totally different baffle construction. On my tenor pieces I use the same blank as Ron but they have a linkish tone because the baffle is a link style baffle most of the time.

I dont mean to knock the new Link so hard...I just think you can get more of that good stuff from a larger chambered Link that has had the gym sock taken out of it by a good mpc guy.
 
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