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Mouthpieces Alto Mouthpiece Ideas



I'm currently using 2 mouthpieces, a Selmer C* and a Yanigasawa Metal Mouthpiece. I like the Selmer's warm tone and control, but its lacking in power and general jazzyness (not sure if thats a word :p) also, I love the power of the yani, but it can sometimes be a bit too harsh and hard to control.

I am probably going to go down to a big sax shop near me and spend a day trying out different mouthpieces, and obviously I'm going to choose the one that suits me best, but I'd like to know if anyone has any ideas about what I could look at as a starting point.

I've been playing for about 8 years and the mouthpiece will be used for jazz (mainly big band and quartet (sax piano bass drums)).
Can't help I'm afraid as my alto mpc is a #9 metal Yani... I've moved on to tenor for the time being, but at the point I switched, I was getting a really nice tone from it with my YAS-62. Probably quite different to your SX90R.
Hi McSax.
As a first serious mpc I used a Selmer C* as well and after a couple of years I found the same as you have done - it's got a nice warm sound but lacked power when ,as a developing player, I began to need to push it more. My main interest is jazz too. I tried several different ones in the course of a morning, all hard rubber/composite, not metal, and I ended up with a Jody Jazz Classic 5. I find it is easy blowing and can handle jazz rock or smooth, even straight traditional melodies (which sometimes come up in the ensemble I play in). It also has a removeable baffle that does give it a much harder edge, but which I rarely use when playing with others as it does make the sound stand out too much. I use La Voz medium reeds. The Jody may not suit you, but worth a try out.
I’ve got a Vandoren V16 Ebonite Mouthpiece on my Soprano which gives me a great Jazz sound. I’m using it with the Rico Jazz (Filed and Unfiled) 2M. I’ll be getting one for my Alto in the near future.
The big issue will be trying a larger tip opening piece, and there are several good recommendations. I would recommend the Selmer Soloist E/F, Selmer Super Session E/F, the LeBayle Jazz 6/7, the Ponzol Vintage 0.075/0.085, V16 8M, Runyon 22 6/7, and Jody Jazz 6/6*/7 as ones to include. The Runyon was Charlie Parker's original mouthpiece, and is a bargain at £30. There are other recommendations which may be made, but all the above should meet the criteria for warm jazzy sound. I would also recommend both Rico Jazz Select and Marca Jazz reeds.

Happy Hunting
Maybe you should try messing around with reeds a bit? I normally play a customised Oleg Maestro on alto, but have also had Yanagisawa metal mouthpieces for years. I find them far from harsh, one of the smoothest and most controllable metal 'pieces. What tip opening is it? I find a Yani 7 to be very controllable. Maybe it just doesn't suit you, but before writing it off it might be worth experimenting a bit with reeds. I find Rico Jazz Select 2H work very well.

Is it just a case of getting used to a wider tip opening? The Selmer C* is a very small tip opening - is the Yani a good bit wider? That can make a big difference to the feel and controllability of a mouthpiece.

On the other hand, if you like the tone of the Selmer C* it may be just that you favour a tone which is different to that which most mouthpieces produce these days. If that's the case, a conservative, fairly traditional design such as the other Selmer models. I find them a bit dull, but that may be just me. Of the ones To mentions, I certainly find the Jody Jazz ebonite to have a bit more sparkle, a bit more life.
Maybe try a Meyer 5 or 6 and I second the recommendation for the Jody Jazz Classic. Both of these make for a fairly easy transfer from a C* and I find them easy to work with. The Bari Richie Cole is a Meyer clone that's also quite nice.
I recently bought vandoren optimum mpc's for my Sop, Alto and tenor. The sound especially from the tenor is rich and powerfull. The altisimo range is also very clear and easy to keep in tune.
I really like my new Weinberg Emanon alto mouthpiece (see this thread ).

The sound is really nice and with a tip opening equivalent to an old Selmer D it is quite an easy blow, but has lots of power.

I bought it from Dawkes and their website has quite a few sound clips that might help you to narrow down your search. Depending on where you live they might also be a good place to try out mouthpieces, and I have also had very good experiences as Howarths (London), Packers (Taunton) and

Good luck.

I recently bought vandoren optimum mpc's for my Sop, Alto and tenor. The sound especially from the tenor is rich and powerfull. The altisimo range is also very clear and easy to keep in tune.

What kind of music do you play? I had the chance to try an Optimium tenor piece recently and loved it. So much easier to play than my Yamaha 5C. Bottom notes popped right out, for example. But they seem to be selling it as a "classical" piece and right now I'm more interested in learning to play jazz. Do you think I'd be missing out on something if I went for a relatively conservative mouthpiece like this? I don't have a lot of money for experimenting and they're about 150 quid.
Hi There!

The Optimum mouthpieces do have quite a small tip opening so it should be the case that the sound is overall less powerful and also less open to individual style of playing - that is a general view, not a specific comment on the Optimum mouthpiece. Having said that the classic alto recommendation for Jazz has been the Meyer 5/6 which is quite narrow. The V16 , Ponzol Vintage, Bari Richie Cole and several others (Morgan Fry, Aizen, PhilTone etc. ) are original Meyer copies - generally there is some concern that current Meyers are not what they were. I would seriously try the Runyon 22 for £30, including lig - I play a 7, it is my top budget recommendation & competes well with the V16's at four times the price.

Kind regards
I play Classical and Jazz using the optimum mpc's because I like the darker rich sound I get from using them, for me playing Jazz is more about the style and rythmn than the kind of sound/tone you have. I play Sop in a sax quartet and we play a lot of Lennie Neihaus stuff which is very Jazz orientated, the optimum mpc is great for this.

I agree with Jim............

I notice that sell the Optimum Alto Mouthpiece at £105.75 inc P&P - they compare the tip opening to the A28.
Kind regards
Hi Tom,

I play a Yamaha 4C on both alto and tenor, 4 months and 1 month expereince respectively.

I am not going to acquire GAS and have limited funds, but was wondering what difference the Runyon 22 would make to my set up at such a budget price.

My question is on lay size, do you think I should opt for a 2 on alto and a 3 on tenor at my level of experience or go up to a 3 and 4?

Thanks for your thoughts.
I wouldn't buy anything on spec at your stage, really - try and wait until your embouchure is more developed and then try a load and see what suits you. If you did want to try the Runyon mouthpiece, I would suggest a 4 or 5 on alto and 5 or 6 on tenor at the moment. I think a 2 facing (does it exist?) would be more closed than the Yamaha mouthpiece. The other thing you'll need to factor in is choice of reeds - but all of this is a moving target when you haven't been playing very long. As you get stronger you will probably need to play harder reeds and might find a wider mouthpiece tip opening suits you - depends on how you play and the sort of sound you are looking for. Note the word *might* as classical players tend to use a close facing mouthpiece equivalent to your 4C and a 3.5 or 4.0 reed. That's more my style but on alto I use a Jody Jazz 5 - which was made by Runyon - for jazz or funk work and really just don't get on with anything more open on alto. On sop I use a B* Soloist for all kinds of music and it works. For me, tenor and baritone feel very different and I play much more open mouthpieces on both of those.
Hi There!

I would rate the Runyon 22 very highly - it has a very solid sound, quite powerful, and one that should be clear and more incisive than the Yammie, but with some depth to it also. I would rate it on a par with the Vandoren V16 HR in many ways, but the comparison is on Alto sax only, tip opening 7 (I have both), with Jazz reeds (Marca 2.5, Francois Louis 2.5). I will always recommend having at least two mouthpieces anyway, :cool:as binocular vision is really important and promotes learning, rather than GAS.

My tip opening recommendation would be 5 in both, so that you have a bit of a contrast to the 4C and something to work towards. A beginner friend of mine had started on a 7C and when he tried some of mine the best measure was around 5 on the tip opening side - approx 0.070", a bit larger than the 4C but manageable. I use the Jody Jazz mouthpiece comparison charts which give a useful guide.
I bought the Runyon 22 on spec, just to see what it was like, and was very impressed - be useful for years to come and is an excellent back up piece. I'd recommend a metal ligature if you have one.

Hope this helps.
Kind regards
Hi singlereed!

Useful points - the issue for me is that there is no guarantee that a Yamaha 4C suits everyone, and several musicians, teachers etc rightly describe it as an ideal size for a young teenager to start on, just as the recommended starter mouthpiece for a trumpet is the Bach 7C, also a small piece. My experience on beginning trumpet was that (as I found out after 3 months) this mouthpiece was way to small for me - on spec I bought a used Bach 1 1/2C from eBay (£15) - about the largest Bach mouthpiece (1 - large, the higher the number the smaller the mpc) and I found both high and low notes much easier to play. Again I am not a teenager, so having a bargain priced alternative can help with this sort of issue - you never know until you know!

Agree about Tenor etc. - I tend to go up in size from Soprano (6) to Alto (7) to Tenor (8).
Kind regards
FWIW Charlie Parker played a Runyon 22 with a 5 tip opening, and used Rico Orange reeds. Apparently he often pawned his saxes to raise money to buy dope, and his 22 was often left in the case, and hence he lost it. After this had happened several times Santy Runyon refused to give him another replacement, and Charlie started keeping this in his coat pocket, providing his pawned sax with a cheap plastic alternative. Maybe this is where many manufacturers get the idea of proving rubbish mouthpieces from.......who knows?!

Anyway, if its good enough for Parker I reckon I could do worse.
Thanks Tom and Singlereed for your comments, food for thought indeed.

Of course I should have mentioned that I am playing with a Legere Signature 2 on both alto and tenor. I wanted to try and take at least one variable out of the mix, and to be honest I was getting fed up with reed preparation, selection and managment.

Does my choice of reed influence your advice in any way?

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