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Alto Mouthpieces


ex Landrover Nut
Have been trying to get to grips with the Kohlert alto since I bought it earlier this year. Lovely instrument, but I was struggling to play it. As I wasn't having the same poblems on the tenor, and there were no leaks on the alto - and my teacher had played it with an identical mouthpiece, I put it down to me.

The old Brillhart Tonalin personalin that came with it has a good reputation. I tried the Kohlert with the cheapo mpc. that came with the chinese alto, and I tried it with a Rico Graftonite B7 (got a wide one to match the PPT8* I'm using on tenor). Same sorts of problems. Reed locking up, too much resistance.

Had similar problems with a cheap chinese alto that I bought to practice repairs on, with all the moutpieces. So it's languished, not unplayed, but not really gladly played. I thought that alto wasn't really for me.

Another cheap chinese alto came up on ebay recently with a low buy it now price and the attaction of a Selmer mouthpiece (type unspecified), so I took a chance intending to split and sell on. They arrived yesterday. The Selmer turned out to be an S90 C*. So nothing special. The alto didn't play very well - neck's loose and it hops octaves around G as a result. So there was I thinking same old problem, perhaps I should sell the Kohlert. But..... I thought I'd try the Selmer on the Kohlert and see what happend. What a revelation - effortless from bottom Bb to top F... Sounded good as well... Not quite as rich or mellow as the Brilhart - but playable...... Very playable.

I think the Brilhart problem is that it's a short facing. But it doesn't work for me. The Graftonite seems to be too wide for me on alto. So the Brilhart's going to my music teacher who wants it as a backup. The Graftonite will be tried with much softer reeds (was using a 2, and a 3 on the Slemer), but may end up on ebay.

Now to ty the selmer on the Buescher 20A I'm fixing at the moment. Maybe some of the poblems I'm trying to fix are mouthpiece related.....

So to the points of my long winded ramble...
I'm happy with the 8* on tenor - why would such a narrow tip work well for me on alto? AND - how many guys post problems here that are mouthpiece related and we never realise it?

The Kohlert played perfectly for my teacher on an identical Brilhart... Is it that he's such a good player he doesn't notice the difficulties we mere mortals have to battle with? And how do we identify whether problems are with the equipment or the player?

One thing's for sure - the Kohlert is going to get played a lot more now... And I'm starting to wonder if getting another PPT with a slightly smaller opening will make the tenor easier to play.
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Well-Known Member
Well, Kev, my opinion for what it's worth.

I play a pretty wide tenor piece, and have done for years, and find it works great for me. However, I've always tended towards somewhat narrower alto pieces, and when I've tried wider ones I haven't felt comfortable with them. I don't really know why, but for me, wide on a tenor and medium on an alto works best. Baritone, pretty much medium and also sop.

Also, I've had a couple of Graftonites and although they're fine playing pieces, I have found the 7 models quite resistant to blow. I wouldn't go as far as a Selmer C*, as that's a very narrow tip opening, but I would expect it to be much more free blowing. I don't know much about the art of mouthpieces, but to me there seems to be much more to how free blowing a piece is than the tip. Maybe if you get the opportunity you should try a medium opening, but known free blowing alto piece to see how you get on?

(I do mean just try, BTW, I don't want to encourage you to go on a spending spree!)


Well-Known Member
Hi Kev!

Am I right in thinking that you mainly play tenor sax ? I started on soprano then alto then tenor, and currently play 6, 7, and 8 respectively on each. The switch from Alto to Tenor was a bit of an effort - especially about loosening my embouchure. I play a Spectruoso mouthpiece on tenor which uses the same ligature as my alto piece, hence is alto sized, and very comfortable to play as a mainly alto player.

If you are more of a tenor player I would imagine that the opposite is true - that you would have to develop and tighten up certain muscles to play the alto well - hence you may, as it were, have a decent tenor embouchure but not a decent alto embouchure, and that a Selmer C* may be representative of where you are at the moment. That a small facing doesn't work as well would support this view and that a longer facing would help you grip better, and overcome your weaker alto embouchure. Hence a 5 size mouthpiece with a long facing would probably be the best option if you need anything different from the Selmer C*, which seemed to lack something tonally.

Hope that this is helpful and not too wide of the mark. Anyway, back to trumpet and "Work Song" improvisation...;}

Kind regards


ex Landrover Nut
Jon, Tom, thanks.

I've a number of alto pieces I want to try, Selmer soloist and Morgan's Floridated Link and and older Meyer. but... Will have to take it easy. At least I know what's wrong now, and although the Selmer feels a little narrow, it works - and that can't be bad! Guess I've been spoilt by the PPT... Pete was recommending the Selmer Soloist a while back for Alto - to Luluna I think, could be the way to go.
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