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Berg Larsen too sharp; how to fix?

Squawky

Member
Messages
38
I purchased a Stainless Steel Berg Larsen 120/1/M tenor mouthpiece (same as listed in my sig) back in December of 2010 as my first jazz mouthpiece. Before the Berg, I was playing on my school's Selmer S-80 C*. I play the Berg on my Super 20, and I love the sound, but the problem is, it plays around 40 cents sharp when about in the middle of my cork. When I back it off to get it in tune, it refuses to stay on my neck. I've had it recorked with a very large cork and have used plumber's tape before to hold the piece on, but it still wobbles. Is there something I can do to get this thing to play in tune? Or should I just look for another mouthpiece that will give me a similar sound but will stay in tune and more importantly, stay on the neck?
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,807
Berg Larsen ss tenor mouthpiece and King Super 20 is a "classic" setup used by lots of players. Big sound. Maybe you should have a new thicker neckcork? Easy for a tech to help you with.

Thomas
 

Nick Wyver

noisy
Subscriber
Messages
5,952
Switching from a Selmer C* to a 120 Berg is a heck of a jump. Sounds more like you want to work on your embouchure. Has anyone else played it?
 

Saxo

New Member
Messages
2
A Selmer C* is .071, Berg Larsen is .120. As Nick said, that is a heck of a jump -even for a player with years of experience.
 

Squawky

Member
Messages
38
I purchased the mouthpiece used on ebay, so yes, someone else has played it, and there weren't any complaints that I saw about the intonation of the mouthpiece. Any recommendations on ways I can strengthen my embouchure?
 

Pyrografix

Senile Member
Messages
1,026
I purchased the mouthpiece used on ebay, so yes, someone else has played it, and there weren't any complaints that I saw about the intonation of the mouthpiece. Any recommendations on ways I can strengthen my embouchure?
I think the question about someone else 'playing it' was referring to someone else playing your sax and the new mouthpiece together - maybe a teacher or someone with experience of that type of m/piece could try it, to eliminate any doubts about the mouthpiece itself.

Keep practicing!
 

Nick Wyver

noisy
Subscriber
Messages
5,952
Yup. That's what I meant. If you know an experienced sax player (that's sax player - not a clarinetist who thinks a sax is a sort of inferior clarinet) then get him to play your set-up and see what the intonation's like,

"Strengthening" your embouchure is possibly the wrong way of thinking about it. It sounds like you need to loosen up.
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,807
I also tried Berg Larsen ss with wide opening (115/0 SMS and 120/0 SMS) on King Super 20 tenor. They were too hard for me to handle. I also tried a Dukoff LD 10 (0.130) with the same result. If you want to give your mouthpiece a chance I think you must play a lot and do embouchure excersises every day and several hours each day. You must keep in mind that a setup like yours was used by players like King Curtis, Clarence Clemons, Red Prysock (but they were on harder reeds!!!) … . So it’s not easy for hobby players, like myself, to get used to such setups.

Try to trade your open Larsen for a medium (0.90-0.95) or medium-open (0.100-.0.105) one. Your reed is also fine on Berg Larsens. A LaVoz M reeds are softer than Rico, Rico Royal 2,5 but harder than Vandoren 2. You can try a softer reed on your mouthpiece as well and see how it turns out. I think the M facing is easier to control compared to the SMS facing. The “1” baffle is a quite high (closer to the reed) compared to the low “3” baffle. I would say your mouthpice is a great Rock or R&B mouthpiece. Larsens baffles are 0-3 with 0 brightest and 3 darkest.

I have owned three King Super 20 tenors and they were hard for me to get along with. IMO, a demanding sax. Thats way I switched to Martins. Better for me to play on. The King Super 20 is a very nice and delicate sax. I regret I sold my first King Super 20 from the early 50’s. A milestone when it comes to saxes!

Good luck with your sax and mouthpice. King Super 20 and Berg Larsen metal mouthpieces sounds good in my ears!


Thomas
 

Squawky

Member
Messages
38
Alright, thanks! I'll have my sax teacher take a look at the mouthpiece and try out my whole setup to see whether it's just me or if there's something up with the mouthpiece. As for a different Berg, I'm thinking I might also do a lower baffle on the next one, perhaps a 2. I'll look around for a decent 105/2/M in stainless. Or should I try bronze? I also ordered a box of Rico Jazz Select 2H reeds yesterday so I'll see how those react with the mouthpiece.
 

Clivey

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,023
I can`t get a toot out of my"100/2 SMS" these days as I stick to a 5 YAM.

It`s all embouchure stuff. No Fast way I`m afraid.
 

Saxo

New Member
Messages
2
Exactly ! A .120 is extreme. John Coltrane used a .090, Stan Getz a .095 and most of the best tenors never exceeded .105.
 

Jules

Formerly known as "nachoman"
Messages
4,625
most of the best tenors never exceeded .105.
agree with the first bit of your statement but I'm not convinced by that bit- ernie watts, brecker etc.. plas johnson's epic 150 thou berg etc (but, as they say- don't try this at home)
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,807
Alright, thanks! I'll have my sax teacher take a look at the mouthpiece and try out my whole setup to see whether it's just me or if there's something up with the mouthpiece. As for a different Berg, I'm thinking I might also do a lower baffle on the next one, perhaps a 2. I'll look around for a decent 105/2/M in stainless. Or should I try bronze? I also ordered a box of Rico Jazz Select 2H reeds yesterday so I'll see how those react with the mouthpiece.
I have a BL ss (blue box) tenor mpc 95/2 SMS in good condition. Send a PM if you want to trade?

Thomas
 

compound

Member
Messages
457
Hi Squawky,
Is there any sign inside the piece that it has been reworked in the past,? worth checking.
Rob.
 

Two Voices

Senior Member
Messages
1,113
Exactly ! A .120 is extreme. John Coltrane used a .090, Stan Getz a .095 and most of the best tenors never exceeded .105.
I don’t agree! Many great Tenor Saxophonists play / played bigger than .105” such as:

  • Pete Christlieb| Metal Berg Larsen 130/0
  • Arnett Cobb | Otto-Link #9 (0.120”)
  • Ronnie Cuber | Otto-Link 8* (0.115”)
  • Frank Foster | Lawton 10*B
  • Gary Foster | Lawton 10*B
  • Stan Getz | Otto-Link 8* HR (0.115”)
  • Johnny Griffin | Otto-Link 0.150”
  • Jimmy Giuffre | Berg Larsen 130/0
  • Scott Hamilton | Otto-Link #12 (0.150”)
  • Willis "Gator Tail" Jackson | Otto-Link 12* (0.155”)
  • Plas Johnson | Berg Larsen 160/2
  • Bob Malach | Otto-Link 8* (0.115”)
  • James Moody | RPC 150M
  • Houston Person | Lawton #10
  • Lenny Pickett | Berg Larsen 130/0
  • Joshua Redman | Otto-Link 9* (0.125”)
  • Sonny Rollins| Berg Larsen 130/2
  • Wayne Shorter | Otto-Link #10 HR (0.130”)
  • Ernie Watts | Otto-Link #13 (0.160”)
  • Ben Webster | Otto-Link #9 (0.120”)
  • Plus many, many more …
I play an 8* (0.115”) which I find a little too small and having a custom 0.120” made up which plays a little bigger than the Otto-Link so it’ll be more like a 0.125” (9*).

There are plenty of great players at the other extreme who play tiny tip openings such as Don Byas with his Otto-Link Florida Super Tone Master 3* (0.065”).

Could you play Coltrane’s set-up? He played his Custom Otto-Link 5* (0.080”) with Rico #4 Reeds!!!

Everyone has different mouth sizes, shapes, tongues, jaws, lungs, etc … which mean’s finding a tip opening that suits you and a chamber, baffle, etc … that gives you that sound you want!

Doesn’t the nice Mr Thomas play a PPT 9* (0.125”)!

EDIT: BTW Stan Getz, actually played an Otto-Link 8* HR (0.115”) not a 0.095" ;}
 
Last edited by a moderator:

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
I think there are two points here:

1 - the jump is huge and will take some managing. OP has already decided to do something about it.
2 - Each 'great' player played what he wanted to play. And many changed at different times in their careers. You don't need a big opening to be a good player, and neither do you need a small opening. Even though the modern tendancy is towads wider tips/softer reeds, it's not an absolute. And no point in arguing...
 

Two Voices

Senior Member
Messages
1,113
I think there are two points here:

1 - the jump is huge and will take some managing. OP has already decided to do something about it.
2 - Each 'great' player played what he wanted to play. And many changed at different times in their careers. You don't need a big opening to be a good player, and neither do you need a small opening. Even though the modern tendancy is towads wider tips/softer reeds, it's not an absolute. And no point in arguing...
That's what I was trying to say! In too many words :)))

... And no point in arguing...
:shocked: Spoil sport :)))
 

Squawky

Member
Messages
38
Rob,

I don't think it has been reworked. Everything looks pretty normal. Eventually I can upload some pictures of the piece when I get home.
 

jonf

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,680
I'm not a great player, and never will be, so this probably means nothing, but I play a 120 mouthpiece, a modified Otto Link 10. I just find it suits me. I've always found things like Yamaha 4c and 5c, and Selmer C* to be like trying to blow through a pinhole, and I started playing on a 105 mouthpiece. I don't find a 120 to be in any way extreme.

None of this is any evidence of me being a tough macho guy (I'm not) as I play using either a RJS 2S or 2M reed. So, big mouthpiece, soft reed. Works for me.
 

Squawky

Member
Messages
38
I'm not a great player, and never will be, so this probably means nothing, but I play a 120 mouthpiece, a modified Otto Link 10. I just find it suits me. I've always found things like Yamaha 4c and 5c, and Selmer C* to be like trying to blow through a pinhole, and I started playing on a 105 mouthpiece. I don't find a 120 to be in any way extreme.

None of this is any evidence of me being a tough macho guy (I'm not) as I play using either a RJS 2S or 2M reed. So, big mouthpiece, soft reed. Works for me.
I do understand what you're saying. I love the 120 tip opening and I don't think it's extreme either. It's a great feel but my only issue is intonation. I'm hoping that finding a slightly smaller tip opening will allow me to control it better and thus achieve bearable intonation. Also, what do you think of those RJS reeds? I haven't tried them yet.
 
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