Biting holes in my mouthpiece

Martin

Member
Messages
212
Location
Grenada, West Indies
I’ve played an alto sax, also clarinet, for 30 years and never damaged the mouthpiece of either with my teeth, other than a bit of scuffing.

I’ve now been playing tenor for just over a year and I’m biting grooves into the mouthpiece with my teeth.

The first mouthpiece to be damaged was the original ‘Martin’ mouthpiece, which I used for six months while I was waiting for delivery of something better. I dismissed it, thinking that it must have been made of inferior material. After six months, the grooves were so deep that my front teeth were ‘located’ in the top of the mouthpiece and I was worried that someone jolting the instrument could break my teeth.

I recently noticed that my RPC mouthpiece is wearing, after playing it only for about three months. This is a good quality hard rubber mouthpiece. I really wouldn’t expect there to be anything wrong with the material quality, so I guess the problem must be with me, but it’s weird that this has only started happening since I moved onto the tenor. Something to do with the heavier instrument causing me to bite harder? Or maybe my ‘The Martin’ tenor balances in a way that causes me to bite harder? Does anyone have any ideas.

To prevent more damage, I’ll obviously have to start using a mouthpiece patch, but because the post takes several months to reach me in Grenada, I’d better improvise a quick ‘fix’. I tried some self adhesive PTFE sheet, but I put huge uncomfortable grooves in that after one day, so I’m looking for a harder material to try...something like a phone card, but thinner...anyone got any bright ideas? Something that I could put on top with double sided sticky tape.

Incidentally, I have a PPT 9 star mouthpiece, which I haven’t played so much yet, because I found my normal 2.5 or 2M reeds were too strong on it and I didn’t have anything softer. I’ve recently received some 2S reeds in the post. What a difference it made. I’m now really enjoying it, but I do not want to make grooves in the top of it, so I must find a suitable material to put on top.

Looking forward to your comments,
Martin
 

c9off

Senior Member
Messages
607
Location
London SE/Kent & Rickinghall
I assume that you are still playing alto & clarinet without cutting into MP? Otherwise check your nashers! Reasons for this are beyond me....

A starting point for diy patch would be mylar, used in the printing industry, also model aircraft surface hinge to name a couple of possible sources....

On another tack maybe a carefully cut piece of aluminium can (coke etc) - instant fix?!
 

losaavedra

Member
Messages
392
Location
Rojales, Spain
Martin, both my mps have 1 mm shaped alloy plates bonded on their tops for exactly the reason you state. I put them on during the time of the original BR but dragged the posts about it forward to this one and you can find details and pics via the link below. The original posts were mainly about lengthening the slot in the table but the pics include the top sides too:

Technical - Mouthpiece Mods (continued from old BR post)

I did try the rubber stick-on things but couldn't get on with the peculiar feel of them. I still get minor dents and scratches, even in the alloy, but they're easy to remove with a brillo pad or somesuch (although I rarely bother). The other thing I did around the same time was blunt my top front teeth a bit with an emery board because over the years they'd become very sharp and slightly chipped due to me stripping the insulation off wire while making up electrical circuits. I think the emery board approach was viewed as a bit extreme by a few people on here!!!
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Messages
63
Location
Exmoor, West Somerset
This is my 'bee in the bonnet' gripe...the amount manufacturers charge for M/P and ignore problems such as these, in paticular one that makes it out of plastic and retails it at £140..00... the stick on types are just as bad, £12.00 for four patches and I get through one a night...r*p off Having said that I found Link bite plates good, I emailed them, got 10 at 5 U.S. ea. you have to shape them and use double sided sticky but it works,,....
 
OP
Martin

Martin

Member
Messages
212
Location
Grenada, West Indies
I assume that you are still playing alto & clarinet without cutting into MP?
To be honest, since I've had the tenor, I've not played the alto or clari' too much.

Martin, both my mps have 1 mm shaped alloy plates bonded on their tops for exactly the reason you state.

The other thing I did around the same time was blunt my top front teeth a bit with an emery board because over the years they'd become very sharp and slightly chipped due to me stripping the insulation off wire while making up electrical circuits. I think the emery board approach was viewed as a bit extreme by a few people on here!!!
I had thought that a metal plate on top would feel wierd, but if you find it OK, I'll give it a try. A bit of coke can (mentioned above) sounds like it might work.

I don't fancy filing my teeth yet...sounds like a last resort!

Having said that I found Link bite plates good, I emailed them, got 10 at 5 U.S. ea. you have to shape them and use double sided sticky but it works,,....
Do you know what the Link bite plates are made of and where to buy them?

Thanks all, for your replies. I'll let you know what I try and what works for me.

Cheers, Martin
 
OP
Martin

Martin

Member
Messages
212
Location
Grenada, West Indies
Dare I suggest a clarinet embouchure with only lips touching mouthpiece top and bottom?

Note:-No 'Granada' joke.

I tried making an effort to put less pressure on top, but it feels too wierd. I think it would upset my playing.

Truce on Grenada/Granada noted.

By the way, did I tell you that my mouthpiece went to Granada by mistake. Dodgy old postal service....
 

Pee Dee

Member
Messages
425
Location
Dorset
I don't fancy filing my teeth yet...sounds like a last resort
Don't. Get your dentist to do it:shocked:
I had the same trouble, attached one of those thick rubber patches to my tenor mpc and kept biting a hole into it. Running my finger over the tip of my front teeth, I did notice one was a bit sharp, chipped probably, so on my next visit to the dentist I asked her to grind it smooth. Now, no problem!
Still have to change the patch now and again, but it is quite normal, I think to make some mark on the patch after a time. Best of luck with the tin patches! (If you need them)
 

Pete Thomas

Chief of Stuff
Commercial Café Supporter
Messages
12,645
Location
McLean, Virginia
I used to have this problem. I got my dentist to file my teeth. But don't ignore the fact that it could be too much pressure, only a teacher can really answer that.

The PPT is made of SHR which I believe is harder tha HR, so should not be so much of an issue - I hope. I'm glad you lie like it.

I find that normal electricians insulating tape is great for a patch that you don't even feel, but should stop bite marks.
 

Young Col

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,428
Location
Coulsdon, London/Surrey
I have a sharp edge on one of my front teeth as well. Probably from exactly the same cause as Mike - using them as wire strippers (Maplin actually sell brilliant wire strippers for £11.99; one of the best small tool buys I've ever made and wished they'd been available many years ago!). My dentist doesn't really want to file it as that would mean the one next to it would have to have the same done to even them up. My teacher thinks I bite down too hard and this will ease as my lip muscles develop more. But I'll still have a bit of an edge. I use thick rubber patches and get through about one a month, but I actually prefer playing with them now.
Colin
 

Pee Dee

Member
Messages
425
Location
Dorset
Probably from exactly the same cause as Mike - using them as wire strippers (Maplin actually sell brilliant wire strippers for £11.99; one of the best small tool buys I've ever made and wished they'd been available many years ago!).
Colin
Ah yes, happy days, not had me soldering iron out for ages. Used knife to get enamel off coil wire though:)
 

Young Col

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,428
Location
Coulsdon, London/Surrey
Oh I agree PeeDee, you couldn't get the enamel off with your teeth properly anyway. But then I found nothing did, completely. I'd spend ages with a sharp blade, fine emery cloth etc and have a nice bright wire end, but there was always a spot that wouldn't take solder because there was a sliver of enamel left. BTW solder doesn't smell like it used to now that there's no lead in it - doesn't flow as well either.

Back on topic, the thick patches I use aren't the most durable, but at £4.99 for 6 I'm not over bothered and the mp doesn't slide around.
Colin
 

Pee Dee

Member
Messages
425
Location
Dorset
Oh I agree PeeDee, you couldn't get the enamel off with your teeth properly anyway. But then I found nothing did, completely. I'd spend ages with a sharp blade, fine emery cloth etc and have a nice bright wire end, but there was always a spot that wouldn't take solder because there was a sliver of enamel left. BTW solder doesn't smell like it used to now that there's no lead in it - doesn't flow as well either.

Back on topic, the thick patches I use aren't the most durable, but at £4.99 for 6 I'm not over bothered and the mp doesn't slide around.
Colin
EXACTLY, experienced all the above, wish I'd kept some of that old solder, shud've known health and safety would step in..................
Talking of things electrical, I'm gonna try Pete's tip, using insulating tape, save a fortune over the years, and there is a range of colours to choose from, in fact, I put some blue tape on two of my mpc's today, looks real cool, will see how long it lasts. Unless there is a health and safety issue here, harmful chemicals in the plastic, or the adhesive?:confused:
 

Pee Dee

Member
Messages
425
Location
Dorset
I find that normal electricians insulating tape is great for a patch that you don't even feel, but should stop bite marks.
Wish I'd thought of that. Especially as I've got a few reels in the garage, different colours too. Mmmm, could cause a stir in the band:)))
 

Morgan Fry

Senior Member
Messages
447
Location
Leeds
It sounds to me like you may be simply using too much pressure. You can get away with biting more on clarinet and alto than on tenor. Try using a double embochure for a few minutes. You can't possibly use too much vertical pressure with a double embochure or you'll bite through your lip. It will make you play with very little biting. Observe how much vertical pressure you use with a double embochure, then go back to normal, trying to keep a similar amount of pressure. You shouldn't need much (if any) more pressure with a normal embochure than with a double.
 
OP
Martin

Martin

Member
Messages
212
Location
Grenada, West Indies
I used to have this problem. I got my dentist to file my teeth. But don't ignore the fact that it could be too much pressure, only a teacher can really answer that.

The PPT is made of SHR which I believe is harder tha HR, so should not be so much of an issue - I hope. I'm glad you lie like it.

I find that normal electricians insulating tape is great for a patch that you don't even feel, but should stop bite marks.
Since everyone is talking about sharp teeth, I ran my finger over mine and what do you know, they are kind of sharp and jagged. I'll make an appointment to visit the dentist and close my eyes while she takes her angle grinder to them. Might take a while though, as the only decent dentist here always has a two month or so waiting list.

Unfortunately, no teachers to be had here. Your excellent website and the BR is the closest I've got!

If the PPT is made of a harder material, I'm tempted to leave it unprotected for now, but monitor it closely and put a patch on at the first sign of damage.

If you want to use a 'Plastic' patch try these:

http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?t=105060

They are the most durable you will find - and made in England.
I'll order some of these. All the reports at SOTW were very positive. It'll take awhile to get them here though.

It sounds to me like you may be simply using too much pressure. You can get away with biting more on clarinet and alto than on tenor. Try using a double embochure for a few minutes. You can't possibly use too much vertical pressure with a double embochure or you'll bite through your lip. It will make you play with very little biting. Observe how much vertical pressure you use with a double embochure, then go back to normal, trying to keep a similar amount of pressure. You shouldn't need much (if any) more pressure with a normal embochure than with a double.
That is an excellent suggestion to determine the correct pressure. I'm going to try it this morning.

It occurred to me last night, that when playing the tenor, I tighten the neck strap more than I would for the alto, to reduce the weight taken on my dodgy right elbow, especially when I get carried away and lift the instrument. It's possible that the tighter neck strap is throwning more pressure onto the top teeth. Your double embochre test will determine that.


Thanks, everyone for your advice. I'll report back on my successes/failures.

Cheers, Martin
 
Top Bottom