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M/Pieces - Ligs Help needed with mouthpiece choice

andyb1970

Member
Messages
450
Hi, I'm new here and hoping to find some help.

I've been learning to play for around 2 years on a Selmer Mk VII (tenor) with an S80 D mouthpiece with Vandoren 2 reeds. I found the Mk VII a stretch for certain keys so visited sax.co.uk and tested a few saxes, ended up buying a Yani T901 which to me felt much more comfortable and intonation was great. At the same time out of curiosity I tried some different mouthpieces on my Selmer and found most of them quite bright, not to my liking, but they all blew effortlessly. I found the Otto Link Tone Edge 6 sounded better on the upper notes but was slightly harder to blow.

Anyway back to the Yani....

I tried the hard rubber Yani mouthpiece that came with the T901 (facing of 6) and was amazed how easily it blew, but with an already bright sax it just doesn't sound as mellow as I'd like it to, just a bit too bright and thin sounding. I've spent the last couple of days back and forth between the mouthpieces and find that although I like the tone of the S80, after playing the Yani mouthpiece the S80 is quite hard to blow and feels/sounds a bit muffled.

I have also found the Vandoren reeds very fussy on the S80, quite a difference between one and the other, a seemingly unplayable reed on the S80 works fine on the Yani mouthpiece.

Interestingly the Yani mouthpiece sounds great on the MK VII. I think the construction dampens the sound.

I also tried some Vandoren 2.5 reeds but found them difficult to play.

I did back to back tests using four Vandoren reeds on the Mk VII and 901, comparing the S80, Yani and Otto Link. Basically results were Yani was a breeze to play but bright and thin sounding, S80 muffled and harder to blow yet I liked the tone more, Otto Link harder to play than the others, but better sound than the S80.

I really want to find a mouthpiece that is easy to blow (like the Yani and various other makes I've tried such as the Jody Jazz) but doesn't end up being too bright and thin sounding (Jody Jazz worse for me than the Yani in this respect). The Otto Link 6 sounds nice on the Yani (similar to the S80 but with more character) but again very fussy with reeds and slightly harder to blow than the S80.

Sorry for the long post, can anyone spot something worth trying. Different reeds? My perception on what sounds good is misplaced?

Thing is I have my Grade 6 exam in three weeks and I don't know whether to use the S80 with its nice tone but struggling for breath through the pieces, or use the Yani mouthpiece which is a breeze to blow but tone isn't ideal. Whatever I do I need to decide quick so I can get used to everything before the exam!

I know it's a very subjective topic but any thoughts welcomed.
 
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TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Hi Andy!

As a Yani T901 owner I have been through the process of dealing with quite a bright sax, and am just having a break from playing this morning - quite a dark tone, using a 92 neck/Phil-Tone mouthpiece/EVO-5 ligature/Alexander DC reeds. My advice in doing something for 3 weeks time would be as follows:

1. Get a dark sounding ligature - generally I find metal is too bright on this sax, but a decent material one would really help. Rovner Dark or similar.

2. Change reeds - the Alexander DC's are lovely for a darker sound (Reeds Direct could send you some by tomorrow. The Yani mouthpiece should sound fine with this combo.

3. Stick with the Yani mpc. I am surprised that the Yani mouthpiece sounds bright - I passed it on as I found it too mellow, so you may need to make the above adjustments and get used to playing long notes quite gently to get the tone. As you may find in another post thinness of sound can often come from tightening embouchure as you go higher, so practice lower notes for more control and try to consciously blow whilst keeping your own air chamber open.

Longer term you are probably better prioritising a change of neck if you want a darker sound, and worry about a mouthpiece later. The choice of a Tenor mouthpiece is a different issue, and can be delayed. Personally I would recommend a Lebayle Jazz HR if you want a darker, mellow sound.

Kind regards
Tom

I assume that your exams are Trinity (or TVU - LCM). Good luck with Grade 6. These are obviously my own subjective thoughts.
 
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MMM

Senior Member
Messages
914
Andy, for the exam go with whatever is more comfortable to you, you don't want to struggle when nerves may already play a part!
Please take my advice with a large pinch of salt, I'm not a pro player but have been playing for a long time and you will have to make up your own mind (as I'm sure you already know!), I'm not trying to preach to anyone!
If you think the Yani is too bright, have you tried a Rovner (or other fabric) ligature? These dampen the sound and I know of many players who use them to "tame" edgy mouthpieces. I know a lot of people disagree over the effect of ligatures, however the Rovners are not terribly expensive and you can always try before you buy. As an experiment, you could try tying up the reed with a shoelace or other thin cord you may have at home and see how it affects the sound...
I personally use two mouthpieces on tenor: an old (not vintage) Meyer 7M, which gives me a modern but not bright (think Joe Henderson) sound and a Morgan Excalibur 7EM (I think!) which again, not too bright but lots more volume and easier overtones than the Meyer. Everytime I decide to sell the Meyer, I try it again and swiftly change my mind! I hear very good things about some handmade mouthpieces like the Mouthpiece Cafe or Pillinger, but since you have already invested in the Link, make sure what you have doesn't really work for you before splashing out on another piece or you'll be chasing mouthpieces instead of practicing!

Again, just my opinion, hope it helps!
Manlio
 

andyb1970

Member
Messages
450
Thanks for the replies :)

Tom…..I have tried a 92 neck and didn't think it made much difference, but I thought I could detect a slightly richer/warmer sound.

I should have mentioned I have a Rovner Verso ligature, not inserted the metal plates, so should be on its "darkest" setting?

I'll try some different reeds as you suggest, certainly can't hurt! Interestingly the Vandoren 2.5 reeds I tried warmed things up nicely but I found it difficult to play with them.

I also wonder if because the S80 is harder to blow I'm overdoing it on the Yani mouthpiece, already I've tried backing off, it's wonderful to play feels more relaxed and does take the edge off when blowing more lightly.

I'm taking the ABRSM exam, so it's a mixture of classic and jazzy type stuff.

Thanks Manlio, I think the Yani gives me more confidence, I do get nervous in the exams so the Yani will certainly help with that! All advice is welcome, whether the suggestions are a change of mouthpiece etc or just to practice more! :) Good advice….I think I've spent enough already, certainly need to slow down from panic mode and assess carefully before making any more purchasing decisions.

I certainly think the issue might be me needing to play long notes etc, concentrating on how I'm playing as from Internet searches I've done my setup seems to suggest I should be getting quite a warm sound already, maybe my perception of what it should sound like is a bit mixed up.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Hi Andy!

Do try DC's at 2.5 strength - they are softer than the Vandoren's (assume you mean "Traditional"). It does sound as if you may be overblowing the Yani mpc, so easing off would be good. Also playing longer low notes, and gradually going up the scale but maintaining an open embouchure so you are not particularly increasing air speed. It may help, say to start on low B, play a note higher, then back to the B each time - hence B C B C# B D B Eb B E B F etc. I still think that a Dark lig would be a useful £20 to spend as it is the "darkest" one, but the practice routines and reeds should make a difference.

Kind regards
Tom
 

Filton

Member
Messages
243
I can't help a lot with this as I am no expert certainly, but I use a yani metal mouthpiece (7) on my BW Tenor (with a Dark Lig) and have found the Superial DCs to give me a lovely dark, smooth, smokey tone - although I have been using 2s I have just ordered some 2.5s as I was feeling the 2s to be a little too soft.

I first tried superials after hearing crazydaisydoo using them.
 

les3716

Member
Messages
181
End of tenor mouthpiece GAS?

I counted up what sort of sax gear I've had over the last thirty years recently, and I reckon I've had 40 tenor mouthpieces. Recently I've had an RPC, LAW Buzzer, Lawtons, Francois Louis Spectruoso, various Bergs, Guardala King, Yani metals, some Bari metals, Vandoren Jumbo Javas and a Saxscape Naima. Most had their good points. Some great. But recently I've gone back to my battered and bruised old Otto Link. It's a 10, and has a large added baffle. It looks rough but it just outplays all the others, and I haven't touched any of my expensive (although all used) purchases for months. Soft or loud, bright or mellow, screaming altissimo, massive bottom end, it does it all. I'd already traded most of the above pieces, but I guess I still have several hundred pounds worth lying neglected in my case. Outplayed by an old Link I payed forty quid for.

So, am I finally cured of GAS? Will I ever buy another tenor mouthpiece?

This quote was taken from another thread started by jonf.
I reckon obtaining the right setup, for me anyway and reading some of the threads on this forum - others as well, is an ongoing process.

If someone in the sax section gets a new mouthpiece or lig or new brand of reed, its like a new toy!
I have settled for the selmer soloist on tenor and alto, mainly because of the sound techs that we have.
Wish you well in your quest!
Les.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
I can't help a lot with this as I am no expert certainly, but I use a yani metal mouthpiece (7) on my BW Tenor (with a Dark Lig) and have found the Superial DCs to give me a lovely dark, smooth, smokey tone - although I have been using 2s I have just ordered some 2.5s as I was feeling the 2s to be a little too soft.

I first tried superials after hearing crazydaisydoo using them.
My experience exactly - good description of the sound produced!

Kind regards
Tom
 

andyb1970

Member
Messages
450
Hi Andy!

Do try DC's at 2.5 strength - they are softer than the Vandoren's (assume you mean "Traditional"). It does sound as if you may be overblowing the Yani mpc, so easing off would be good. Also playing longer low notes, and gradually going up the scale but maintaining an open embouchure so you are not particularly increasing air speed. It may help, say to start on low B, play a note higher, then back to the B each time - hence B C B C# B D B Eb B E B F etc. I still think that a Dark lig would be a useful £20 to spend as it is the "darkest" one, but the practice routines and reeds should make a difference.

Kind regards
Tom
Thanks Tom, I'll certainly give the Superial DC a go, pity got to buy them in boxes of 10! Yes I am using the traditional ones in the blue box. I like that exercise too, I can see that might help with not thinning out the top end. I'll try and pop into a local shop as they might have that ligature and see what difference it makes.
 

andyb1970

Member
Messages
450
I can't help a lot with this as I am no expert certainly, but I use a yani metal mouthpiece (7) on my BW Tenor (with a Dark Lig) and have found the Superial DCs to give me a lovely dark, smooth, smokey tone - although I have been using 2s I have just ordered some 2.5s as I was feeling the 2s to be a little too soft.

I first tried superials after hearing crazydaisydoo using them.
Thanks for the advice, certainly seems these reeds are worth a try.
 

andyb1970

Member
Messages
450
End of tenor mouthpiece GAS?



This quote was taken from another thread started by jonf.
I reckon obtaining the right setup, for me anyway and reading some of the threads on this forum - others as well, is an ongoing process.

If someone in the sax section gets a new mouthpiece or lig or new brand of reed, its like a new toy!
I have settled for the selmer soloist on tenor and alto, mainly because of the sound techs that we have.
Wish you well in your quest!
Les.
Yes I've seen looking for the perfect mouthpiece can be a life consuming ideal LOL. I'll let you know how it goes.
 

Filton

Member
Messages
243
Just a sidenote - sax.co.uk sell Alexander reeds individual so no need to buy 10 - I buy 3 at a time . . .
 

andyb1970

Member
Messages
450
Well guys what an amazing day I have had!!!

Yesterday I was looking on the Internet and came across a shop called Dawkes. Against all common sense I felt the need to visit another shop and see if I could make some sense out of the problem I've been having. I spoke to a really helpful chap called Jim who said to come up (today), meet Anton Weinberg and discuss the issues at hand.

So up I went, excited yet apprehensive about what lay in store. I met Anton who patiently listened as I explained my story about the MK VII/S80 and then Yani with S80/Otto Link/Yani mouthpiece experiences (trust me he was patient I use 1000 words when 10 will do LOL). He immediately said forget the S80 mouthpiece, absolutely wrong choice. I then mentioned I was using Vandoren blue 2. He immediately said "forget it wrong choice of reed, french cut with american mouthpiece - won't work". He gave me a red Java Vandoren reed strength 2 along with 4 mouthpieces and off I went to try them. One of them was an Otto Link 5.something, another an Otto Link metal, a Vandoren (T4 I think). I tried all and noticed the blowing was nice on all including the Otto Link. However yet again didn't like any of the sounds except the Otto Link. Anton listened to me play them all, explained the mouthpieces were sounding exactly as he expected and we came to the conclusion the Otto Link was the one to have. However when I tried the high notes couldn't get them out so I tried my "6" and was better but still hard to blow. "Wait a minute" he said and came back with a 7* Otto Link. He left the room to look after other customers and I looked at this "7" thinking never had I been able to play a "7". Well fu** me I blew and it was beautiful, wonderfully easy and yet with the tone I'd be craving.

So the problems? Using vandoren blue on an american mouthpiece, or even if on a french mouthpiece the opening on the S80 was too small. Where I had tried bigger openings but failed previously it was because I was using the wrong reed.

I'm quite simply gobsmacked that in 2 to 3 years of playing no one (shops/tutors) knew this. I've effectively been blowing like hell with little reward. When I've been in a shop and failed to produce a sound on an opening of 7 I have simply been advised to use a 6 instead, so although I could then get a sound out it was forced.

I've just tried my exam pieces, and played them effortlessly, sure there are still mistakes, but it's great.

To say I'm over the moon is an understatement, there was me thinking I had a terrible embouchure and breathing and it was the setup all along!!!!

Note: Please take the quotes from Anton I mention with a pinch of salt, I certainly would hate to misquote him, he certainly knows his stuff and any errors are mine and mine alone!

See, told you it would be a long story :)
 
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TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Brilliant news!

He is a really knowledgeable guy - The set up you had (Selmer S80/Vandoren Trad reeds is a recommended classic set up , and often for beginners, and good to have someone to explain it in clear terms - Red Java have a pretty good write up and I am not surprised that, given your level of playing, you would be better on a larger tip opening (lots of people on the forum play 7* and above - I play an 8).

Great news, hope it inspires you to great things - I'm curious to explore the French Cut insight, and look at what I play.
Kind regards
Tom
 

andyb1970

Member
Messages
450
Brilliant news!

He is a really knowledgeable guy - The set up you had (Selmer S80/Vandoren Trad reeds is a recommended classic set up , and often for beginners, and good to have someone to explain it in clear terms - Red Java have a pretty good write up and I am not surprised that, given your level of playing, you would be better on a larger tip opening (lots of people on the forum play 7* and above - I play an 8).

Great news, hope it inspires you to great things - I'm curious to explore the French Cut insight, and look at what I play.
Kind regards
Tom
It definitely inspires me :) Interestingly I checked on the Vandoren Website and it mentions the red Java reeds are french cut too, so it's obviously a bit more complex than just that. I'm sure Anton would be able to explain the complete reason why if asked, he said he never fails to surprise him how many people are using incompatible mouthpiece/reed combinations.
 

andyb1970

Member
Messages
450
So I've been testing some different reeds out of curiosity the last few days. The Red Java reeds I've been recently using are ok, a little buzzy and 3 out of the box were awful.

For the moment after trying Rico Jazz Select filed and unfiled, La Voz and Alexander DC reeds, the clear winner is the Alexander DC reeds, they bring a really good warm and solid tone to a sound I was already pretty happy with. The suggestions you guys had for these reeds was spot on :D
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Wise choice.....! I still mainly play Francois Louis Excellence reeds, but they are now very expensive in UK - just under £40 per 10, whereas the DC's can be got for about £26 per 10

Kind regards
Tom
 

andyb1970

Member
Messages
450
Hi Tom

I found 10 DC reeds from reeds-direct.com to be the cheapest at £29, other well known companies were more expensive from around £35 to £42! If you know of anywhere cheaper than £29 let me know and I'll bare it in mind for the future.

Cheers

Andy.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Hi Andy!

You are right that reeds-direct were the cheapest - as my order was a little late they gave me an extra reduction, hence the slightly lower price.

Kind regards
Tom
 
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