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Mouthpieces Jan Garbarek Berg Larsen Tenor Mouthpiece

arya44

Member
Messages
65
Hello there,
Garbarek played his tenor sax with an older model of Berg Larsen metal mouthpiece for quite a few years. Listening to those albums for 20 years almost exclusively has shaped the tenor sax sound in my head and what I feel most at home hearing it. In Theo Wanne website before they put down the player setup page, they mentioned that he played Berg Larsen 85/0 metal tenor mouthpiece.
Does anyone know that it was a SMS or M?

FYI:
I have three Berg Larsen tenor pieces. The one that I found has a fatness while lots of buzz is a 1960s duckbill 90/3 SMS that was refaced to 85 and baffle raised to /0. I found the sound is pretty darn close but it is a tricky mouthpiece because the baffle has quite a high rollover start point and it can choke the air in the low notes. I think it could be improved but I don't know any refacer that deals with stainless steel in US / Canada that is not charging too much.

The other two that I have as I heard comment from lots of Berg users, it is a hit and miss and mine are not good. One is a metal 90/1 M which doesn't have that energy. Kind of dull. The other one is 95/0 hard rubber. I heard new hard rubbers are better than new metals but I found that the hard rubber is not my thing and for a /0 it is pretty dull even duller than the 90/1 M. I do feel the M is helping to control the low notes better (or it is just a design parameters difference that I'm not aware of).
Anyway, I'm still looking for my ideal Berg Larsen tenor metal mouthpiece with good old fatness and roaring buzz and plays well top to bottom. I'm thinking I may consider more open tip openings if that helps. I'm ok to play 100/ or even 105/ .
 

altissimo

Well-Known Member
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Well, it's not just the mouthpiece that gives Garbarek his tone, it's the player as well...

Berg Larsens are notorious for having not so wonderful facings, although if you try enough of them you can usually find a good one. If you have one you're happy with the sound of but don't like the facing, it'd probably be easier in the long run to get it refaced. You could spend more money buying and selling metal Bergs than the cost of the reface.
Most refacers don't like stainless steel, it's tough stuff to work with and ruins your tools, there's a discussion here on the pains of working on the stuff - Refacing stainless steel mouthpieces - why not?
there are some refacers who will work on stainless and they charge more due the extra time and effort involved, not to mention the cost of new files etc
here's a few -
Norbert Stachel
Content Area under Flash Menu Header
John Reilly - The Mouthpiece Doctor
martinmods mouthpiece refacing
Mouthpiece Refacing
Mouthpiece Refacing Service

a longer facing, like on a Lawton might help with the low notes and make a Berg easier to blow, there's not a great deal of difference between the M and SMS facings, they're both a bit short - if you can get to try a Lawton BB you might find it a better piece
 

arya44

Member
Messages
65
How about Lawton B? I have a Lawton B being shipped to me right now. Supposed to be brighter than my Link (although I have a bright sounding Link right now) but I don't think it has quite a core sound of a Berg. I guess I could try raising its baffle and close the chamber port to a bullet form to see if it resembles the Berg sound. I don't know if material would make a difference since Bergs are stainless steel and this one is a brass. I will experiment with it and post an update.
Many thanks for the info. I will contact them regarding the refacing.
 

arya44

Member
Messages
65
He's used a lot of mps. Always him. Like any player. We all got our own sound.
My understanding is that he has used lots of pieces in last 10 years or so, but almost all his legendary recorded tenor sax pieces have been prior to start experimenting with different mouthpieces.
 

Nick Wyver

noisy
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My understanding is that he has used lots of pieces in last 10 years or so, but almost all his legendary recorded tenor sax pieces have been prior to start experimenting with different mouthpieces.
Which ones are his "legendary" ones?
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
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I seem to remember a 110 HR berg in about 1992, when I met him.
Keep in mind that Bergs are so inconsistent that whatever is written on the shank is not necessarily true.

He often uses a Pillinger soprano piece. Maybe Ed has a note about Garbarek's favourite tenor facing too.

When I had my crush on Garbarek, I was using a Guardala Studio. Many similar mouthpieces around nowadays.
 
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3,261
He's had loads of pieces and he always sounds like him. Again this is like everyone else on different pieces. Brecker toyed with a lot of pieces, always him. Coltrane had a bag full of mps, always him.
 

altissimo

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listening to Garbarek's early work, it's clear that he was coming from a Coltrane/Pharoah Sanders background - you can hear the Coltrane influence on 'Desireless' on 'Witchi-Tai-To' - which is probably the first album he used that metal Berg on.. and arguably one of the first albums he really got that characteristic sound. Something subtly changed between 'Triptykon' and 'Red Lanta' and it could've been the Berg Larsen's nasal timbre enhancing Mr Garbarek's sound.

The genius of Garbarek is that he somehow makes it all sound so uniquely his own - there's something about the way he attacks and shapes each note that no one else seems to do, and of course there's that magical tone - even as far back as '67 you can hear that unmistakeable sound developing, it just took him a few years to distil the essence of his early free jazz playing down to as few notes as possible and incorporate northern European folk melodies in the same way Albert Ayler had utilised marching band tunes and Jim Pepper had used Native American songs
 

ProfJames

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If it is true that you emulate your heroes then I must play the sax like Willie John McBride and Muhammed Ali...!!!
 

arya44

Member
Messages
65
Which ones are his "legendary" ones?
Well of course it is my personal taste. These are most of the albums when I was listening to his music almost exclusively as far as saxophone playing involved in my teenage years, 20s, and most of my 30s.
  • Atmos (ECM, 1992) with Miroslav Vitous
 

arya44

Member
Messages
65
listening to Garbarek's early work, it's clear that he was coming from a Coltrane/Pharoah Sanders background - you can hear the Coltrane influence on 'Desireless' on 'Witchi-Tai-To' - which is probably the first album he used that metal Berg on.. and arguably one of the first albums he really got that characteristic sound. Something subtly changed between 'Triptykon' and 'Red Lanta' and it could've been the Berg Larsen's nasal timbre enhancing Mr Garbarek's sound.

The genius of Garbarek is that he somehow makes it all sound so uniquely his own - there's something about the way he attacks and shapes each note that no one else seems to do, and of course there's that magical tone - even as far back as '67 you can hear that unmistakeable sound developing, it just took him a few years to distil the essence of his early free jazz playing down to as few notes as possible and incorporate northern European folk melodies in the same way Albert Ayler had utilised marching band tunes and Jim Pepper had used Native American songs
I posted earlier the list of the albums that I think his saxophone sound characteristic developed to that expressive emotional and passionate signature sound. I don't think he could quite develop that crying emotional kind of sound for instance you hear in All Those Born With Wings - 5th Piece without the nasal characteristic of his VI axe and a high baffle closed tip small chamber mouthpiece.
 

aldevis

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Did you forget Jarrett's European quartet?
 
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