PPT mouthpieces

Mouthpieces Looking for advice on a new mouthpiece

Joe Painter

New Member
Tupelo, MS
Hey, my name is Joe. I've played guitar off and on since I was nine (mostly focused on rhythm). While I enjoy playing guitar still I've always love the saxophone and 2 months agi got myself a little student Le blanco model. I have only been messing around with some scales and making up my own melodies mostly. Also playing alone with songs and backing tracks. I'm extremely passionate about making it and progressing properly. One problem I've ran into is ive noticed a bite mark on my mouthpiece. It started off small but has gotten bad. I read into this and found some players who seem to condescend to the idea that its just their way of playing but in no way am I satisfied with this! I'm looking to get the embouchure down pat and ive been conscious now to not bite down so hard when I play but I feel i need a new mouthpiece. I'm not looking to invest a whole lot into one just yet as I just started playing but would like some advice on what to get. Ive done some reading but I'd love to get some other opinions from experienced players! I'm humble to constructive critisism. Please help. My mouthpiece was of course one of the cheap plastic ones... Are their any thoughts about ebonite mouthpieces for beginners? Much love and thanks
Welcome to the Cafe

If you have sharp front teeth then you will probably mark any mouthpiece you play. If you want to prevent this then you should get some mouthpiece patches.

The mouthpieces supplied with student saxophones are usually fairly poor, so some sort of upgrade is probably a good idea.

I think the most commonly recommended mouthpieces for beginners are the Yamaha 4C and the Selmer S-80 C*. The Selmer costs a lot more, so many people recommend the Yamaha at first until the player is more sure what sort of mouthpiece they want. The Yamaha is plastic rather than hard rubber, but that doesn't make any difference to the sound as far as I am aware.
Both mouthpieces have their eager supporters and opponents.

Another good cheap option is the Bari Esprit.

The Rousseau NC4 is also an excellent mouthpiece. Personally I prefer it to the Yamaha and the Selmer, but everyone has their own personal preferences.
As @nigeld said, it's a very personal choice, but for a low priced, beginner friendly mouthpiece, I think the Yamaha 4C is an excellent choice.
As @nigeld said, it's a very personal choice, but for a low priced, beginner friendly mouthpiece, I think the Yamaha 4C is an excellent choice.

I agree, 4C is great. Once you can evaluate mouthpieces for yourself then is the time to decided to get something else. Or stick with what you have.

Regarding the bite mark, that does happen, but if you are biting too hard, only your teacher can tell you. It could mean you need a different embouchure, softer reed, more air support - all kinds of issues could be going on
You may as well get into the habit of using a patch to protect your mpc. Even with a pretty good technique..if you have sharp teeth you will eventually wear on the beak. When you advance and play expensive pieces its just a good idea.
Hi Joe and welcome to the cafe. I've nothing to add to the good advice already given. I'm sure you'll learn a lot and
I hope you enjoy your time at the cafe.
Hi Joe, and welcome!

If your sax is a LeBlanc, was it made by Yamaha; Beaugnier; Yanagisawa? Post a few photos if you don't know and we'll help tell you more about it, and perhaps more about which MP may suit?

I echo what's been said above, but my search for the perfect alto MP (I'm guessing your sax is an alto?) ended with one of Pete Thomas' PPT models. Not a cheap option, especially with postage added. Are you getting lessons? A tutor usually has a drawer full of MPs you could try out before splashing out on your own drawer full!

As for bite marks, the thin clear MP patches are very tough and easily replaceable.
Not to be a fly in the ointment...BUT...we really do not KNOW (nor does Joe) whether or not he is playing with a good/correct embouchure...so, it is not outside the realm of possibility that in fact the biting aspect IS bad/incorrect/etc...and simply correcting it/working on it will resolve the issue.

I am a bit puzzled as to why most respondents are just resigned to the idea that Joe is gonna inevitably bite-mark his 'pieces, is all...therefore the patch is the automatic way to go (?) Joe stated that he is not yet willing to resign himself to that fact that it's just his natural propensity and it's OK.

Joe, have you taken any private lessons ?
Oh, also, Yama 4C sure. The default beginner 'piece....

A couple of other inexpensive alternatives which, IMHO, actually make the horn sound a little better (rounder, wider, fiuller) and are as user-friendly:

Brilhart Ebolin 3 (a contemporary one)

Bari Esprit
Im sure he is biting if it happend this fast. My point is a large percentage of players will have beak marks...not craters over time. No from biting but even from friction over time. I see very few clean beaks from players who dont use a patch. I suggest its a way to tske care of your things.

No one with a technically proper embroschure eats a beak in a few months.
I think anyone contemplating the sax should seek out a tutor. They can put a beginner right on good practice, including biting, and get them to understand some of the fundamentals it may take ages to discover on their own. Once a fortnight was fine for me.

I preferred the Bari Esprit to Yam 4C which is why I still have an Esprit in my drawer.
It's like golf. You can play without ever taking lessons, but you run the risk of developing a rather flawed swing and find yourself stuck with slow progress if any.

A solid foundation is best.
John Constable said that a self-taught artist was someone who hadn't had a very good teacher! It's a good idea to benefit from someone else's experience when you're starting out, can save a lot of time.
Pressing down with the top teeth on the top of the mouthpiece is not necessarily "biting". It is the lower teeth and jaw pushing up that "bites" into the lower lip and closes the reed off. With a new player, I am more concerned about teeth "tracks" than bite marks. The tracks indicate that the mouthpiece is not inserted into the mouth the same distance each time which causes an inconsistency in tone production. A thick mouthpiece patch is a good solution to this problem.

Players with sharp top teeth like myself after a period of time on a new mouthpiece will create teeth marks unless a patch us used. All of my well used mouthpieces are like this, and I am not a "biter" as my tone quality demonstrates. I have come to prefer this over the years since I put the mouthpiece into my mouth and my top teeth "lock in" to their grooves and I have a solid, consistent feel.

One way to check if the embouchure is too tight ie biting is to play low A and with the free hand flick the neck key open momentarily, If the tone jumps to high A and stays for a bit before dropping down, the embouchure is too tight. If it goes to a high A that is flat and flabby sounding, the embouchure is too relaxed. If it goes to a nice sounding high A very briefly and drops back down, the embouchure is correct.

Playing the mouthpiece alone is another way to check. If the note that sounds is higher than an A, the embouchure is too tight. Another test is to play the mouthpiece and neck together which I call "the tone producer". That pitch should be an Ab concert.
Once had a student and after a couple of lessons his mum rang me up and told me he was getting headaches from practicing.
At the next lesson I noticed he was pulling his sling up too tight and as a result the mouthpiece was pushing up against his top teeth.
He wasn't biting but if he'd carried on he would probably have cut a groove in his mouthpiece.
The top teeth should just rest on the mouthpiece, ( ideally neck and head should be vertical for an optimum airflow ) the lips need to seal and the muscles in the bottom lip need to be trained to control the reed.
I often read that teachers use the term strength with regards to embouchure development. To my mind a false concept.
We are not born to play the saxophone or any other reed or wind instrument we simply have to develop our ability to control them.
I have two very sharp "rabbit" front teeth and have mouthpieces that I've played for years with no sign of "groovieness".
The saxophone embouchure should be considered as an interface, a polite handshake between player and instrument.
Sax playing is not weight lifting.
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