Mouthpiece Mods (continued from old BR post)


Rojales, Spain
I've collected this up from the old BR forum because I've now more or less finished tinkering with the Yam 6C and am getting the sound I originally wanted out of it. I've also re-done the pics, as follows, because the original ones were very out of focus!

6C and stock mp tops:

6C and stock mp modified tables:

Overall the 6C is now a couple of millimetres shorter than it was before I started and I also had to re-do the reed table and associated opening. Re-facing the table turned out easier to do than I thought, using one of those pro manicure double-sided 2cm wide emery boards and holding the mp at an angle to fix the gap. Finally a couple of minutes of furious Duroglit rubbing polished all the external parts up nicely.

Although the Yam has become a little quieter than the stock mp, what I'm getting out of it is now exactly what I was after, i.e. a 'breathy' and more jazzy sound. I'm fairly sure the lengthened slot is responsible but the 'science' is lost on me! I'm concious of using a different embouchure with it but I can't yet nail down exactly how its different. I feel 'more in control' of the notes coming out, even to the extent that bending notes is starting to look like something I'll now get the hang of being able to do!

That's it then. Clearly hacking at mps (especially expensive ones!) isn't something I'd recommend without some considerable forethought. Its pretty impossible to put back material if too much is removed at the start! Experimenting with a cheap old mp first is the way to go, should anyone else be tempted by this.

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Original post "Mouthpiece Mods" Posted on 03/03/09 7:41:35 PM

OK ... I knew this would happen! During Roger's visit here on Sunday he kindly allowed me to try his JJDV#6 on my cheapo alto. Amazingly easy to blow it and that 'breathy' sound I'd always wanted started to happen at last. The obvious difference between my mps and Roger's (apart from cost!) was the size of the slot in the reed table, extending back rather further than the slot in my stock mp and the later purchased Yam 6C. Roger told me the slot extention had an effect on the reed's ability to vibrate more freely. Made sense although I'd not given it much thought before, particularly regarding the effect that would have on 'tone'.

Anyway ... I decided to mod my stock mp (the one that came with the sax) by extending the slot back towards the shoulder by a couple of centimetres for a width of 7mm. It was easy to do with a combination of Stanley knife, small round file, etc. Finally I polished the whole thing up with Duroglit then furniture polish so you'd never know I'd been there.

Moment of truth time ... did it it make any difference? ... oh yes! Some of my opinions here could be deemed highly subjective but I seemed to be getting all the notes I intended without the usual false starts (!) also the sound itself was different ... more like what I'd call 'jazzy' ... more 'punch', more 'breathy', and more controllable generally.

So ... I decided to do the same to my Yam 6C. I'd always had more trouble getting a decent blow out of that although, externally, it looked almost identical to my anonymous stock mp. Even the tip opening seemed to be the same. With the 6C the first thing I did was drill a very small pilot hole 17mm from the shoulder in the centre of the reed table. Next, with a 10mm hand-held wood boring drill, with its spike in the pilot hole, I reamed out a larger 1cm hole. Then, with a hacksaw blade, I carefully cut from the outer edges of this new hole back to the original mp aperture on both sides, finally smoothing everything off with a Dremel, wire wool, Duroglit and a final furniture polish.

I might say here that carving into the 6C wasn't quite as straightforward as with the the pretty soft plastic of the stock piece. The 6C is made of much harder material and any odd scratches take rather longer to smooth out!

The 6C also now plays completely differently ... better tone, more 'breathy', more controllable, and so on. Once I'd put it back on the sax I didn't put it down for a couple of hours of doing stuff with backing tracks (normally my practise sessions only go for around 45 minutes max!).

Anyway, I thought the foregoing might be of interest here. Below are some pics of the finished job although my digital camera seems unable to do focussed closeups! The 'armour plate' (1mm alloy) I'd earlier attached to the top of each mp is still there, to stop me chewing through the things, although I don't seem to bite so hard these days!

nb. pics re-done ... see preamble!

I think my next project will be to try to make myself a wooden mp, spoken highly of around the Internet (Google). I'm better at handling wood than plastic and being here in Spain have ready supply of Orange, Olive, Nispero, Cherry, etc. We'll see!!!


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rogerb then replied:

Posted on 03/03/09 9:10:40 PM


Reply Re: Mouthpiece Mods OMG, what have I let loose?

Interesting experiments, though.

And nice pics of the orange trees, Mike

(Most digicams have a close-up setting somewhere....mine has a tulip symbol!)


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