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Beginner Sax Mouthpiece Question

Newb56

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A little history first. I've always wanted to learn how to play the sax since grade school, but it scared the crap out of me. I took up the trumpet instead, not realizing that I had to learn all the notes using three keys, I was in the second grade. Played through H. S. Fast forward, I'm now 64. My grandson is 11 and guess what, he's taking sax lessons. Now this is my last chance at the sax and a great way to bond with him. So I bought a Yamaha YAS 21 alto, it's a nice piece too! I actually was able to blow a couple of notes too. Now here's my question, (at last), even though it came with a mouthpiece it's used. I'd like to know is there a mouthpiece that is equivalent to the 4c that is either hard rubber or metal that's decent and will last?
 

Newb56

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I'm sure it is. Like I said, even though I never played before I'm able to play a few notes. My thing is that the mouthpiece is used and I wanted something new to start off with, so I figured since I was going to buy a mouthpiece anyway does it pay to buy a stock mouthpiece or upgrade to a comparable one to the 4c.
 
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nigeld

I don't need another mouthpiece; but . . .
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You have chosen a good saxophone that will not limit your progress.

The Yamaha 4C is usually reckoned to be a good starter mouthpiece. So if you want a new mouthpiece instead of a used one, another 4C would be an obvious choice.

Another excellent cheap plastic mouthpiece is the Bari Esprit. Personally I would rather play one of these than the Yamaha. Don't get hung up on plastic vs rubber vs metal, it's the internal geometry that determines the sound.

Once you get beyond that, everyone has their favourite, and everyone's favourite is different. It also depends what sort of music you want to play (classical, jazz, rock and roll, wind band, . . .)

You will find that some mouthpieces suit you and your saxophone and some don't. The only way to find the right mouthpiece for you is to try some, which is a bit tricky at the moment. Your best bet would probably be to stick with a 4C for a few months until it is easier to try out mouthpieces in a shop and you have more experience.

But if you are determined to have a hard rubber mouthpiece then here are some standard hard rubber mouthpieces that you could consider:
Selmer S80 C* - a favourite of classical players. I started on one of these and was very happy with it.
Rousseau NC4 - I prefer this to the S80.
D'Addario Select Jazz - probably about a 5 tip opening. A bit more jazzy.

If I had to recommend one of these for a beginner, it would be the Rousseau NC4.
 
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Newb56

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Thanks, I thought the hard rubber would be more comfortable, I know that I'm not going pro or anything, just want to have some fun with my grandson. That said, I would like one I can grow into so I don't start going nuts later trying this or that. Something that will work blowing the blues. I'm a quick study, the last thing I want to do is pass my grandson, I have to be real careful about that.
 
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nigeld

I don't need another mouthpiece; but . . .
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I don't think there is any noticeable difference in comfort between hard rubber and plastic. Some metal mouthpieces have a smaller diameter, which you may find more, or less, comfortable. But I recommend using a mouthpiece patch for comfort - it means that your teeth don't get rattled when you play!

When buying a second-hand saxophone, it is very worth while getting it checked over and given some TLC by a good repair person. Saxophones are surprisingly delicate, and develop leaks easily, which can make the instrument much harder to play.

I'm a quick study, the last thing I want to do is pass my grandson, I have to be real careful about that.
Then get the worst mouthpiece you can find! (only kidding)
 
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Colin the Bear

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The mouthpiece is the interface between your physiognomy and the instrument.
Your embouchure will take some time to develop and will be unique to you.
Your embouchure will be in constant change until it matures and stabilises where it will.
When this happens is the time to experiment with reeds and mouthpieces to see which suits your unique physiognomy.
Till this time you need a training mouthpiece from a manufacturer with a reputation for consistent standards of production.
The yamaha is considered by many teachers to be ideal. The 4 refers to the tip opening. The C refers to the chamber size. The internal space of the mouthpiece.
3C 4C or 5C seem to suit most beginners.
The Bari Esprit II comes in one size and from personal experience is a very consistent and playable mouthpiece. Cheaper too.
Don't be misled into thinking better gear better player or bigger tip better player. Practice is the only thing that will improve your tone.
Suitable inexpensive gear is better than expensive unsuitable gear.
 
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jbtsax

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Three of the highly recommended "student" alto sax mouthpieces are:
  • Hite Premier $28.00
  • Fobes Debut $40.00
  • Yamaha 4C $30.00
Any one of these is an excellent choice. Once the embouchure is developed and tone production skills are starting to be mastered, then is the time to look to an upgrade with a bit wider tip opening and thinner rails for better response. The intermediate choices in hard rubber mouthpieces start at about $100 and go up from there.
 
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Newb56

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The mouthpiece is the interface between your physiognomy and the instrument.
Your embouchure will take some time to develop and will be unique to you.
Your embouchure will be in constant change until it matures and stabilises where it will.
When this happens is the time to experiment with reeds and mouthpieces to see which suits your unique physiognomy.
Till this time you need a training mouthpiece from a manufacturer with a reputation for consistent standards of production.
The yamaha is considered by many teachers to be ideal. The 4 refers to the tip opening. The C refers to the chamber size. The internal space of the mouthpiece.
3C 4C or 5C seem to suit most beginners.
The Bari Esprit II comes in one size and from personal experience is a very consistent and playable mouthpiece. Cheaper too.
Don't be misled into thinking better gear better player or bigger tip better player. Practice is the only thing that will improve your tone.
Suitable inexpensive gear is better than expensive unsuitable gear.
That's why I was looking for something comparable to the C4 I know eventually when I get to where I want to be, I'll be looking for something special, but for now I wanted to know what the best and most comfortable beginner mouthpiece you guy's would recommend.
 
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Phil

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The one you have. A 4c

wash it in alcohol
Its new enough. Save money for lessons and reeds.
Dont think about mouthpieces for a good year.

bottom line...playing is going to be uncomfortable for a while. What reed and strength are you using!
 
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Wonko

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<SNIP>My thing is that the mouthpiece is used and I wanted something new to start off with, so I figured since I was going to buy a mouthpiece anyway does it pay to buy a stock mouthpiece or upgrade to a comparable one to the 4c.
What is it that is bothering you about a used mouthpiece?
It's common practice in "the saxophone world" to buy and use second hand mouthpieces. Some even pay top dollar for very old mouthpieces ......
As Phil (who makes mouthpieces) said, just clean it, perhaps disinfect it to be sure, and use the one you have. Unless it is really in a bad state (table, rails and tip should be undamaged)
 
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Newb56

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The one you have. A 4c

wash it in alcohol
Its new enough. Save money for lessons and reeds.
Dont think about mouthpieces for a good year.

bottom line...playing is going to be uncomfortable for a while. What reed and strength are you using!
2.5 not sure of the make.
 
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BigT

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I am also very new to the Alto Sax. I have a Yam 4C and started with a Rico #2 Reed cos that’s what was in the case. I found the inconsistency of the Reed really off putting so having read through all of Petes advice to beginners I decided to go for a synthetic Reed. Wow what a difference. Easy to install, robust and easy to care for. Now, I am a rank beginner so expect to get shot down in flames, what do I know about the aesthetics etc, but for me it was about removing a variable. The only issue I have is the Reed seems a bit sharp on the edges and it’s not possible to get that “suck a vacuum and pop off the hand” trick.
 
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Dr G

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I am also very new to the Alto Sax. I have a Yam 4C and started with a Rico #2 Reed cos that’s what was in the case. I found the inconsistency of the Reed really off putting so having read through all of Petes advice to beginners I decided to go for a synthetic Reed. Wow what a difference. Easy to install, robust and easy to care for. Now, I am a rank beginner so expect to get shot down in flames, what do I know about the aesthetics etc, but for me it was about removing a variable. The only issue I have is the Reed seems a bit sharp on the edges and it’s not possible to get that “suck a vacuum and pop off the hand” trick.
You likely had a bad reed, or one of the wrong strength. If the synth reed works for you, that’s great - keep in mind to try some cane reeds later in your progress to see if you hear/experience a difference.

You can break the edges of the synth reed with an oh-so-light touch of some emery cloth.

The suck test is neither definitive, nor consistent. Some people adopt it as part of their ritual, others (me included) do not. I listen to the horn to determine if it sounds good, and will know from first blow whether a reed is especially resistant and needs adjustment. The suck test only tells you that the combo sucks.
 
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Dr G

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Indeed.
I've adopted the "blow test" to see if air is leaking out the sides of the reed.
For reasons I've yet to fathom, my reeds spring a leak on the sides quite often...

Do you ever flatten your reeds? As part of my reed break-in ritual, I polish the flat side by rubbing the reed on a piece of copy paper (equivalent to ~1600 grit). If I see a spot that doesn’t get a polish, I flatten the reed on sandpaper, then polish again.

There is also the possibility of warping. I avoid that by using a reed guard/case. If you leave your reed on the mouthpiece, the probability of warping increases.
 
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