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M/Pieces - Ligs Mouthpiece resistance - how to measure it?

Dr G

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Ok, here’s a shot and I hope I don’t break the internet again. The point was that we all think of the tip we play as a guide to what we look for if we venture into the swamps where new mouthpieces live. If I go into a shop one of the first questions will be what tip opening do you play? So I’m an 8* man because that’s approximately the tip opening I usually play and will judge others against. There are a couple of problems with this, one being, as suggested, that the tip opening is only the beginning, an 8* with a long lay can easily play like a 7* and what that does to the sound is somebody else’s guess ‘cos I don’t know, another is that most of the places I go, on these rare occasions, rarely have a choice of tip openings so I can’t compare to see if it makes a difference and usually come home with nothing, or worse, I come home with something that is useless to me. Descriptions by the makers sometimes give this kind of data but it’s still all subjective in the end. The only way to have any idea is to blow the things, and they don’t have a decent range to choose from. A third problem is that after an hour or so of torturing myself I can’t make a sensible decision, and fourthly the try out rooms are usually terrible and don’t sound like anywhere else I might play.

Sorry this goes off the point a bit.
Spot on, Jimmymack. So what do you need to make a better choice of your next mouthpiece? Will another number help? Resistance = 1-100?

FWIW, I start with a sound concept, then dial it in with desired level of articulation, balanced by efficiency and response.

Hmmm, none of those have direct correlation to tip opening, baffle, and chamber size…. Or do they?

Over the years I have played, listened, and learned, then had conversations with mouthpiece makers to converge on what works for me. Once sufficiently close, I stop changing mouthpieces and commit to getting everything possible from the one mouthpiece I play. Expensive? Not really, because I own very few mouthpieces - and play only one.

What are you playing? Why do you need something different? If there is something missing, is it due to the mouthpiece or other?

Enjoy the path.
 

Pete Thomas

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Ok, here’s a shot and I hope I don’t break the internet again. The point was that we all think of the tip we play as a guide to what we look for if we venture into the swamps where new mouthpieces live. If I go into a shop one of the first questions will be what tip opening do you play? So I’m an 8* man because that’s approximately the tip opening I usually play and will judge others against.
Yes, I think notwithsatanding my premise for this thread, I doubt things would ever change - tip opening is the easiest way to measure.

I suppose it's the same with show sizes, people thonk in general sizes, 6, 7, 8 etc. without initially thinking about the width.

That reminds me, i need a new pair of shoes, 8*
 

Jimmymack

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That wasn’t about me needing another mouthpiece, I don’t need or want one unless I damage what I have. I have an RPC that can’t be replaced of course so I sometimes consider others for just in case. It took me quite a while to get the two of us working together properly, in fact when I first got I didn’t like it and now it’s all I play. An hour in the try out room or a week’s trial doesn’t seem enough, especially given the cost, unfortunately there isn’t anywhere that will give me a 3 month trial period. I’m sure there are candidates out there but I can’t get up the enthusiasm to go looking, if I end up in a store with my saxophone I’ll maybe give them a try.
 

Jimmymack

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Yes, I think notwithsatanding my premise for this thread, I doubt things would ever change - tip opening is the easiest way to measure.

I suppose it's the same with show sizes, people thonk in general sizes, 6, 7, 8 etc. without initially thinking about the width.

That reminds me, i need a new pair of shoes, 8*
I’ve got a pair of size 7s, never worn, lovely they are, made by Barkers. I also have them in an 8 but I sometimes wear them.
 

Dr G

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I’ve got a pair of size 7s, never worn, lovely they are, made by Barkers. I also have them in an 8 but I sometimes wear them.

This is a number that I can relate to. That'd be waaaaay too much resistance for my feet. Size 12, please.
 

Pete Thomas

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Don't get me started on socks. They are just as important as shoes. Ane even more important than mouthpieces.
  • The right size.
  • The right thickness so your old git corns, bunions and bursars are comfy
  • The right material to wick out any potentail sweat and stinkyness
  • Not too tight at the gusset.
Blimey, mouthpieces are easy compared to socks.
 
Last edited:

jonf

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It occurred to me, people talk about more or less resistance due to tip opening and reed strength, but is there any scientific way to measure this?

Many people think there is a simple correlation between tip opening and/or reed strength and resistance.

Nononononono!

Well, only to a certain extent there can be a correlation, but this ignores other factors just as significant such as facing curve or chamber dimensions (not sure if quite as significant as tip or facing curve?)

This is understandable because people can grasp the concept of a top opening or a reed strength, but a facing curve is not so easy. And it can make all the difference, so for example a 8* on a PPT (see what I did there?) might correspond in resistance to a 7* on a Link. Between mouthpieces of the same brand and model it does make more sense, but not when speaking more generally.

Hence I'm wondering if it is possible for a super-clever resistance measuring device to be invented (or re-invented if it already exists)
No

:D
 

jbtsax

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What would be the definition of "resistance" in terms of what the player feels when blowing the instrument?
 

mizmar

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Well, this thread has answered your question.
There's lots of resistance to the idea that a physical phenomenon can be measured... Now, where's the weighted neck screw...
 

jbtsax

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I think that would be resistance
Obviously. ;) My (serious) question was directed at what other aspects would that involve. Does it simply mean it takes more air pressure (push from the player) to make the reed respond? Is the term "free blowing" the opposite of "resistance". I have found set-ups that lack a "quick response" but would that come under the definition of "resistance"? Some set-ups I have played on are more "taxing" on the embouchure than others. They don't necessarily require more air pressure, but more exertion from the embouchure muscles which has to do with the ease of playing. Does that come under the definition of "resistance". What about wide tip openings that require a lot of air, but aren't necessarily harder to blow?

Brass players talk about "back pressure" produced by different tapers of lead pipes and bore diameters. This obviously has more to do with the instrument itself rather than a mouthpiece. Benade writes about woodwinds that have poor "harmonicity" requiring more energy input from the player to produce the same volume and tone as an instrument with good "harmonicity". For those not familiar with the term, it means how close the harmonics are to whole number multiples of the frequency of the fundamental.
 

turf3

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Well, one of the early steps would be to measure what you can measure, and see if there's any correlation between the measured quantity and the player's perception.

So for example, you could measure air pressure inside the mouth. Does that correlate with a perception of "more resistant"? You could measure response time to the starting of a note (I'm not sure how, but I bet we can figure it out). You can introduce certain tiny leaks. You can introduce "inharmonicities" to the bore.

Of course since there's no money in any of this, the chance you're going to get qualified researchers with the necessary equipment to study it is pretty small. Heck we can't even get to a double blind test of heavy mass neck screws, something that doesn't require any equipment more sophisticated than a bunch of clipboards, a blindfold, and Excel. Why? No money in it.
 

Jimmymack

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I suspect that the sense of resistance is different for everybody. I remember playing a Link years ago that definitely was resistant, you had to blow through it to get the sound you wanted, and I liked what I got but it took effort, this was years ago and it may be since then I've become a better player or maybe I've just chosen mpcs that aren't so resistant. I've no idea, it could also be that the mouthpiece I now have is resistant but I am so comfortable with it that I don't notice. The idea of resistance is so widespread throughout the wind playing community that we all talk about it but it means something different to everybody.
 

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