support Tutorials CDs PPT mouthpieces

Mouthpiece specific note problems.


Well-Known Member
Hastings, East Sussex
Hi all, I wonder i anyone can help me. I seem to an issue with my high f#. I'm using a Mauriat 66r, which has just been serviced and is in excellent playing condition. Like most players, I've tried various mouthpieces, in the quest for the perfect set-up. I've tried lots, from a £20 Rico metallite ( amazing value!) to a £450 Jody Jazz. Most have plus points and minus points. The piece I like the sound of best is an 80's 7* metal NY link, to which I have a BG revelation lig and RJS 2H reeds. However, if I try and tongue a high F#, with either fingering, 9 times out of 10, it won't speak. With the Rico, it'll nearly always speak, at any volume. If I slur up from F or E, or any other note, there is no problem. It is hard to see how one note could be a mouthpiece related problem, but it seems that way. I've tried lots of exercises, such as blowing the note, and gently introducing the tongue, but I daren't go for the note on a gig, because it won't speak. The issue is probably now a head issue, as much as a technical issue, but if anyone has any suggestions, I'd be grateful,
77 views and no comments? You're disappointing me, guys!
That is a challenging question. If you can sustain the note once you get it to speak and you can slur into it from adjoining notes, it suggests to me that it is the shape or position of the tongue while trying to articulate the note that is creating the problem

You might practice starting the note with just a "breath attack". At first hold the note as a long tone, and then gradually for shorter intervals until you are "air tonguing" quarter notes. When you can get the note to respond every time using this technique concentrate on the shape and placement of the tongue and what you are doing with the airstream. Keeping these things in mind, introduce the tongue touching and pulling away from the tip of the reed and try to return to the placement that worked best while starting the note with the air. Good luck. Hope this helps.

The expression used by brass players who have a similar problem coming in on high notes is, "You have to learn the taste of the note before you can play it."
I've noticed that High notes allways come better out of High Baffled pieces (Rico Metalite) and the Otto Links are definitely not. But I had the same problem with an Otto Link Tone Edge on Alto, and one simple advice on another forum told me:

put the mouthpiece further in your mouth.. it took a bit getting used too but it worked. I dont think its a mpc problem, maybe you'll have to get more used to the mpc..

Good Luck!
I wouldn't have thought that problems at the top were caused by the instrument itself and a recent service would seem to indicate that the problem is elsewhere.

Some mouthpieces won't play certain notes with certain reeds in my experience. Sometimes I lose the bottom and sometimes the top. Got a similar problem with high F on the Baritone. Fine with the metalite, used to be fine with the Selmer S80 with a 3.5 Vandoren blue. Needs a clipped 4 now. Perhaps a different reed might suit. Usualy I find trouble at the top indicates a stronger reed. Trouble at the bottom indicates a softer. Try a different make and strength. Changing the cut may help. American to French or visa versa.

If that doesn't help then maybe that particular mouthpiece needs a completely different mouth tongue position.

I recently aquired a vintage lelandais mouthpiece. It has a lovely tone but to get the best out of the very bottom I've had to start puffing cheeks out and almost yawning. Never had to do this before but , whatever it takes.

Experimenting with reeds may educate your embouchure out of this problem.

Annoying when it happens though innit?
Thanks for your replies. Yes, it is annoying and frustrating! I think that because I'm almost expecting the problem, I'm actually exacerbating it (i.e it is in my head now!). I've tried taking in more mouthpiece, but where there are some benefits, I find my ability to tongue suffers because I can't contort my tongue sufficiently to touch the tip of the reed. How do you play no. 4 reeds? It must be like blowing a plank!! I'll keep at it and try the things suggested. I don't want to have to switch pieces to play different styles of music, and I do love the sound of the old link on the 66R, kind of warm and full, with a bit of character.
Thanks all!
What about high F?

It might me a venting issue on the high F#. Try reducing its opening.
Also try alternative fingerings not involving the F# key. (Fxxo|xoo -side Bb)
Last edited by a moderator:
Check out if the Link has a bad facing (common on most of Links).
Try another ligature...
You should try a slight harder reed... try a 3 Soft or a 3 Medium.

Verify if your embouchure is correct and you correctly support the sound.

If nothing solved... check out the instrument... check if it has some leaks in the neck tenon.

I use a mouthpiece born as "STM NY" and then heavily modified (the rails has been "trimmed", the window enlongated, the chamber opened, the floor slope reshaped, the facing improved)... it speaks easy from bottom to top.

When I read about problems with STM... we have to take on mind that Links are bad faced and but good Links has always some blowing resistance.
Last edited by a moderator:
Another few thoughts on things to consider. Try moving the reed on the mouthpiece, a little (0.25mm) further back or forward. Different mouthpieces have different sweet spots. Same with the ligature, try different places on the reed.

Another thing that has occured to me is the position of the mouthpiece on the neck. If you've tuned a little flat, you may be correcting it with your embouchure lower down but are reaching the vanishing point up top. Trying to push the reed past its comfort zone and killing it. Try pushing in a little.

A 4 on baritone is very easy blowing. I seem to go up in strength with the size of the sax. 1.5 on sop, 2 on alto, 2.5/ 3 on tenor and 3.5/4 on bari. Probably need a 10 bass.
I was just going to say what Colin said: You could try to move the ligature away from the mpc tip to make reed appear slightly harder or slightly toward the tip to make it slightly softer.

Similar threads

Popular tags

You are using an out of date browser. It may not display this or other websites correctly.
You should upgrade or use an alternative browser.


Top Bottom