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M/Pieces - Ligs Not worth trying different mouthpieces?

randulo

Playing saxophone 20 months - 2.3% of my life
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I realize Mr. Barone may not see this, but there's a predictable mouthpiece discussion begun by him at "the other place", where he basically says mouthpieces make almost no difference and are not worth chasing. That's my distillation, it's a very long post.
 

Wonko

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I realize Mr. Barone may not see this, but there's a predictable mouthpiece discussion begun by him at "the other place", where he basically says mouthpieces make almost no difference and are not worth chasing. That's my distillation, it's a very long post.
Not quite how I remember it. But it is a very long post, maybe I read other things in it than you did....
What I remember from that post is that some people have a habit of chasing the ideal mouthpiece to achieve a certain sound and expect the mouthpiece to work wonders. He says that you should put in the work to get the sound you want, not buy one mouthpiece after another in search of the ideal piece. That is especially true for everybody that hasn't reached a rather high level of mastery of the instrument. Coltrane only started trying different mouthpieces once he was extremely skilled.
And he gives examples of famous players that had only a couple of mouthpieces in the whole of their career.
 
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randulo

randulo

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Are we talking about "An Important Message From Mouthpiece Maker Phil Barone"?
At first I thought it was old, but it was four days ago?
Yes, he does say all that and by predictable I meant the reactions, some agreed some disagreed strongly. I particularly liked this:

"what is actually a minuscule difference in sound between two pieces of gear that’s cancelled out, eclipsed or transcended by a different reed, a different room or mic that they miss the significance of the music itself."

We've had many of these discussions and the other @Phil has probably chimed in and possibly agrees that chasing the unicorn mouthpiece isn't worth it.
 

saxyjt

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Wow, I get why this thread's been moved but it caught me off guard! :w00t:

Maybe best to leave a kind of trace or pointer to the moved elements... Rewriting history is weird!

Anyways, being one famous (or not) for having quite a collection of mouthpieces, I will just argue that Phil's account of great players not changing mouthpieces often refers to their careers as professionals. It says nothing about how they found their 'goto' mouthpiece.

When you start as many of us did on a typically classical mouthpiece, with a classically trained/focussed teacher, playing jazz or other less 'restricted' music styles lead you to look for a different mouthpiece.

You should have seen the looks of my teacher when I played a Meyer G once, on purpose. She was deeply shocked! So I guess I didn't sound the same on it...

Of course, trying many mouthpieces can be a diversion and a huge waste of time. As is trying to play all four sax variants as early as I did.

I've been greedy, curious and it certainly costed me dearly, both on time and money. We all have our ways of learning. I'm not as spread as I used to in terms of mouthpieces. But curiosity can distract me on occasion and I know it's not helping.

One thing I noticed as I also took some interest in clarinet, is that clarinet mouthpieces offering tend to be very limited compared to sax... Is there no way to influence the sound on clarinet with the mouthpiece?
 

scotsman

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I was watching a very well known UK tenor player 3 years ago and asked him about his mouthpiece. He was most enthusiastic about it and told me that it opened the sound and was amazingly controllable..I later bought a similar mouthpiece after trying it on my Conn... WOW!! He was correct!! It played effortlessly.. Altissimo was a breeze!! I tried it on a Mk6 Tenor.. Even better! Later I bought an alto version which was perfectly suited to my personal physiology .. Amazing on both Conn and Selmers.. Three months later I saw the same chap selling his mouthpiece on Ebay..As my partner said (with a chuckle) at the time "The endless search for the perfect mouthpiece" Now, as a professional sax player she should know.. However, the mouthpiece which suits me and my horns is a Theo Wanne Mantra but of course that's just me!!!!!
 
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jonf

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While it is perfectly true that endlessly chasing 'the perfect mouthpiece' is a fool's errand, mouthpieces do make a big difference to sound. I certainly sound very different playing my Lawton 7 plain compared to my heavily modified big baffle Otto Link 10.

I've had loads of mouthpieces over the years, particulalry for tenor, although for the last couple I haven't bought one. I've pretty much settled on a D'Adddario 9 on tenor. I don't necesssarily think it's the perfect piece for me, I just like the noise it makes. In fact I'm off to make some noise on it right now.
 

jbtsax

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I have told this story before, but it is on point in this thread. (And I am becoming an "old fart" who repeats himself a lot.) :)

Back when I was still teaching high school band I attended a master class given by trombonist Bill Waltrous at a local university. As generally happens the trombone students in the group were exited to know what trombone and mouthpiece he plays on. He cut the questioning short and told a story. He said for many years he went from one new mouthpiece to another and discovered after two weeks he always sounded like the way he did before making the change. Then he realized that in order to change the way he sounds he had to first change his "concept". Hearing that ended my search for "the holy grail of mouthpieces" on the spot. From then on I realized that the mouthpiece didn't create the sound, I did. What the mouthpiece can do is to facilitate producing that concept of sound without me having to work as hard. This video of Don Menza from the Cannonball website that many of you may have already seen is a perfect example of the difference a "concept" can make even with the same equipment.

 

Colin the Bear

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We all have an idea in our head about how we should or would like to sound. Whether this is possible with any mouthpiece is debatable.

A players physiognomy is not changeable. You get what you're given. Once your embouchure has developed, that's your embouchure imo.

Having said that, if a new or previously untried mouthpiece facilitates a little more of you into the mix or the same amount of you with a little less effort or input then that's a reason to change.

As for classical or jazz mouthpieces. I don't see a distinction myself. What we need from both is fast articulation and accurate, easy intonation. The rest is how you play what you play imo.

The condensed wisdom seems to be. You can't buy your sound, you have to earn it.

Chopping and changing will confuse your embouchure imo. So much of playing is automatic or even subliminal for me. Having to think about anything is a distraction. I don't need to be having to remember which piece from a collection I put on and how does it behave and where.

Music is about the music not the gear.
 

ellinas

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I choose my mouthpiece based on those criteria :
a) a good match with my horn. A mouthpiece can really make the change with intonation on vintage horns,
B) a mouthpiece that feels nice ... doesn’t make it difficult to do what I want to do ....
c) is in excellent condition and not too expensive.

But that’s me ...it’s mostly what I do with any instrument. If it’s well made ... it feels right and makes me wanna play ....it’s for me.
 

s.mundi

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His post is too long and resembles a medical dissertation.
I have several big-name mouthpieces with smaller chambers and high baffles that I hate.
I became a tailor because I want all of my slacks and dress shirts to have an identical fit.
Stick with the mouthpiece/reed combination that fits your needs and put in the work.
Then, have a glass of wine.
 

Phil

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Switching piece all the time is counterproductive, especially to really early player...same with horns. However, I know a LOT of pro players who switch pieces...some quite frequently, some now and then.

Simply because someone makes mouthpieces (and this includes myself) does not make our opinions the end all be all. Like everyone else, we have opinions which one can take or leave.
 
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randulo

randulo

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I have told this story before, but it is on point in this thread. (And I am becoming an "old fart" who repeats himself a lot.) :)
Welcome to the fastest growing club!
He said for many years he went from one new mouthpiece to another and discovered after two weeks he always sounded like the way he did before making the change. Then he realized that in order to change the way he sounds he had to first change his "concept".
And this is pretty much what Phil B is saying, the way I understood it.
I have several mouthpieces, but each one has a different tip opening. My first mouthpiece still plays, but I will now tend to blow too hard for it. Some of them tend to get better overtones than others, but as PB said, it's also a matter of reed and specific to beginners, the lack of perfect stability in the embouchure. I still have to mentally yell "open throat!" in the upper register, and this because it's still not a reflex.

In short, exploring different types/parameters and chasing perfection via brand names or cult products are two very different things.
 

Pete Effamy

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examples of famous players that had only a couple of mouthpieces in the whole of their career.
Yes agreed about having to put in the work yourself, but some mouthpieces can offer a gain, however slight, and a gain is a gain. One example would be the differences between the same mouthpieces. Some brands play very differently. And the quote about some players only using one or two mouthpieces in their whole career - maybe they liked what came out from the beginning, and perhaps never had to change their style/delivery. The best players only ever have to turn up and be themselves after all. Sanborn won't be asked to dep in a Miller band - and if he did, I'm sure he wouldn't take his Dukoff.
 

Phil

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The gain from a so-so mpc to a good one is more than minimal. The difference between to well designed and well made pieces depends on what the player is after and what he can do with either tool.
 
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randulo

randulo

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Actually, I only posted this because of the discussion elsewhere. I didn't mean to restart this endless, infinite discussion here. To me, there is truth in all of the opinions. It's a little like diet. People don't realize that that metabolisms are different, foods have different effects on bodies. Mouthpieces also affect people differently. I can totally believe that great players, once they find their sound, mostly do not seek new pieces. On the other hand, some people aren't as stable in their own playing, and find huge differences. I find enormous differences between morning and afternoon playing. I think I need psychiatric sax lessons.
 

Jazzaferri

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I have a very large selection of chisels for my woodworking. I have a few cheap low quality steel ones that will do a very basic job given enough brute force. I keep them all very sharp.

I have a number of very expensive ones that will slide through the hardest wood with ease and leave a finished surface.

Same with my mpces. I went through half a dozen tenor mpces and almost a dozen alto ones before I found the ones that I will stay with unless I change my sound concept.
 

saxyjt

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@Jazzaferri I love your analogy. It talks to me as I love working on wood with chisels. And I have a few scars to prove it! ;)

Now I am hoping that I've finally reached a stage where I can start to chisel my own sound. It feels like it's on its way, but it doesn't sound like it yet! :oops:
 
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