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Quiet Mouthpiece

Chris98

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A completely unscientific comparison, but I could only manage a 4dB difference between a Yamaha 4C and a D’Addario D7M with the same reed, as a general rule 3dB is about the threshold of people perceiving a volume difference, but that’s very frequency dependent.

The numbers suggest not a great difference in volume, but there is a huge difference in tone which made the Yamaha sound noticeably quieter.
 

CliveMA

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A completely unscientific comparison, but I could only manage a 4dB difference between a Yamaha 4C and a D’Addario D7M with the same reed, as a general rule 3dB is about the threshold of people perceiving a volume difference, but that’s very frequency dependent.

The numbers suggest not a great difference in volume, but there is a huge difference in tone which made the Yamaha sound noticeably quieter.
What tool could I use to measure DB (I can't quickly find a measure in Tonal Energy app)?
Is that on Tenor or Alto?
How relatively quiet do you achieve with a "random" third mouthpiece?
Any difference in how easily you can control each mouthpiece at their quietest level?

For me, my perception is my Tenor D6M is super-easy to play quiet. More controllable in expressive variation at the very lowest of sound levels than my Vandoren V16T6 or my Yamaha 4C.
 

Colin the Bear

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We know that. the question is which mouthpiece plays quietly well.

The one suited to your individual and unique physiognomy. What works for me may not work for you or anyone else for that matter. Practice is key. Four hours a day for a decade usually brings results. The right reed may be more important.
 

Chris98

Senior Member
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1,094
What tool could I use to measure DB (I can't quickly find a measure in Tonal Energy app)?

I used an App called "Decibel X" on my phone
Is that on Tenor or Alto?
How relatively quiet do you achieve with a "random" third mouthpiece?

It was on Tenor, and as horrific as this might sound, I don't have a third mouthpiece!
Any difference in how easily you can control each mouthpiece at their quietest level?
Given a bit of time, the Yamaha would be easily more controllable at a lower volume, and it requires so little air I could play I four minute piece on one breath! I think the tone would also be less irritating to others as for me it seemed to chop off some highs and some lows.

Regarding Sizzzzlers original post, I think there is a difference in tone between playing loud and quiet, as there is with any acoustic instrument, if you hit it hard it responds differently to when you hit it soft, same with the sax. So if the aim is to get a screaming rock and roll tone at a volume level where you can have your cat asleep in your lap, I don’t think any mouthpiece is going to achieve that. If on the other hand you just want to play but keep the noise level down then maybe the Yamaha isn’t a bad starting place, or one of the Vandoren Optimum mouthpieces and use a ‘brighter’ reed if it’s a bit too dull.

For me, my perception is my Tenor D6M is super-easy to play quiet. More controllable in expressive variation at the very lowest of sound levels than my Vandoren V16T6 or my Yamaha 4C.
 

jbtsax

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Control of playing at the softest dynamic levels which is more often required in classical playing can be achieved by practicing the following:
  • Playing a long slow diminuendo from f to silence
  • Playing a diminuendo from f to pp and holding the note as long as you can at that level
  • Starting a note at pp and playing a crescendo to ff
  • Starting a note at pp and holding the note as long as you can at that level
It is the speed and pressure of the air stream going through the mouthpiece tip opening that determines the tone and intensity. It is the volume of air that determines the loudness---not always the same as the intensity. It is commonly taught that playing softly with a good tone requires more pressurized air (breath support) than playing loudly [similar to a "stage whisper]. One of my teachers used to say "the softer the music, the harder you blow". This seemingly contradictory statement means that playing softly without good air pressure results in a "lifeless" tone quality.

I think the reason that so many school bands do not have good pitch or tone quality and the loudest and softest dynamic levels is that the students go home and practice everything at mf. I suspect many "adult" learners do the same since it requires less concentration and effort.
 

sizzzzler

Member
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231
Location
London
Thanks everyone.
I'm assuming we all agree that a fabric or leather ligature will help keeping the volume down.

Quiet Mouthpieces mentioned so far:

D'Addario Select Jazz
Vandoren Optimum (most classical pieces)
Zagar Cool School
Conn Steelay
PPT
Brilhart Level Air

What you can't find in the UK can be found here JunkDude Music
 

Colin the Bear

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Burnley bb9 9dn
A fabric ligature, used with the fabric on the stock of the reed will allow the stock to vibrate and power will be lost.

Playing quietly, for me, involves adapting the embouchure to have more lip on the vamp to control and dampen the vibration.

Perhaps the wardrobe method might be more appropriate here till the required skill level is attained.
 

nigeld

I don't need another mouthpiece; but . . .
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Quiet Mouthpieces mentioned so far:

D'Addario Select Jazz
Vandoren Optimum (most classical pieces)
Zagar Cool School
Conn Steelay
PPT
Brilhart Level Air

I'm not sure which size saxophone you have, but I wouldn't have thought that DAddario Select Jazz, PPT and Brilhart Level Air were specially quiet mouthpieces.
 

sizzzzler

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London
Nigeld. The list is a summary of those mouthpieces commentators have said they found play well quietly rather than an analytical study.

Colin, this thread is about mouthpieces.
 
Last edited:

Ivan

Undecided
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Peeblesshire
But some are built to be quieter...
Is that really true?
I'm assuming we all agree that a fabric or leather ligature will help keeping the volume down
Not convinced by that one either; so no we don't all agree

At risk of causing more friction, @sizzzzler, I would stick with whatever mouthpiece plays best for you, maybe try a softer reed, and learn to play quietly
 

Caz

Member
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283
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home
I can only make my guardala (=Meyer 10) play PP with a sub 2,5 reed and below. It’s all about your chops.
But if you want a “silent” mpc that compensates for lack of chops, go for low tip opening and a soft reed,
 

AlexAdams

New Member
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18
Location
Somerset
A cheap plastic Yamaha 'piece, one of their £30 things, may be what you're after. Naturally quite quiet anyway, that can be played quieter than the sound of your breath going through the instrument but without any intrusive sound of air or moisture.

Any 'piece can be played at whisper levels, however I think you'll find the ease of the Yamaha and the lack of extraneous noise may tip the balance towards this incredibly inexpensive option.

Yamaha list their standard mouthpieces (link below), 3C through 6C (£35ish), which have 0.1mm tip opening increments & custom mouthpieces, 3CM though 6CM (£100ish) each with a 0.1mm greater tip opening than the standard range respectively.

Yamaha & some other manufacturers supply 4C's with their instruments, question to all, would a 3C be the quietest?

 

eb424

Member
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990
Location
london
I play a pillinger bronzite 7* indoors. I can hit the highs and lows its quite dark but retains a sound i like... like others say I think its an art playing quietly but im only a beginner..
 

Dr G

Member
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220
Location
Northern California
Thanks everyone.
I'm assuming we all agree that a fabric or leather ligature will help keeping the volume down.
No. That is not consistent with my experience. They may, in some instances more than others, damp some frequencies, but they don’t make it any quieter.
Quiet Mouthpieces mentioned so far:

Brilhart Level Air
A vehement NO to that one. That was my mouthpiece in high school when I was competing for volume against shrieking trumpets. It was also a popular brand for college marching band.

Bottom line: If you want to keep the volume down, don’t blow as hard. Include dynamic control in your practice.
 

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