Thanks to the exceptional Richard Hamer at http://www.woodwindsalesandrepairs.com/ I had the opportunity of trying some, together with good old @David Roach the gasfeeder.
I tried three (marble) ebonite pieces: a Maestra 7*, a Bebop Special 7*, a Bopboy 8 (actually measuring.107 =7*)
The Maestra is in the Otto link Tradition, with a baffle comparable to the now celebrated "Early Babbit".
Bebop Special (endorsed by Bob Mintzer that says to currently play one) is a straight baffle, medium chamber very peculiar piece.
Bopboy has a raised floor, quite a complex shape but no step baffle. The idea behind is similar to the PPT, but coming from a different perspective.
Mouthpieces are very well finished, the "marble ebonite" ones are really cute, and the brass ring too.
They feel like tribute to the late Freddie Gregory.
As it happens, when Mr. Roach was playing them, my perception was quite different than his.
The same happened to me, and the recordings confused me further.
In the recent years I mostly played Link-inspired pieces (or actual metal Links), the Bopboy took me back in a kind of more edgy sound that sometimes I really enjoy.
Maestra is simply a great piece, in a world of sounds currently occupied by too many pieces in my drawer. Superb feel, and it works very well recorded.
Bebop Special is the real puzzling piece. It did not impress me at first, but after a while shows an unexpected flexibility. It is a very focussed piece, very easy to play, not too characteristic at first glance. After a while I started shaping my own sound in a very interesting way. It would deserve more time to develop its full possibilities.
All three pieces are truly great pieces, but I fell in love with the Bopboy. It seems like a great flexible tool. I also tested it live in different settings ant it is real fun.
This is a very, very, personal opinion...
About the clips.
I have been playing 9 facings for at least 20 years. Such a step down is not easy, but for the first time I enjoyed 7*s
It would be interesting to see how they work with bigger tips.
Reeds: taken randomly from the bunch and put in a glass of water. Mouthpieces played consistently with different reeds (within limits).
I ended up with RJS, Royal and lavoz. Not big difference when swapping them. I am a soft player. 2.5,2m MS.
A harder reed can give a different feel.
Rovner light ligature, purely not to risk any scratches.
Played a mouthpiece for at least 1/2 hour. Break. Recording.
I spent more time on the Bop Boy in the last week.
From my multitrack, they sound very different. When mixed them into mp3s, differences seemed reduced
From behind the horn, they are different universes.
Maestra: It is in my comfort zone: the Otto Link tradition. Big and colourful. Brighter than other pieces in this direction.
More "Ottolinky" than the Merlot (that I play in a 9, though).
Two words? Warm and powerful
Special: i'd say it is a very efficient mouthpiece, if this word makes any sense in English. It has a great clarity, but not in the sterile sense that I found in other pieces.
Very responsive, flexible when bending. I suspect It could vary a lot with different reeds. I understand the classical reference, but I am sure it has hidden colours to be discovered.
Bop Boy: The gentle side of high(ish) baffled mouthpieces. Its main characteristic is flexibility. The edge that emerges when pushed, makes it project a lot, but I haven't tried Maestra and Special live. In medium dynamics it keeps that warm link flavour that I like.
A great all rounder, with that edge that can still be controlled. I just received an old Guardala of mine that Pillinger restored. That design has a baffle that gives an unavoidable edge (Crescent model). The Bob Boy is probably the most versatile piece that I tried so far.
(model is in the www address)
Trying to use the edgy side of the three pieces
Jazzers will not like this.
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