I've been playing for about a year and am interested in trying a different mouthpiece to the Yamaha 4C I currently use. Can anyone suggest one (size & make) I should try next and reasons for your suggestion. At this stage I only want to pay up to £50.
£50 probably puts you more or less in the second hand market, but that doesn't mean you can't get a good mouthpiece with that and a lot less.
I've had a bit of luck on ebay, but it's worth making a list of mouthpieces you are interested in or the specific makes, then save the searches so that you get emailed. That way you don't get tempted into something that sounds intriguing but is perhaps a little unwise.
Personally I think Vandoren are a great make and the Java and V16 range seem really good. On alto I play a Java A35 which has suited me well, I had an A45 as well but sold that.
I recently picked up a used V16 7M from ebay for £25, I was the only bidder and it's a great mouthpiece. I'd been wanting to try a 'meyer' type mouthpiece but didn't want to spend loads as the tenor is more my thing, so I worked out which makes made something meyer-esk and saved the search, a few weeks later the V16 came up and now it's here.
Thinking about it I've also got a E. Rousseau NC4 knocking around somewhere, that's another good make that doesn't seem to get mentioned much, and they also seem to sell quite cheaply on eBay, but don't come up too often.
Make your search as usual and refine it if needed with the tick boxes down the left hand side, once all set click on 'Save this search'. A box will open giving you options on how you want to be notified of search results.
It works well, and you'll get automatic email notification of any new listings that meet your search criteria.
Biggest drawback for me is that you can't make changes without executing the search. But it does prevent you from making a change that doesn't work, then wondering a week late why there are no notifications coming though...
If you are short on cash and are after a mouthpiece with bit of grunt to it then I can thoroughly recommend the Huastar which you can find on ebay. I have been using one for the the past few months and have been shocked how good it is. Its appears to be a copy of a Selmer Jazz metal mouthpiece which you can pick up for less than 50 GBP brand new. The only draw back as far as I can see is that the plating wears very quickly, and is probably more suited to those who like their sound on the bright side, boy for the price it is unbelievable!
As has been said £50 will buy a decent used piece - The V16 is very good, and I own 2 (A7m and A9m, but only use the latter these days - PM me if you want the other at a good price). Of the ones currently on eBay the Yanagisawa 5 HR at £50 "Buy It Now" is probably the most suitable.
It also depends on what sound you like - bright or mellow, edgy or smooth, etc. Under £100 there are the Vandorens, as mentioned above (V16 and Java, which merit a high recommendation, Bari HR, Jody Jazz HR*, Ponzol Vintage HR (HR = Hard Rubber/Ebonite), stocked by www.sax.co.uk and others. If you are used to a 4C (opening of 0.063")then you probably need to make sure that you err on the side of smaller openings 0.070" - 0.080") The chart on the Jody Jazz website (Alto Mouthpiece comparison chart) is very useful, highlighting that many manufacturers use different systems for sizing their mouthpieces.
If you want to hear what a different mouthpiece would sound without breaking the bank try a Rico Royal A3 (Mellow) or C3 (Bright) mouthpiece - only £14 inc. P&P from www.rapidreeds.com".
I have Hite Premieres on my alto and tenor - I really like them and am tempted to try their professional mouthpiece. The one on my tenor has a slight bump to one rail but this isn't proving to be an issue as my airflow improves.