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M/Pieces - Ligs Review - Syos 3D printed mouthpieces and ligatures

First thing to say is I have been playing alto 2 years 8 months and soprano, a year and a half. My alto is a Yamaha YAS-480 and the Yamaha 4C mouthpiece came with it. Like many "serious" beginners, I got the itch to try other mouthpieces and see what they were like. The first was a Vandoren V16 6M. It seemed great in the store, then very hard to play at home. I eventually had it refaced to reduce the opening, but that's another story. I tried at least one other before seeing a bunch of bright colors on a rack in the local music store. I was immediately interested. After some back and forth on the Syos site, I asked them to make me a custom mouthpiece based on my uneducated "wishes", something with an opening between the 4C and the V16, a "dark" sound for ballads, etc. After a helpful back and forth of emails with one of the designers, he sent me this:

Magenta alto.jpg


Internal Geometry: straight baffle, with a small chamber
Characteristics: quite dark, focused, neat and clear sound
Tip Opening: - 1.70mm
Brightness: 2.5 / 10
Power: 8.0 / 10



Several people have commented on various sites about the finish (or lack thereof) of the surface. One detail of being a beginner is that I didn't notice or care about this. In the world of wine tasting, we speak of "mouth feel". The Syos, all three of mine, feel perfectly comfortable in my mouth. You notice a thin cushion, which comes with Syos products. I also have the thicker BG one on the other mouthpiece. I think these are a good idea.

I was immediately at home with the alto piece, and went to to try a confusing number of reeds from Vandoren 2; 2/12; 3 to Plasticover 2.5 ; 3, to Legère from 2 to 3 and a BARI. My go to reeds are still Vandoren 2 1/2, that's what Eric Marienthal uses, by the way. However all the former are used at various times and they all work well with the Syos pieces. (EDIT: no, in fact the bARI, the first synthetic I bought, has never been worth playing on any mouthpiece. It's unusable for me.)

Having gotten up my nerve to go a little wider, I ordered a brighter, louder blue piece:

Blue alto with wave lig.jpg

Internal Geometry: step baffle and medium chamber
Characteristics: very powerful and bright sound, edgy, free blowing and easy to play
Tip Opening: - 1.85mm
Brightness: 7 / 10
Power: 8 / 10





When recording, this piece is definitely louder than the first one.

The "wave" ligatures came later, but I've aded in the photo as I like the look of it.

Yello sop.jpg
When I bought the cheap curved soprano, I wasn't able to get decent notes anywhere on it with the standard mouthpiece that came with it. Syos came through with a mouthpiece for it that works very well with 1 1/2 cane and 2 Plasticover reeds. I don't practice it as much as I should, but the Syos soprano mouthpiece saved the day for me. I don't have to tell you that the embouchure change is radical between alto and soprano. Also, note the rubber mouthpiece cover in this photo.


Whether bari, tenor, alto or soprano, I would recommend getting a good idea of the tip opening that you will be comfortable with before trying to order a 3D printed mouthpiece. The baffle and other details are up to you on the custom, but you can also choose from an existing name design. I didn't consider ordering any name players models. I'm very pleased with every aspect of my Syos mouthpieces. Even though I have other pieces in total (4 other alto name brands, Yamaha, Vandoren, PPT, Jody Jazz) I still play both Syos every day as a part of my routine. There is a noticeable difference, even between the two Syos designs, but my playing adapts during the changes. If I absolutely had to choose one mouthpiece, I'd choose the blue, because it's probably the most flexible for where my playing is right now. It can do anything I want to do, and that's what you want from the hardware, right?
 
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davidk

Paints With Notes
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Thanks for the great review of the customised SYOS mouthpieces.

For those who would rather get an artist model rather than their own custom model, SYOS currently have a tool for determining which of their artist mouthpieces is a close match to your sound concept. You give a preferred genre and three adjectives to describe your desired mouthpiece characteristics, and SYOS returns the top three closest artist models to this sound, together with a percentage match. Their tool is here:

I have found that their artist models work best in the tip opening used by the artist.

Also this forum has a discount code for SYOS, available in the shop area of the taming the saxophone site. This benefits the forum's chosen charity.

All the best
 

randulo

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I have found that their artist models work best in the tip opening used by the artist.
Yes, I underlined the importance of that because I got bit (not on Syos pieces) by getting the opening wrong. Relative ease of blowing is super important. As I move to wider tips, I feel my diaphragm straining, a kind of slight muscle pain. Hopefully it also means I'm getting air from the right place :D
 

randulo

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Syos is a small, award-winning French company and I like the way they do business. There's heart and soul there, and music, and I think you can trust them. Compared to large, soulless outfits, this is a different kind of operation. I'm really happy there's a synergy between Syos and Café Saxophone, and you can benefit from it and do good by buying through the Café site discount.
 

randulo

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Since the pandemic confinement, I haven't been able to practice as much as I used to do, which was about 4 hours a day. Before March, when my wife was working every day, I often practiced morning and afternoon. The first magenta Syos was great in the early days, because it was so comfortable, the muscles around my mouth never got tired. It probably also helped that I did the exercises from this page. I was hesitant to order without trying, but it all worked out in the end. I want to visit the Paris location when we can safely travel again.
 

CliveMA

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A Yamaha 6C (tip opening 1.80mm) is arguably the goto recommendation for a beginner's next step after the 4C. At 33 gbp (as listed by Thomann) it is way cheaper than a 199 gbp SYOS, offering a dark sound arguably similar to your pink SYOS. The mouthpiece step after a 6C would normally then be to a tip size something like a Vandoren 6 (1.96mm) or 7 (2.04mm), a step taken only once the beginner's embouchure has matured.

Why did you not try a Yamaha 6C given the low cost, available tip size and dark sound?

Secondly, regardless of Erik's reed preference for Vand Trad, your limited reed choice may well be impacting your sound development. There is a lot of flexibility in Red Box, Green Box, D'Addario Select Jazz reeds that are way cheaper than a SYOS mouthpiece.
 
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CliveMA

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On Soprano, did you try a Yamaha 4C mouthpiece (Thomann lists for 36 gbp)?

In the Dawkes videos, professional player Simon Bates states he still uses the Yamaha mouthpiece that came with his Yamaha Soprano. He has tried many others but keeps returning to it as the best for him.

I'm not saying the Yamaha 4C is the best for you. I am saying it is puzzling that you apparently did not try the default standard starter mouthpiece on Soprano and would prefer to spend 6x that on an unknown.
 

randulo

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Reeds

As I said above, I've tried many reeds and still switch around even in a single practice session. I didn't mention one of my favorite synthetics, the Green Monster. The force 3 requires so little air, it will blow a note out almost just by thinking about it.

Did I try a 4C? I said in the post, "My alto is a Yamaha YAS-480 and the Yamaha 4C mouthpiece came with it."
Yes, I played the 4C for months. It wasn't just less expensive, it came with the saxophone. The better question would be, why didn't I buy a YAS-280, because it's cheaper? Easily answered: Price is not the only element to consider when buying anything. I could also have bought the Jupiter I was renting for about 1/4 the price of the 480. What I could not buy or justify was a pro model. Consider the fact that when we speak of price differences, even if one thing costs twice the other, that twice might be $100. In a day when people pay $7 for a coffee and have one or more a day, well, you can see what's coming there.

I searched for soprano mouthpieces. In the end, I decided on the Syos because I liked their other pieces that much. Because these are custom pieces, Syos will modify them during a certain period, and the fact that I can easily mail it to them and get it back is also a factor. I might be less inclined to work with a small company that was not in Europe. In future, even mailing to the UK from here will introduce extra steps. I could even go see Syos in Paris and try everything they have! I probably will when travel becomes a thing again.

I didn't mention resale value in my review. I have no idea about this, but one can only assume that classic name brands in good condition will always retain their value. I have no idea whether a used Syos might bring upon resale. My advice would be to get someone famous to try your mouthpiece, take a photo of this and use it when you want to sell it. >:)

I'd love to try Eric's new gold-plated alto mouthpiece, but not only is it nearly $600, but I think its #6 is still too wide for me, (>200mm 0.80 inches) Eric plays the #7 (0.85).

Mouthpiece monogamy is overrated

In conclusion, mouthpieces are a very personal object. They go in and out of your mouth hundreds of times a day. Like any object, they have a color and a physical shape that may or may not please the player. They have a price that may or may not be affordable. (Or justifiable. Do I need gold-plating, or any metal piece?) The world would be simple if only one factor dictated our choices.

In ordinary times, we could go into any music store that sold wind instruments and try several mouthpieces. The current epoch makes this problematic. My advice to anyone who isn't 100% convinced that they now have the one mouthpiece of their life is to try as many as you can.

However...

I think it was Walter Beasley who said this in a video about Kirk Whalen:
You get a mouthpiece like the one your favorite player plays, thinking it will help you sound like him or her (or them?). "So you play it and you sound like them for about a week. After that, you sound like you did before." There's some truth in that! It isn't about the hardware. I have emphasized my own feeling that comfort and sound are what makes the choice pertinent. I wouldn't play a mouthpiece because it's yellow, although I love the yellow soprano piece. I play it because it's easy to get a sound out of it. The rest, that sound and intonation, are up to me.

Sorry, that video has been pulled. Too bad, it was inspiring!
 
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saxyjt

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I'd love to try Eric's new gold-plated alto mouthpiece, but not only is it nearly $600, but I think its #6 is still too wide for me, (>200mm 0.80 inches) Eric plays the #7 (0.85).

Just a bit of warning here, not related to tip size but metal vs HR (or plastic).

Metal mouthpieces are not for everyone. You really have to try them and see for yourself. I'm not saying they are bad or anything, just different in feel and it may not suit you.

I am not a fan on soprano and have not really found one I like on alto.

I think size has something to do with it.
 

randulo

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On Soprano, did you try a Yamaha 4C mouthpiece (Thomann lists for 36 gbp)?
Sorry, I got my wires crossed, I thought you were referring to the alto.No, the reasoning was, I like my Syos alto pieces, so let's see how the soprano will be? I would consider buying a 4C for that price, but I don't put enough importance in my soprano playing at the moment to invest more. I'm very happy with what I have, although I could use a better soprano saxophone.

Again, apologies, Clive, for not correctly reading your post.
 

Adrian63

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Sorry Randulo but I have to disagree with the mpc monogamy comment .
At some point we all come across a mpc that ticks all your boxes ; one that absolutely works for you . The mistake I certainly have made is thinking there has to be something better...a little wider ; a little brighter...
I certainly wish I would have stuck with certain mpcs : i must have had 100 mpcs over the years; maybe five I remember and regret selling . Now i have this Berg i am gonna commit to it ; keep it !!
As to the monogamy comment ; how many players do we see who use the same link usually or Berg whatever constantly . I have had the pleasure of speaking to one very famous player who told me his worst fear was his dental state deteriorating ; followed by losing his Otto Link !!
 

randulo

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Opinions welcome. I play three of the 5 mouthpieces each day in a single session, including my two Syos, that I love. My only problem is I have to change clothes twice, because each one is a different color, magenta, blue and black.
 

Adrian63

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But I'd still try to narrow it down to the one that suits best : have you ever been to a gig where the player changes mpc mid set ?
Just a thought...
 
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