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M/Pieces - Ligs Rico Graftonite C5 Alto Mouthpiece

I was sent the Rico Graftonite C5 alto mouthpiece as part of a promotion on I had bought a copy of The Midnight Playalongs, and the two arrived together. So I loaded up the backings CD and began a comparison with my usual alto mouthpiece, a Vandoren A35.

Equipment Used
According to the mouthpiece comparison chart at, the opening of the Rico C5 and Vandoren A35 are similar, so I used the same Vandoren Blue Box 2.5 reed on both. The Faxx alto ligature that I have fits the Rico mouthpiece, so any standard alto mouthpiece ligature should be fine. The saxophone was my very early Trevor James "The Horn" from 1990.

Feel of the Mouthpiece
The Rico Graftonite C5 alto saxophone mouthpiece is pictured at the end of this article. I have shown the baffle, facing and table. The table is raised from the main body of the mouthpiece. Consequently when a reed is attached, there is a groove just above it that can be felt when playing. I didn't trap my lower lip in it, but it felt in the way to me.

There is a short straight dip just behind the tip rail, leading to the curved baffle. I think that this is what gives the mouthpiece some extra brightness.

The mouthpiece is made from plastic, but it is well finished, with no burrs around the window. The fit was slightly tighter than the Vandoren, so you might have to sand down your cork if this is to become your main mouthpiece. Tuning was consistent once the mouthpiece was in place.

What does it sound like?
After warming up, I tried the mouthpiece with two of Pete Thomas's pieces: "Another Kind of Blue" and "Love Them". I played first with the Vandoren piece, and then with the Rico.

I noticed a distinct difference in sound. The Vandoren was a darker piece, more subdued. The Rico was brighter, and asking to be played loud and fast. However I was trying to play slow and bluesy, with feeling. This came more easily through the Vandoren piece. I also felt that the Vandoren had more colour, a more complex sound that could be shaped by the player. The Rico seemed straight ahead and simple in comparison.

I'll be sticking with the Vandoren A35 as my main alto mouthpiece. I can see a use for the Rico when the saxophone is part of an amplified group, competing with electric instruments where beauty and subtlety of tone are not major considerations, and the ability to scream comes to the fore.

The price of the Rico is under £15, and for the money you get a useable mouthpiece. By comparison, the Vandoren is around £100. For the money, I'd expect the Vandoren to play much better, and it doesn't disappoint. So the Rico could be useful for a beginner who isn't sure that they'll stick with the saxophone, but who nevertheless wants a functional mouthpiece (the freebies included with budget saxes are of a questionable quality). The Rico will prevent the mouthpiece from causing the beginner to give up prematurely. However it isn't a mouthpiece for life, and I would expect the player to benefit from a further upgrade after a year or two.
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Paints With Notes
I'm currently playing B7's on S, A, T and B. I like 'em. I think the C's are a smaller-chamber version. Maybe tha's why it seemed a bit one-dimensional to Davidk.
Yes, the C chamber are the brightest. From
'Tone Chamber Style (A, B, or C): The tone chamber of a mouthpiece is the inside area of the mouthpiece. The size and shape of the tone chamber will change the tone quality of the instrument. With the Rico Royal mouthpieces, an "A" tone chamber will give a dark sound which is best suited for concert work, a "B" tone chamber will give a little more brilliance (better for using with most bands), and a "C" tone chamber will give a lot more brilliance and edge which is great for rock and jazz bands.'
FWIW, here's a table giving the Graftonite range tip openings and chamber sizes.

The tip openings are official measurements. The chamber sizes are just given qualitatively, i.e A= large and dark sounding, B= medium, C= small for projection: instruments/mouthpieces/graftonite.htm

There are only three tip openings - 3, 5 and 7. e.g. C3 (quite closed, suiting a harder reed), C5 (medium), C7 (wide/wild, for a soft reed).
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