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Sore lip and mouthpiece advice sought


New Member
Hi, i am new to the forum and may be guilty of not having read through all historic threads but have a couple of questions.
After just over a year of learning on a Yamaha Alto with a 4C mouthpiece I have just started playing a Yamaha Tenor, also with a 4C mouthpiece using a Rico 2 1/2 reed. Due to an opportunity to join a local 'big' band, with quite a large itinery, I have been putting in about 3 hours a day and have developed two very sore lumps on the lower lip.
Is this down to 'Embouchure Over Use' or might it be worth looking at a different mouthpiece with a softer reed?
If it is 'over use' does anyone have any pointers for speeding up recovery, other than laying off playing.
Any advice or suggestions based on experience would be greatly appreciated.

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
I'll let wiser more experienced heads reply to your query.

Welcome to the forum - you're not very far from me - I recently bought my cello in Stone....

Pete Thomas

Chief of Stuff
Commercial Supporter
Happened to me when I started playing, especially when practising a lot.

It is what happens if you practise a lot as a relative beginner, gradually the skin toughens up, although if the "lumps" seem to be infected as opposed to just sore, then get some medical advice.

It could be worth trying a more relaxed embouchure, but this would only be relevant if your current embouchure is not relaxed enough, you need to find that out from a teacher really, we can't tell.

You can either practise less or just play through the pain if possible. I doubt softer reeds would help without learning tom relax your embouchure but there's no harm in trying.

I have heard that it can work to place a cigarette paper over your teeth.


Well-Known Member
I do think that themove from Alto to Tenor is notthat straightforward due to the greater air requirement together with wider mouthpiece. Too much practice too soon isw likely to cause some sort of trauma to your embouchure, especially as it is having to adapt in quite a short space of time.

The Yamaha mouthpiece has quite a small tip opening and the reeds are not that hard, so I would say that it is more likely the two factors above that are putting too much starun on your embouchure. You do need to ease off with your practice time - maybe no more than 1 1/2 hours a day on Tenor, with some Alto playing for good measure and to keep your fingers in trim. You could get some "Chop Saver" for your lips etc. which will have acurative effect, andmake sure that you take breaks in your practice time - every 15 minutes or so. The only other option you may want to think about is to get yourself a small sized mouthpiece - a metal one or smaller ebonite/plastic one, such as a Runyon Quantum. When I started on Tenor after playing Alto I had a Francois Louis Spectruoso ML which was the same size as an Alto ebonite, which really helped.


New Member
Thanks to all for your advice. Today I limited practice time to 1.5 hours and used a cigarette paper over the bottom teeth and hey presto; a lot less pain and lumps on their way down. I also started to try and relax a bit and not bite so hard.
Saxholder Pro

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