PPT mouthpieces

Mouthpieces squeaking on my new mouthpiece


Senior Member
So I bought a new-to-me mouthpiece on eBay. Probably I shouldn't have but I did :rolleyes:

I was playing a Bari Esprit, with RJS 2H reeds.

The new mouthpiece is a Lawton 7.

I've put a new RJS 2H on it. I did buy some 2M's, hearing that when you went up in tip size it was a good idea to go down in reed strength. But they sounded stuffy. Maybe it was just that one and I should have persevered? It's fair to say that I can't get a quiet or civilised bottom C and Bb with the 2H at the moment.

Anyway, in between the squeaks, I am very much liking the sound of the Lawton, so much richer, plus I can change the sound a lot with my mouth and throat, which is interesting, hopefully I can learn to bend notes when I'm actually playing - I can do it during long tones.

But the squeaks. Especially when I tongue higher notes :confused:

Any advice please, about why it's happening and how to avoid them?

(I'd really like to have ironed them out before I get to my lesson next Monday, to possibly forestall too much 'what were you thinking of' ;))
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Agree a 2M/2H is about right for a 7, but... Given you were on a small tipped piece, it's probably too hard for now. I'm not sure how soft the RJSs go to, but I'd try going down to a 2S, or better a 1H if there is one, build up your chops and then move up a strength at a time.

Something else to consider is that the RJS may not be as well suited to the Lawton. Worth a try with Marca Jazz (they're crisper/cleaner sounding) and some of the other well recommended reeds here as well.
Thanks @kevgermany and @Ivan.

Yes, I've gone from 0.085 to 0.100, and obviously I'm pretty new at all this. If I could have found a 6* that would probably have been better. But I have what I have.

I'll experiment with reeds. The mouthpiece sounds so good when it's right, in particular the top end is not so thin, which is what started me and my teacher thinking about mouthpieces. I really want to be able to play this.

What makes a reed suit a mouthpiece? I have some Rico Royals in a 2, some Vandoren Green Javas in 2.5, some Hemke 2s. Any likely to be any good? Or is it just trial and error?
Usually trial and error. Harder reeds often improve the tone of the higher notes, but it's really down to the player. My old tutor used to play a 2 on a 5 tip, sounded fabulous. But he also played very soft reeds on clarinet and was quite raspy.
Trial and error.... and practice

There are ineviably some duff reeds in the box

Van Doren tend to be harder for the grade than Rico so 2.5 VD is a 3 or more Rico
I play RJS (stronger ones, though) on my Lawtons (A, T, B) and they are (to me) a perfect match. BUT I've noticed that on alto and tenor, I have to be very careful with how I put the reed on. It has to be perfectly aligned with the rails or I will easily squeak (on bari, not so much: you can put a chipped reed sideways and it still plays :D)
I have also had good results with Rigotti reeds.

Is it a metal or HR Lawton?
But the squeaks. Especially when I tongue higher notes :confused:
Any advice please, about why it's happening and how to avoid them?
A more open tip mouthpiece requires a softer reed. Playing on one that is too hard for a mouthpiece encourages "biting" which can cause a squeak. A squeak is caused when one side of the reed vibrates and the other does not. Another factor is that a mouthpiece with thinner side rails is less forgiving if the embouchure lacks control.

If squeaks occur when notes are tongued, it generally indicates there is movement of the jaw when tonguing. To check this play 3rd line B and put the back of your right hand up underneath the jaw. Now tongue the note rapidly and see if you feel any movement. Do the same with the octave key added.

If movement is felt, there is too much of the tongue in use and that portion is moving too far. The goal is to use just the end of the tongue and move it the shortest distance possible. To create that feeling hold under the jaw and say, "tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu". Do this till you can't feel any movement. Then do the same thing blowing an airstream. When you can do that tongue B again and make the tongue movement the same except the end of the tongue is touching the tip of the reed instead of the roof of the mouth.
Lawton's have a longer facing than most mouthpieces, so you may have to experiment with how far you put it in your mouth to find the right position.
Also try a lighter, more flexible cut of reed, like a Vandoren Java.2. I use Fibracell synthetic reeds on my Lawton and they never squeak, not that I'm suggesting you get into synthetic reeds
It took me a couple of months to iron out the squeaks on my Lawton, but now it's the best thing I've ever played. They're more responsive and resonant, so they do tend to squeak a bit until you learn to control them. Try to shape your mouth and tongue as if you're trying to sing the note and maybe spread your bottom lip a bit more to damp the squeaks.. it's hard to explain how to adjust to a new mouthpiece, it's not something I've ever tried to analyse
Thank you all so much - lots there for me to try. I do love how helpful and kind everyone is here.

It's a metal Lawton @Chilli. I'll watch how I put the reed on thank you.

That's great info (as ever) @jbtsax, thank you very much for explaining, I'll try that exercise. I think I do move my tongue too much, so probably my jaw too.

Great that you love your Lawtons @altissimo, that's very reassuring - and that you, as an experienced player, got some squeaks too - makes me feel much better ;)

I had heard good things about Lawtons and that they were pretty consistent, which seemed safer as a newbie buying blind. I'll order some Java 2s (maybe I still have some) and try those too.
I think a lot of the 'high performance' mouthpieces can be a bit fussy over reeds and be generally a bit tricky to get used to - it's like going from a Ford Fiesta to a Ferrari, all of a sudden it responds to every little thing you do and that can be a bit daunting at first, but with practice and perseverance the beast can be tamed, or at least you can learn to point it in the right direction and be reasonably certain you'll get to the end in one piece..
Lawtons are excellent mouthpieces but can be prone to squeaks,I've owned about 5 over the years and 3 were squeakers and were very reed picky but if you stick at you will overcome this with time,and the right reed.
You could as said by "altissimo" try Fibracell which i also use and have used for about 10 years,
Thanks @jazzdoh. The next RJS 2M was better and it makes a huge difference how much mouthpiece I have in my mouth - so I need to learn where the right spot is, so I can be consistent.

I've ordered some Java 2s as well - no money left for a Fibracell this month now. And probably better not start down the synthetic reeds rabbit-hole just now too........

What makes a mouthpiece 'a squeaker' then?
What makes a mouthpiece 'a squeaker' then?
As I wrote in a previous thread, more "professional" mouthpieces with wider tip openings and thinner side rails are more difficult to control if one's embouchure isn't well developed. Another cause can be reeds that are unbalanced at the tip or have a broken or chipped corner. Everything else is "pilot error". :)

The best advice I can give someone learning to play is to find the best spot for the top teeth using the method explained in Bruce Pearson's article on saxophone embouchures, and to use a thick mouthpiece patch with a groove made by your thumbnail where the top teeth should go.(sorry Kev) Putting the mouthpiece exactly the same location inside the mouth every time one plays goes a long way to developing consistency in tone production.
They could have minor imperfections. Manufacture defects, wear and tear or life scars. Or just be unsuitable.

It's a never ending search to find the most suitable mouthpiece and reed set up for developing, maturing and aging chops. Remember that the numbers are for reference and comparison and not a mark of your progress.

The best gear with little practice doesn't sound as good as cheap gear and a dedicated practice regimen.

Frequent chopping and changing confuses your embouchure imo and stops you getting the best out of any of them.

My favourite alto piece for 30 years sounds like a duck since I changed to something I prefered. I'm sure it never used to.
Oh, I'm sure it's pilot error in my case :)

I just wondered why 3 out of 5 of jazzdoh's mouthpieces were squeakers but not the other two.

I have no idea why,maybe it was the facing,i spoke to someone at sax .co.uk at the time who used Lawton's can't remember his name,he is no longer there,but he said reed placement was critical on Lawtons.
The last one i had about 12 months ago was the best of the 5,but it was the plain number 7 and i couldn't get enough power and projection out of it.
my theory with Lawtons is that the long facing doesn't always match some cuts of reed - if they're too stiff at the back near where the facing curve meets the table then the full length of the reed can't vibrate properly and it will tend to vibrate at it's own natural frequency rather than at the frequency of the air column and squeak. So reeds with a lighter, shallower cut will work better than one's that are stiffer at the back.. if this makes any sense?.
Bad reeds can squeak anyway, irrespective of what mouthpiece they're on - everyone has a bad reed day - there are out takes of Charlie Parker stopping the session because his reed squeaked
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