All profit supporting special needs music education and Help Musicians
Tutorials

M/Pieces - Ligs The Bitemark Groove?

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
I have a question about mouthpieces and teeth.

I'm a beginning sax player and I don't have a teacher. There just are no teachers available in my rural area. So I'm learning to play the sax on my own.

I've been practicing quite a bit recently and I just started noticing a groove on the top of my mouthpiece. Actually two grooves where my two front teeth "rest" or bite into the mouthpiece. They are pretty deep actually. In fact, they have become so deep that my teeth fall into these grooves when I play. It's almost like an "indexing system" to align my mouth with the mouthpiece. In some ways I kind of like it because I can just let my teeth fall into these grooves and know that I'm in a consistent place on the mouthpiece.

So now for my question, is this normal or am I doing something drastically wrong here?

I didn't think I was biting that hard on the mouth piece but evidently I must be. These marks are getting pretty deep, it may not be too long before I have the entire mouthpiece chewed off. :)))

Then I'll have to start over from scratch with a new one.

Has anyone else experienced this? Or am I going about the embouchure all wrong?

Maybe I should try a metal mouthpiece to break me of this habit?
 

griff136

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,048
It is normal for begginners to bite into the top of the mouthpiece. You can buy mouthpiece patches that are self adhesive and stick on the mouthpiece and as you bite through them you can replace them thus avoiding marking your mouthpiece.

As your embouchure - a french term for the shape the muscles in your face and around your mouth make -deveops you will find that you will grow out of biting down hard.

Ideally IMHO you want to rest your teeth on the biteplate without biting down and use your embuchure to close your lips around the mouthpiece, creating a firm seal.

Its also horses for courses as I know some great players who bite down on their mouthpieces.

In the world of GAS ( Gear acquisiton syndrome) that most players suffer from, it is a good idea to use the patches so that you eliminate any damage/scratches to the mouthpiece as no doubt in the future you'll find a better mouthpiece that you will buy and then want to sell on the old one.

FWIW metal mouthpieces usually have an insert made of epoxy or plastic or ebonite, which your teeth rest on so it wont make any diifference in trying to avoid making these teeth marks.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Justin Chune

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,011
My teeth only lightly touch the beak and there are no bite marks on any of my mouthpieces. I bought all of my saxes from friends and use the original mouthpieces. My friends didn't bite either, obviously. On the other hand I used to visit a second hand shop and look at the clarinets and saxophones they were selling and most of the mouthpieces were gouged with tooth marks.

For me playing the sax with a "lite bite" and a reed soft enough to allow this, is the way to go. Also I think that the grooves indicate that far more effort than it takes, to produce the sound, is being used.

Jim.
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,802
I'm a biter!! And lots of others. We all plays different. If the teethmarks are deep on your mouthpiece you have to buy a new one or fix the old. If it's not that deep you can cover it with mouthpiece patch(es). I use two thin mouthpiece patches instead of one thick.

Players who are pushing when they are playing leaves traces on thier mouthpices. I know a professional rocksaxplayer who complained about his mouthpices. They didn' last so long because of the bitemarks. He asked mpc manufactor if they couldn't use some harder material or insert a bite plate! The manufactor told him that there were nothing wrongwith his mouthpices. It was the players teeth that was too sharp. So he recommend him to go to the dentist and file down his teeth so they would be more even and less sharp! Also a way to go?

Thomas
 

Young Col

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,419
Yes, use patches. Even after playing for a few years I still leave a mark as I have one slightly uneven front tooth. Vandoren clear patches are excellent, among many other good ones on the market.
YC
 

Two Voices

Senior Member
Messages
1,113
I have one tooth slightly longer than the other and it's chipped making it sharp. I now always use a 0.3mm or 0.4mm patch on my mouthpieces as that tooth leaves it mark!

Have thought about going to the dentist to have it filed down but chose to leave alone for now!

Depending on what I am playing determines whether I bite or not.

I will say though, my bite is never as bad as my bark :)))
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
I'm glad to hear that I'm not totally alone on this. When I first posted this I thought I was going to become the forum Neanderthal saxophonist.

There are a couple issues here:

My Teeth

My two front teeth are replacement teeth. They're manufactured. They've been permanently installed and I can't tell them apart from the real thing at all. However, they are quite sharp. So maybe I should get those protective pads for the mouthpiece.

My Playing Position

This is another thing that may even have far more to do with it. Most of the time I play sitting in a chair. I play Alto sax and for me it works out perfect to just sit the sax right on edge of the chair I'm sitting on. It's a padded chair. Then I rest my teeth on the mouthpiece. So the downward pressure isn't so much from the actual "bite", but more from the weight of my head.

I get tired playing standing up real quick. The weight of the neck strap becomes a burden for me too in short order. So I play sitting down resting the sax on the chair most of the time. I guess I've been falling into the lazy habit of using the horn as a head rest. Maybe I just need to break myself of the habit and try to consciously avoid using the horn as a place to hang my head. :)))
 

1954pip

Member
Messages
124
hi
i don't bite but i do play sitting down as a back op some years ago makes it hard for me to stand and play so i sit on the edge of the seat and let the sax hang down in front of it ,i did bite when i first started playing but i got some patches so i would not mark the mouth piece and they seem to work ,i hardly bite at at all now.
all the best
pip
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
Subscriber
Messages
3,551
I don't bite, and never have. I have always used a thick mouthpiece patch - mainly because the vibration produced on the really low notes - C & B - used to rattle my skull in the early days! This might be because both my top front teeth are crowned and one has a post, or it might be normal? Either way, I can't apply too much pressure via my top teeth.
Also, I have played for 2 years with the same patch. I replaced it recently but only because it was looking manky and I decided to scrub the whole mouth piece with a tootbrush and toothpaste!! There were no marks on the patch.
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
I have always used a thick mouthpiece patch - mainly because the vibration produced on the really low notes - C & B - used to rattle my skull in the early days!
I recall that when I was just beginning to learn to play (which was really only last October), I found that if I placed my teeth only lightly against the mouthpiece I couldn't deal with the vibrations. Because my teeth touching so lightly would rattle against the mouthpiece. So I think at that time I started to press my teeth against the mouthpiece harder to avoid having them rattled against it.

I tried the "double-lip" embouchure that some people had suggested but I couldn't deal with that at all. I also tried to not let my teeth touch the mouthpiece at all, but that didn't work either. So my final adjustment was to firmly plant my teeth on the mouthpiece hard enough to avoid having them rattled against it. I wasn't even aware that mouthpiece patches or cushions existed. Maybe I should try picking up some of those.

I would like to consciously make some sort of adjustment here as a beginner so that I don't end creating a bad habit where I'm chewing mouthpieces off every six months or so.

I think I'll look into picking up some pads and also try to consciously not use as much pressure against the mouthpiece too. If the mouthpiece pads are rubbery that might also reduce the rattle problem. Having a rubber pad bouncing against my teeth wouldn't be nearly as bad as having the hard plastic mouthpiece bouncing against them.

I'm going to order some new reeds anyway, so I order some pads whilst I'm at it and try that.
 

Two Voices

Senior Member
Messages
1,113
Mouthpiece Patches will help cut down on the vibration. There's quite a few to chose from. Clear or black - the material between them are different. The black ones seem slightly softer than the clear ones (well the BG ones that I have used are anyway). The clear ones seem to last a bit longer for me. Also the patches come in various thickness from as little as 0.3mm which I prefer to as much as 0.9mm which I find very spongy.

I have only used the BG Patches and highly recommend them but I'm sure all the other brands are just as good.

http://www.sax.co.uk/acatalog/Mouthpiece_patches__protective_pouches___cleaners.html
 

Martin

Member
Messages
212
I also make deep grooves in the mouthpiece if I don't protect it. Like you 'Dreamer', the groove became so deep that my front teeth dropped into it, so much, that I thought if someone knocks the sax, my front teeth could be damaged.

I tried regular mouthpiece patches, but hate the feel of them. Too rubbery, kind of soft and sticky.

I had my front teeth smoothed off by the dentist...no improvement.

Now I make my own patches out of small Coka Cola bottles, held inplace with double sided sticky tape. The material is hard, so it feels exactly like the original mouthpiece. Being a drink bottle, is obviously 'food quality' - not so sure about the tape though. This works for me....

Martin
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
I also make deep grooves in the mouthpiece if I don't protect it. Like you 'Dreamer', the groove became so deep that my front teeth dropped into it, so much, that I thought if someone knocks the sax, my front teeth could be damaged.

I tried regular mouthpiece patches, but hate the feel of them. Too rubbery, kind of soft and sticky.

I had my front teeth smoothed off by the dentist...no improvement.

Now I make my own patches out of small Coka Cola bottles, held inplace with double sided sticky tape. The material is hard, so it feels exactly like the original mouthpiece. Being a drink bottle, is obviously 'food quality' - not so sure about the tape though. This works for me....

Martin
Well, I'm certainly glad to hear that I'm not the only one who is experiencing this problem. Although, for me, it's only "problem" in terms of damaging the mouthpiece. I actually don't mind my teeth falling in these grooves. They kind of act like an "index" to assure me that I'm always in the same place on the mouthpiece. So I've kind of been getting used to actually using them in that way.

I just did a search on mouthpiece pads and they can be costly, especially if I end up going through a lot of them. I like the coke bottle idea. I'm into homemade stuff. I might try something like that.
 

jeremyjuicewah

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,890
I chomp at it a bit. Two front teeth but only one groove. On the right. I wonder what that´s about. I thought I would have gone through the mouthpiece by now which wasnt a worry as it is not an expensive one but I think my bite has lessened as the rate of gouging has decreased. I almost always practice in a chair too. Used to have the sax between my legs now to the side. Maybe that´s why its lessened. But whatever I am doing it feels very comfortable so I´m going to keep doing it.
Mike
 

saxnik

Member
Messages
381
Hi Sweet Dreamer,

I'd say mouthpiece patches are the way forward for you, they remove a lot of the vibration, although I find the really soft ones break up and leave rubbery grains in your mouth! I tend to use 0.4mm, but obviously you still get some vibration through the thinner patches.

Another idea I had is that you might want to consider getting a 'play-on' style sax stand like the Dixon one at Sax.co.uk - I think this is adjustable to sitting height (check with Jules?) and would be a better solution than balancing the sax on the chair, since it will further reduce the vibrations because the yoke that holds the sax has rubber damping.

Good luck,

Nick
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
That's interesting Saxnik. I wasn't aware that they made stands designed to actually hold the sax whilst you're playing it. It might be interesting to try one.

Placing on the chair I'm sitting on has been working well for me. With an alto sax the height works out prefect for me. And the chair I use is padded and it also swivels. So this allows me quite a bit of movement when I'm playing. I can also rock (or tilt) the sax right to left as I play without a problem as well.

Just looking at those sax stands it doesn't appear that they would offer nearly the flexibility that I already have using this padded swivel chair. The chair I'm using is like a chair found in an office. Padded, on wheels, and it swivels. So I have a lot of range of motion this way. I'm not really having any problems playing this way, other than I might be falling in the habit of "resting" the entire weight of my head on the mouthpiece as I play.

I'm consciously trying to avoid doing that now.
 

jeremyjuicewah

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,890
left hand stuff

Hi SD. How do you get along with those three levers for the left hand? I avoided them for months till I was told the obvious. That is, dont think of them as some different thing, think of them as part of the same old sax and include them in the scales and the practice. I cannot use them and the octave key without going into a standing up sort of back arching roll. If I try them sitting down my hand falls off. Thats the alto, its the only one I have. Don think I could get along with that stuff sitting down.
Mike
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
Hi SD. How do you get along with those three levers for the left hand? I avoided them for months till I was told the obvious. That is, dont think of them as some different thing, think of them as part of the same old sax and include them in the scales and the practice. I cannot use them and the octave key without going into a standing up sort of back arching roll. If I try them sitting down my hand falls off. Thats the alto, its the only one I have. Don think I could get along with that stuff sitting down.
Mike
I have an interesting story to tell there.

When I first got the sax and was learning the fingerings I accidentally got it in my mind that the top lever was for the D note. I actually played it that way for quite some time. I knew that note was a bit off, and I thought the intonation problem was due to embouchure. Eventually I discovered the error. That top lever when pressed alone does not even constitute any note. It's like have way between notes (even chromatic notes). It's a quarter-tone note rather than a semitone. It's actually a quarter-tone off a D note which is why I thought it was so close.

So anyway, I then learned that it's actually the middle lever that if for the D note. And I found that lever a LOT harder to use. Especially in a fast passage.

It's not an easy lever to "get at" without accidentally pressing other levers. And it also causes me to place sideways pressure on the horn which causes problems. I'm looking for ways to "grab" the horn with my right hand without accidentally pressing a key. But I find that hard to do. I feel like they should have provided something to grab onto for the right hand when the right hand isn't playing anything. Like some "false keys" or "finger rests". I've actually been reaching way out front on the bell and pressing against the valve guard plate. I do that to keep the horn from twisting when I press on the D note lever. Although I think all three lower valves can be closed when playing that D note and it won't make any difference. But I hate to get into the habit of closing superfluous valves just to grab onto the horn.

But yes, I too have problems with those three valves on the side. Especially the D note valve. In fact, I have worse problems with those when I'm standing up than when I'm sitting down. It's a little easier when the sax is sitting on the chair than when it's hanging from my neck.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Funny, it's the other way around for me - I keep touching those levers when I'm playing, cracking them open a touch... And get lots of bum notes as a result. IT's worse with the alto. Turning the sax helps. Maybe some key risers will help you SD?
 
Saxholder Pro
Help!Mailing List
Top Bottom