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M/Pieces - Ligs The mouthpiece zone: reviews - aizen, wanne, drake, otto link and more

Wade Cornell

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As always wonderful playing from you . Choosing a mouthpiece is a very personal thing. The few mouthpiece comparison sound clips I've heard that might be useful were generally played at one time and playing the same tune or set of exercises. Playing different styles of music generally means changing your tonal concept, so the mix of ballads and up-tempo doesn't really allow us to hear different mouthpieces in equivalent situations. I think all of us play differently over a period of months or years. There may even be a difference between playing in the morning and evening, much less months or years apart.

Ultimately we all sound (to others) quite similarly despite using different horns or mouthpieces. The difference is mainly our perception of our ease of playing and obtaining the sound we want. Generalizations can be good and give indications like high baffle, bright, big chamber, dark, etc. and may help those on a quest to find the right gear for themselves. Listening to others and copying their set-ups may not be the best route for many players. Developing you own sound and feel is key to being a real pro. Buying the same mouthpiece that Coltrane or Dexter Gordon used isn't necessarily going to make you sound or play like them... and IMHO you shouldn't want to try to just be an cheap imitation anyway. Use the very available clues you get from mouthpiece makers for the style of playing you want to do. Then try to find what works best for you.

For may part I would have liked to have heard a few cheap and cheerful mouthpieces thrown in. The unfortunate truth is that often a very ordinary mouthpiece can sound just as good to others. But once again it 's often not as much about the sound as the ease of playing and obtaining the sound you want. There's no way any mouthpiece comparison recording can make that known to somebody else.
 
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fabriziodalisera
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Thank you Wade, yes this page is a sort of mouthpiece clip collection.
I have played the same Cdiminished scale up to Eb altissimo in a lot of clips after the first part (not in all of them), but then I started to make simpler and shorter clips.
I agree with you that making a "real" review is very diificult, almost impossible, because of the nature of the instrument.
1 we all play different in different periods
2 even 2 good reeds in the same box can play slightly different
3 the horn and the reed can respond in a different way in different climate conditions
4 the same player with the same set up can sound different in a different room
and so on...
I also agree that we all sound similar on different set ups. If you want to achieve a different sound you must change your sound concept and you should listen to different players.
But at the same time I think that listening to a sample can give you a general idea of how that mouthpiece can play.
Two people can obtain a similar sound using totally different set up….this is what makes our instrument so difficult to explain and so fascinating!
I surely will add some clip of cheap mouthpiece, I am very curious about that!
Thank you for your attention, bye Fabrizio
 

Wade Cornell

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No matter what, it's always a treat to hear your fine playing. I've enjoyed your more recent Baritone work and the way you've made that instrument sing. Any excuse is good to hear you post...even demonstrating a mouthpiece collection!

The cheap mouthpiece add is interesting. Reminds me of a Chinese sopranino I purchased some years ago. The horn was surprisingly pretty good and had relatively good intonation. However the mouthpiece that came with it was unplayable with a tiny tip. It was plastic with no name, so no harm in brutally ripping it open to see if I could make it play. I'm not a mouthpiece re-facer and had no idea what I was doing, but it really didn't matter. I filed down the tip and took big chunks out of the interior. To my surprise it then played, but not well. But I also know that given a little bit of practice one can adapt to the quirks of any mouthpiece. After a while I was able to play it quite well and balance out the range of the horn. It was not easy to play, but to anyone listening it sounded as good as my Selmer mouthpiece.

Another mouthpiece story: I'd always heard that RPC mouthpieces were very good. I saw one available on E-bay that I thought would be about the right specs and bought it. When I got it I was very disappointed with the sound as I'd expected that it would sound great immediately. It didn't sound very good to me, but wasn't difficult to play. I put it aside, but would pick it up occasionally and give it another try. After several months I noticed that it was sounding better. The mouthpiece hadn't changed, I'd adapted to it, so kept playing it and now it's my main mouthpiece for alto.

There are subtleties of playing different mouthpieces that can't be explained, and a novice player isn't going to be able to access. As players we have a continual feedback system that minutely adjusts to different mouthpieces and (ideally) gives us the ability to make the most of them. Some fit our way of playing immediately, others take time, or just don't fit with the sound we are trying to make.

For me the sound file is unfortunately limited, even if one plays the same tune/exercises at the same time. I'd be more interested to hear people's opinions of various mouthpieces. There are criteria that (while still subjective) can give a better idea of what one could expect if buying a specific mouthpiece.
some examples:
1. What's the physical shape of the mouthpiece and what would you expect it to sound like given that shape?
2. How strong is the fundamental tone, harmonics/overtones in the bottom, mid and highs notes?
3. Is altissimo easy?
4. Is the mouthpiece easy to play or does it take time to adjust or get the most out of it?
5. Does the mouthpiece have one basic sound or is it adaptable and capable of a variety of sounds.
6. What are the styles of music that you think this mouthpiece is suited to?
7. Are there limitations/difficulties ( subtone, altissimo. difference between tone/timbre between high and low notes, etc.)
8. What are your subjective thoughts about playing (notes pop out easily, stuffy, bright, dull, etc.)?

I'm sure there are other things one could describe, but if these basics are covered, then I think someone who is searching for a mouthpiece to suit their tone concept has a better chance of finding what they want than listening to sound clips.

Can you describe each of those mouthpieces? I'd certainly find that very interesting.
 
OP
fabriziodalisera
Messages
103
Location
rome
Thank you Wade.
I also agree that is the player that makes the mouthpiece sound good and not the opposite.
My first mouthpiece was an Otto Link, and I have that kind of concept in my mind.
Despite I have tried a lot of mouthpieces I always come back to that concept.
I tend to sound better on large chamber low/mid baffle mouthpieces.
I don't like high baffled and small chambered mouthpieces.
The two mouthpieces that I have played more are the florida metal link and the Wanne Ambika.
They are different but they both have a low baffle and a big chamber.
I think that they are the most flexible soundwise.
The aizen is interesting, but becomes too edgy for me when pushed.
The Drake has a good classic vibe, but it is too free blowing for me, I used a rico 4 reed on it, but was not enough. I would like to try it in a larger tip opening.
The Wanne slant sig is very easy to play , I would like less material in the baffle.
It is hard to remeber all of the characteristics of all maouthpices, because I played some of them 9 years ago...
Do you have a favourite one?
 

Wade Cornell

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Thanks for posting back those comments. I've always wondered about the Drake mouthpieces and now hearing what you're saying helps me to see that it's probably not for me.

The mouthpieces I'm using most often are Morgans. My style of playing is not usually technically oriented jazz, so I'm looking for a more rounded sound with a strong fundamental + harmonics that can be molded. When/if I have need for a brighter sound I use baffle pieces like the Lamberson DD or Theo Wanne's Shiva, These work OK with the R&C horn that I mostly play, or my old Martin. I also have a "Joe Lovano" Borgani and only use a RPC mouthpiece for that horn.

When playing large bore horns there is a different physical dynamic. They seem to "suck" the air out of you. Very free blowing mouthpieces literally drain you. I need mouthpieces that produce the tone I'm looking for + have enough resistance so that it doesn't feel like I'm playing a Contra Bass Sax. I love the sound of the R&C, but mouthpiece selection is critical for these horns. You Italians are IMHO making today's world's best horns as they are very flexible in the sound/timbre you can produce. For me the opposite would be Yani and Yamaha, which are technically wonderful horns with excellent ergonomics, yet have less flexible tone possibilities.
 
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