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M/Pieces - Ligs time for a change of mouthpiece

LeeY

New Member
Messages
22
Hi all
Can I have some advice re mouthpieces please. I have used (for 2-years) a Selmer C*, and I have always had trouble with intermittent squeaking with the higher notes, particularly D and above. There isn't a particular cause that I can pinpoint and I have tried numerous recommendations. I have read that due to the sheer quantity of these mouthpieces being produced there can be problems with quality. Have since done a little bit of research and the Vandoren AL3, or 4 seem to be comparable to the C*. Can anyone offer some insightful wisdom into the quality of the Vandoren mouthpieces and indeed if the AL3/4 would be a good place to start looking for a replacement?
as always, very grateful for any feedback
Lee
 

Andante cantabile

Senior Member
Messages
695
I have a Vandoren T20, and I used to play the baritone with a Vandoren BL3. In my view, these are good mouthpieces, though not on the cheap side ,but I cannot offer any advice on whether an AL3/4 would be right for you.
 

Fraser Jarvis

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,910
Best advice anyone can give you is get yourself down to a decent sax shop, somewere like sax.co and try a load out before you make your decission.
I've been very lucky with my two mouthpieces, a Lawton and a Guardala, both bought over the internet, but i could have quite easily have gone through loads before finding the right one's doing it this way....
 

c9off

Senior Member
Messages
604
This is alto yes? You will likely receive nearly as many suggestions as members, including everything from a Runyon 22 (yawn....) to a Lawton... but only you will know what really suits, and that is by playing it.. J Packer being the obvious destination...

I have a Selmer C* but not an AL4, so can't compare those specific two... do have many others - including Vandorens - though...

A little while ago I made the decision to concentrate mainly on hand finished pieces whilst all excellent in their own way, maybe not the answer as there are definately good 'stock' pieces out there...

Don't forget other lays will produce a different animal...

sorry if all this produces no actual suggestions!!
 

Nick Wyver

noisy
Subscriber
Messages
5,949
Are you sure it's the mouthpiece that's the problem? Has anyone else tried it? FWIW I've never come across a dodgy Selmer mpc.
 

LeeY

New Member
Messages
22
Good point!
Thanks for the advice, re the mouthpiece, the tip of the reed/s do not sit completely with the tip of the mouthpiece - there is a slight overhang on the lateral edges. Whereas the Yamaha mouthpiece has a shape that is more fitting with the reeds. Is this normal? I will certainly take a trip to JP for a trial with other mouthpieces and also for their advice with the Selmer. If I can't resolve it then back to the old drawing board with regards to my embouchure. My tutor is pleased with the sound that I produce, but as I said I don't have consistency with the higher notes.
Lee
 

Two Voices

Senior Member
Messages
1,113
I have a Vandoren Optimum AL3 for the Alto which is a nice consistent and versitile piece. Very free blowing and responsive. The only reason I don't play it any more is purely down to its tone - too bright for my tastes.

As for your problem in playing the higher register, I think it is more technique than mouthpiece. An Alto requires more control to get the notes clean compared to a Tenor. Try practicing long notes, it does help. Neighbours might have an issue though!
 

Nick Wyver

noisy
Subscriber
Messages
5,949
Thanks for the advice, re the mouthpiece, the tip of the reed/s do not sit completely with the tip of the mouthpiece - there is a slight overhang on the lateral edges. Whereas the Yamaha mouthpiece has a shape that is more fitting with the reeds. Is this normal?
It's not at all unusual.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
It can be quite common that the change into the upper octave, using the octave key, can expose leaks in our embouchure and air can escape significantly at D as we often have not had time to adjust our embouchure. I would make sure that your face has a noticeable frown when playing the sax as this is one of the ways in which we can prevent air escaping, causing squeaks. Providing that the reed is carefully put on the mouthpiece table then these combined should eliminate any squeaks, unless there is a potential leak somewhere else in the system - octave key, etc.

As someone said above there are potentially endless mouthpiece recommendations. As the Selmer is quite a narrow tip opening you may be potentially blowing too hard and may at some point need a slightly wider tip opening or harder reed. Also it depends on what music you like to play, as the Selmer is commonly used for classical playing and a change of mouthpiece may be helpful if your interests lie elsewhere. I am sure that they would be able to help in JP country if you wanted a change of mouthpiece for this reason.

But I would try and hone in on embouchure issues first.
Kind regards
Tom
 

jeremyjuicewah

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,890
As you guys are talking mouthpieces, may I ask mouthpiece question. I have a new one. It sounds wonderful, completely changes my alto. But, I have found that with my usual 3 reed it gets hard work quickly. Its as if it is restricted and requires more effort and control to make the lovely noise. I got to high F# immediatly, no messing, but after a short while I cant get it anymore. I have gone to a number 2 reed, think Tom suggested that in another thread, and its much easier to play, not quite such a mellow tone. Can get F# but its not easy. I can get it if I go up from D and I can get it if I blow gently and persevere with mouth shaping etc. What is happening when I cannot make that note? If I knew that, and what is happening when a reed just closes up on me, I might make better progress. Anyone know?
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Hi There!

Harder reeds generally do the high notes slightly better than softer reeds do. It may well be that the 2 reed is just a little too soft and may be too flimsy or blown too hard and is closing the tip. A 2.5 reed will probably do better and it may be that you need to consult a decent reed comparison chart to check which reeds may the alternatives if you are looking for a darker/less bright sound. What are you currently playing? I play 2.5 reeds which are great for me and F# is easy, as are the rest of the notes down to Bb - with mouthpieces from 0.078" to 0.085".

The technique issue may be that you may be constricting your throat somewhat when playing higher and hence producing a brighter tone - who knows. What can really help high notes is to particularly practice long notes down low, and then play some long notes up high, so that you are developing a strong airstream throughout with no throat constriction to supplement it.

Doing an online search about darker reeds will help, but attending to your breathing can help. With quite bright Jazz reeds and a narrow tip opening I can often make my alto sound tenor like in terms of depth/darkness of sound.

Kind regards
Tom
 

LeeY

New Member
Messages
22
It can be quite common that the change into the upper octave, using the octave key, can expose leaks in our embouchure and air can escape significantly at D as we often have not had time to adjust our embouchure. I would make sure that your face has a noticeable frown when playing the sax as this is one of the ways in which we can prevent air escaping, causing squeaks. Providing that the reed is carefully put on the mouthpiece table then these combined should eliminate any squeaks, unless there is a potential leak somewhere else in the system - octave key, etc.

As someone said above there are potentially endless mouthpiece recommendations. As the Selmer is quite a narrow tip opening you may be potentially blowing too hard and may at some point need a slightly wider tip opening or harder reed. Also it depends on what music you like to play, as the Selmer is commonly used for classical playing and a change of mouthpiece may be helpful if your interests lie elsewhere. I am sure that they would be able to help in JP country if you wanted a change of mouthpiece for this reason.

But I would try and hone in on embouchure issues first.
Kind regards
Tom
Thanks Tom

I have tried using the mouthpiece that came with the sax, and it seems to make a different sound - sorry for lack of technical terminology, but not too sure how else to write it down. With regards to the high notes I can hit the D and E, but again I had a piercing shrill with the F. I will visit JP on Wednesday and take both mouthpieces to see what advice they can offer, and will also ask about wider tips to try whilst I am there. I guess I haven't really practised the higher notes enough with my tutor, and I get a tad nervous to try at home when I keep getting such an ear piercing sound - not neighbour friendly. I currently use a Rico Jazz unfiled hard 2 reed - this is due to trial and error with tutor and this seemed to be the best one so far. I get a nice sound with the other notes.
Regards
Lee
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Don't try too hard too soon to get very low and very high notes. Just gently work up to them and if there's a problem, give it a miss for a couple of weeks... Makes a huge difference.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
The Rico Jazz Selects 2H are the equivalent of most 2.5 reeds apart from the more classical ones - Vandoren Traditional, Rico Concert Grand etc. Getting the F and F# may therefore either be an embouchure or a possible leak issue. Be worth taking your sax in when you go to JP, or see whether your teacher can play those notes comfortably. Also the RJS unfiled should not be that bright.

Kind regards
Tom
 

LeeY

New Member
Messages
22
Just an update, I went to JP on Wednesday, and they were very helpful and presented me with a whole array of mouthpieces - once I had explained my problem. The mouthpieces were all centered around my Selmer C*, I tried most, unfortunately I couldn't spare as much time as I would have liked. Out of the ones I tried, I was struck by the Selmer C**, which I was easily able to hit the high F using the same reed that I have been using for about a month or so now. JP have allowed me to have the mouthpiece on a 10-day trial, so lots of practice coming up before I decide. Thanks for everyone's views and help
Lee
 

saxstorm

Still battling on!
Messages
32
Squeak Easy

Squeaks can have many causes, either with the sax/mouthpiece/reed or with the player - ranging from too much to too little practise! Have you tried one of the rubber/fabric type ligatures? I use a BG standard which I find gives much better control over the high notes. Vandoren mouthpieces are excellent but I tried an AL3 a few months ago and it seemed dull and lacking in projection, IMHO the AL35 is a much better mp.


Hi all
Can I have some advice re mouthpieces please. I have used (for 2-years) a Selmer C*, and I have always had trouble with intermittent squeaking with the higher notes, particularly D and above. There isn't a particular cause that I can pinpoint and I have tried numerous recommendations. I have read that due to the sheer quantity of these mouthpieces being produced there can be problems with quality. Have since done a little bit of research and the Vandoren AL3, or 4 seem to be comparable to the C*. Can anyone offer some insightful wisdom into the quality of the Vandoren mouthpieces and indeed if the AL3/4 would be a good place to start looking for a replacement?
as always, very grateful for any feedback



Lee
 

jeremyjuicewah

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,890
Just got back from uk to find my Selmer C* on the doormat. I bought it off e bay before I left pretty well as a result of this thread. I got a mouthpiece given me which without any effort on my part changed the tone of my alto to a beautifull, mellow sound. Downside is it is hard to play, feels like there is a restriction and I cant blow soft or sub tone. Reading this it seemed that the Selmer was a fairly safe bet as an upgrade from the twopence worth of mouthpiece my sax came with. I paid 54 euros and its in as new nick. I dont get the beautiful sound without trying but I can subtone easily and the upper F comes easily but I have to work for F#. Much of this will be me but I am not disappointed with the Selmer, I think everything said about it here was correct, but next one I buy I will up the budget and try it first.
Cheers all.
 

Justin Chune

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,011
I use Rico Royal No2 reeds on my Selmer C* alto mouthpiece and have no problems. I use Selmer mouthpieces on clarinet and ATB saxophones. They are easy to play and for me there is no downside to using them. I hope you get used to yours. Try a softer reed for a bit.

Jim.
 
Saxholder Pro
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