PPT mouthpieces

Mouthpieces two mouthpiece questions


Egham, Surrey
Hello peeps,

I had two questions about mps... First what is ebonite? I thought ebonite was hard rubber, but I own a HR link and it looks and smells like rubber. My ebonite yamaha 4cm looks a lot like plastic.

The other thing is, I got a cleaning kit and the mp brush that came with it has hard nylon bristles. Is that ok, or will it scratch the bore of my mp?

ta chaps!
Ebonite is hard rubber vulcanised(heated) together with sulphur.
A lot of cheap 'black plastic' mouthpieces are described as being ebonite ...the 4C is one of them ! I think the most commonly used plastic is probably ABS(Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene!) but one sees names such as 'Delrin'(Polyoxymethylene!) and 'Acetal' (also Polyoxymethylene but white!) being bandied-around, along with the more general term 'resin'.
Pete undoubtedly knows more than I, having developed a new black mouthpiece recently!
I agree, Alan...and I think many people get rather paranoid about mpc hygiene....warm soapy water will clean off most 'stuff', especially with an occasional dunk in mild disinfectant :)

And I see that Stephen Howard pretty much agrees, too!
I'll ditch the brush then, I generally just rinse but I've occasinally used a toothbrush and soapy water, but I was suprised at how scratchy the mp brush was. I've only used it once so hopefully no damage done!

I'm still confused about the yamaha 4CM- it's considerably more expensive than the regular 4C (i got it s/h though), I thought it was supposed to be ebonite but the material is so different from my link. If it's plastic, why is it so expensive?
The CM is made of ebonite, it's the standard C that's made of plastic. Never heard of the C being claimed as made of ebonite, it's a simple, plastic moulding, and none the worse for that. Some ebonite mouthpieces, such as Yanagisawa ones look a bit more plastic-like than Links, simply because they are more highly polished. The key difference between the two is that plastic can be moulded, whereas ebonite has to be cut, or carved.

The most important thing about ebonite mouthpieces is not to use water that is too hot when you wash them. Hot water makes them change colour, go a nasty pooey brown colour and smell sulphurous. Yuck. Luke warm is fine.
I've seen ebay sellers claiming the 4c was ebonite. So my link and yamaha are the same material then.... weird. The link even smells like rubber. I wonder if the yamaha has some sort of coating applied when its polished..

Thanks for the tip about hot water!!
As others have mentioned, ebonite is vulcanite is hard rubber -- vulcanized rubber that's at least 30% sulphur.
Some manufacturers highly polish their ebonite (like Vandoren), some don't (like Babbitt (Meyer, Otto Link)).
Ebonite pieces are usually molded, then vulcanized. I think the only major manufacturer that is machining from rubber rods is selmer.
There are various plastics that are used for mouthpieces these days, none sound as good as ebonite imo. The Yamahas are indeed plastic and not rubber afaik.
The standard Yamaha C mouthpieces are plastic, but the CM are definitely ebonite. This is what Yamaha themselves say about them

Yamaha Custom saxophone and clarinet mouthpieces are sculpted out of choice ebonite, a high quality hard rubber which offers a deep resonance and total qualities similar to those of nature wood. Every step of the production, from the initial shaping of the mouthpiece 'blank' to the final hand crafting of the facing, is done by Yamaha's experienced artisans for complete control ensuring consistent high quality. Yamaha has spent years working together with many of the world's greatest musicians, studying their mouthpieces and discovering ways to improve them. The Custom series incorporates this experience in the design and manufacture of every mouthpiece in the series. The Custom mouthpieces are characterized by a warm rich tone with exceptional clarity, Their accurate intonation and comfortable playability have made them popular with many leading artists.

Although ebonite may be moulded into the first stage of the blank, as far as I know all are machined to a finish, due to the brittleness of the material precluding moulding to the finished state. On many, such as my Yanagisawa ebonite, you can clearly see the machining marks.

Ebonite is actually a trade name, but has become a synonym for vulcanized rubber through decades of use.
I use a mp brush 'carefully' with no ill effects on ebonite and metal mps. To clean the mps I use a mouthwash (antibacterial) then liquid soap followed by a thorough rinse in like warm water. Reeds get the same treatment.

Seems to work for me. Most smelly item is the crook which I occasionally rinse out with vinegar.

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