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M/Pieces - Ligs What's the best way to test a new mouthpiece?

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40
Hi everyone! Long time since I posted, but I've been lurking - soaking up all the invaluable info and advice you all provide here, so thanks!

I've been playing Alto Sax for a whole year now, and think I'm ready to upgrade my mouthpiece (Yamaha 4C). I've saved up my pennies and am planning a visit to Sax.co to try some out. I just wondered whether anyone can advise me of a good test exercise to use when trying out different mouthpieces to help me choose? Any advice gratefully received!
 

Andante cantabile

Senior Member
Messages
695
This is difficult. It isn't like trying on new shoes. Ideally one should be able to play at least over a few days. One's view of a mouthpiece often changes over time. And at some stage you will have to consider the mouthpiece-reed combination.

It would also help to know in what way you consider you have outgrown your Yamaha 4C. That's about all I can say at this distance.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Hi There!

If you are looking to get a new mouthpiece it is a good idea to try and identify why - what is missing in the sound that you currently produce, or what sort of sound you are wanting to produce. Some folks find the Yamaha 4C a little too neutral sounding so you may be looking for a more distinctive sound, for example. I would say that some mouthpieces are more suited to classical - narrower tip
and with a "purer" sound, which sound good with slightly harder reeds - such as Vandoren Blue Box Traditionals. Some are more suited to rock, contemporary and similar music, with a wider tip and softer reeds such as La Voz, Vandoren Java. The Third are mouthpieces more suited to Jazz - again wider tip - which are usually based on Meyer type mouthpiece design, and use Jazz Cut reeds, such as Vandoren ZZ, Marca Jazz etc. A bit of research would be helpful on your part before you visit.

With something like Vandoren, Classical would be the "Optimum" mouthpiece, Jazz would be the "V16" mouthpiece, and Rock/Pop would be the "Java" or "Jumbo Java". If you are visiting a shop to try a few mouthpieces I would suggest having a try of some different styles of mouthpiece before trying to make a choice.

As far as exercises are concerned, just do some basic stuff - long notes, scales, short phrases and similar to see what you think of the sound produced and whether it feels comfortable to play, etc. I would think about one or two pieces that you play regularly to see whether the sound is in the right area. I primarily like jazz music from the 60's onwards and my main pieces are jazz suitable, Meyer type mouthpieces with Jazz Cut reeds. At the same time I like some Rock/Pop stuff and have a slightly different mouthpiece/reed set up just for that purpose.

In my experience many people have a good sense fairly early on of what mouthpiece they like the sound of, so exercises are not that important, but having a piece that you know well and characterises what you like about playing sax will help you choose a mouthpiece which helps you produce the sound that is nearest to your heart. Next is to get the right right tip opening size and right reed strength/type.

Good luck!
Tom
 

jonf

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,680
Just play them. Get the guidance of the guys at sax.co.uk (they're trustworthy and good players themselves) and trust your instincts.
 

rhysonsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
4,365
If you're testing quite a few mouthpieces, then it's worth doing it methodically and even keeping notes on the different pieces trialled.

For example, in the past I have made up a table to record my impressions under the headings of 'Sound', 'Intonation' and 'Feel'. Others might want to add different aspects such as 'Volume', 'Response' etc.

It is quite a good idea to sort the pieces into three groups as you go, such as 'definitely not', 'maybe' and 'definitely yes'. If you test play a lot of pieces it can get confusing, so keep weeding out the less good ones.

If you keep comparing the better ones back to your current mouthpiece, then that should give you a benchmark.

Some shops will let you purchase several mouthpieces on approval to give you a proper chance to play them at length in a familiar environment at home, with a teacher or at band. Then you can return the ones you didn't prefer and get a refund. Howarths in London certainly did this for me and I found it a big help.

Rhys
 

jazzdoh

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,281
Just as jonf says just play them,take a few of your best reeds with you,don't be rushed take a lot of time to play them and decide as this will eliminate the possible of you buying the wrong piece,i normally trial different pieces then walkaway for lunch,then go back try them again,mouthpieces are too expensive to buy on a whim,unless you are buying on Ebay where you might be getting a bargain.

Usually you will find one or two that will stand out.

Good luck

Brian
 

daveysaxboy

Big ruff Geordie bendy metal blower
Messages
3,312
Your in very safe hands at sax.co.uk.WOW for choice and loads of top advice.When i was young learning we all got put on a Meyer 6 tip mp after a while.We were all getting taught jazz stuff buy our teacher.Same thing as normal try lots of stuff with a good choice of reeds also.Different reeds suit different mps also.The Yanagisawa HR is also a nice mp.Get loads on the table and have fun but remember the right 1 should be easy and fun to blow.
 
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