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M/Pieces - Ligs When should one upgrade their (first) mouthpiece?

Terence

New Member
Messages
19
Location
Canada
I've been playing sax (P. Mauriat Alto "Le Bravo") for six months, and progressing well.

Currently, I'm using (and have always used) a Yamaha 4C mouthpiece (and VanDoren "Java Red" reeds).

I'm unsure about if and when I should invest in another ("better") mouthpiece?

I don't have any concerns with the Yamaha 4C...so perhaps there's no good reason to replace it yet? In any event, I truly don't know where to begin (with hundreds of mouthpiece reviews and recommendations online it's just too overwhelming!)

I like to play jazz/blues/popular music. I'm currently playing for my own enjoyment; although, once Covid is under control I intend to seek opportunities to play in an amateur ensemble of some sort...(ok, maybe I'm getting a bit ahead of myself).

Bottom line: is a different ("better") mouthpiece likely to make an appreciable difference? If so, in what way?

Any pointers or advice from fellow alto sax players would be much appreciated!
 

Greg Strange

Well-Known Member
The best advice I can offer is get yourself to a well stocked music store and try as many mouthpieces as possible and see what works best for you. A good starting point for alto is maybe a Meyer 5M. The Meyer hard rubber alto mouthpiece is one of the most widely used by pro alto players. There is also some boutique mouthpiece manufacturers that make their own variation of the Meyer; also Vandoren make mouthpieces based on the Meyer design as well.

Happy mouthpiece hunting.

Greg S.
 

Terence

New Member
Messages
19
Location
Canada
The best advice I can offer is get yourself to a well stocked music store and try as many mouthpieces as possible and see what works best for you. A good starting point for alto is maybe a Meyer 5M. The Meyer hard rubber alto mouthpiece is one of the most widely used by pro alto players. There is also some boutique mouthpiece manufacturers that make their own variation of the Meyer; also Vandoren make mouthpieces based on the Meyer design as well.

Happy mouthpiece hunting.

Greg S.
Thanks Greg!
 

Dave Dunn

Member
Messages
66
Location
South Australia
I'm even more of a beginner than you, so I can only offer thoughts, not solid advice. I'm still waiting for my saxophones to arrive, but I've been playing pocket saxophones since Christmas, and bought a few different types to see what's best. This means that I've got 5 "no name" alto mouthpieces. Out of those, there is only one that I really like, but it's not the same as the one my wife prefers. I bought a used Yamaha 4CM which arrived yesterday, I was squeaking and squawking all over the place! That hasn't happened for weeks now on the other mouthpiece, with that I can play in tune, and hit notes in the higher octave in tune too. There's nothing wrong with the 4CM, it's certainly better quality, but it's not what I'm used to. So I think no matter what you buy, initially you're going to like your 4C better. I've been shopping on Reverb, you can pick up a brand name second hand alto mouthpiece for $10usd, so I think it's worth buying a few different types and trying them out, you might find your next favourite without spending a lot of money. I liken it to buying a range of brands and strengths of reeds, there's nothing wrong with any of them, but I've developed a definite preference for Marca Jazz. It may not be the best choice for the 4CM though, so I'm glad that I have a box of different reeds to try out. So my thoughts are, buy as many different mouthpieces as you can afford them and try them out, even if you don't like them now, you might be glad that they're in the drawer sometime down the track. If you're happy with the 4C, perhaps spending some cash on buying a range of reeds might be the way to go. Obviously you're not 100% happy (subconsciously?) with what you have or you wouldn't be asking the question.
Just the thoughts of a raw beginner, but hopefully of some use. :)
 

Terence

New Member
Messages
19
Location
Canada
My general response would be when you have developed the tone production skills to play from low Bb to high F from piano to forte you are ready to take off the training wheels and move up from a beginners mouthpiece.
Thank you, jbtsax!
 

Terence

New Member
Messages
19
Location
Canada
I'm even more of a beginner than you, so I can only offer thoughts, not solid advice. I'm still waiting for my saxophones to arrive, but I've been playing pocket saxophones since Christmas, and bought a few different types to see what's best. This means that I've got 5 "no name" alto mouthpieces. Out of those, there is only one that I really like, but it's not the same as the one my wife prefers. I bought a used Yamaha 4CM which arrived yesterday, I was squeaking and squawking all over the place! That hasn't happened for weeks now on the other mouthpiece, with that I can play in tune, and hit notes in the higher octave in tune too. There's nothing wrong with the 4CM, it's certainly better quality, but it's not what I'm used to. So I think no matter what you buy, initially you're going to like your 4C better. I've been shopping on Reverb, you can pick up a brand name second hand alto mouthpiece for $10usd, so I think it's worth buying a few different types and trying them out, you might find your next favourite without spending a lot of money. I liken it to buying a range of brands and strengths of reeds, there's nothing wrong with any of them, but I've developed a definite preference for Marca Jazz. It may not be the best choice for the 4CM though, so I'm glad that I have a box of different reeds to try out. So my thoughts are, buy as many different mouthpieces as you can afford them and try them out, even if you don't like them now, you might be glad that they're in the drawer sometime down the track. If you're happy with the 4C, perhaps spending some cash on buying a range of reeds might be the way to go. Obviously you're not 100% happy (subconsciously?) with what you have or you wouldn't be asking the question.
Just the thoughts of a raw beginner, but hopefully of some use. :)
Thanks Dave, for your lengthy and helpful response!
 

MikeMorrell

Netherlands
Café Supporter
Messages
1,564
Location
Breda
Although I've been playing (tenor) sax for years, I don't know much about mpc's. From reading similar questions over the years, my impression is that there are two basic approaches.

The first is to to go along to a sax shop and try out a bunch of different mpc's of roughly the same tip opening (or a step up) just to hear and feel the differences between them. There's a lot to said for this. You might find one (perhaps a couple) that you immediately like the sound and feel of more than the one you have.

A slightly different approach is first to get a clearer idea about what it is you don't like about you current mpc. For example: the sound you produce (timbre ?), the range of dynamics (volume) you can produce, maybe the general 'playability' and maybe something else. And then go to the sax shop (with a clearer idea of what and where you want to improve on your current mpc). My guess is that the more clearly you can explain what your looking for, the better the sax shop might be able to give you a selection to try out.

Personally, I've always followed the 2nd approach. In 25 years I've 'upgraded' just 4 or 5 times from my first (Selmer) mpc. Each time because I felt 'limited' in my playing on the mpc I had. My first few 'upgrades' were basically just wider tip openings that - as I developed - allowed me to breath enough air through the mpc when I needed to (volume). Later, as I started to play more solos in a band, I started to look for a mpc that would 'blend in' when I needed to but also 'cut through' the backing (in tone and volume) when I needed to.

If you haven't yet done so, read this Taming the Saxophone page. Especially on trying out a few mpc's at home. It's also worth searching the cafe on things like Yamaha 4C, upgrade mouthpiece (and mpc). There are far too many to read, but there may be some useful recent ones.

I also agree with @jbtsax's response in the sense that the better (and more varied) your tone production is on the mpc you already have, the more able you will be to 'try out' other mpc's.

I found it interesting to read two different new threads today on upgrading from a Yamaha 4C mpc. Yours after playing on it for 6 months. The other after playing on it for 6 years. :)
 

randulo

Living the dream
Café Supporter
Messages
5,923
Location
France
I don't have any concerns with the Yamaha 4C...so perhaps there's no good reason to replace it yet?
I don't see any reason to look beyond that statement for now? It won't hurt to try other mouthpieces if you have the occasion, but I wouldn't run around looking for them.
 

turf3

Member
Messages
226
Location
Earth
When you want to do something that you can't do with the current one. For most of us it comes with that first gig with a rock and roll band or a loud big band where you need to be heard and get a penetrating tone rather than a sweet classical one.
 

Terence

New Member
Messages
19
Location
Canada
When you want to do something that you can't do with the current one. For most of us it comes with that first gig with a rock and roll band or a loud big band where you need to be heard and get a penetrating tone rather than a sweet classical one.
Thanks Turf3!
 

Terence

New Member
Messages
19
Location
Canada
Although I've been playing (tenor) sax for years, I don't know much about mpc's. From reading similar questions over the years, my impression is that there are two basic approaches.

The first is to to go along to a sax shop and try out a bunch of different mpc's of roughly the same tip opening (or a step up) just to hear and feel the differences between them. There's a lot to said for this. You might find one (perhaps a couple) that you immediately like the sound and feel of more than the one you have.

A slightly different approach is first to get a clearer idea about what it is you don't like about you current mpc. For example: the sound you produce (timbre ?), the range of dynamics (volume) you can produce, maybe the general 'playability' and maybe something else. And then go to the sax shop (with a clearer idea of what and where you want to improve on your current mpc). My guess is that the more clearly you can explain what your looking for, the better the sax shop might be able to give you a selection to try out.

Personally, I've always followed the 2nd approach. In 25 years I've 'upgraded' just 4 or 5 times from my first (Selmer) mpc. Each time because I felt 'limited' in my playing on the mpc I had. My first few 'upgrades' were basically just wider tip openings that - as I developed - allowed me to breath enough air through the mpc when I needed to (volume). Later, as I started to play more solos in a band, I started to look for a mpc that would 'blend in' when I needed to but also 'cut through' the backing (in tone and volume) when I needed to.

If you haven't yet done so, read this Taming the Saxophone page. Especially on trying out a few mpc's at home. It's also worth searching the cafe on things like Yamaha 4C, upgrade mouthpiece (and mpc). There are far too many to read, but there may be some useful recent ones.

I also agree with @jbtsax's response in the sense that the better (and more varied) your tone production is on the mpc you already have, the more able you will be to 'try out' other mpc's.

I found it interesting to read two different new threads today on upgrading from a Yamaha 4C mpc. Yours after playing on it for 6 months. The other after playing on it for 6 years. :)
Thanks so much Mike. Lots of great advice. Much appreciated!
 

saxyjt

Saxus Circus Maximus
Café Supporter
Messages
4,560
Location
France
Are you ready to open the pandora box?

I don't want to scare you, but once you start looking, you won't stop. Unless you are very reasonable. I'm not, so. I have many mouthpieces. I am incurable, try to play all variants of the sax and almost any mouthpiece I can get my hands on. I probably have around 100 in total.

The result is that I'm actually a bit confused... Of course I have a few favorites, but revisiting some older, closer, original mouthpieces I find that they are actually quite good too!

Try to understand the variables of mouthpieces before you go wild. Tip openings, baffles, chambers... And then you MUST try before you buy.

A new mouthpiece can take some time to get used to, but you need to evaluate how comfortable you are playing it. It is not supposed to hamper your development as a young player. Quite the opposite.

Well, that were my 2 cents! :oops:

Tonight I played my metal PPT 7* on tenor. I love it. But I'm not practicing enough these days so it's very frustrating... My fingers are clumsy and I can't focus. o_O

My son was very nice and told me I should play more and it'll get all well.
 

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