Mouthpiece

Mouthpiece

Now the sound is born its time to choose a suitable mouthpiece, that will enable you to shape your tone just the way you like it.

First you must choose the right size Mouthpiece. Pretty simple: for an tenor saxophone - choose a tenor mouthpiece - wow that was easy. Now it becomes slightly more complicated.

 

You can to in 2 different main directions:

 

1. Metal

2. Hard Rubber or Ebonit

Mouthpiece anatomy

You need to take a closer look at some of the key factors of the mouthpiece anatomy. Here are the most important ones in terms of sound:

 

- Chambre

- Facing Curve

- Tip Opening

- Baffle Type

 

SMALL CHAMBER: Very focused and clear tone

 

MEDIUM CHAMBER: God centered tone full tone

 

LARGE CHAMBER: Fat and warm sound

 

LONG FACING: Fat tone great easy low notes

 

MEDIUM FACING: God full tones top to bottom

 

SHORT FACING: Clear and bright high notes

 

Your sound...

Now you have to choose in witch direction you want to go

 

For many players finding their own signature sound can be a life long search. And its easy to get lost in the mouthpiece jungle. So many dirrerent brands that all claim to bring your the perfect sound. Truth is: you have to make a choise. No mouthpiece on earth can give you everything in one piece.You cant have a big fat sound and superfast cut and projection in one piece. Let tak a look at the two main highways you can travel.

 

METAL

If you choose a metal mouthpiece you have selected a sound that amplifies response. Metal tends to respond faster than Ebonit, and in general the sound has a larger over tone range. In other words its a bit easier to play high range notes on a metal mouthpiece. I know this is very general terms, and there are many other factors to considder, witch I will get into later. Try hitting a metal cylinger that hangs to vibrate freely - you get an instant and responsive high pitch tone. The sound you get by hitting metal will be equal to the vibrations caused by you blowing air through a mouthpiece with a reed that makes a tone. The over tones are identical and so are the dynamic range. So in short: Metal gives you punch and volume.

 

EBONIT

Has a softer tone. The molecular structure of the softer material ebonit makes for a warmer tone and the mouthpiece gives you a bit more resistence. This is due to the lesser density of the ebonit material. In in it self the Ebonit does not have much resonanse. The material is almost acoustically neutral. So.... it will in a way let the tone pass thorugh acoustically unchanged leaving it up to the player to do so. There are of cause ways to change the tone in an Ebonit mouthpiece and we will have a look at these ways of changing and coloring the tone of a mouthpiece. So in short for Ebonit: Ebonit gives you a warm and soft tone.

 

You can get mouthpieces made from crystal, ivory, plastic and other materials.

Most importantly!

Your mouthpiece must seal tight against the reed, facing curve be equal and tip and side rails be uniform

 

The great old Otto Link Tone Edge ebonit mouthpiece on the left was brought into my shop by a young player . He felt he had a bit of trouble with his sound. Can you imagine? I dont know what happened to the mouthpiece and why it looked like it did, but I knew a rescue attempt was badly needed. After 3 hours of restoration it was brought back to life.

 

If the reed does not seal properly aganinst the table you will have problems. If the side rails are not perfectly symetrically curved, the reed will at sertain notes not vibrate freely thus creating problem notes. If the tip is not uniform the mouthpiece could squeek like a duck call. In other words: any mouthpiece needs to be set up properly, and not all manifactures do a hand finish and control measurment - and this is essential.

 

No matter witch facing curve your mouthpiece has - it needs to be uniform on both sides. For this I use special tools to measure not only witch type of facing curve a mouthpiece has, but also if the facing is the same on both rails. The picture to your right shows a facing curve that starts on 28 on the right rail and 26 on the left. After correction both rails start on 27 as it should. (printed on the side of the mouthpiece)

 

SO IN SHORT:

its better to have an old mouthpiece thas is propperly setup than a new shiny one, thats badly setup.

For inspiration and knowledge

Here are som links you might want to investegate further