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About Sax on the Web

Sax on the Web (SOTW) is a comprehensive saxophone site founded by Harri Rautiainen.
It covers many aspects of saxophone and saxophone playing in articles written by several experts. An integral part is the SOTW Forum with 20,000 registered members from beginners to prominent players and trade specialists.
Created: May 5, 2008
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In Sax on the Web Review series:

The Gladiator Battle of JodyJazz Saxophone Mouthpieces:

Classic vs. ESP vs. HR* vs. DV vs. DVNY.

by William Sadler


Welcome to the Gladiator Arena...after nearly a year of inactivity, the arena once again welcomes its newest contenders: the entire line of JodyJazz Saxophone mouthpieces. For this feature, I’ll be comparing the alto mouthpieces, including the new and highly acclaimed “JodyJazz DVNY alto” mouthpiece.

Initial Impressions

JodyJazz Classic 6: One of the first newer professional mouthpieces I had bought. I had originally purchased this one back when they were first introduced. I wasn’t sure what to expect back then. Now that I’ve had it for years, I know this mouthpiece very well.

JodyJazz ESP 6: The first $300 mouthpiece I had ever purchased. I heard a lot of great things about these mouthpieces, and with my satisfaction of his earlier model, absolutely had to give this one a try. I also am proud to say I’ve known this mouthpiece for years.

JodyJazz HR* 6M: And then he came out with a hard rubber model. This one I was skeptical about at first. It sounded like another one of those Meyer copies that didn’t really improve on the design. Boy was I wrong. I love the look and smell of these things; very chic.

JodyJazz DV 7: Who knew such a radical looking mouthpiece would come out so fast; but it’s also a piece of artwork. Anyone who has looked at these things knows how gorgeous they are. I thought this would be a little bright for me, but I couldn’t resist getting one to try out ASAP. I first tried a 6, but took Jody’s advice on a slightly more open tip, so for this review I got a DV 7 alto.

JodyJazz DVNY 6: While I loved the DV, the thought of a darker version of the DV was extremely tempting. I knew I had to try one. Jody was kind enough to provide one for this review.

/ Winner: JodyJazz DVNY

Appearance:

JodyJazz Classic 6: Well, they look like Runyons, but there are obvious differences and improvements to the appearance of these mouthpieces. A different baffle shape, more finely honed rails/tip rail and a classy presentation make it an impressive looking mouthpiece. I absolutely love the Sapphire blue (my personal piece), but recently they have discontinued that color. Now they have introduced the Ruby Red mouthpieces, which also look pretty cool. I do wish they’d improve the spoiler plastic part, sometimes you get one that looks a little off. They always fit as they’re supposed to, though.

JodyJazz ESP 6: A work of art, to put it bluntly. Super thin rails, tip rail, a large chamber and plated in gorgeous 24kt gold. These mouthpieces look excellent. I have noted that the gold spoilers tend to be perfect, every time, and the gold plating on the spoiler tops it off.

JodyJazz HR* 6M: Looks like your average hard rubber alto mouthpiece. Or does it? These mouthpieces have a satin finish on the hard rubber, and whilst this looks cool it is also easily scratched and marred. So if you want that satin finish to last, it’s wise to take care when applying the ligature, especially if it’s a metal one. The overall appearance is concurrent with his other mouthpieces; the side/tip rails are great, not super thin but just right. It’s a classic presentation, with nicely gold embossed lettering. I’m glad the number stamp is deep into the body; the older Meyers had a tendency of wearing this number away. These are firmly stamped into the hard rubber; I don’t see these fading anytime soon.

JodyJazz DV 7: You thought the ESP looked good? This thing is another work of art, with some nice cosmetic touches. The bite plate is an awesome Greek letter Phi, which actually stands for a number in nature related to proportions found in nature. The letter Phi is also found in gold on the sides of the mouthpiece. What really stands out, though, is the secondary window on the mouthpiece. This concept is designed for a bigger, fatter tone from the mouthpiece. Beautiful thin side/tip rails and excellent 24kt gold plating top it off.

JodyJazz DVNY 6: Almost identical to the DV in its outside appearance, except for the missing “Phi” biteplate, a result of a thinner beak profile due to removed material inside the mouthpiece. The inside baffle and chamber is different, it is deeper with a lower baffle. It still looks exceptional, although I still think the Phi biteplate was very cool. Flawless craftsmanship.

/ Winner: JodyJazz ESP and JodyJazz DV 7

Response:

I consider "response" to mean how quickly a mouthpiece responds to your air stream; how easily the extreme ranges of the horn speak; and how fast the articulation can be on that particular mouthpiece.

JodyJazz Classic 6: Excellent mid and high range response. Low range was still good, but not as responsive as others. It has a good solid attack and excellent tonguing capabilities. This piece delivered both at low, medium, and high volume settings. It did tend to get a little resistant at lower volumes in the lower range, but it was minor detail that I corrected in time. With the spoiler in, mid and upper registers responded even faster, but the low range suffered a tiny bit. Altissimo was excellent, especially with the spoiler.

JodyJazz ESP 6: I definitely expected this piece to be extremely responsive, almost too responsive, but what I found was a metal mouthpiece that gives you something to push up against. Plenty, actually, but it was a nice touch, especially with the spoiler in. A good balance of power with resistance. No matter what volume level or playing style, this mouthpiece never once backed up on me. I could push and push without the piece closing up. A wonderful, even response in all volume levels and ranges. The spoiler increased response, but again the lower end suffered slightly, although not as much with this mouthpiece as with the Classic. Altissimo was good with the spoiler in, but I didn’t feel comfortable up there without the spoiler. Probably just a personal thing, as I know other players who don’t have any issues with altissimo sans spoiler.

JodyJazz HR* 6M: I remember when I first got this mouthpiece. I had a Meyer NY Ltd. Ed. 6M, a vintage Meyer New York USA 5M, and a Phil Barone NY 6M with me. After blowing this piece for 5 minutes it was apparent which one played best. Incredible response for a rubber piece, although it seems to change with your air speed and tongue position. If I wanted that soft, ‘foofy’ attack of Paul Desmond, it was there. If I wanted to bop like Bird, I had it. It had a VERY even and centered sound throughout the entire range, and was excellent at low volumes. Not quite as “instant” in the altissimo register as the Classic, but it was all there. It simply felt great to play.

JodyJazz DV 7: Holy Moses someone must have wanted a responsive mouthpiece. This thing zips and pops everywhere. From the low Bb and climbing up into the altissimo stratosphere, this thing didn’t miss a beat. Repeated articulations are so quick on this thing; can anyone quadruple tongue? All kidding aside, this had a very even response and an absolutely KILLING altissimo register. I was VERY surprised the low register didn’t suffer. It still was clear with depth.

JodyJazz DV NY 6: Extremely easy response on this mouthpiece; not as “instant” as the DV but there is very little resistance. All the registers are a piece of cake; the low register just pops right out, the palm keys sing, and the altissimo is right there. It definitely required some adjusting for all the altissimo to pop, because I was coming off of playing the DV. But after some time getting accustomed to it, there were no problems.

/ Winner: JodyJazz DV 7 and JodyJazz DV NY 6

Dynamics/Projection:

Not the same thing, I know, but included in the same category. Projection, in my mind, is the ability to fill up a room with your sound; the ability to make your sound carry to the far corners of the room, no matter what volume. To me, volume is simply how loud you can play...a higher amount of decibels.

JodyJazz Classic 6: Projection on this mouthpiece is excellent, perhaps due in part to its very focused sound. You can fill up a room no problem. Dynamics were also very easy to control. You can tell this mouthpiece wants to be pushed to higher volumes, but it still pleasantly accepts the lower decibels without any fighting. With the spoiler inside, you can really cut through a band.

JodyJazz ESP 6: Definitely lacking the sheer power of the Classic and DV, but is definitely sultry at lower volumes. However, the spoiler gives it a healthy dose of projection and makes the upper register really sing. I found the upper register dynamics to be a tad bit weak without the spoiler, but this could just be a personal thing. I found this projection to be more spread than the Classic. Sort of like filling up a room more slowly, rather than targeting someone and knocking them over with your projection (not to say that’s a bad thing!)

JodyJazz HR* 6M: While this piece has a good, solid response, it was the projection that really surprised me. These pieces are quite capable of producing loads of whack when blowing. I find it tends to get a little thinner once you hit the “wow that’s loud” volume, but at most levels it did quite well. I would say this is in the middle of the focused/spread category. Overall I would say this mouthpiece is one of the best at the middle of the volume levels, for your average playing.

JodyJazz DV 7: Definitely a power piece. The sheer volume this thing is capable of…it can get LOUD. Still retains a solid core and projection is absolutely huge. Easily the most projecting alto mouthpiece I’ve ever played. That’s including Dukoffs. And what the Dukoff lacks in body at high volumes, this one delivers in spades. Soft volume levels didn’t have as much of a “wow” factor, but it still played and responded very well.

JodyJazz DV NY 6: Not nearly as loud as some of his other mouthpieces, this mouthpiece still has strong projection and will not back up on you when pushed to high volume levels. At soft volume levels, this piece has a dark, sweet quality that still rings. It still retains a darker, richer sonority as you keep pushing the volume. Projection is definitely the most spread than any of his other mouthpieces; which I personally enjoy.

/ Winner: JodyJazz DV 7

Tone:

I consider "tone" to be descriptive of the sound the mouthpiece gives to the player. Terms such as: bright, dark, full, thin, big, small, etc etc can be used to describe tone. Since it is such a controversial and individual topic, I will focus on things that other players will most likely encounter when comparing these pieces.

JodyJazz Classic 6: Jody’s description of this piece is quite accurate. “Clean, focused power” is what I think of when asked to describe this mouthpieces tone. I know this sounds ridiculous, but I swear the Sapphire Blue models sound better. The sound is indeed focused and has a clean, neutral type tone quality. It allows you to shape the sound. With the right air stream, these can be warm and blending. When pushed, they can do any rock gig. The spoiler makes it edgier, brighter, and louder…not on a very extreme level but it is noticeable, and it’s very nice when you need that extra bit of edge in your sound (perfect for lead alto).

JodyJazz ESP 6: Versatile. Without the spoiler, it can be quite dark with some focus. With the spoiler, it gets some healthy edge and brightness. I personally like it with the spoiler in. Definitely a rich tone quality, but also has the “metal alto mouthpiece” sound. Meaning, you know it’s a metal mouthpiece. Some people like that quality, some don’t. I personally don’t. Great versatility, perfect for a pit musician or anyone who wants “one mouthpiece” for anything they do.

JodyJazz HR* 6M: I found that reeds and airstream really dictate the tone of this mouthpiece. Put harder reeds on and a slower airstream, you can get that breathy Paul Desmond type vibe, a darker overall sound but still very sweet. But a RJS 3 on there and push, you can easily pull a Phil Woods vibe. These are excellent mouthpieces; one of the best values out there. No matter what, this piece always has a rich, classic jazz alto sound with some edge and a sweeter quality to the sound. As mentioned above, when really pushed I do feel the mouthpiece thins out somewhat. This probably isn’t the best for rock/fusion/modern type gigs. I used this in combo gigs and when playing 2nd chair and man it was fun. It was an absolute pleasure to play.

JodyJazz DV 7: Bright and powerful. This is definitely a modern musician’s type of mouthpiece; although it definitely has a fullness that doesn’t exist in any of the other “high baffle” type of pieces. Dukoff, Berg Larsen, even the Guardala pieces don’t seem to have the depth this piece has. It’s an interesting sound. Just a very huge, powerful, brighter sound with plenty of edge to lead a section. I played a gig last month with a lead alto player who used one of these on a Yamaha Custom. His sound was definitely bright, and he sounded great. It also recorded very well on the equipment we used. It’s not my personal choice, as I tend to favor slightly darker mouthpieces. But I loved the ease of playability. Anyone who tends to favor a brighter mouthpiece is sure to love this piece. I used it on a big band/combo gig and it’s definitely for the lead alto player, or someone who likes a brighter sound with a little more edge.

JodyJazz DV NY 6: This piece has a FAT sound. Much darker than the DV, extremely rich and inviting, and did I mention FAT? It had a clear ring throughout the range, upper notes were thick and rich, very sweet, but it still had the ability to be pushed and retain its fatness and overall more spread tone quality. I have to admit, I’m absolutely in love with this mouthpiece. I was skeptical; I usually don’t feel perfectly comfortable on metal. From the first note, this thing felt and sounded like a hard rubber mouthpiece. It didn’t have the ESP “metal alto mouthpiece” thing going on at all. Just goes to show me, it’s the inner dimensions that matter, not the material. An absolutely outstanding player.

/ Winner: For me, the JodyJazz DVNY 6. But, it totally depends on your sound concept. Jody offers so many choices, my selection may not work at all for you. Your best bet is to try them all and see which fits best.

Intangibles:

JodyJazz Classic 6: The first ever JodyJazz mouthpiece to be produced; the optional colors still make it a popular choice amongst high school kids and professionals alike, although it tends to fall into the background when new models are introduced and marketed.

JodyJazz ESP 6: I think this mouthpiece is really becoming under-appreciated since the introduction of his new metal alto mouthpieces. Still, for versatility, it’s hard to go wrong with this one.

JodyJazz HR* 6M: These have gained tons of exposure with students, teachers, and professionals around the world. Affordable, with a standard, comfortable design and great playing characteristics…what’s there not to love?

JodyJazz DV 7: The new buzz in the alto saxophone mouthpiece world, both for its price and its design. It’s a funky looking mouthpiece that retains a very “piece of artwork” characteristic, but is played by world famous musicians from all over. It’s become the new power mouthpiece to own.

JodyJazz DV NY 6: I suspect these things will be HUGE. Especially if they play anywhere close to the way mine plays. With the DV name attached, and promises of a darker, more vintage sound (which DOES deliver, by the way), I think these will take off just as good as the DV. A lot of people will ask “is it worth the price?” After playing one, I can emphatically say yes!

/ Winner: JodyJazz DV 7 and JodyJazz DVNY 6

Overall winner:

For my playing, the JodyJazz DVNY 6 is the winner. For others though, it may be different.

In reality you can't pick a true "winner" for this matchup. They are all different playing mouthpieces that offer something unique for different players.

If you want a mouthpiece with plenty of projection, a focused sound and great versatility, I would recommend the JodyJazz Classic. If you enjoy a metal mouthpiece with depth and a darker sound quality, with great versatility, check out the ESP. If you enjoy that classic hard rubber feel and a sweeter tone with some edge, I recommend getting a HR*. For modern playing, loud situations, or a generally brighter mouthpiece with an incredible ease of playing, look for the DV. If you want a very fat sounding mouthpiece, darker with an incredibly comfortable feel and response, I recommend the DVNY.

I am pleased to announce that the JodyJazz DVNY 6 has become my main mouthpiece!! I have never been very comfortable with metal on alto; until now. What a fantastic mouthpiece.

Every one of these pieces play well and I’ve personally used every single one on gigs. I wouldn’t hesitate to bring any of these pieces on the gigs I do. I'd be happy to answer any questions/comments/concerns via Private Message using the SOTW forums. Please, add your comments here. I enjoy the feedback I receive from the saxophone players on this site. Thanks again for reading! Hope you all enjoyed!

~William "Saxaholic" Sadler


Previously reviewed: Selmer Reference 54 alto vs. Yanagisawa A992
Buffet 400 Series Professional alto saxophones
King Zephyr vs. Martin Committee II alto saxophones

Articles by Jody Espina: Have More Fun in the Shed
On Being a More Interesting Improviser

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