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My thoughts on the Daddy-O and Showboat alto mouthpieces by 10MFan.

There have been some very nice and comprehensive reviews written about these mouthpieces, including those written by Steve Neff – including excellent audio clips that very accurately describe the sort of sound these mouthpieces help produce. Please read the reviews on Steve Neff’s website – I think I agree with everything he said about both of them. Needless to say, “your mileage may vary.” We all have different embouchures, breathing technique, reeds, ligature and various physical characteristics that all combine to make up our individual sound. But the sound clips generally give you some kind of idea what a mouthpiece is all about.

No need for me to repeat what has already been said in many of these reviews. This is just my own two cents

I’m a freelance player in the Baltimore and Washington, DC area, doing mainly big band and small combo gigs as they pop up. I’m close to 50/50 between alto and tenor, but I occasionally need my bari or soprano. But a good bit of my big band activity happens to be from the lead alto chair. In addition to the freelancing I do, I have two “regular” gigs -- An 18-piece band called Shades of Blue, and a 10-piece band that does 1920s music called the Hotel Paradise Roof Garden Orchestra. I’m the lead alto player for both of those.

I’m very particular about the kind of sound I get on alto. I want enough projection to get my sound out on top of the section, but I want a rich, fat, “pretty” sound that sings. If you’ve spent any amount of time trying mouthpieces and attempting to learn about them, you’ve come to realize there are tradeoffs, even among the best of mouthpieces. Without getting off onto a lengthy technical discussion of baffle height, baffle profile, chamber size, “throat squeeze,” facing length, etc etc etc, we can generalize a bit and say that sax mouthpieces that are designed to be loud tend also to be a bit “bright” (a very subjective term!) and maybe a bit “thin” (an even more subjective term). Mouthpieces we might think of as very dark, warm, etc tend not to project quite as well. It’s no surprise that sax players in loud rock bands tend to favor the bright, loud mouthpieces, and in a small combo, many players might favor that dark, husky, “smoky” sound that maybe would not project as well in a loud environment.

Having said all that, and having come to terms with the idea that these tradeoffs exist, what if you want a mouthpiece that can, oh, I dunno, “do it all?” Well, good luck! Is there really such a thing?

Enter Mark Sepinuck, of 10MFan mouthpieces. Mark is a gearhead, like me. No, Mark is an even BIGGER gearhead than me. Mark has laid hands on a LOT of gear over the years, including classic mouthpieces of every vintage and every description. So he’s encountered and played a lot of great, good, and “meh” mouthpieces over the decades. When Mark set out to make his own line of mouthpieces, he had a very strong concept of what he wanted each of them to do. And he arrived at his finished products not by painstakingly copying previous designs, but by creating his own designs, taking his own approach toward getting the results he wanted. The results have been quite good, and many fine players enjoy playing his mouthpieces.

Two of the newest offerings are altos – The Showboat – a nod to Phil Woods’s sound in the famed “Live from the Showboat” album, and The Daddy-O – with the Cannonball sound in mind. I’ve tried them both, and here’s what I think.

SHOWBOAT – Tried a 7. It was immediately apparent that this was a freeblowing mouthpiece that could be played loudly very easily. No shortage of available volume. But it can whisper and generate a resonant sound in any register with very little air. Even though there is plenty of volume and projection available, the sound never becomes harsh or raspy. Sings nicely. Nice, fat, Meyer-ish sound on perhaps the brighter side of the spectrum. A bit of edge and sparkle in the tone. Here’s what’s interesting, though – I was able to regulate the degree of brightness with my reed selection. With Vandoren Java Red 2.5, the Showboat played noticeably brighter than it did with a Marca Superieure (black box) 2.5. It’s fat and sweet enough for lead alto in a big band with the Marcas, but slap on the Vandoren, or other “bright” reed, and you’ve got a very strong R&B or even rock mouthpiece.

DADDY-O – Tried a 7. As I mentioned, I really liked the projection and crisp sparkle of the Showboat. I was a little afraid that the Daddy-O might be this sweet, serene mouthpiece that might be a shade or two too mellow for my big band needs – like many Meyers and Meyer clones out there. But I was in for a surprise. By design, the tone on the Daddy-O is rounder around the edges than on the Showboat. It’s not as edgy. You could also describe it as a bit “fatter.” More of what you’d think of as a “traditional” alto vibe. But it still plays BIG. Very clean, clear tone, similar to what you get with the Showboat. If you drop your jaw just a bit and feed it a little more air, the sound really grows. I was a bit curious, so I asked Mark about this. Was the difference in tone between the two mouthpieces due only to the difference in baffle profile, or was there a difference in facing as well. Turns out the facings are different. As a result, expect the Showboat to be a bit more freeblowing, making it go “pedal to the metal” a bit quicker and easier, while the Daddy-O is just a little (not much more) more resistant, holding a little in reserve until you ask for it.

I felt that both mouthpieces had very quick response, excellent intonation, and evenness of tone from bottom to top. Also easy altissimo, as well of good control in the lowest notes. I also felt very comfortable with the beak angle. Both mouthpieces were made of very high quality hard rubber, and the workmanship was very fine. Between these two mouthpieces, and the type of reed you choose, you really can cover a wide variety of musical genres. Can a mouthpiece really do it all, without compromising anything? Hard to say. But I really do think both of these mouthpieces pack in a great combination of tone, projection, and versatility.

Decided to buy both! I’ll lean on the Daddy-O for most of what I do, but will keep the Showboat for when I need to call on some extra projection and power.
 

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My $0.02, I had a chance to visit SteveS for a small jam session and I listened to him on both his Showboat and Daddy-O....agree that the Daddy-O is rounder. Quick response on both, I couldn't tell a difference from that perspective- Steve has excellent finger and articulation facility on the horn and can do really fast runs over the range of the sax. Both have a full alto tone, and my ears heard the same thing that Steve wrote.

For me, one of my main venues is in a horn section and I'm playing a Showboat 6....great presence but with a fat tone. Hold my own as the "high" voice in the section and I can make it sound more brilliant on demand.

Nice review Steve. Now about that '66 Mark VI alto you have that I like.....let's talk. :)
 

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Karl,
Thank you. I know you are digging my alto and tenor pieces, so thank you for adding that, and for showing my pieces around to fellow sax players!
You are the best!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hey KC! Thanks for the additional info. You’ve heard ‘em both. What you hear on the listener’s end of the horn can sometimes differ from what the player hears.

The ‘66 is still here! Has your name on it, and I don’t mean Henri Selmer. Har!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Mark, the thanks go to you. Making me sound good. Fun to play.
 

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I also have a Daddy-O 6 and would like to comment on my experience. I am primarily a tenor player and hopefully Mark Sepinuck will not mind my level of transparency in that I honestly wasn't looking to add any more mouthpieces to my stash of sax gear but he offered me mouthpieces in trade on a tenor I was trying to sell but got no cash offers on so I reluctantly worked a trade with him. I had always wanted to try 10mFan mouthpieces based on the descriptions and sound clips I had heard from many players out there. I'm a skeptic and thought there was a bit of hype attached to the marketing. Honestly my thought on the trade was if I didn't like the mouthpieces I might have better luck selling the mouthpieces vs trying to sell the horn so I agreed to the trade. I have never experienced the level of care, concern and communication with any other mouthpiece makers/merchants that I have with Mark Sepinuck...and I've dealt with a lot of them over the years. He is the only guy that has called, come in after the transaction and wants to know how the mouthpieces are playing for me. I would not hesitate to deal with him again, a true pleasure and I sense he feels gratification and reward from knowing I got what will work best for my playing situation.

Back to the Daddy-O, as a tenor player when I play alto I want something that gives me a big, warm, fat, round...ala more tenor type of tone on alto. Like I have always felt Cannonball, Bird, Phil Woods, Kenny Garrett, and others have. As previously stated, I was fine with my other alto pieces but the Daddy-O has it all, a playability, free blowing...but still great balance of texture, color and personality to the tone. I really love the voice the Daddy-O gives me on alto. The mouthpiece is a joy to play on. In addition I have spent most of my time playing metal mouthpieces on tenor...same story I wasn't looking for another mouthpiece but have found I really love that I get as much, if not more projection on my new Black Widow 7** tenor piece than I had with my high baffle metal tenor pieces...big difference it a great big, warmer, fatter more colorful tone. Played my first gig on the Black Widow last weekend and even after a 4 hour gig of constant blowin' goin' for a Mardi Gras party my chops were fresh and I could have played even longer. In layman terms the keyboard player on that gig (who also is a great sound tech for a local PA company when he's not playing, also plays sax too) told me in comparison to the sax player I subbed for (whom is a great player, plays on a SS Ponzol M2) said "Man you got a wet sound I love and the other players tone is dry". With both pieces the usual superlatives fit, plays great throughout the ranges of the horn and from ppp to FFF with no problem and most importantly really gives me the tone, voice I want with great comfort and ease.
Now I do feel I can "get out of the showroom and into the practice room" with these great 10mFan mouthpieces...they really for me are what I've always been after (and thought I had with what I was on before but when I A/B these gems with my previous set-ups for real, no hype these 10mFan pieces far excel how the other pieces I played on were working out for me. Happy to say I feel like I can focus on playing my horn. These pieces are doing what I want period.
 

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That’s one of the nicest reviews I’ve ever read. I really can’t thank you enough, and again, I am thrilled that you are having such fun with the mouthpiece. That’s what all this is about. Your words mean a ton to me!
Thank you all.
 

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Great review SteveS and Mark R!

I can only add my experience as well. I've been on the tenor pieces ever since they first came out 6 years ago; I think I was the first person to buy all 3 of his original models. Since then I've owned all of his models, but for me the Showtime is my main piece...this coming after being on the Robusto for 5+ years. I LOVE the Black Widow for the more powerful stuff...it's truly a wondrous design that has tons of power and volume while also having an incredible thick sound.

The alto pieces I was more skeptical about. Primarily because I had been on my Lamberson Fmaj7 for over 13 years...and I have played EVERYTHING on alto. Stuff from JVW, to Theo when he was at the top of his game, vintage Meyer Bros both original and refaced, modern, vintage, just tons of stuff. I never strayed from my FMaj7 for long even while trying other pieces. That is, until I got my 10mfan Daddy-O 6. I purchased the Showboat first and I love the mouthpiece...tons of volume and projection with fantastic tone...a great piece for more powerful stuff. But the Daddy-O was it for me...I played it for about a month before I knew...I no longer needed my Lamberson Fmaj7. I have since sold it to a close friend who has asked for it ever since I got it 13+ years ago because he knew how special it was, having played it. He was on an original Meyer Bros 5M....and now, he plays on a 10mfan Daddy-O 5.

The formula makes sense: A guy who has played more great pieces than anyone in the world (and is a MONSTER player) + a master mouthpiece artisan + the best quality materials in the world + tons and tons and tons of prototyping and testing = the greatest saxophone mouthpieces ever made.

I am not a guy who switches equipment often. But these pieces have completely 100% ended my search for mouthpieces. I have no interest in trying anything out there, because these are perfect and do everything I could ever ask for.

- Saxaholic
 

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I've been really enjoying a Daddy-O (5) for about 6 months now and its pretty much become my main piece. I'd been on the same Meyer NYUSA 5m for about 9 years, and had started to hear my Meyer as slightly muffled with my mkvi. I've known Mark for a long time (We're both massive fans of Phil talks with Quill) and he has been great throughout this process, spending a lot of time helping choose the piece and communicating with me before and after posting it. Mark's an awesome alto player himself & he knows my playing well. He's really got things right with this mouthpiece. He sent me the Daddy-O and it played great out of the box. My sound really seemed to open up on it.

I really love Phil Woods, Cannonball, Papa Lou and all the great altoists. I've always felt like it's important to emulate certain elements from the greats, Hodges playing Isfahan or Benny Carter playing Summer Serenade etc. The Daddy-O is flexible and I can growl, sub-tone, over-blow or do anything I'm used to doing. When I play loud it doesn't become edgy or sacrifice intonation. It does have a different quality to the Meyer, and I've learned that by using my air slightly differently I get this beautiful light, singing quality, especially in the mid-register (kind of reminds me of a great Brilhart Tonalin I once had). The palm keys sound nice and fat, and I can easliy play and articulate down on the bell keys with a full tone. This has worked great for me when playing in sections on lead or 2nd alto. I've also been playing classical studies (Klose, Ferling etc), playing duets with students and playing all of my practice 'stuff' with no problems. The overtones come out just fine.

I still sound like myself on this. The main thing for me is getting a great tone when playing bebop and this works great. I can roar on a shuffle groove or ease back on my sound on a ballad. it really is a lot of fun! I've put a clip from a gig below.

Thanks Mark!

 

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Honestly, you guys are all awesome and this is really great stuff to read.
Jamie, thank you for adding that clip. You are fantastic to listen to!
Really wonderful reviews with a lot of passion behind them.

Thank you so much.
 
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