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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here are my reviews of three Absolute soprano saxophone mouthpieces.
Before I start I need to clarify that I play on an older hard rubber Beechler 10S, which is a .80 opening and a small chamber. For me this works very well with my Keilwerth SX90 one-piece soprano, which has a larger bore than Selmer, Yamaha, Yanagisawa, and many others based off of a Selmer design. The combination of wider tip, small chamber and big bore horn works well for me allowing flexibility and wider range of expression with a deep tone that can be brighter but not thin or harsh. I also use RJS3H or sometimes 4S unfiled reeds, these are the reeds that I know well. I have tried many others and find that regardless of the mouthpiece these work the best for me.
I would probably use a different mouthpiece on a Selmer, Yamaha, Yanagisawa or any smaller bore horn. I have owned a Yamaha Custom 875 and a Yanagisawa MKVI copy and my current horn/mouthpiece combination is quite different than from those previous horns.

I will use JRMSAX's review as a template

AL 8 (.70) $177.78
Construction
First off, all three mouthpieces are finished very well, the AL is anodized aluminum, and the S and ST are stainless steel. All three do not have a built in bite plate. I also am not a fan of the ring type ligature on the AL. I used my Rico H; which fits well but might eventually wear down the anodized black color. Mine did not come with a cap. The AL as mentioned by JRMSAX is shaped more like a hard rubber mouthpiece. The rails, tip, window and chamber all look even and finished very well. Visually it looks similar on the interior to my Beechler. I had no problem with a variety of new and broken in RJS3H unfiled reeds so the facing must be very accurate.
Tone
The tone is a more traditional sound somewhere in a hard rubber link or hard rubber soloist range. It's not as flexible as what I prefer but has a good basic soprano sound, not too dark or bright and easy to control. I'm wondering if a more open tip, which I'm used to, would feel more flexible and freer for me.
Response
The AL articulates well, plays evenly from bottom to top but is more resistant than my Beechler but not too much so. Again I wonder if a larger tip opening would feel better for me.
Volume
This is not a power piece but still has enough volume for a small group setting.
Overall
I think this is a good piece for a tenor or alto player doubling on soprano. It's easy to adjust to with the more traditional sound and feel. The price at $177 is a very good deal for a custom made mouthpiece.

ST 7 (.70) $256.80
Construction
This mouthpiece is made out of stainless steel. The mouthpiece comes with a custom fit metal ligature, not sure if the ligature is all stainless steel or a combination with aluminum. The ligature is one screw on the bottom and one band around the top of the mouthpiece. There are two plates rather than one that seems to work very well. There is a mouthpiece cap for the stainless steel models.
The S and ST are both slim designs, similar to a Guardala. The S has thinner rails and wider window than the AL. It also has a much larger chamber and a long, low baffle. I'm guessing the S and ST are somewhat inspired by Guradala's and or Dukoff's. The outside of the mouthpiece is not round but sculpted so the ligature that is provided may be the best option.
Tone
The tone is big and open with the ability to have, in my opinion, a good deal of room to shape the sound. The ST can be pushed for more volume and can be brighter but also is easy to manage at soft levels.
Response
The ST responds well with good articulation and a comfortable amount of resistance and focus and plays evenly from bottom to top. To me it's a similar concept to a good all around me Otto Link STM for tenor, EB or Florida.
Volume
The volume is greater on the ST but is not harsh sounding when pushed.
Overall
Their website describes the ST as the standard in their opinion for the soprano, I would agree. To me it has the openness and flexibility to shape your sound. Again the price is reasonable for a custom mouthpiece.

S 7 (.70) $256.80
Construction
Similar to the ST except it has a high baffle, and smaller chamber very much like a Guardala Studio.
Tone
This is a power piece, think Bob Berg with Miles Davis in 1985 or Bill Evans with Miles or John McLaughlin in the early to mid 1980's. Both were playing on MKVI sopranos and Dukoff's or Guardala's. This piece is meant to cut but can be tamed by a skilled player. It is bright but not thin when played properly.
Response
As expected from a high baffle piece, immediate and takes some skill to control and plays evenly from bottom to top. I find it the most flexible in shaping my sound out of the three. Again bigger bore dark horn paired with a brighter mouthpiece.
Volume
Again as expected from a high baffle piece, can be pushed about as far as you can go.
Overall
This is a mouthpiece for anyone looking for a Guardala/Dukoff alternative that is custom made and the price is well worth it. I was warned by Marco that this mouthpiece is extreme and it is but I actually found it the closest to my set-up and concept on my Keilwerth.

Overall for all three
Absolute is making some very good, well-priced custom mouthpieces. It appears that they are not trying to reinvent the wheel, so to speak, but producing high quality mouthpieces in classic designs that are tried, true and in demand. Again the prices make them a very good deal. I am honored to have played all three for review and will continue to experiment with them, hopefully on some different horns.
Thanks Marco!
 

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Interesting post. Please tell me how you determined that your soprano has a "bigger bore" than other brands you mentioned. Did you measure it? If so, where did you measure it? Neck opening inside diameter? Did you measure other sopranos? DAVE
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I studied with Liebman and that was his experience as a Couf then Keilwerth artist:

http://www.daveliebman.com/Feature_Articles/SopranoSaxophone.htm

Some insights began to occur on soprano during the 80s. I realized that I was putting the same amount of air into it as on tenor which gave me a big sound. I became associated with several mouthpiece makers continually striving for the right balance between the many aspects that go into making a mouthpiece feel AND sound the way you wish. They are quite different matters and one is forever trying to balance them. Without getting too technical the opening on my mouthpiece is quite large, nearly what a normal alto sax mouthpiece opening would be. I changed from the most common soprano instrument manufacturer which for the most part had always been the Selmer Company to a German horn called Keilwerth. Their horns had a bigger bore and a larger sound which for me was perfect since I was blowing with more intensity than most soprano players who only used the horn on occasion.

Also:

http://saxforte.com/saxophones/materials_and_finishes/materials_and_finishes.html

At the same time, the air column also resonates at frequencies corresponding to fractions of the air column (1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5 etc..) These produce some of the harmonic content in the sound we hear, not as distinct notes, but as coloration to the fundamental note. The basic contribution of the tube to the sound will vary based on the tone hole locations, sizes and the geometry (shape) and volume of the tube. Small bore saxophones (e.g. Selmer Serie III, all Yanagisawa, all Yamaha) have a distinctly brighter sound. Large bore saxophones (Keilwerth SX-90(R) and Rampone & Cazzani R1 and R1 Jazz and the bottom of Selmer Référence saxophones) have a more powerful fundamental component in their sound and they are warmer sounding. In soprano saxophones, curved designs have a darker, throatier, more saxophone-like sound when compared to straight designs which are more pure sounding.
 

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With no disrespect, but with a goal of making sure myths are recognized and reported, I don't believe it.

Rather than pass on someone else's contentions, please measure this "large-bore" soprano and post the actual measurements (neck opening, several places on the tube, and the overall length). If your JK is truly (and significantly) larger than any of my sopranos, I'll be the first to admit it.

As far as saxforte's claim that curved soprano's have a "more powerful fundamental component in their sound . . .", that is pure hogwash. Marketing and sales text should be viewed with skepticism.

For the record, I've owned a JK alto and a Rampone R1 soprano tipped-bell, and I'll argue all day that they didn't sound any different than any other saxophone I've played - and that goes back 57 years of playing these things. I've also played JK sopranos - nice enough but nothing different from any other soprano I've ever played. Other soprano brands that have passed through my hands . . . Yanagisawas (several straight and curved), Selmers, Conns, Bueschers, Yamahas, Antiguas, King, come to mind.

"Large bore soprano" is like saying "rogue hamster." I have no ill-will over this but I will confront it every time I see it. Other readers (especially those who can't yet tell fact from fiction) need to be informed. DAVE
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I've been playing soprano for decades, I do find a huge difference between Selmer, Yamaha, etc. and Keilwerth. I guess I need to pull my review of mouthpieces. I really did not want to get into a pissing contest. My time with Lieb validates my experience as he has spent time at the factories of Selmer and Keilwerth. Besides it's a review of my opinions, take or leave it.
 

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I am not arguing about your mouthpiece report (although I also believe that mouthpieces play differently for almost everyone). I am challenging your assertion that your JK is any larger than any other soprano out there (same with Rampone). Some posters make posts about things that have nothing to do with myths, but then will throw in the old silver-plate-is-brighter, or something about their horn's large-bore characteristics (like you did), etc., and pass it off as a fact when some of us believe such claims are myths. Other readers may not know - yet.

Your "experience" isn't the same as FACTS. We all have opinions but I would genuinely like to see you back-up your claim about bore-sizes. This is not any sort of p-match, either. Facts, please. If it truly is just an opinion, then say so.

I don't think you should pull your mouthpiece report. DAVE
 

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Nice reviews. I liked seeing your impression of the AL. Definitely a high quality mouthpiece at a great price. I've been playing it more the last few days and like how even it is. I also wondered how it would feel in a slightly more open tip.
 

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Great review, very detailed and well explained.
Do not worry about the anodised finish, it is much harder and more lasting than any ligature.

Thank you very much.

Marco.
 
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