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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here is a quick comparison between the Selmer LT model and Vandoren's Optimum AL3. I believe this comparison is important due to the seemingly similar designs, there also seems to be not much info on this topic.

First Impressions

AL3 - Has the notorious "Optimum" shape. Stamped logos and shiny finish, but hard rubber smells nice. The tip rail is noticeably thick, likely playing a role in darkening the sound or adding resistance. The chamber looks of the medium round squeeze type, traditional French all the way. No baffle that I can see. Straight sidewalls turn into excavated sidewalls at the throat, interesting. Higher beak than Selmer blanks. Rather closed mouthpiece and long facing curve.

LT- S80 blank but with a medium round squeeze chamber and "LT" on the table. Mine is starting to oxidize, this is one of the nicer older models instead of the more plasticy new ones. Rollover baffle at the tip, less defined tip rail than the AL3 but still thick, when viewed in reflection. Chamber is slightly smaller than the AL3 and no excavated sidewalls at the throat. Slightly more open and shorter facing curve than the AL3.

Comparison shots:

AL3 - Rather free blowing and even across the range. High notes above palm Eb can be slightly more resistant than the rest of the range, but doesn't get in the way at all. Fast and clean articulation, very solid in terms of response as a whole.

LT - This surprised me, but the LT seemed to have even more even response than the AL3, from top to bottom. Equally great articulation.


AL3 - Medium in color, edgeless, and round in shape when played with a Vandoren 3. Tone color is remarkably even across the range. Intonation is great, as it is with the entire Optimum lineup. There is a little resistance to push against, what I'd call "healthy" for shaping. Everything I want.

LT - Medium in color as well but not as round as the AL3. This seemed slightly more focused in sound and projected more. Intonation isn't quite as even but still quite great. There is less "shaping" resistance in the LT, which may suit your own personal preference. Personally I find it just a shade too direct for my taste, but I'd happily gig on this if my AL3 were to kick the bucket.


The AL3 and LT are both fantastic mouthpieces. If you want a slightly more direct and projecting sound, go with a nice LT. If you wish to have a more rounded tone, go with the AL3. Both are excellent with response, the LT only winning due to it's more projecting design. Personally, I chose the AL3 because of my particular inner concept. Both are excellent choices though, the LT offers about 98% of what I want from a classical alto piece whereas AL3 is 100%. In terms of finding these mouthpieces, AL3s are easier to find, especially good AL3s; Vandoren consistantly offers fantastic stock facings. Modern LT mouthpieces, and other Selmers are faced poorly and hard rubber quality has gone down. Luckily, these models are frequently found on Ebay, search around for models with nice oxidization and a clean facing. I'm going to be selling my LT to a student of mine, and I know she's going to love it.
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