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· Forum Contributor 2016-17
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Interesting responses....some folks look for flaws... most get the message...
 

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· Forum Contributor 2016-17
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There are many truths in this post, but they could have been said without crapping on the products available today. I would surmise that the majority of the mouthpiece marketplace is being driven by the adult amateur player, who is in a different situation than all the pros Phil talks about: limited amounts of time to shed, a desire to play at a reasonably high level, and therefore, looking for equipment to provide an advantage and perhaps reduce the distance to becoming a more complete player. It does not necessarily justify the degree of equipment trial and switching which we see on SOTW, but it does make it more understandable.
 

· Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2009
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I think Phils message is spot on. The latest piece won't play an altered scale, won't improve your time, won't help intonation if you can't do that to begin with, won't memorize forms or parts, won't show you how to systematically get better. I should know, I've bought 100s of mouthpieces and 10s of horns. All that being said, its just easier to buy new equipment than it its to study and practice. K
 

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Now that Phil quit making mouthpiece has he suddenly against the industry. He claims that having a horn that plays in tune and works well is a bad thing. What is spot on about that. Sure there are some truths in the post and a fair amount of bloviated BS.
 

· Forum Contributor 2016, Distinguished SOTW Member
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I agree with Phil that there are hobby players that are spending way too much time buying new gear when they would be better off just spending all that time practicing but that is their right. They are adults and can do whatever they want with their money why would that bother anyone. At the same time, this is a fact of life with everything. You don't have to delve too far into anything before you have to start making decisions on what you like, what works for you, what is the best value for the money, what you will be happy with. When I speak to 10 people who play golf they all tell me what stuff I need and what brands, when I speak to 10 people who hike they all tell me different advice on what backback to get, what hiking shoes, what gear and brands, etc...... I just talked to someone a few months ago that said my drill was crap and from now on I should pay more money and buy Dewalt. My drill bit the dust and I went out and bought a Dewalt. You know what, this drill is much better than my old drill. I'm very happy with that purchase. Who knows, maybe I will not be happy with this drill in a few years and someone else might suggest a better drill........

I see a mouthpiece as a tool that we use to perform just like I use that drill. My old drill didn't have the power to do certain jobs. This new drill does. In my mind, certain mouthpiece might not be what I need to do the job. I need a mouthpiece that does the job the way I want it to do the job. I want it to respond a certain way, to sound a certain way, etc...... Sure, you could say just practice the tar out of that Yamaha 4C mouthpiece you have and make it work but that is like me using this sucky drill over the last two years. It was a major pain in my butt and made every project take 4 times as long with stripped screws and messed up work. You know what I thought when I bought the new drill. "Wow, I should have done this a long time ago! I would have saved myself a lot of frustration!"
 

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Don't see any need to overthink this. What Phil said only applies to some people not everyone.
The title literally states "An Open Letter to Saxophonists, Aspiring Saxophonists and all Musicians from Phil Barone." Can we just incorporate all arguments from the identical thread from last year into this thread by reference to save time?
 

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I agree with Phil that there are hobby players that are spending way too much time buying new gear when they would be better off just spending all that time practicing but that is their right. They are adults and can do whatever they want with their money why would that bother anyone. At the same time, this is a fact of life with everything. You don't have to delve too far into anything before you have to start making decisions on what you like, what works for you, what is the best value for the money, what you will be happy with. When I speak to 10 people who play golf they all tell me what stuff I need and what brands, when I speak to 10 people who hike they all tell me different advice on what backback to get, what hiking shoes, what gear and brands, etc...... I just talked to someone a few months ago that said my drill was crap and from now on I should pay more money and buy Dewalt. My drill bit the dust and I went out and bought a Dewalt. You know what, this drill is much better than my old drill. I'm very happy with that purchase. Who knows, maybe I will not be happy with this drill in a few years and someone else might suggest a better drill........

I see a mouthpiece as a tool that we use to perform just like I use that drill. My old drill didn't have the power to do certain jobs. This new drill does. In my mind, certain mouthpiece might not be what I need to do the job. I need a mouthpiece that does the job the way I want it to do the job. I want it to respond a certain way, to sound a certain way, etc...... Sure, you could say just practice the tar out of that Yamaha 4C mouthpiece you have and make it work but that is like me using this sucky drill over the last two years. It was a major pain in my butt and made every project take 4 times as long with stripped screws and messed up work. You know what I thought when I bought the new drill. "Wow, I should have done this a long time ago! I would have saved myself a lot of frustration!"
Very true. I feel like, here in the United States at least, we are taught that happiness is always one purchase away. We're indoctrinated, really. Brain washed, almost. We see dozens, hundreds, maybe thousands of advertising messages every day selling us on that idea, and most of us are pretty bought in. We often think that we're immune to all the nonsense advertising we see, but the fact is that these companies wouldn't be spending hundreds of millions of dollars on ads if they didn't work. They do work, and the message is almost always that if you buy this car, wear these pants, sign up for this service, etc etc, only THEN will you experience happiness and fulfillment. But of course a consumer lifestyle is ultimately empty. The desire to buy stuff is not satisfied when you buy stuff. You just want to buy more stuff. It's a problem that transcends the saxophone world.

That said, I think a certain amount of searching and experimenting is probably a necessary part of the growth process as a musician. It took me awhile to find the mouthpiece that has become my main piece, and I think that trial-and-error process was probably necessary for me to figure out what worked for me and to know that this mouthpiece was the one. Now, I know I just need to stick with that piece and not waste time and money chasing some holy grail. But there's still part of me that's going, "boy, I sure would love to try the Gaia 3!"
 

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I believe that Phil Barone has been offering this advice since he was still making mouthpieces. I don’t think this is him bashing the industry now that he’s now out of it. I am sure that it is offered to try to help people, not put people down. He has seen and said this for a long time. I believe that Phil is sincere and cares, although some people may not read him this way. The man has seen a lot and has gone out of his way to help people for many years.
 

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There are a lot of people who have come and gone from the mpc business.

Many of them carry a great deal of bitterness and thus practice a scorched earth pattern.

Im not pointing fingers. Its each persons decision to decide the underlying motives of another who puts forth a doctrine.

Personally, I dont think any intelligent and even semi-mature player believes that gear will make them a better player.

....middle school or high school, maybe...but often not even then.
 

· SOTW Columnist and Forum Contributor 2015-2016
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There are a lot of people who have come and gone from the mpc business.

Many of them carry a great deal of bitterness and thus practice a scorched earth pattern.
This seems to be a very sweeping, generalized statement...is there any fact supporting it? Are there "a lot" of mouthpiece makers who have retired like Phil Barone or left the mouthpiece business, and then blasted other mouthpiece makers or the industry itself (thus the scorched earth pattern)...because I can't think of any. The great ones who left have passed...Tenney, JVW, Ralph Morgan...who else has retired or left the business and blasted the industry? What retired or former mouthpiece person has a "great deal of bitterness?"

Feel free to PM if you don't want to post public names or anything, but I am curious is there any evidence to make that statement true?

- Saxaholic
 

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These are my thoughts based on how I feel:

If we are talking about sound, there is nothing more important for your sound aside from a great playing reed, than your mouthpiece.

If we are talking about becoming a better player with better technique, vocabulary, ideas, and individuality....that comes from hard practice. Your gear can't replace hard practice.

Your gear will INSPIRE you, which will hopefully lead to more practice, and lead to you becoming a better player.
Happiness plays such a big role in what we do, and you need to seek that out.

You cannot buy chops in a box by getting a new mouthpiece or new horn. Gear will allow you to feel more comfortable based on what you are looking for in terms of sound and feel for yourself, but cannot replace hard practice.

Sound and technique are not the same thing.
You cannot buy better technique. You have to put in the time and work really hard with your practicing. There is no way around that.
You can however, buy a sound you like better INSTANTLY for yourself, with a different mouthpiece.

Playing with a set up that inspires you, makes it all enjoyable. Once you have the set up that is incredibly inspiring for you, there is no need to spend more time seeking out different gear. Stay with what you have if it is so inspiring, and focus on the music.
Nailed it, from my experience. I absolutely needed some gear exploration to narrow down to what I look forward to practicing on...then the discipline to stop looking for the Holy Grail.
 

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Everything above is true.
I think it's worth distinguishing manic changing of mouthpieces from just looking for a good mouthpiece. The first phenomenon lasts a long time or can be never-ending story, it's like a hobby. Searching for a good mouthpiece is for me a normal process, which usually ends when we're satisfied. I think most of us, or even the galaxy of stars mentioned by Phil Barone, didn't start with the one mouthpiece on which they played for many years or maybe even most of their careers, I believe they have tried a few (or a dozen) to finally say that one is best (usually hand finished or customized). From one's first to last mouthpiece - it can be even several years (that was my case).
Unfortunately, we know that many mouthpieces are made carelessly or sloppyly. Well-finished moutpiece will do the job, but will it be equally good with a poorly made or improperly finished, or badly designed? I think this might be the answer to the question why we sometimes look for a mouthpiece for too long. Yes, you can get used to the average mouthpiece and play it fantastically well. But would it stand your comparison with the better one? The desire to get this answer drives us to embrace the search. After getting the necessary practice and trying out the good ones, we usually find something for ourselves and we calmly and comfortably devote ourselves to full fusion with the instrument.
The one who is not looking - will not find ...
Playing on a few accidental, and recommended to me mouthpieces - ended in pain ...
Playing does not have to be a fight with the instrument, so it is not surprising that we are looking for something that will facilitate cooperation with our instrument. Of course, the end result is a full fusion with the instrument, rightly mentioned above full possibility of expressing emotions, mood, putting a piece of yourself, your soul through your playing.
The above statements are all the more valuable because they are made by Phil Barone, the creator of good, proven mouthpieces. But even he will not deny that playing on "any" mouthpiece will make it difficult or impossible to climb to the high or highest level. To find a good mouthpiece, you need to try it and just find yours.
For one it takes less time, for another it takes more.
A useful thread, worth understanding ...
 

· Finally Distinguished
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[
... The desire to buy stuff is not satisfied when you buy stuff. You just want to buy more stuff. It's a problem that transcends the saxophone world.
...
When I'm watchin' my TV
And a man comes on to tell me
How white my shirts can be
But he can't be a man 'cause he doesn't smoke
The same cigarrettes as me
I can't get no satisfaction.
 

· Distinguished SOTW Member
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Perhaps my use of the word many should bave been "some"

Regardless I do t know why we all need to be corrected, instructed, and told how to live by others...regardless of the fact that they may or may not have a valid perspecti. Opinions and perspectives are like askholes...everyone has one and no one likes anyone elses. Life is short...it leads me to wonder how relevant ny of these arguments (including my own) really matter
 

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I think there's some very good advice in Phil Barone's post. I've felt both sides of the argument personally.

As someone who now works in a shop with 100's of mouthpieces, you'd think I'd always be changing. Not really true. I've been on the same Meyer 7 on alto for the past 20 years. On tenor, I've switched a few times, but I generally try not to switch too often, and at least give a piece 6 months to settle in on. That being said, I love trying stuff! It's fun, and gives me some perspective on what's out there, and what is good.

That being said, I've had some legendary players stop by the shop, and it's about 50/50 on if they are gear heads or not, and both ends of that spectrum have amazing players. Bob Mintzer was one that has switched a couple of times, but was pretty adamantly not a gear head ,and didn't want to even mess with it. Joel Frahm, on the other hand, spent about 6 hours trying every tenor mouthpiece in the shop. He sounded incredible on each and every one of them, but he was always searching for something better, and ended up buying an EB Link we had at the time. I'm guessing he's moved on to something else since then. That's not a dig on Joel either...quite the contrary. He was SO good, and so inspiring to hear play, and if he wants to be a gear head, who am I to dissuade him?

Now...it's totally different when I get a high-school or college player in. Then, I'm helping them find a good fit, but preaching the gospel of "don't come back in two weeks looking for the next one". At that point in a player's development, I'd encourage them to learn the mouthpiece inside and out and know exactly what it can and cannot do. I think it could actually harm their development, by having them focus on many mouthpieces rather than good old fashioned shedding. In this situation, I absolutely agree with Phil.

For hobbyists, I'd say - do what you want. If it's fun to buy a bunch of mouthpieces, more power to you! You are doing it because you love it, and don't let anyone tell you you can't have fun trying lots of mouthpiece options. As long as you don't see it as necessary, what's the harm?
 
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