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Discussion Starter #1
Question about Mouthpiece Science/Refacing

I play alto, and am talking about pieces made for alto:

many mouthpieces that I have played that were re-done lose some of their original character - which is fine. But there are certain older mouthpieces I have played which I like, sonically, a lot, but would like to have an improved response from. In other words, I would like them to play better but sound the same.

Does this make sense to you? Is there any difference in method between refacing to hot-rod the piece - make it louder, more piercing - and refacing to simply make it play better within its own parameters?

thanks -
 

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I've had some mouthpiece work done on alto, tenor and clarinet mouthpieces in the past. In most cases I did not want to do anything radical to them or have them completely reworked. The guy that used to do my mouthpiece work years ago would simply fix or adjust the curve on the mouthpiece without it changing anything drastically. I do know that when you alter one thing, that some additional work has to be done in order for the mouthpiece to be completely balanced and play well.

I all cases I would have him just look at my piece and most of the time he would find something to be "off" and just a minor little adjustment made all the difference in how the mouthpiece responded and played, without changing the sound or the characteristics that I loved about the mouthpiece to begin with.

Usually, if I want something drastic done, I just go out and look for a mouthpiece that will give me the additional things that I am not currently getting out of my set up. Like if I wanted a mouthpiece that was much more open or has a different baffle, I almost never have those refaced, or re worked, I just purchase something else that will help me to be able to achieve it. Many great mouthpiece technicians out there and here on this forum that should be able to give you what you are looking for, without changing everything you love about the piece
 

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Discussion Starter #3
thanks, that's kind of what I was thinking - that certain minor imperfections make a big difference, and can be corrected without changing the mouthpiece character.
 

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TENOR, soprano, alto, baritone
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Yes, a good corrective re-facing can bring out more of what the mouthpiece has to offer without changing its character. They will examine the table, measure the facing and check the side and tip rails for wear/damage/poor workmanship. Typically they find an angle break at the table/facing interface instead of a tangency and/or a facing that's too long. They usually will find differences in the facing curve from one side to the other as well as corrections needed to perfect the curve. Used mouthpieces usually need some touch-up of the rails and tip. The table usually is not flat.
Most re-facers try to correct all this and still maintain the original tip opening and type of facing. The result of a good re-facing is pretty dramatic and you usually like the mouthpiece even more.
The question of mouthpiece modifications to achieve something it is not presently doing is another question entirely. In this category every part of the mouthpiece is subject to modification. Since it is somewhat experimental, I doubt many re-facers will take on such a job unless its clear that they are not liable for the results. Some guys will build a baffle in an Otto Link which strikes me as questionable regardless of the result - I don't use Links myself but if I did and thought I might like a Berg Larsen better, I'd try a Berg and leave the Link alone. In fact, I have learned the hard way (expensive way) that you should not ever modify or dispose of a mouthpiece that you used for an extended period in the past but then switched to a different one. You never know when in the future you just might want that piece again.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I go back and forth a lot; even had a metal period, but that went the way of my 4 bottom front teeth. I play music that is on the edge, harmonically-based but frequently free, but I love the old players like Pete Brown and Boyce Brown; nice rubbery tone. Which I find comes, for me, most easily with good older links and Brilharts. And since I have to record in a few weeks, I am getting ready.
 

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I think if you tell the refacer what you want they will accommodate you. I've asked for improvements and major changes at various times and used different craftsmen. They all did what I asked very well.
 
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