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Discussion Starter #1
Have any of you directly compared these pieces? If so, any insights you'd like to share?

I'm going to be buying one or more pieces, considering Sakashama, NI, Liu Shizhao, and Bill Evans.

I play with an open, warm sound. I've had good results with Yanagiswa pieces, but find I need to do quite a bit of work in the embrouchure and throat to focus the tone. I'm looking for a piece that will give me a full spectrum of sound, but focus the intonation with less work. You often hear the comment that the Guardalas have that "laser" tone. That's what I'm looking for, but with the ability to also maintain warmth and fullness around a centered tone.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I'm just coming back to playing after some years off and am catching up.
 

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First off - Welcome to SOTW!

I owned a PMS (Nadir) MBI for a while. Haven't played any of the others. The MBI was pretty typical of the Guardala design but the piece was a bit too narrow for me and had a tendency to pinch my lip due to the reed overhang so I sold it.

These types of pieces often have a focused sound because of the throat/chamber size which is smaller than many other designs. They also tend to play bright because the high baffles accentuate the higher partials in the sound giving them more cut or bite. However, you are fooling yourself if you believe the intonation will be more "focused" in any way.

Intonation on a saxophone is a compromise to begin with because of the inherent design of the instrument. The relationship between player, mouthpiece (design), and horn is a complex one when it comes to both sound and intonation which often means trade-offs. There's been a great deal written on this both here at SOTW as well as the Internet at large so I'd encourage some research. For example; the low notes are a bit more impacted by changes in chamber size or mouthpiece volume where the high notes (palm keys) are impacted more by the placement of the mouthpiece on the neck and the distance from the tip of the reed to the tone hole. This makes pieces with very small or very large chambers difficult to use on many horns. Relatively small differences in chamber size, throat shape, baffle height, facing length, and tip opening can result in large impacts in response, sound, and intonation.

The pieces you've listed are all well made "boutique" brand mouthpieces but they are also going to be expensive. IMO the Bill Evans piece is way too expensive to take a flier on unless you're 99% sure that's what you want. Personally I'd have to play that piece in rehearsal and gig situations before even beginning to consider it at that price.

You haven't met the minimum requirements (6 months here and 50 posts) to see the Marketplace area of SOTW but there's a Sakshama MBII made of delrin for sale there at $130. That's a pretty good price and the type of thing I'd be looking for if I were you. I'd look for a used high-baffle piece in the style of a Guardala (there are loads of copies out there) that would let me "dip my toe into that pool" without spending a boat load of money. If you decide that's the type of feel and sound you want to go for you can then research the specific options. If you play your cards right you can buy/sell/trade many lightly used pieces to find your particular preferences without spending too much money doing it. The number of folks who start out with a particular type of piece in mind and convince themselves of that based upon marketing and web reviews and then end up with something completely different is very high so I'd encourage some experimentation before spending a lot of $$$ on something that may not ultimately work for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the feedback, both of you. I'm having Sakshama Kolowski produce an MB1 Fatboy piece for me with a couple small tweaks and will use that as a starting point. I'm planning to experiment, throw some money at the challenge, and sell a piece or two if things don't work out. I wouldn't buy an Evans piece until I'm a little more clear and focused. I have a pretty specific result I'm looking for. I did try out a friend's original Guardala MB/traditional piece in the mid-late 80s, and got some feel for it.

Appreciate the feedback.
 

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You may also want to check out “Vigilante” mouthpieces - made by a woman that worked with Dave Guardala in the day. It is likely that you played some of her work.

http://www.vigilantemouthpiece.com/
 

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This wasn't mentioned, but the Retro Revival Seventh Avenue South is great. They list it as a MBII but the baffle seems more gradual. Lots of depth and warmth available, copied by master Eric Falcon. Probably cheaper than most other Guardalas or copies and it's hand finished and play tested before it's sent. I have the .107 and I find it works great for pretty much everything. They also have a .116...It's really not too bright, some of the videos of players demonstrating it make it sound bright but it really is very versatile and reed friendly imo. It is pretty free blowing and open but it really has a great core and warmth to the sound but with lots of available edge, it gives you a lot of options. I have never played an original Guardala but I have heard people say this plays better than their original hand finished DG piece.
https://retro-revival.com/products/...lica-guardala-mb-2-tenor-saxophone-mouthpiece

*Mine has a little tape around the outside to make the ligature fit. Mine lost its plating quickly but I think their plating is much better now...I think I prefer it without the plating anyways.
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Doesn't that 10 guy make some mouthpieces like this?
10mfan, yeah probably. I'm just talking about Guardala copies, this was copied from a handmade Dave Guardala piece. 10mfan is different, he uses new designs not copies of older pieces.
 

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There are Borb Oliver mouthpieces on eBay which are copies of well-known pieces, and are very cheap. From what I've read on SOTW, they seem to be a bit hit-and-miss but for the price, a "hit" could be a great investment especially if it's one of the metallic pieces i.e. not resin.
 

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The Liu Shizhao MB is a great piece and for me superior to the Nadir pieces. It is a little dark for a MB I copy but excellent. Steve Neff has a review about it. The Sakshama MB, I own is a bit brighter but that might depend on the smaller tip 0.110 vs 0.114. The baffle ist different. I would recommend to you to contact Sakshama and talk to him about your specific needs. He is a great guy to work with.
 

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10mfan, yeah probably. I'm just talking about Guardala copies, this was copied from a handmade Dave Guardala piece. 10mfan is different, he uses new designs not copies of older pieces.

Hi Ed,
Thank you. Jen at Vigilante makes excellent Guardala pieces. She worked with Dave and knows those pieces inside and out.
There are some good copies out there from other makers, including Sakshama and Liu Shizhao. I like them more than the Nadir copies.
There are also copies coming out from China and Brazil that you may be able to buy for cheap, and have them worked on to your liking.

Good luck with your search.
 

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I’ve owned Sakshama and the Nadir, Sakshama wins hands down between those 2 in my opinion. However, it’s hard to beat a handmade Guardala that hasn’t been messed with, but you’re talking a different league of price. The Sakshama plays great!
 

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Your pieces look fantastic, so many players are using the Robusto now. I saw recordings of Doug Webb and Tony Lakatos sounding great on it! I haven't tried one yet but I really like your approach which is different from many brands today! The pictures and reviews on Steve Neff's website look amazing.

I've done a bit of research on Jen and her story and I'm glad she's still making Guardalas and very pretty ones too! Again haven't tried but they look great and so many different models to choose from including the original blanks!
 

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Hi Ed,
Thank you. Jen at Vigilante makes excellent Guardala pieces. She worked with Dave and knows those pieces inside and out.
There are some good copies out there from other makers, including Sakshama and Liu Shizhao. I like them more than the Nadir copies.
There are also copies coming out from China and Brazil that you may be able to buy for cheap, and have them worked on to your liking.

Good luck with your search.
So do you make these type of mouthpieces? I guess I don't really understand what makes a piece a MB or Guardala like piece. Are those the same thing? I do understand Guardala was a guy that made pieces. Sorry if these are stupid questions.
 

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The MB or MB I and MB II are referring to mouthpiece designs that were made by Dave Guardala for Michael Brecker. Guardala had a few other popular designs and many of his mouthpieces had similar characteristics.

Mark can give you the particulars on his 10MFan pieces or you can go to his website which is very well done. The explanations of the designs and sound that's being sought with each are very detailed and most include several videos and sound clips of the pieces being played by a multitude of players in different styles.

My impression is that most mouthpiece makers, at least the boutique makers, seem to fall into one of three categories;
Makers that make (and market) pieces that are largely copies of older vintage mouthpieces - Retro Revival, Vigilante, Sakshama,
Makers that make pieces of their own design or at least don't attempt to market their mouthpieces as copies of older vintage pieces - 10MFan, Jody Jazz
Makers that do a bit of both - Theo Wanne, Phil-Tone, Ted Klum, Phil Barone, Morgan/Mouthpiece Cafe

Mouthpiece discussions can often become very deep rabbit holes with a lot of conflicting opinions and advice so enter at your own risk ;)
 

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Your pieces look fantastic, so many players are using the Robusto now. I saw recordings of Doug Webb and Tony Lakatos sounding great on it! I haven't tried one yet but I really like your approach which is different from many brands today! The pictures and reviews on Steve Neff's website look amazing.
Thank you very much. I am so happy with all the models right now. I really appreciate your kind words!
 

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I have the Nadir Super King and MBII; A Guardalla King and a Sakshama lost wax King Of the three to Sakshama works the best for me. I just recently found a silverstone string ligature I purchased a while back and it really made an impressive difference on the clarity of tone. Primary horn is a seris IV King Silversonic
 

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I have a Sakshama, Lost Wax MBI that I have used for many years. Mine was made a little darker than standard by Sakshama so I can get a little more depth but it does have that focus your talking about which I find helpful in louder settings. Good luck with the search!
 
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