Well, I just wanted to post this to share some experiences. Yesterday I did a complete comparison between different metal mouthpieces that I have for tenor. I'm trying to find the most versatile mouthpiece that'll cover all the styles from light bossa nova (think Getz) to r&b/r&r. Till this moment I've been struggling with a metal Link 5*. It's a very versatile mouthpiece but sometimes I want more edge and "dirt" or grit to the sound.
Tested mouthpieces were:
A brand new LT Guardala King in silver-plate
(from WWBW's sale). First I was afraid that the tip opening might be too much for me to handle. But that's not the case. Despite the huge opening (Link 8*-9) it plays easily with a huge sound. It plays surprisingly dark compared what I expected. Versatile? Yes! The only thing I'm not sure about is the basic core of the sound. Don't know if it's normal for this kind of high baffle -design, but the sound is sometimes too nasal (and boxy). I guess that's the basic Guardala sound?
My trusty 'ol Otto Link STM NY 5*
Well, it's been said earlier that this has been the most versatile piece since now. From deep, lush, velvety sounds to brighter and edgier sounds. I think that the Link-design can really bring the best qualities from your horn out. So the sound is there but the projection and power can be sometimes a problem. When I need that extra grit to the sound I feel that the Link is too polite..
Metal RIA 4*
This is one of my favorites. Very Link-like, easy to play, it has much more power than the Link and you can get more grit to the sound. The only "problem" is that the square chamber design makes the sound too boring sometimes. This mouthpiece reminds me of Yani metal mouthpieces. I just like this a bit more than the Yani. An interesting detail is that this mouthpiece sounds dull and boring with the stock neck (CJS Earthtone tenor) but when I switch the Ref 54 neck it really shines.
A refaced vintage Brilhart Levelaire (equals to 7* Link)
This is the black horse
This is the only mouthpiece that can produce a classic r&r/r&b tenor-sound. It's even louder that the DG King, much brighter and the sound has that dirtyness and grit that lacks from the other pieces. It's also VERY easy to play. Altissimo is a breeze! The unique beak design is not so comfortable but you can deal with it. The "problem" with this one is that the basic sound is kind of nasal. When I push it the grit and the brightness takes it away but when playing with lower volumes the nasal basic sound dominates too much.
So here I am with four great mouthpieces in my tenor case. Can't decide which will be my main piece. I don't like the idea of switching mouthpieces during a gig for example. I know that many of you will reply saying "stick with the link!!!"
But I'm curious to know how many of you deal with this kind of "problem"? Too many good but different mouthpieces laying in your case ;-)
I haven't read too many praises of Levelaires here. IMO if they're refaced and opened up the modern standards they can really compete with the current high-end mpcs.
Thanks for reading through this rant..