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Discussion Starter #1
any differenc if the tip rail is wide or short thin, or rounded

any influnces to sound in response?
 

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I think it matters. I actually think the tip rail, actual tip (most forward part of the mouthpiece) and the first few mm of the baffle are where everything is. There are so many variables in a sax mouthpiece and so many permutations of how changes in the variables interact that infinite combinations are possible. Even soo, if you take a mediocre or poor mouthpiece and restrict your work area to only the tip area, chances are you could improve it. If you don't know what you're doing, you will certainly ruin it.
 

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I don't think it matters in terms of sound. I almost wish we would stop talking about mouthpieces in terms of sound in general. What we are talking about is how we sound on a given setup. It's better to talk in terms of performance in my experience.

Thinner tip rails will give the impression of the reed speaking a little better and articulation may feel more precise. Thin side rails have an even less noticeable effect when compared with baffle shapes, floor/roof height, squeeze or no squeeze at the throat and then how it expands into the chamber. Bergonzi is known to say "thin rails, thin sound" and some folks subscribe to that. You notice that more with Doc Tenney acolytes and fans who want as neutral as possible.

When you start thinning the tip rail and reshaping the baffle you start to notice that the mouthpiece performs more instantly and speaks clearer. The more defined the work almost feels like it's easier to define your sound. This all depends of course on how you voice the instrument and your background as a saxophonist.

When rails are rounded that can really begin to negatively affect the performance of the mouthpiece depending on how extreme it is. The effect is not unlike toneholes that aren't level or at least when pads aren't making good contact with the tone hole, likewise, your reed is making poor contact with the facing. Considering the thing that makes the actual sound is the reed, it's pretty significant.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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I've always thought it's best if the rail curve conforms reasonably to the curve of the reed.

Thickness of rail may be more relevant when there is no significant baffle (possible depending on the material). But as long as not ridiculously think so as to affect your embouchure, I think it is not anything that makes a difference.

I know this from playing otherwise identical mouthpieces that have thicker or thinner rails (up to about 1.5mm). No significant difference in sound that I could tell although the thicker rail may look a bit odd and put some people off.
 

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Thin tip rails can speak quicker and add higher partials to the tone. But they chirp for some players and generally require using a reed that has the same exact shape as the tip rail curve. You can reshape the reed or the mouthpiece or overhang the reed. I stay away from ultra thin rails unless requested by a client.

A very slight curve to the reed contact surface of the tip rail helps with altissimo response. It is more of a curve at the end of the facing.
 

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I had a high $, boutique piece with ultra-thin rails, and I definitely found it to be prone to chirping. And it was also picky about reeds. And reeds that started out ok could quickly become chirpy for some reason. Reeds last much longer on my current piece which has rails of standard thickness.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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I had a high $, boutique piece with ultra-thin rails.
Rails???? It had more than one tip rail????


I got a thin rails/tip metal link. Sounds great but some reeds just wont play on it.
Ditto

How can a mouthpiece have tip rails (plural)

Are we talking about the same thing? - The Tip Rail.
 

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Thin tip rails can speak quicker and add higher partials to the tone. But they chirp for some players and generally require using a reed that has the same exact shape as the tip rail curve. You can reshape the reed or the mouthpiece or overhang the reed. I stay away from ultra thin rails unless requested by a client.

A very slight curve to the reed contact surface of the tip rail helps with altissimo response. It is more of a curve at the end of the facing.
This is especially true if the shape of the baffle is rounded behind the tip rail. At that point the reed is not making good contact with the tip rail and probably hitting the baffle. If it's nice and flat behind the tip rail it's less likely to squeak.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Maybe not, I was referring to the rails on the sides of the reed. Not the very tip of the piece.
Definitely not then!

This is about the tip rail.

EDIT: I think there has been a recent thread about side rails, easy to confuse I know!
 

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any differenc if the tip rail is wide or short thin, or rounded

any influnces to sound in response?
While it may make a difference, you shouldn't let the way a mouthpiece looks influence the way it plays. I've made thousands of mouthpieces some with thin tip rails and some thicker and they all played well. Don't listen to so called experts, just play the mouthpiece and judge it on how it sounds and feels. Everything else is BS and folklore. Phil Barone
 

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And like Phil B says...you cant just look and know. Its all relative to the individual piece you are talking about.

Wide thin rails make chambers bigger. This is why they are used in small chamber, high baffle pieces. It can maka difference in pieces with larger chambers too but there are no absolute rules to make judgement calls. Ive played great oieces with moderate rails and crap ones. Ive played terrible and great pieces with thin rails.

Honestly, just play the thing. Dont shop for jewelry when you are looking for a tool
 

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While it may make a difference, you shouldn't let the way a mouthpiece looks influence the way it plays. I've made thousands of mouthpieces some with thin tip rails and some thicker and they all played well. Don't listen to so called experts, just play the mouthpiece and judge it on how it sounds and feels. Everything else is BS and folklore. Phil Barone
Some of the best playing mouthpieces I've had were also the ugliest! I learned you can't always judge a mouthpiece by its looks.
 

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While it may make a difference, you shouldn't let the way a mouthpiece looks influence the way it plays. I've made thousands of mouthpieces some with thin tip rails and some thicker and they all played well. Don't listen to so called experts, just play the mouthpiece and judge it on how it sounds and feels. Everything else is BS and folklore. Phil Barone

Just for clarity, Phil is also a "so-called expert" so based on his advice don't listen to him either (?) and I can attest to receiving at least a few of the the thousands of pieces he made that did not play well that had to be fixed. Such is life.

There are always ugly pieces that can play 'good' or play 'charming' or have a unique thing, but looks are not entirely deceiving. Truthfully, and without the ego-spin there are DIFFERENT kinds of mouthpiece designs out there with different demands. If you produce a high baffle piece that amps up power and brightness you sometimes can get away with a rather rough looking finish like some of Barone's pieces and many later Berg Larsons as well. Many folks who play those kinds of pieces are satisfied with power and brightness that they dont have to work hard for. I am also not judging that approach, but those pieces in many cases lack a kind of fine subtlety, and in some cases even if they had the finer focus of a fine finish it would be too much for the piece and the player to handle.

If you look at something like a vintage NY Link for example, you do not have an amped up baffle and brightness. Whatever power and brightness there is the player often has to work for it. If you produce a lower baffle larger chamber piece like that and you leave a rough finish it will be often totally dead.

This is actually a rather complex topic but to put it very simply, both thick rails and sloppy facings will dampen the response of a piece. If the piece is bright and powerful by baffle and chamber design then some degree of dampening may be considered acceptable by the quality standards of the maker, and/or the playing level of the customer. In some cases if the piece is very bright and powerful and the maker is actually knowledgable they may choose controlled dampening, which prevents chirping etc, but that usually does not look rough and sloppy.

If the piece is darker and/or requires more player effort such as Links and the like then dampening is usually not desirable. In that case every bit of what people usually consider to be a "pretty" finish matters in terms of functional response. It just depends how subtle the perception of the player is, whether or not they realize this makes a difference. It does.

So there is
1) Fine finish which harnesses response intentionally,
2) Controlled 'modulation' of rail, tip and curve configuration, intentional dampening without a rough appearance,
3) just rough sloppy work,

Number 3) which was just suggested we ignore, is actually just haphazard sloppy finish without targeted response that may work in some cases on high baffle pieces with low expectations for complex response, but in many, most piece that have higher expectations for fine and complex response fine finish appearance is NOT a false indicator. Of course in some cases there are folks who have put most of their effort into making a finish LOOK nice while totally failing in the balanced facing curve area. Yeah I have received many of those, from "big names".

Many pieces that look like crap can play "ok" if the player has just an "ok" level of perception, but quite often they are picky and unreliable pieces, with just that one charming thing. For what it is worth THIN tip rails are NOT the indicator of a great piece or great finish. Different pieces have different demands in terms of rails, but there is really no excuse for a crap finish, whatever the configuration.
 

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Just for clarity, Phil is also a "so-called expert" so based on his advice don't listen to him either (?) and I can attest to receiving at least a few of the the thousands of pieces he made that did not play well that had to be fixed. Such is life.

There are always ugly pieces that can play 'good' or play 'charming' or have a unique thing, but looks are not entirely deceiving. Truthfully, and without the ego-spin there are DIFFERENT kinds of mouthpiece designs out there with different demands. If you produce a high baffle piece that amps up power and brightness you sometimes can get away with a rather rough looking finish like some of Barone's pieces and many later Berg Larsons as well. Many folks who play those kinds of pieces are satisfied with power and brightness that they dont have to work hard for. I am also not judging that approach, but those pieces in many cases lack a kind of fine subtlety, and in some cases even if they had the finer focus of a fine finish it would be too much for the piece and the player to handle.

If you look at something like a vintage NY Link for example, you do not have an amped up baffle and brightness. Whatever power and brightness there is the player often has to work for it. If you produce a lower baffle larger chamber piece like that and you leave a rough finish it will be often totally dead.

This is actually a rather complex topic but to put it very simply, both thick rails and sloppy facings will dampen the response of a piece. If the piece is bright and powerful by baffle and chamber design then some degree of dampening may be considered acceptable by the quality standards of the maker, and/or the playing level of the customer. In some cases if the piece is very bright and powerful and the maker is actually knowledgable they may choose controlled dampening, which prevents chirping etc, but that usually does not look rough and sloppy.

If the piece is darker and/or requires more player effort such as Links and the like then dampening is usually not desirable. In that case every bit of what people usually consider to be a "pretty" finish matters in terms of functional response. It just depends how subtle the perception of the player is, whether or not they realize this makes a difference. It does.

So there is
1) Fine finish which harnesses response intentionally,
2) Controlled 'modulation' of rail, tip and curve configuration, intentional dampening without a rough appearance,
3) just rough sloppy work,

Number 3) which was just suggested we ignore, is actually just haphazard sloppy finish without targeted response that may work in some cases on high baffle pieces with low expectations for complex response, but in many, most piece that have higher expectations for fine and complex response fine finish appearance is NOT a false indicator. Of course in some cases there are folks who have put most of their effort into making a finish LOOK nice while totally failing in the balanced facing curve area. Yeah I have received many of those, from "big names".

Many pieces that look like crap can play "ok" if the player has just an "ok" level of perception, but quite often they are picky and unreliable pieces, with just that one charming thing. For what it is worth THIN tip rails are NOT the indicator of a great piece or great finish. Different pieces have different demands in terms of rails, but there is really no excuse for a crap finish, whatever the configuration.
This makes a lot of sense. Thanks for posting .
 

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I dont suggest that pieces should look like crap. My position is that you cant always judge a specific design by how wide or thin rails might be. I cant say I ever really like wide rails but they have their place on some designs..they are also designs I dont care for personally. That doesnt mean they dont play well. For instance, I would never put thick rails on a high baffle, narrow piece...you need all the reed and all the extra chamber volume. On a like type piece I would not usually make razor sharp rails.

I dont make jewelry...I make mouthpieces. But if you are paying significant money for a piece you expect it to look nice. You pay for professional work and you should expect it. It also shows attention to detail and respect for customers. Again, I dont have staff to polish every square mm of the interior of a chamber to make it look like a piece of art. It should, however, be clean and given regard.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
thanks for so many (different) opinions, It is a early Florida STM alto and I like it, it plays perfect with Alexander DC reeds but many other reeds do not work, they sound dull.
I thought the tip rail is a bit large and rounded, so I just thought maybe it could play better in case the facing is not perfect.
 

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That is actually a bit of a myth. A piece doesnt sound good because it has a good facing. Unless its really poor it does not sound bad. Facing is much more about response. However, part of refacing involves adjustments within the piece that can have a huge impact on tone and clarity. Ipthe ideal piece responds well and internal components of the piece are done properly. When it comes down to liking the oiece or not, thenway the internal work is done is critical. Its all about relationships, not jsut the facing.
 
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