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Discussion Starter #1
After the apparent vagueness that a lot of people expressed (including myself) about early Babbitt Otto Link designs and time periods. I thought a little more clarification from those in the know might really be helpful.

For starters I am interested in specifically these Tone-edge models with the numbers of digits raised underneath the tables in the chambers. I had thought and been told that these were some version of Early Babbitt Link. I had owned, refaced and sold a few of them. In my experience the blanks (the ones I had at least) were absolutely different from current production. The shank size on the cork was different, the external shape was closer to the old EB and slant shapes, and the chambers were different. The ones I had that were old, did not have extremely high baffles like the Babbitts directly after the Slants (which I think are really just FL blanks) but the chambers are still similarly small.

Here are what a few people who (may) know more about EB Links have said recently:

The rubber Links with the number stamped inside, are not EB's.
I have had many older rubber Links with the number stamp inside that can play OK..but they were not EB's.
NONE OF THESE PLAY NEARLY AS WELL AS A GREAT ORIGINAL REAL EARLY BABBITT.
ANY TONE EDGE WITH A NUMBER STAMPED INSIDE THE CHAMBER IS A CURRENT PRODUCTION PIECE NOT AN EARLY BABBITT OF ANY KIND.
None of those pieces have numbers under the table (inside the chamber). The pieces with the molding number have very little baffle at all. I've seen 1s, and 2s, and Vs, underneath the tables of new Links (and seen 1s and 2s under Links fresh from Babbitt - a week ago). Those "PT" blanks that BP and EG used to sell (refaced) had V under the table.
I personally do not take an absolutist view of EB pieces, but rather see them as a gradual progression in model design, but I am interested to have the people who really have strong opinions contribute their ideas to this discussion.

Can you guys, 10mfan, unbalancedaction, warnelee, (and anyone else who may not be an expert, but has an idea) tell us why exactly you think these are really NOT EB Links, and are you sure of this? Can you tell us when you think these might have been made and what if any specific qualities they might have? What might the different numbers mean?

If there are old ones of these are they worthless pieces of dung or can they play well.. of course I have my own opinions but I am interested to have some of these differing ideas come out so I, and anyone else can get more clarity on these weird models.

Thanks in advance for your participation.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Here are some photos of the odd ones I had:
This one, I do not think had a number in the chamber, but was also a better blank design, was probably quite old and the rubber was great. When I got it, it was very hacked up so it took a lot of restoration work, and it did come out playing very nicely. I cannot say for sure when this one is from, but it was quite old. It was sold inexpensively and the person who has it now digs it, which is a good indicator as well:




Here is a very cool one with a reverse #1 in the chamber that I sold. I think it is very clear that the external blank shape is older and different. The internal chamber to my eye was smaller as well. The baffle was not especially high. The milling marks on the table looked like the older type, and the shank diameter was very similar to an old metal EB Link.






If the 'experts' (if there can be such a thing) on these pieces or others want to comment and/or share photos, that would be appreciated.
 

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Here's what I think:

The piece you have is an older version of what is essentially a current-run Babbitt made Tone Edge. It looks like the compound of the rubber is a little better than what the formula devolved into in later years. After only six months of working for a smaller production mouthpiece company, it only stands to reason that there is a whole LOT of variation that can occur within any production run. Molds get changed all the time for various reasons; sometimes to improve or to fix a problem, sometimes just because the last guy who made them quit and they had to start over again etc, ad nauseum.

The numbers inside of these Babbitt models indicate different chamber configurations. Some of them are better than others. I've seen more with 2 inside the bore which I found to be duller with a larger overall diameter. There was quite a lot of discussion about this with some second hand anecdotal info from Paul Tenney. It was years ago though and I don't remember what thread it was in ... I'll look around! The models that I think fit the description of Early Babbitt (whatever that means)however, are the early FLA blanks and then the slough of later models with a very high shelf baffle and rather a narrow body.

The mouthpiece in your photos has a wider body lower floor and baffle that eventually becomes sloppier and sloppier until you have those really awful ones from the 90's. My old saxophone teacher has one just like this and manages to sound just fine on it. He finds other pieces to sound 'thin' by comparison.

Are they worthless? Give them another 40 years we'll see. Anything can be made to play well, and I'm sure there are a lot of really good players who can get around on them just fine, especially after they've had a really nice setup.

My two cents ...
 

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What I find lacking in the comparisons are measurements of areas that quantify the differences. Instead of just calling them long, short, stubby, etc., provide a length measurement. Some of the 3D aspects of the internal design are difficult to measure without special tools. So measurements that just require a set of common calipers would be preferred.

In the case of EB Tone Edges, I was asked to render an opinion recently on an "is it or isn't it" discussion. I do not fancy myself an expert on these, but I did have an opinion. I mostly looked at the baffle shape. The 5/16" long or so arch, then the horseshoe concavity, as the desirable EB trait to look for. The higher floor is also desirable but can not be seen in photos. This is a great place to include a measurement (thanks to drakesaxprof for suggesting this one to me). Place the small end (not the jaw end) of the calipers on the mouthpiece table and open the jaws to drop the depth probe slider into the mouthpiece. This measures the depth from the table to the floor in one spot. It is an easy measurement to do and it seems to correlate to a desirable characteristic. The higher floor Links are about 1/16" higher than the modern ones.

There are several variations of EBs but they do not all have the most desireble features. Some have the high floor without the longer baffle near the tip.
 

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The higher floor Links are about 1/16" higher than the modern ones.

There are several variations of EBs but they do not all have the most desireble features. Some have the high floor without the longer baffle near the tip.
What?! So how many hundreds of $ is that extra 1/16" worth? I doubt if any audience would be able to tell the difference. I think this really illustrates the absurdity of all of this minutia. But I guess minutia is what you deal with all day long, eh, Mojo? ;-)
 

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What?! So how many hundreds of $ is that extra 1/16" worth? I doubt if any audience would be able to tell the difference. I think this really illustrates the absurdity of all of this minutia. But I guess minutia is what you deal with all day long, eh, Mojo? ;-)
Who cares if the audience can hear it? If I can hear it and it makes me feel better about my playing that's something the audience will notice. How a setup feels and sounds behind the horn is what counts IMO that's why mpc and horn demos don't really mean anything. Minutia is what musicians should deal with on a daily basis.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
There are several variations of EBs but they do not all have the most desireble features. Some have the high floor without the longer baffle near the tip.
This is really on point, and I agree, there are variations, and they are different... which fits with my 'gradual progression' viewpoint. So the idea of it being certified as a 'true EB' only if it has all of a certain set of properties doe not work for me. Some of the variants that lack SOME of the qualities others may have can still be really good playing mouthpieces, different perhaps but still very good for some people, and have qualities modern Links absolutely do not.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
What?! So how many hundreds of $ is that extra 1/16" worth? I doubt if any audience would be able to tell the difference. I think this really illustrates the absurdity of all of this minutia. But I guess minutia is what you deal with all day long, eh, Mojo? ;-)
1/16" floor or baffle height difference in a mouthpiece is worth a LOT. In some cases there is a lot we might do in exchange for an extra 1/16".
 

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What?! So how many hundreds of $ is that extra 1/16" worth? I doubt if any audience would be able to tell the difference. I think this really illustrates the absurdity of all of this minutia. But I guess minutia is what you deal with all day long, eh, Mojo? ;-)
That extra 1/16 is huge. The difference between sounding good and sounding like you're blowing into a sock.
 

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The "most desireble features" comment I made was what I think most players are looking for in EBs. There plenty of exceptions that play well and are good fits for players. Instead of just calling a mouthpiece an Early Babbitt we should also describe what features it has to the best of our abilities.
 

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That extra 1/16 is huge. The difference between sounding good and sounding like you're blowing into a sock.
[I disagree]. He (Mojo) was talking about the difference between a so-called "Early Babbitt" and later Tone Edges. I've bought several new Tone Edges off-the-shelf in the last few years, and while they might not have been the best pieces I've ever played, they definitely didn't make me sound like I was "blowing into a sock." In fact, contrary to your -- opinion, I think I sounded rather "good" on them. :mrgreen: In fact, the irony of your post can be illustrated with a story. I actually sent the last stock one I bought to the "great" Ted Klum to be perfected a couple years back. He added more of a baffle like these EB's have and all that jazz. The result: It played WORSE after I got it back from him.

But why all the fuss over these old ones that sell for $600 and $700? Why not just pick up one of the new ones based on the old design from Tenor Madness for a lot less?
 

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The table-to-floor measure that Mojo describes does reflect, for me, one of the critical dimensional characteristics that translates directly into a (for me) desirable playing characteristic--floor height. Most (not all) of my best-playing Tone Edges (from any era) have a drop of .060" or slightly less. The worst players pretty much all have a .065" drop.
 

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But why all the fuss over these old ones that sell for $600 and $700? Why not just pick up one of the new ones based on the old design from Tenor Madness for a lot less?
Shhhhhhhhhh!!! If this secret gets out, the equilibrium price on these TM Custom Tone Edges might sky rocket. The truth is that they are every bit as good as the best vintage Links I've owned and played over the years. It's like opening up an old warehouse and discovering a cache of new old stock EBs. We could start a thread entitled "Are people really ditching their Slants and EBs for TM Custom Links?" and the answer would be "yes!" You could start with Joel Frahm. The only "problem" with them is that they're not very "collectable" -- yet, anyway.
 

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The "thing" that players seem to want out of a Link is edge or "brightness" and that varies through all of the years of Links.

I have had a lot more luck with "short" Soloists than I ever had with hard rubber Links as far as getting an edge to my sound.
 

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"Early Babbitt"--that term was coined by xxx right? Just curious after reading the recent Link "mythology" threads....
Nope, Theo had broken down both STM and Tone Edge models, including the specific use of this term, years ago in his Mouthpiece Museum. Otto Link, Ben Harrod, and Babbitt all produced many subtle and not-so-subtle variations over the years. Outside of any market/economic concerns, players have long been interested in these details.
 

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Wondering if I could get some clarification:

I bought this Early Babbitt alto piece from Mark (10MFAN) last year on Ebay. It is a very strong, bright and cutting alto piece which plays nothing like a modern piece. It's got the nice high baffle and high floor. The body is not the Florida body style.

Problem is...it has a number 2 in the chamber.

I believe it to be an EB....but..what is the deal here? Are there to exceptions to the "if it's got a number in the chamber, then it isn't a EB rule?"

Thanks!

Quote Originally Posted by 10mfan View Post
The rubber Links with the number stamped inside, are not EB's.
I have had many older rubber Links with the number stamp inside that can play OK..but they were not EB's.
NONE OF THESE PLAY NEARLY AS WELL AS A GREAT ORIGINAL REAL EARLY BABBITT.
Quote Originally Posted by warnelee View Post
ANY TONE EDGE WITH A NUMBER STAMPED INSIDE THE CHAMBER IS A CURRENT PRODUCTION PIECE NOT AN EARLY BABBITT OF ANY KIND.
 
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