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Discussion Starter #1
I don't know very much about mouthpieces, or what's out there. I know the names Jody Jazz, Theo Wanna, Otto link ETC however I've only had a chance to try out a few - Vintage Otto link, and some metal Theo Wanna pieces. I'm hoping more knowledgeable members can jump in here and lend me a hand!

I currently play on an SR technologies Tenor Legend HR mouthpiece. I bought this years ago when I thought I would get back into playing but never did :( It's was in my drawer for 9 years before I picked playing back up and I have been using it ever since.
My sound concept / goal is focus! I understand that really comes from the player, not the equipment so we don't have to dive into that type of discussion. I'm simply wondering which mouthpieces are the most focused today - High quality and don't require refacing once purchased.

I only like HR mouthpieces, I can't stand metal... It's funny because years ago when I use to play I had a metal Jody Jazz DV NY * Same deal, I bought it when I switched to Tenor and never really tried anything else *

First of all, for those of you that have played an SR technologies Tenor Legend HR mouthpiece, Would you say it's pretty focused? Or spread?

Secondly, what are the most focused mouthpieces today in the world of HR, which ones should I track down to try out? I'd prefer darker or neutral vs bright.
I could also look at tracking down a Vintage HR mouthpiece.

Lastly, I love that my current mouthpiece is slim! It's the same width as an Alto HR meyer, most HR tenor mouthpieces are massive in comparison. Are any of the focused mouthpieces suggested on the thinner / smaller side?

Thanks for your help guys!
 

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It sounds like you don't even know what "focused" means, so I'm curious why that's your goal/concept? If you don't know if your mouthpiece plays spread or focused, how do you know you want a focused or spread sound? Maybe I'm misunderstanding you, so I apologize if that's the case.

You have a solid mouthpiece. Just start transcribing solos from your favorite players, do that for 2 years or so, then see if you want a different mouthpiece.

To answer your questions, one of the most focused mouthpieces i've ever played is the JodyJazz Classic (no longer made), the one with the spoiler.

- Saxaholic
 

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Focus, in context, seems like an elusive term to me. Most makers have several (if not more) HR models. Saxscape (delrin), 10mfan, Ralph Morgan (HR exclusively), etc...
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Focus creates a directional sound, it's tight like a laser when projecting to an audience. Spread is more spread out throughout the room, you can't quite tell where the sound is coming from as it's approaching from all angles. Pink Panther vs Coltrane kind of deal.
As I don't have much experience playing other mouthpieces, it's hard to narrow down if mine is spread or focused. I am simply hoping for some guidance as to which mouthpieces I should track down and try.

I've read my mouthpiece may be on the focused side, however it has a rather large chamber. Typically a medium chamber mouthpiece would offer more focus. I'm also now curious about playing with a smaller tip opening + stiffer reed. My opening is .106, I play with a 3M select jazz. I wonder what a 6 or 6* with a 4 reed would do for me. More focus? More body? John coltrane is who I admire the most when it comes to sound (I'm working on developing his cry like sound based on embouchure / air) It still doesn't hurt to chase after gear that will help add that little extra.

I was told Berg Larson would be a great mouthpiece to track down - Possibly a 100/1 or a 95/1. Are there any modern mouthpiece manufacturers that make mouthpieces based off one of mentioned models?

I appreciate it, thank you guys:)
 

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As you know, you'll get as many opinions as there are people about this topic. :) So here's mine! As a caveat, I've never really thought of saxophone sounds in terms of "spread" or "focused" and have often found that other people have wildly different ideas of what those sounds are. But I will say that if you take a list of great tenor players with a varied spectrum of sounds -- say, Wayne Shorter, Mark Turner, Michael Brecker, Chris Potter, Dexter Gordon, Joshua Redman -- every single one of those players developed his sound on an Otto Link. (Brecker switched to Guardalas later because of an injury, he needed something easier to play physiologically.) As you said in the original post, the player does indeed matter more than the gear, and the classic Link design is a great starting point for developing your own sound. The fact that Mark Turner and Chris Potter both play Links is kind of mind-blowing considering how incredibly different their sounds are. And early Brecker, on a Link, still sounds like Brecker.

Tip opening, reed strength, and your own physiology are big factors, too, and the organic components (reed and human) are very difficult to quantify. Another thing that all the above players had in common is that whatever Link or Link-like design they would be playing on would have been a good one, well-faced with everything balanced. New stock Links are pretty hit or miss in that department, but the quasi-Link-like designs from Vandoren (V16) and D'Addario (Select Jazz) are reportedly more consistent. I believe both those models have slightly smaller chambers than a Link, but that might help make it easier to get the kind of sound you like. Alternately, there's no shortage of high quality Link-like pieces on the new and used market. I love my Macsax Bob Sheppard model pieces, which are essentially great rubber Links, and there are similar pieces from Retro Revival, 10M Fan, and Matt Marantz. Not to mention the Mouthpiece Cafe guys, Brian Powell and Erik Greiffenhagan, who are pretty universally beloved by the saxophonist community.
 

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As you know, you'll get as many opinions as there are people about this topic. :) So here's mine! As a caveat, I've never really thought of saxophone sounds in terms of "spread" or "focused" and have often found that other people have wildly different ideas of what those sounds are. But I will say that if you take a list of great tenor players with a varied spectrum of sounds -- say, Wayne Shorter, Mark Turner, Michael Brecker, Chris Potter, Dexter Gordon, Joshua Redman -- every single one of those players developed his sound on an Otto Link. (Brecker switched to Guardalas later because of an injury, he needed something easier to play physiologically.) As you said in the original post, the player does indeed matter more than the gear, and the classic Link design is a great starting point for developing your own sound. The fact that Mark Turner and Chris Potter both play Links is kind of mind-blowing considering how incredibly different their sounds are. And early Brecker, on a Link, still sounds like Brecker.

Tip opening, reed strength, and your own physiology are big factors, too, and the organic components (reed and human) are very difficult to quantify. Another thing that all the above players had in common is that whatever Link or Link-like design they would be playing on would have been a good one, well-faced with everything balanced. New stock Links are pretty hit or miss in that department, but the quasi-Link-like designs from Vandoren (V16) and D'Addario (Select Jazz) are reportedly more consistent. I believe both those models have slightly smaller chambers than a Link, but that might help make it easier to get the kind of sound you like. Alternately, there's no shortage of high quality Link-like pieces on the new and used market. I love my Macsax Bob Sheppard model pieces, which are essentially great rubber Links, and there are similar pieces from Retro Revival, 10M Fan, and Matt Marantz. Not to mention the Mouthpiece Cafe guys, Brian Powell and Erik Greiffenhagan, who are pretty universally beloved by the saxophonist community.
Great post! I know it's true that in my own humble wanderings over the mouthpiece landscape, I always come back to Link-like pieces. Occasionally, I'll try a Guardala-style piece or Berg or some other, and it's fun for a while, just to hear myself sounding different. But in the end I tend to feel like those mouthpieces are imposing a sound on me, and I go back to the Link-types, which are for me more versatile. It's as if the Link is more of a blank page, and it takes a little time and some work to get what you want out of it, but it winds up being more personal and more versatile than some others.

I'm more of a metal guy these days, but if I had to recommend a piece for the OP, I'd say check out a Phil-tone Sapphire. Not sure if it's "focused" in the way you're looking for, but it is a wonderful, versatile HR piece, reasonably priced, will give you lots of room to experiment and grow.
 

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...But I will say that if you take a list of great tenor players with a varied spectrum of sounds -- say, Wayne Shorter, Mark Turner, Michael Brecker, Chris Potter, Dexter Gordon, Joshua Redman -- every single one of those players developed his sound on an Otto Link. (Brecker switched to Guardalas later because of an injury, he needed something easier to play physiologically.) As you said in the original post, the player does indeed matter more than the gear, and the classic Link design is a great starting point for developing your own sound. The fact that Mark Turner and Chris Potter both play Links is kind of mind-blowing considering how incredibly different their sounds are. And early Brecker, on a Link, still sounds like Brecker...

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Well, that list kind of covers the ground from A to B. I would add Lester Young, John Coltrane, Coleman Hawkins, Buddy Tate, Arnett Cobb, Paul Gonsalves, and Ben Webster to cover a wider range of tenor sax tonal concepts, honestly. All on Otto Link metal pieces. So you can see that tonal concept and your individual physical configuration are far more important than chops in a box. I would suggest a middle of the road MP and a lot of practice.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
When you put it that way, my SR tech is absolutely perfect for what I need:)
I've already been speaking to someone who pointed out my reeds may still be to soft for me. I blow through 8 reeds in 2-3 weeks. I was playing 3M select jazz filed, I just finished "paper method" and am soaking 4M's as we speak! I'm about to give one a blow and I am thinking I'll be pleasantly surprised with my sound, projection, how they play. I'll let you guys know:) Mouthpiece is a .106 opening.
 

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It's all super subjective. So much so that two people can listen to the same person play and describe their playing completely differently. And recordings are hard to gauge sometimes because there's a big difference in the perceived sound.

I often thought that I had a Bright focused sound until someone told me that I had a dark spread but edgy sound. It shook me up! Lol. I guess that's true. I do play with a lot of edge though.

Your set up sounds like it's a bit stiff just by the numbers. But I certainly know that some mouthpieces just play a lot more easily than others with harder reeds. So if that's what's working for you I'd stick with it and yes experiment with some different reeds. It's certainly less expensive than a new mouthpiece.

You might just benefit from doing some different tone exercises that speed up the air. Having more tricks in your bag is certainly a much better option than switching mouthpieces constantly.

Cheers.
 

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Focused HR: Berg with a 0 chamber.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I'm speechless.... I just spent some time on these 4M reeds, I now have so much more control over my horn! My sound is more focused and full, tons more projection and I can actually expressively play my horn without tapping things out so to speak. Altissimo is as easy as it was before, but tone has improved. I can still make a low Bb whisper. I had never tried a reed stiffer than what I had been playing before, I thought it wouldn't be playable or to much work. It's quite the opposite! This has given new life to my mouthpiece and playing, I love it:)

I work on Altissimo and overtones daily. The teacher whom I had a private lesson with a month ago had me re-work all of my scales two octaves and a 3rd. I now run them into Altissimo as high as D. Very hard at first, now I can make them pop but tone quality needs more work. After long tones each practice session I go through overtones from Bb to C#. I can do 7 overtones (I could I should say) with this reed I can hit the 8th overtone! All of that work has enabled me to see how my sound concept changes when I change the direction of airflow and my throat for mid note playing. I will just need far more work on that front to form my own focused sound.

Going with a harder reed has made a significant change, this mouthpiece is fine for the time being:)
 

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Awesome! I was gonna suggest trying a harder reed, and I'm not surprised that it helped. You do have a totally serviceable mouthpiece already, and a too-soft reed will definitely make it hard to have the kind of control over your sound that you want. (And what's "soft" for someone might not be for someone else... that pesky physiological diversity again! We all gotta find what's right for us.) Moving up in reed strength is often a much more effective -- and certainly more affordable -- solution than getting a new mouthpiece. Glad it worked for you!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
This is what I've experienced exactly! I'm thrilled I made the switch, I find that if I play quietly and direct less air into my mouthpiece it sounds spread and broad. (Beautiful none the less) Once I push a little more air to becomes more focused and yet even more focused! I'm talking extremely focused, I couldn't be happier!

There has ben another recent development. This morning I got a text from my tech, he just so happens to have a Vintage Berg Larson 100/1 HR sitting in his collection! It's a duck bill with the horizontal milling marks on the table, with a bullet chamber. He thinks it's from the 60's or early 70's. I messaged him the other day asking about Berg Larson pieces, he collects vintage gear but doesn't know much about Berg because he's never liked them. He's offering me a very good price, so I'm grabbing it later this afternoon so I can spend the long weekend playing it and seeing what I think. If I like it I'll buy it next week.

Are Berg's still decent players from the early 70's? I don't have much experience testing mouthpieces, all I can think of is long tones with a tuner, altissimo, over tones, articulation to see if it responds as nicely as my SR tech. Very curious to see how she plays. It may even be early 60's, he just is not sure. For the price this is definitely worth it for me if I love it as much or more than my SR tech. I've than solved my second dilemma of soon wanting a back up mouthpiece - Unless I decide to sell the SR and re-coup some cash for other things.

If you want I can throw up some photos later and let you know how I feel she plays:) John Coltrane played a duck bill 100/1 Berg in the 50's and switched back to one in the 60's. Not many people know that, if anything else this will be good experience for me to try out something drastically different than my current mp. I'm excited!
 

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This is what I've experienced exactly! I'm thrilled I made the switch, I find that if I play quietly and direct less air into my mouthpiece it sounds spread and broad. (Beautiful none the less) Once I push a little more air to becomes more focused and yet even more focused! I'm talking extremely focused, I couldn't be happier!

There has ben another recent development. This morning I got a text from my tech, he just so happens to have a Vintage Berg Larson 100/1 HR sitting in his collection! It's a duck bill with the horizontal milling marks on the table, with a bullet chamber. He thinks it's from the 60's or early 70's. I messaged him the other day asking about Berg Larson pieces, he collects vintage gear but doesn't know much about Berg because he's never liked them. He's offering me a very good price, so I'm grabbing it later this afternoon so I can spend the long weekend playing it and seeing what I think. If I like it I'll buy it next week.

Are Berg's still decent players from the early 70's? I don't have much experience testing mouthpieces, all I can think of is long tones with a tuner, altissimo, over tones, articulation to see if it responds as nicely as my SR tech. Very curious to see how she plays. It may even be early 60's, he just is not sure. For the price this is definitely worth it for me if I love it as much or more than my SR tech. I've than solved my second dilemma of soon wanting a back up mouthpiece - Unless I decide to sell the SR and re-coup some cash for other things.

If you want I can throw up some photos later and let you know how I feel she plays:) John Coltrane played a duck bill 100/1 Berg in the 50's and switched back to one in the 60's. Not many people know that, if anything else this will be good experience for me to try out something drastically different than my current mp. I'm excited!
My mouthpiece trial period is way more simple. I blow into it. If it makes me go wow I buy it. If it doesn't make me go wow I don't.

Your tuning is going to be off for at least a couple of days until you get used to it.
 
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