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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everyone!
My name is Martin and I just joined the community.
I'm still a beginner studying the alto saxophone but I really love it and I invest quite a lot time in trying to evolve and reach the next level. I hope it isn't too late for me. With 28 years, I'm a bit late with picking up the saxophone 馃槃

After starting with a standard Yamaha 4C, I now want to invest in a new mouthpiece, which should accompany me on my journey.
But before I blindly start to buy mouthpiece, I wanted to ask you guys for some support.

As far as I know, the material doesn't really matter so much, it seems to be more about the chamber, shape and construction of the mouthpiece. That's why I'm open for all materials. No limitations here, as long as it works for me.

So now I wonder for what kind of chamber, size, shape, tip opening etc. I should look if I want a mouthpiece that is easy to play, offers some control over high notes, has some decent intonation and a powerful sound?
For example a Durga 4. With it's small chamber and overall construction, would it generally be hard for me to deal with it or could it maybe fit?

Sorry, my knowledge is pretty limited 馃槃

I was looking at some Jody Jazz and Theo Wanne models, but unfortunately I can't try them where I live and I don't have the needed experience to know which of them are suited for me and which not.

Thank you for your support and best wishes from Germany!
 

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I'd just tell you to get something like a Meyer or Vandoren if you asked me. Cheap. Easy to find. Easy to play. Great mouthpieces.
I play meyer myself. I've done so since I first upgraded from my Yamaha 4C.
I've played on new meyers and really old, expensive ones. I like my 90s meyer the most. But all have been great!
 

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You might want to start out with a hard rubber mouthpiece first , until you know what you are looking for . Theo Wanne pieces , although nice , are quite expensive even if one has the money to buy one . If you desire a small chamber , per se , you may want to try the Vandoren V16 A 6 S+ . You get a small chamber and a little extra sizzle with the + . Or maybe try a Beechler White Diamond Inlay #5S . Good Luck (y)
 

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Welcome to the community Martin!
I don't know long you've been playing, and if you're having specific issues with your current mouthpiece. Quoting from Yamaha, they say
"The 4C has a moderately narrow sized tip opening, and the 5C has a moderate sized tip opening. For beginners, narrow tip openings provide consistent intonation and easy response, generating a good, clear tone. More advanced players should take advantage of wide tip openings that help the player achieve greater volume and projection while providing a rich tone quality and easier vibrato"

Not trying to sell or endorse anything here, but from my experience, it may be better to stay with what you have. For me, I have been using the same mouthpiece for years, and I have focused on improving my abilities, rather than switching my hardware. When you start changing mouthpieces, it may take a while before you get comfortable with it, which can slow down your overall progress. I have seen too many musicians spending a lot of time and money trying to find the perfect horn, neck, mouthpiece, etc trying to capture the sound they are looking for. If you are comfortable with your current piece, I would suggest that you keep using it, so that you can concentrate on becoming as good as you can be with what you already have.

Others may disagree with me, but in my case, the changes between one horn to another, or one mouthpiece to another is often very minimal. I sound pretty much the same playing a MK VI or a Bundy. The ratio of the sound I achieve while playing is probably something like 90% me, 10% equipment. Hope this helps. Good luck and keep practicing!
 

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So, first welcome. Second don鈥檛 ever be concerned that it鈥檚 too late to do anything.

Alright so formalities are out of the way...

I think there are some decent suggestions above, but no matter what, you are what is going to drive you. Perhaps you want the novelty of a new mouthpiece or horn or whatever, but you have to ask why you want it and what you expect out of it. Ultimately, your gear does matter but mostly because it matters to you on the level of how you interact with it to make your sound. So now for the questions...

1. So the first thing is to determine your sound. Who do you listen to? What do you want to sound like? Are you a wanting to play jazz or rock and roll or maybe play with a hip hop group (don鈥檛 laugh; I played many a gig with hip hop groups).

2. How long have you been playing and to what degree? Is a little while a year or two?

3. Have you had a teacher? Are you playing privately or with others in any social setting so you have the communal learning aspect? How are you driving yourself to play?

4. What horn, mouthpiece, and reeds do you play currently? I know you have answered the 4C but there is more to it than that.

5. What鈥檚 your budget?

A little on mouthpieces... the 4C is a fine mouthpiece. Not really ever been my style but it is inexpensive and generally well made. I am not a fan of the square chamber though. If you hold it up to the light and look through it you should be able to see what I mean. The thing about a mouthpiece like this is that it will reign you in and isn鈥檛 hard to play or control. Metal vs hard rubber is a question some people worry about more than others but a lot of it will come down to the profile of the beak of the mouthpiece. Meta on alto is just smaller. You can learn to play on either but I generally suggest hard rubber because it is less expensive and most do not have aggressive chamber and baffle variation. As in neither are too large or small. At this point, for you, I would say look for something more non-square chamber with a slightly larger tip opening and be patient.

Pieces like the Durga and some of the other metal Jody Jazz are fine pieces but they are geared towards specific things and towards people who are at a certain point in their development. Sometimes you could purchase one and even be able to play it and get a false sense of success because some things will seem easier, but in reality you will hit walls and not know why. That鈥檚 not saying that something like the Jody Jazz Hard Rubber piece is bad in a moderate tip opening based on other things. It would be a fine mouthpiece to develop on, as would Meyers, or Otto Links, or a number of others. A lot will come back to the questions above. How鈥檚 your breath support? One of the issues with a piece like you are playing Is going to be embouchure. Are you too tight? Do you understand faster and slower air as concepts in how they interact with the horn? And for all you Joe Allard fans, can you play without your top lip on the mouthpiece? These are things more combined with measurements of where you are and how they interact with the mouthpiece will tell you when to buy.
 

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A Yamaha 4C is fine for a beginner. Usually after an alto player has been playing for a few years, is getting into jazz and improvisation and has listened to a bunch of alto sax players and has their favorites, I suggest trying a good Meyer hard rubber alto mouthpiece. They are good moderate mouthpieces to continue developing on alto. The Vandoren V16 hard rubber pieces are great also. When I used to see a refaced Meyer for sale by Phil-Tone I used to pick one of those up for students also.

I have seen students who switch to a high baffle or small chamber mouthpiece too soon develop bad habits. They don't blow enough air and don't support the air like they should. They don't have to because the mouthpiece can be pretty loud with very little air. The problem with this is when the student says they don't like their sound and then switches to a Meyer type mouthpiece later on, they can't play it at all. They sound anemic on it because they have never developed their air support. I only suggest high baffle, smaller chambered for students who have already developed a great sound and concept with a more moderate type mouthpiece like I have suggested above and who want to go the direction of having that brighter sound on alto.
 

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I'm basically going to urge the same as Steve N.

If you work with a medium to medium large chamber piece with a small rollover baffle (Meyer is the standard for alto of this type, Link for tenor) then you will be able to get a wide range of sounds over a full dynamic range. Later on, once you've learned how to blow through the thing, not at it, and how to control the full range of the horn without biting, you may be ready to go to high baffle pieces. High baffle pieces don't inherently sound thin and nasal and buzzy, if you put a real air stream through them. But if you haven't developed that full body air support, they give an immediate sound that seems loud and projecting but is actually buzzy and reedy and unpleasant. I like many others went from a standard mouthpiece (in my day it was the Selmer Soloist C*) to a succession of high baffle duck calls, but eventually I realized that the Meyer/Link type piece, with a proper well supported air stream, will give you a more rich and pleasing sound while still having enough projection for almost any environment - and once I developed the ability to wail on a piece like that, I could go back to the high baffle pieces as a more experienced player and get good sounds out of them.
 

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Thanks Steve. I still do my Custom Meyers but your students in the states would have tollerate a little time in shipping.

I agree that one critical thing missing in the OP's description is his time playing. Players sometimes get a little anxious to jump ship and change mouthpieces too soon. This is especially the case in the internet and sax forum age. I know I was guilty of that and instead of becoming an accomplished player I became a mouthpiece maker. I guess all in all it worked out...but not like I planned.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hey everyone and thank you so much for all your suggestions and replies! I was pretty overwhelmed with how many replies this post got. Thank you!

Sorry for the missing information, let's make things a bit clearer.

Some additional information, also based on @Saxophone Strange's questions:

I actively play for about 1 year with a teacher now. I practice quite a lot for the pure joy of it and initially I started with playing some classical pieces.
Lately I learned playing Ornithology (well, I can play the notes, but of course not even close to playing it well I guess) and it inspired me to evolve in some more directions.
Honestly, I enjoy many styles that can be played with an alto sax. I absolutely love playing classical music and I often enjoy drowning in the pure emotions and beauty of pieces like "The Moldau".
I also love such smooth and soothing Jazz pieces like Misty, Chula Vista or Georgia on my Mind.
The music I personally listen to the most would be Rock, Metal, Blues and Jazz and classical music. The music I play the most so far would be classical music for my lessons and Jazz for the pure joy of it.
I guess the best for me would be a mouthpiece that can do a wider variety of styles.. or even getting 2 different ones as soon as I developed more.

Equipment wise I used to play the good old Yamaha YAS-280. For reeds I tried a lot and ended up using the Legere Signature 2.0 reeds.

Since there are so many open factors that will develop over time, I maybe should stick with the Yamaha 4C first as suggested before?

Still I'm curious, just because I'm interested in it.
Do all of those fancy mouth pieces like the Theo Wanne, Jody Jazz, Otto Link etc. tend to have that high baffle / open tip, that makes it harder for a beginner to control the intonation? ?
 

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No, they do not. Steve鈥檚 suggestions are good. A good Meyer style piece would be excellent to look into. A lot depends on your budget here though. A modern Meyer that has been worked on would likely be good but... the only thing that would concern me is that your reed choice is pretty light with that mouthpiece tip. I would suggest working on increasing the reed strength first to feel the resistance then look into a different mouthpiece. Traditionally I think most students start on a 2.5 reed and then sort of move up from there. The Legere reeds are a little different not being cane but even still that is a little on the weaker side being a 2.0. It sort of tells that your breath support and embouchure may not be ready for it. I would encourage you to try using some good solid reeds at the 2.5 is range for a few weeks and see how your embouchure settles on them then perhaps see if you can love up to 3s and do the same. For this I would say use cane not legere. Their sizes are different. When you get to about a 3 then start looking into another mouthpiece. Probably a modern Meyer somewhere around a .067-.069 tip opening, preferably worked on by someone (like Phil aka Sigmund451). As an aside if the marker beside your name is an indicator you are in Europe as is Phil so it may be easier.
 

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Still I'm curious, just because I'm interested in it.
Do all of those fancy mouth pieces like the Theo Wanne, Jody Jazz, Otto Link etc. tend to have that high baffle / open tip, that makes it harder for a beginner to control the intonation? ?
These pieces are great but I always give the analogy of someone playing golf for a year. They haven't really developed their game yet and their scores are nothing impressive. They think that spending a lot of money on Tiger Woods' golf clubs will help their game and score. They won't. A player like Tiger Woods has the skills and built up his game to a level where he would notice the finest of details with the balance of the clubs and all that. A new golfer won't notice or even be able to make use of the subtle differences in my opinion.

The same goes for sax mouthpieces. I have played different mouthpieces in a room with a student and get very different sounds. I have let students that have been playing for 1-3 years try my expensive mouthpieces next to their Yamaha 4C and guess what, they sound exactly the same or sometimes worse on the expensive piece. They have not built up the playing foundation so that they can get the best out of each mouthpiece nor the airstream concept or embouchure to get the most out of each mouthpiece.......so they sound the same. They also don't have the tonal imagination and maturity to know what to do with a certain tone even if they get a tone that is brighter or darker so they just sound like themselves on the Yamaha 4C.

That's my opinion but everyone has to choose what they are going to do themselves. I have had these same talks with many young and old beginners. Some listen and some go out the next day and buy a super expensive mouthpiece or vintage mouthpiece. I have had students come to the lesson with a 2000 vintage mouthpiece and they sound exactly the same or worse. Some of these vintage pieces are horrible or even fakes but the student has no idea because they don't have the playing experience to even know a great mouthpiece from a good or even bad mouthpiece. In my opinion it is best to build up a strong foundation and sound concept before choosing which direction you want to go with mouthpieces. Trust me, I have had students sound killer on Yamaha 4C mouthpieces because of practice and a passion for the saxophone.
 

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....Do all of those fancy mouth pieces like the Theo Wanne, Jody Jazz, Otto Link etc. tend to have that high baffle / open tip, that makes it harder for a beginner to control the intonation? ?
There are three main factors.

1) chamber size and shape (round, square, horseshoe shape, flat walls, etc.; larger than cork bore, same size as cork bore, smaller than bore)

2) Baffle type and height (the two main types are rollover (Link, Meyer) and flat (Berg Larsen, Dukoff) but there are many variants).

3) Facing - length, opening, and shape of curve.

There are cheap, mid priced, and expensive mouthpieces with all combinations of chamber size, shape, and baffle size and shape. You can't correlate cost with design. A $1000 vintage Otto Link has a round large chamber with rollover baffle; there are many modern makers who make versions of this design; but the same design is available in plastic $50 "student" mouthpieces - similarly, Theo Wanne makes some high baffle pieces that sell for big money, but the $40 Rico Metalite is a similar design.
 

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Steve answered but I will add some thoughts . Some top shelf pieces are not made in really small tips...this is especially true on tenor. Alto players are lucky in this regard. An adult can generally handle a .071 (meyer 5) without too much trouble. This makes most pieces within reach. However, I will agree that this is not the time to spash big cash. Im not fishing here but simply using myself as an example since Steve mentioned my Meyers. A player can find the worst playing, ugliest (and cheapest) medium chamber meyer and have it rebuilt to play as well as many several hundred dollar pieces for less than two bills. On the other hand, you can stick with your piece for a good while longer until you have more control and skill.
What I do not recommend is getting two mouthpieces. If you must venture on to the gear landscape, get one piece and play the facing off of it. Constantly changing variables is disruptive to the learning process. It feels like fun, but in the long run, you are really kicking yourself. So if you are gonna do it, do it once.
 

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Welcome, Martin.

How long have you been playing? It sounds like you have great goals for a mouthpiece, but please realize that control, intonation, and power come from the player. Going to a small chamber piece too soon may make volume easier, but you need to develop your embouchure, air stream, and support to get everything out of your horn.

Good luck on your path.

George

P.S. Twentyeight is not old when you consider that you can play for the rest of your life!

Hey everyone!
My name is Martin and I just joined the community.
I'm still a beginner studying the alto saxophone but I really love it and I invest quite a lot time in trying to evolve and reach the next level. I hope it isn't too late for me. With 28 years, I'm a bit late with picking up the saxophone 馃槃

After starting with a standard Yamaha 4C, I now want to invest in a new mouthpiece, which should accompany me on my journey.
But before I blindly start to buy mouthpiece, I wanted to ask you guys for some support.

As far as I know, the material doesn't really matter so much, it seems to be more about the chamber, shape and construction of the mouthpiece. That's why I'm open for all materials. No limitations here, as long as it works for me.

So now I wonder for what kind of chamber, size, shape, tip opening etc. I should look if I want a mouthpiece that is easy to play, offers some control over high notes, has some decent intonation and a powerful sound?
For example a Durga 4. With it's small chamber and overall construction, would it generally be hard for me to deal with it or could it maybe fit?

Sorry, my knowledge is pretty limited 馃槃

I was looking at some Jody Jazz and Theo Wanne models, but unfortunately I can't try them where I live and I don't have the needed experience to know which of them are suited for me and which not.

Thank you for your support and best wishes from Germany!
 

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Personally, I don't think a player at the stage of the OP should even be thinking about "my sound" yet, in the sense of 'developing my personal sound'.

Sounds to me like, Martin, you are just curious as to what might be out there ...what differences a different mouthpiece may produce in blowing response and tone.

If that is the case....you can do this rather cheaply.

Keep the 4C, pick up a Bari Esprit and perhaps a Fobes Debut or Brilhart Ebolin (new, not vintage)...and see how the 2 new ones perform and sound to you. You will find that, indeed, they will change the tone of your Yamaha, in different ways. You will find they 'feel' different in their blowing tendencies, as well.

You may find one of your three is the most preferable in both sound production and blowing response...so the exercise will have produced a useful result.

They are also dirt cheap....the Bari around $20, the Brilhart around $40, the Fobes Debut around $60 if memory serves. So you can literally get two mouthpieces which vary significantly from the Yama 4C....for $100 or under, total. They are all beginner-friendly 'pieces, as well.

My 2 cents.
 

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Keep the 4C, pick up a Bari Esprit and perhaps a Fobes Debut or Brilhart Ebolin (new, not vintage)...and see how the 2 new ones perform and sound to you. You will find that, indeed, they will change the tone of your Yamaha, in different ways. You will find they 'feel' different in their blowing tendencies, as well.
I second that. A Bari Esprit can be extremely good - not just compared to what it cost. But even if they were sold for much more!
 
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