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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
With all the mouthpieces I've tried over the last few years the thing that strikes me as the most different is the resistance levels. What do you guys think about in terms what makes good or bad resistance? Does a certain level or lack of resistance help you?
 

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some guys like some extra resistance, and given the same tip opening, some guys don't like any resistance that's not part of the normal tip opening/reed strength/facing length combination and want all other resistance cleared out. Some of the things that usually cause "bad" resistance are:

Uneven rails anywhere on the facing
An improperly balanced curve (i.e. a curve which has bumps or flat spots in, or that just generally doesn't math up with a smooth curve-type
A convex table
A table that is too concave can feel funny to play
A window that is too short (doesn't extend far back enough into the chamber)
A bulge of material underneath the table "U" shape in the chamber
A large wedge-type baffle that extends too high into the chamber
A tip rail that is too thick
A curve that's not balanced in proportion to the tip opening and facing length
A facing length that is too short

There's probably more stuff, that's just some of what's coming into mind at the moment...

The biggest thing I can think of that adds what some people consider "good" resistance is adding what's known as a more elliptical shape to the curve. This means setting up the facing curve so that, given the same tip opening and facing length, the curve is a little wider, more like an oval than a circle. This makes the reed have to bend a little bit more to close off at the same place as it does with a radial curve. As long as the curve is based on a mathematically sound set of data, and it's still a smooth curve with no bumps or flat spots, an elliptical curve just adds a little extra "good" resistance to a mouthpiece.

You can also choose not to change some of the things listed in the first set of "bad resistance" things, which are not always desirable to change (it depends on the player's needs and how the mouthpiece is currently responding), or you can only change them a little, etc., to achieve the desired result.

I personally kind of think that resistance should be managed mostly with tip opening size and reed strength, and a facing length should be picked according to the strength of reed you play and the tip opening you choose. With less resistant set-ups like a small tip and a softer reed, the shorter facing may work well, medium tips/reed like a medium facing, and more open tips and medium-hard to hard reeds will work better with a longer facing. Some players do like the elliptical facing for their set-ups, possibly because they have naturally stronger playing chops or a stronger diaphragm or both, but I usually like the radial (regular or circular) facings because they allow for the most instantaneous attack and free-blowing feel. A person's opinion changes over time, though, so who knows, maybe I'll think something different next month... But for now, I think that removing all the issues that make a mouthpiece inefficient (the problems listed above) and making the curve a radial, free-blowing-type will yield the biggest sound and most easy-to-play mpc for a given tip opening. That way, you can maximize the tip opening to where you feel the most comfortable and also get the most out of it by picking a reed strength and facing length that are a good match for it without having to fight against those other properties that are found in many factory-made mpcs that are detrimental to a mpc's efficiency.

Just the other day I opened up the tip on a Rousseau alto mpc I had sitting around for kicks to see what it played like, and in the process of refacing it I flattened the table. The table on this mpc was so uneven and warped that it was silly. It's too bad that, if they are going to use machines to cut the facings on a lot of the factory-made mpcs out there today, they don't get some machines that work a little bit better! Ha... I mean I'm just assuming this was a machine-cut piece, but seriously, the table was warped and the whole facing was twisted badly... I think the left facing length gauge was hitting at like 34, and the right side was hitting at about 44 on the gauge! It was twisted that way all the way up the curve... Definitely fell into the mpcs-with-bad-restance category!
 

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Good resistance = something to 'push' against to allow you to put a lot of air into the horn and achieve a big, fat, resonant sound.

Bad resistance = stuffiness, resulting in a dead, dull sound.

I have no idea at all what makes the difference between good & bad resistance, but I know it when I feel it.
 

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Does a barrel chamber mouthpiece, as I've sometimes been told, create resistance by deflecting air in a sideways or backward motion where it is bigger than the neck diameter?

And given that some players feel they can't get enough air into such a setup, is it a matter of putting up with bad resistance in exchange for dark tone?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Good resistance = something to 'push' against to allow you to put a lot of air into the horn and achieve a big, fat, resonant sound.

Bad resistance = stuffiness, resulting in a dead, dull sound.

I have no idea at all what makes the difference between good & bad resistance, but I know it when I feel it.
This was more my question. I know for the most what makes a piece resistant or free but how much is good and how much is bad?
 

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I don't know the answer to that either, I guess it's different for everybody. I love otto link's and have played a few..:mrgreen: They are known to be somewhat resistant but there are MAJOR differences from one OttoLink to the next. Some are really too resistant and others are just right. ( for me ) I don't like a piece that is too freeblowing either.
For me the EB link that tenor madness makes now is exactly right in this respect.
Of course you can go either up or down in reed strength when you meet a less desirable resistance level but that's not my favourite route, I have the feeling softer reeds have a shorter life.
 

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I know for the most what makes a piece resistant or free but how much is good and how much is bad?
I don't see how to quantify it, or what 'units' you'd use to quantify resistance in the case of a mpc or horn. I only know what I hear and feel when I play, so the best way is to base it on your own experience. I agree with toughtenor that it's a fine line and only you can find that line with a given mpc.
 

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For me, a really free blowing piece gives me less to manipulate. It seems like the air is up and out of me so fast that when I change tongue position to voice notes or bend notes it take a lot more work. When I play a piece with a good resistance it feels like there is a constant air pressure in my mouth and throat. The air not all immediately shooting through the horn. When I change anything in my mouth the results are immediate and great. I find it a lot easier to manipulate and texture the sound the way I want it. I hope that makes sense.
 

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For me, a really free blowing piece gives me less to manipulate. It seems like the air is up and out of me so fast that when I change tongue position to voice notes or bend notes it take a lot more work. When I play a piece with a good resistance it feels like there is a constant air pressure in my mouth and throat. The air not all immediately shooting through the horn. When I change anything in my mouth the results are immediate and great. I find it a lot easier to manipulate and texture the sound the way I want it. I hope that makes sense.
This is my experience s well. Everybody has their own comfort level of resistance, but I find a lot of good players in the same neighbourhood. I know what it feels like, but how to quantify it is another story entirely.

Good vs. bad resistance is an interesting problem. It's kind of like the Supreme Court's definition of pronography -- I know it when I see it. Good resistance allows you to comfortably manipulate the sound. Bad resistance robs you of the sound. Good resistance, you play comfortably and get the tone you feel coming out of you. Bad resistance, you work your chops off and it's still stuffy or choked -- always missing something. Good resistance is built into the design of a mouthpiece. Bad resistance comes from errors in design or manufacture.
 

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There are not many low resistant/free blowing mouthpieces out there. Most factory made mouthpieces have too many irregularities. Nice CNC and hand finished mouthpiece have fewer irregularities but often have some resistance designed into the facing curve.

So when you first get to try a really free blowing mouthpiece, it could be a "wow" moment. Or, it could be so different from what you have played that you wont like it. Those that like it enjoy the ultra fast response. They just seem to think a note or just breathe and it pops out. If it closes up when blowing hard, you need to try a stiffer reed on it. You can do a lot with resistance by just selecting an appropriate reed. Don’t be afraid to clip or rework a reed.

I leaned towards free-blowing radial facing curves when I started refacing work. I still use them when a client wants less resistance. I also prefer to use them on wide tip openings so they have a chance of being playable. For more average tip openings, I lean towards a medium elliptical curve (like a 3 to 5 aspect ratio).

One observation I have made is that an elliptical facing curve can have a little better altissimo response than a radial facing. With the same tip opening, this feels like using a slightly stiffer reed. By reducing the tip opening a little, you can make the elliptical facing curve feel more similar in resistance to an open tip with a radial facing. But the elliptical set up will have more resistance near the tip where (I think) high frequency altissimo vibrations take place. This is how you can get the benefits of a short facing without having to actually shorten the facing.

Then again, maybe none of this is important. Just go focus on chamber design.
 

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Ditto to what Nefertiti said and JL hit the definition of "Good resistance" square on the head!
Good resistance gives you better breath control too. My sustained notes can go on forever!
 
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