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Discussion Starter #1
Hey All!

I was wondering what mouthpiece you'd all recommend for a university aged classical saxophone player. I see a lot of posts on jazz mouthpieces, but I enjoy the classical rascher school sound (much darker than some French school players). I currently play on an S80 C* with my Yamaha YAS-62III from reading the forums and while it sounds ok, I really sound nothing like my teacher, who is a Rascher school player. I know tone production is much more the player than the gear, but I can't help myself from new gear. It might maybe encourage me to practice more...

Anyway! From reading here, most recommend either a Rascher or Caravan mouthpiece. I am wondering which you would recommend for someone coming from a C* playing V12/V21 Strength 3.

Thank you for any insight!
 

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A Vandoren Optimum AL3/AL5 or a Selmer Concept will give you a darker, rounder version of the French sound than an S80 without going all the way into Caravan/Rascher territory. These are great mouthpieces that work very well with modern altos. I would try one of them before committing to a Rascher-style piece.
 

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A Selmer Larry Teal is darker than a C* and the profile is the same.
 

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I've been where you are.

A few things that might help:

Find a Buescher True Tone or Aristocrat saxophone. For me, vintage horns were a revelation.

Use a Rascher style mouthpiece. The Caravan is worth the effort to get.

If you are an adventuring type, you can try all the old mouthpieces- Selmer Airflow, HN White Equa Tru, Conn Steelay, Woodwind NY,etc.

Best to keep an open mind. Best of luck!
 

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I agree with the Vandoren Optimum recommendation if you want to sound more like your teacher. It is capable of getting a very similar sound.

If you try a Caravan, I would recommend trying both the medium and large chambers. Coming from an S80, the medium chamber will probably be a much less traumatic change in the way you have to control your airstream.

The James Houlik *alto* mouthpiece does not get as much air time as it deserves, but it's quite similar to the Caravan in sound --and far less resistant. I keep trying Caravan, Optimum, and Buescher/Rascher and Morgan Classical pieces and returning to the Houlik.
 

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Raschers and Caravans are extreme large chamber designs. They have high resistance facings on them that are made even more resistant by facing irregularities. Many classical players get the stock ones to work for them by adjusting their reeds to compensate for the facing. A few player get them refaced to lower the resistance and opened some so they do not need to use very hard reeds on them and/or to add a rollover baffle.

Intonation can be quite different on them. You need to push them in more to tune the mid range of the sax. Then the palm keys get sharper and/or the bell notes get flatter compared to a medium or small chamber mouthpiece. This could fix an intonation problem you have or create one if your intonation was already good.
 

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You could also try the 70's vintage long shank soloist style pieces. My experience is that these are a bit darker than the current S80 line but nowhere near as dark as my large chambered Caravan. These can be found used in a C* facing fairly inexpensively.

Are you wanting a Rascher school sound or are you looking for something that is naturally darker than your current setup but not as dark as a Rascher or Caravan would be?
 

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+1 on the Selmer Concept. it's got the same great intonation of the C*, but a dark sound that is reminiscent of the Selmer Classic Metal.
 

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Follow-up: OP, is your teacher "full Rascher," meaning he uses an old Buescher in addition to a large-chamber mouthpiece? If so, he would be in the best position to advise you on adopting that style. Bear in mind, however, that you would be sacrificing essentially everything with which you are familiar -- feel, resistance, intonational tendencies, ergonomics -- for the sake of a particular tone quality.

I urge you to listen to some recordings by Otis Murphy, if you haven't already done so. He plays an Optimum AL3 on a Yamaha 875EX, and has one of the most beautiful classical saxophone sounds extant.

Based on personal experience, I would rank some of the major mouthpieces mentioned in this thread as follows, in terms of increasing brightness:

Optimum
Concept
Larry Teal
S90
S80

Although I really like the Optimum, I think my favorite has become the Concept because of its slightly lower resistance, better palm key response, and slightly more vibrant projection (for me). On the other hand, you can easily find a used Optimum in great shape for under $100.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thank you for all your replies!

My teacher does in fact use an old Big B Buescher with an original Buescher mouthpiece. I love the tone that he and other Rascher school players get!

How much of a difference would going to a large chamber mouthpiece be?
 

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Thank you for all your replies!

My teacher does in fact use an old Big B Buescher with an original Buescher mouthpiece. I love the tone that he and other Rascher school players get!

How much of a difference would going to a large chamber mouthpiece be?
Why don't you discuss this subject with your teacher ?
 

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Thank you for all your replies!

My teacher does in fact use an old Big B Buescher with an original Buescher mouthpiece. I love the tone that he and other Rascher school players get!

How much of a difference would going to a large chamber mouthpiece be?
In that case, why not discuss with your teacher then see if you couldn't find somewhere to try an old Buescher with a Buescher or Rascher mouthpiece? It will be very different from what you are used to, but that might be what you are after.
 

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Your teacher seems to be open to other schools of playing: (s)he didn't require that you use a Rascherian equipment. It will be all the more interesting to have a discussion on the subject with him/her.
 

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Anyway! From reading here, most recommend either a Rascher or Caravan mouthpiece. I am wondering which you would recommend for someone coming from a C* playing V12/V21 Strength 3.
Move to a Vandoren Traditional #3,5 or to a Rico Grand Concert or a D'Addario Reserve.

Classical players are all very reed-sensitive.

Maybe you just need a "darker" reed.

Note: from a reed, "darkness" is directly related with the (overalll) "stiffness".
You have reed, darker (or brighter) than others... and not depending just by the overall stiffness.
 

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See if you can swap saxes with your teacher for a test. This will show you how much of the sound comes from the equipment vs his sound concept. It is a combination of both. But I'll bet he sounds darker on your equipment than you do.
 

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Concept. Just do it! More flexible, more refined, not "pinched sounding" as s80 can be, darker (but not in the extreme), lovely mp.
 

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Recommend Larry Teal or the vintage Soloist mpc.

ideal if you can play them before you make the purchase.
 
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