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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've never been much of a mouthpiece fanatic. I've owned a few through the years. Some I got through trades, as "gifts" and some I bought on the recommendation of someone I trusted.

By the time that I bought my own tenor (my school system lent an instrument to anyone who wanted to play) I had been playing clarinet and alto saxophone for several years. My own new Mk VI came with a Selmer C*. It didn't take me long to decide that it was the wrong mouthpiece for me. I'm guessing that it was about 12 hours of practice. I no longer have that mouthpiece, so I don't know if I made a bad decision to change to a Berg Larson. One was a 120/1 and i forget what the other one was. I practiced and performed on those mouthpieces for a few years before I changed to a Link 8*. That was quite a change and quite a challenge. I played that mouthpiece almost exclusively for many years.

I mentioned in another thread that I had a custom-made Northway that worried me because I laid out a big chunk of change for it but I didn't get the sound that I wanted out of it.
It was also difficult to play. The tip opening was wider than the Link 8*. I practiced on the Northway for quite a while before I performed on it. I used the Northway mouthpiece for performance and the Link for session work because the Link blended better for section work.

I'm just wondering this: How much work do you put into a mouthpiece before you get the sound that you want or before you move on to another? (Tell the truth)
 

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Well, I don't have an answer, and it may be the usual "YMMV", depends on the person, etc. However a couple of recent experiences made me stArt thinking about this too. First, I sold a mouthpiece that I felt wasn't working and just before the buyer came by my house I played it one more time. And was surprised and pleased by the sound. I also had the experience of playing after several days off at the seaside and being surprised at the amount of breath I had and the sound I could get (I have a lot of allergies, and am bothered by pollution).
The result is that I am less quick to judge mouthpieces, and less interested in buying them. When I "test" a mouthpiece now I think that I am also testing how I feel that day, the air quality, my level of health/energy, how much and how recently I have practiced, as well of course as reeds, ligature etc. Now when I see an ad that says "like new, play tested only 10 minutes " I wonder how one. An decide so fast. Though I am an amateur and I am sure pros have finely tuned senses and are just much more aware of what is going on with the mouthpiece.
 

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I can tell within a few minutes if the mouthpiece is interesting enough for me. I notice pretty quick after that first initial stage if it's a gig ready piece. After a couple of days after trying a few reeds, then I'm pretty Shure.
 

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If a piece is not comfortable its just not.

I tend to know if i generally like a piece pretty quick.

One observation I have had is that the best pieces unfold...it takes a while to jnow what they can really do and they grow with you.

Inhave also found that the pieces that wow you the most up front tend to be one trick ponies with less to offer in the long run.
 

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Like Roger I get a feeling as soon as I blow a new piece whether it has any potential, then I think I spend a couple of weeks or so getting to know it properly, playing all sorts of different pieces and at different times of the day. If I have more than one piece, there’s usually one that I keep going back to that’s the keeper, and then I usually sell the others, maybe keeping an ‘also ran’ as a backup.
 

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I've never been much of a mouthpiece fanatic. I've owned a few through the years. Some I got through trades, as "gifts" and some I bought on the recommendation of someone I trusted.

By the time that I bought my own tenor (my school system lent an instrument to anyone who wanted to play) I had been playing clarinet and alto saxophone for several years. My own new Mk VI came with a Selmer C*. It didn't take me long to decide that it was the wrong mouthpiece for me. I'm guessing that it was about 12 hours of practice. I no longer have that mouthpiece, so I don't know if I made a bad decision to change to a Berg Larson. One was a 120/1 and i forget what the other one was. I practiced and performed on those mouthpieces for a few years before I changed to a Link 8*. That was quite a change and quite a challenge. I played that mouthpiece almost exclusively for many years.

I mentioned in another thread that I had a custom-made Northway that worried me because I laid out a big chunk of change for it but I didn't get the sound that I wanted out of it.
It was also difficult to play. The tip opening was wider than the Link 8*. I practiced on the Northway for quite a while before I performed on it. I used the Northway mouthpiece for performance and the Link for session work because the Link blended better for section work.

I'm just wondering this: How much work do you put into a mouthpiece before you get the sound that you want or before you move on to another? (Tell the truth)
It takes six months at least because every time you change your reed it's like changing your mouthpiece. I've been playing on the same mouthpieces for 30 years even though I've made much better ones. The main thing is you want to be comfortable but a piece like a Link doesn't come around very quickly. Once you get a good one stick with it, it will be like home. Phil Barone
 

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It depends what you mean by "not for you."

If you mean unsuitable for delivering the kind of tone, response, and/or feel that I want, then the answer is: almost immediately. One or two playing sessions, tops.

If you mean playable, maybe even admirable in some ways, but ultimately not the best overall choice for me, then the answer is: until something better comes along.
 

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I test a lot of mouthpieces, and I think you know if it’s not for you very quickly, like within a few seconds although longer if you need to change reeds to properly evaluate.

Also you may want to take longer to test under different conditions, e.g recording studio and gigs etc.

However to decide if a mouthpiece is for you can take a lot longer, maybe two weeks or more, but usually a bit less than that.

This is why I think mouthpiece makers generally should offer a one or two week return policy if selling online.
 

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Like Roger I can tell within a few minutes if a mouthpiece is interesting enough for me. Part of the test after giving it a bit more time is recording it and to play it under different circumstances. Only after that I know if I will play it for a longer time. I have some fantastic pieces that play very well in a more quiet setting, but I play as first tenor in a loud big band and need a piece that can cut during the solo's and can blend during the section work, so that limits what I can use outside the practice room.
 

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A few minutes.
 

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I say three days of playing for 6-12 hours. I just say that because I have gotten mouthpieces and hated them but within that 3 days time found that it's amazing. Because of that experience I now don't just put a mouthpiece back in the box and send it back but try to give it the 3 days. That being said I try a lot of reeds and different ways of playing to see what I can get out of a mouthpiece. Take more in my mouth, take less, move the ligature around, try a ton of reeds, etc..........If you get a glimpse of potential in those 3 days then I would stay on it for 6 months and see where it goes...........
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
So far, answers have come from players who profess to have many years of experience. I wonder, though, if any of those players could have gotten more out of the mouthpiece had they given it more time?

Something that i agree with wholeheartedly is the comment about the Link. Mine is from about 1970-'75. I was a serious student (age 25) when I bought it mail order (spurred on by an ad in DownBeat mag), and I thought that it was a POS but I couldn't afford another mouthpiece, so i hammered on until I realized that I was well-suited to it. That actually constituted a couple of years.

The reason why I ask these questions is because since I joined SOTW (fifteen years ago?) I've read a bajillion threads and comments about how great this mouthpiece is and how awful that one is. Many of the mouthpieces I've read about seem to be products of a lot of over-hyped marketing ploy. (I haven't played them all-- or most of them-- but their specs don't really differ much from some of the established "good" or classic brands).

What I wonder about is what are the younger players experiencing with the new miracle "chops in a box"?
 

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About ten seconds.
I gotta agree with Ol' Grumpy on this one..sometimes 5 sec (ouch)

but then again as stated, 6 mos on an interesting mouthpiece is not unreasonable. My own recent year long tenor mpc revamp has proven this to me.
 

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I say three days of playing for 6-12 hours. I just say that because I have gotten mouthpieces and hated them but within that 3 days time found that it's amazing. Because of that experience I now don't just put a mouthpiece back in the box and send it back but try to give it the 3 days. That being said I try a lot of reeds and different ways of playing to see what I can get out of a mouthpiece. Take more in my mouth, take less, move the ligature around, try a ton of reeds, etc..........If you get a glimpse of potential in those 3 days then I would stay on it for 6 months and see where it goes...........
Well put! If I get a glimpse of potential, I look for what reeds and ligatures seem to work for me with that piece, then I keep the piece as part of a rotating collection. I enjoy changing up my sound and swapping mouthpieces give me flexibility along those lines.
 

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I have spend several 2 - 3 hour sessions testing out mouthpieces to figure out if one has a better potential than my current. (I compare my current with several others). I am generally happy with my decisions from these sessions (usually walk-away. On occasion I have purchased an mpc).

But I think you can only figure out how the mouthpiece will help you (or if it can help you) on the first day.

I feel as if it takes at least a month of playing to get close to the potential of that new mouthpiece. (I play 60 -90 minutes a day). Phil Barone is suggesting 6 months.....that seems reasonable for developing the full potential.....
 

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I can tell within a few minutes if the mouthpiece is interesting enough for me. I notice pretty quick after that first initial stage if it's a gig ready piece. After a couple of days after trying a few reeds, then I'm pretty Shure.
This is more or less where I fall as well. It takes far more time to tell to what degree I like a piece that has some potential for me than it does to decide it's something I don't care for at all.
 

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I ask fiends to listen and sometimes they say a mpc is great even though I don't like it .
This tells me that a player hears something different than a listener so this effect probably should be taken into consideration.
 

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When trying new mouthpieces, be sure to bring different reed brands/strengths so you can see what is a good combination for your setup. I always do that when I go to try new mouthpieces.
 
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