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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Dear friends,

I'm an intermediate player, just beginning to play professionally as a solo performer at wedding receptions, and that, just by the skin of my teeth. I have never had to concern myself too much with playing perfectly until now, because now I really strive to please the customer more than I did when I played for free.

Aside from my poor improvisational skills, my major challenge has been to develop a mature and consistent overall tone. I am not too bad with vibrato anymore, but my challenge continues to be with single notes, to play them firmly and consistently and with a professional sound, particularly in the middle notes (e.g., D, Eb) and especially on the alto, since the high notes and very low notes tend to be easier to play evenly and consistently.

Of course, for the first few years, one of my challenges was to find the right mouthpiece, that would offer a balance between brightness, harmonic qualities that would make it easier to play altissimo notes, and price. I have never used a metal mouthpiece, but have used the Runyon custom, the Runyon Bionix, and, in addition to trying the generic mouthpieces that come with an instrument, which usually have a very narrow tip opening to be of any use at greater volume in the realm of solo performances, I finally settled down with the Rico metallite M7 for all my instruments: tenor, soprano, and Alto,

to be honest, for the past 12 years I've been playing only tenor and soprano exclusively, and had the alto in the closet. All three models are Yanagusawa 901s. Only now, for a few months, I have I been using the alto, and mainly because one of my customers prefers it. In that sense I am new to the alto.

to my surprise, the same mouthpiece which works well on the tenor and soprano, is giving me problems on the alto. Especially when I jump from an open-hole note to a closed-hole note and vice versa, such as from middle a to Middle d, or from middle B flat to middle E flat. Apparently at that point the harmonics kick in and cause me to inadvertently produce a bit of a squeak based on the harmonic note related to the one I was trying to play. Using the same mouthpiece on the soprano and the tenor, I don't believe this happened to me often, if ever , and, now that I am trying to play professionally, it is essential that this kind of amateurish phenomenon never occur while playing in public.

I got the idea of recording myself everytime I play, to force myself to give special attention to my quality of tone, and these other factors, which, of course, makes me a bit nervous as I play, knowing that I cannot go back and redo any notes until the song it has ended, which is comprable to the environment of playing in public, and consequently seems good to me for the sake of working off stage fright. And, I generally rehearse at my house using the same audio equipment that I use when playing in public, including the same large speakers, and yet I seem to get a better overall picture of what I sound like, by listening to the recording immediately after I play a song, as opposed to listening to myself live, on the big speakers, while I play.

I had not noticed until a few months ago, that my tone was imperfect, either too sharp, or too flat, or more commonly, that my tone is actually inconsistent, somewhere between the two.

the amateurish sound is even more noticeable when the song begins with a middle C sharp followed by a middle d, as I recall, and the D inevitably ends up sounding like a moaning goose until I get better control over the embouchure for the measures that follow those opening notes. In other words, it's like I have to play a few notes first in order to find the best embouchure for the rest of the musical phrase, and when I do so on the notes that are most susceptible to distortion, the effect and result is an amateurish introduction of uneven and inconsistent tone.

of course, I have already found The Sweet Spot on my neck cork , at which the instrument is in tune with itself from the lowest note to the highest , and still in tune externally, based on my embouchure , and sometimes I push in just a tiny bit more than necessary , because, as my tone is not yet even and consistent , I thought it would be better to sound a bit sharp than to sound a bit flat .

As for the inconsistency and unevenness of my tone, This is partly because of the fact that this mouthpiece has a high degree of bendability, meaning that I can make the notes sharp or flat to a greater degree strictly by manipulating my embouchure, compared to an old Selmer C++ for example, which has hardly any bendability, as I recall. By using this Rico metallite mouthpiece, just as with the Runyon custom mouthpiece, I get the Brite sound that I like, the volume, and the harmonic flexibility for playing altissimo, but the trade-off is that it's hard to keep an even and consistent tone without inadvertently bending the tone and, of course, without running into the issue mentioned above concerning the harmonic squeaks that occur when jumping at certain intervals from One Note to another. to be honest, I used to play Old standards, but nowadays I am striving to play a more popular and contemporary sound, so I don't need the bendability as much as I used to, especially since my main concern is evenness and consistency of tone., at least at this point in my life.

in fact, this frustrating inconsistency of tone has made me wonder whether or not my embouchure has been wrong all along, because, if I tighten my embouchure, it makes my tone more consistent, but makes it harder to play altissimo notes, and what is worse, it makes the issue of harmonuc squeaking more frequent, but only when jumping from an open hole note to a closed hole note.

In fact, as I am somewhat new to the alto, I'm finding that the only way to avoid some of these harmonic squeaks is by loosening my embouchure at the middle range and tightening it somewhat at the higher range and trying to remember exactly when to do each. This was not an issue on the soprano or the tenor, or else the adjustment was easier to predict, I don't know which.

Incidentally, I am using a fibrocell 2.5 fiberglass Reed in every case, including with the other instruments. This Reed also gives me a brighter sound that I like, and by adjusting the equalizer on my mixing console for the microphone that I use, I can brighten the sound even further. (when I use the term "bright," I mean more high range within the overall tone, and less low range frequencies, but I am not referring to the crispness of the sound itself. in other words, I am speaking of the thinness of the sound such as what Kenny G has on his soprano, as opposed to the openness or darkness of the sound of John Coltrane on his soprano, or even of Dave Koz on his soprano)

the problems that I have been having on the Alto also occur with the Runyon custom mouthpiece (no.8) but especially on the alto, and whether or not they occurred to the same degree, I cannot remember.

CONCLUSION

I would appreciate any advice that you could give me regarding how to make my tone more consistent with this mouthpiece, and how to avoid these harmonic squeaks produced when jumping certain intervals.

If you think that the issue is the mouthpiece, in spite of its glowing reviews from any professionals online, in spite of its low price, feel free to let me know, but I wonder if you would offer a more reasonably priced rubber alternative that would offer the same balance between price, altissimo capability, and brightness, but without the bendability and excessive sensitivity to harmonic overtones. I know that the issue of mouthpieces is as controversial as the subject of saxophone brands, so I I'm a bit apprehensive, but I am also open to the possibility of switching.

In fact, I could say that I am still searching for an even brighter sound with less low range Bass, probably influenced by what I've heard on the radio over the years from Sanborn and others like that, although I have also discovered that much of that Commercial Sound is produced in the recording studio by Equalization and other effects, so I don't know how much of that brighter sound is actually attributable to the mouthpiece or instrument itself.( I used to have the same soprano as Kenny G, for example, and yet I immediately noticed that the raw sound that came out of the horn when I practiced at home was nothing like the commercial sound that I heard on the radio from the same instrument . From my experiments in my amateur home recording studio I discovered that simply by mixing the effects and Equalization, I could achieve the same distinctive thin sound that he is known for.)

Anyway, I would appreciate whatever suggestions you can offer regarding how to get a consistent sound that is free of harmonic squeaks and still produces a nice bright tone without the excessive bendability, and I hope, at a low price.

Please excuse my verbosity in this explanation, and allow me to say that I'm grateful that you have taken the time to read what I have written, and to offer some suggestions.
 

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A metalite and a bionix with a fibrecell reed is a recipe for disaster. If your not a very experinced alto player I can only imagine a nasty tone. Rather than going brighter Id get back to basics and really control the instrument before jumping to nuclear setups.
 

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I know many people rave about the Metalite, but I'm a very experienced player and have the same issues you do with it. I really have to fight to keep from squeaking or peeling the paint off the wall. Get rid of the Metalites (and the synthetic reeds), then you'll be able to work on your sound without being sabotaged by your equipment. I'm not saying Metalite is 100% of your problem, but it's at least 80% of it.

Synthetics definitely have a place, but they'll never improve bad tone. If anything, they make it worse. They're harder to control and just don't work as well as cane from the top of the range to the bottom. The additional issue with synthetics on Metalite is the seal on the table. Metalite has this weird textured yet super slippery table that simply won't seal 100% with a plastic reed until it gets good and wet. At least wood has some sponginess so that it can seal on Metalite's strange table.

I have a good friend who is a monster player on Yani who plays a middle of the road Jody Jazz piece. I personally play a metal Berg on Tenor, Meyer on Alto, Runyon Custom on Soprano, Brilhardt on Bari and Link on Bass. All of these are easy to play and free of squeaks. But there are a million good mouthpiece options out there.

Once you have a good mouthpiece (and a cane reed), you get rid of squeaks with practice. You have to play squeak-free over and over and over until you can automatically have the level of control needed. And it goes without saying that having an actual teacher will point you in the right direction the fastest. He/she will be able to see and hear what your doing to produce the squeaks and tell you exactly what to change to fix it. Without seeing or hearing you, I can't give you any advice beyond generalities.

As for having the exact same equipment as a famous player yet sounding nothing like him/her, that's where listening and practice come in. First realize that you may never sound like that person. But with practice, you should be able to come close. Play along and mimic. This process can take years. But once you develop the fine control required, you'll be able to mimic just about anybody's sound. When you say your attempt at a Kenny G sound is raw, that tells me you probably have a flat chin and a very thin area of your lower lip on the reed. A good sax embouchure has a LOT of lip on the reed and support with the chin muscles. Just look at many of the greats. You'll see a lot of lip and a bunched up chin. This dampens the highest frequencies that produce a raw tone. This is also something you really need a teacher to help you with, preferably one who sounds the same way you want to sound.

I'm sure a dozen posters will follow, disagreeing with every single point I've made, but that's what my 40 years of experience playing many different horns, mouthpieces and reeds including Metalite and synthetics.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Wow. You gentlemen were very gracious with your suggestions. sometimes the truth hurts, but it is better to be hurt then to remain confused for many years.

What great suggestions and great information. I am very grateful.
 

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I have a metalite 11 which can subtone but is otherwise a paint peeler, squeaks if i'm not very careful.
I don't use it often, like my Lakey.
Both are bright and loud.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you, AdamK. Which Lakey model do you recommend?

MDaveJ, thank you for the tips, but when I said "raw" sound, I meant it in the sense of "natural," "unadultered" sound, straight out of the instrument, as opposed to that which might be affected by a microphone, equalization, or effects. I just meant to say that I had realized how much these things could change the sound of the instrument, and that it should be taken into consideration before giving all the credit to the mouthpiece, for example. But ALL of your suggestions are very well received, including the ones made on that point.

Of course, assuming that folks will continue to point to the mouthpiece itself as the main source of my problem of having an uneven and inconsistent tone, and of having occasional harmonic squeaks, the next logical question is "which alto mouthpiece should I buy, to replace the current one?", which can probably be a subjective question, to a point, but can also have a general concensus of an answer, so I still think it is worth asking, especially since my next gig is in three weeks, and I want to get something fast, and get used to playing it, soon.

I would also prefer to limit the investment to about $100 or so, if that is possible, but if not, close to it. If no such is available, perhaps there is an inexpensive "tribute" out there, or worst case, a next-best soultion, for the time being (as I am on a very low budget these days).

I have an old Runyon Products catalog, that rates their mouthpieces according to four qualities: 1. depth of tone (light single-tone vs. dark with overtones), 2. Quality (thin and piercing vs. thick and muffled), 3. Flexibility (bendability vs. steady pitch), and 4. Volume (loud vs soft). (see attachment)

While my main concern is evenness and consistency in my tone, this explanation above would seem to confirm that some mouthpieces are, indeed, very true to the intended pitch, while others shift easily depending on subtle adjustments in embouchure. (e.g., the Selmer C* seems to be very steady and inflexible, as I recall, whereas my Metalite and Runyon Custom mouthpieces bend far too easily for my needs). Nevertheless, the Runyon catalog itself offers no mouthpiece that leans toward "true" on that spectrum, but rather, all of them lean toward "flexible" or "bendable".

However, I am attaching a theoretical image also, of the kind of rubber mouthpiece that I think I need, if anyone can offer suggestions regarding one that matches my criteria (compared to the Runyons)
 

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Dear friends,

I'm an intermediate player, just beginning to play professionally as a solo performer at wedding receptions, and that, just by the skin of my teeth...

to be honest, for the past 12 years I've been playing only tenor and soprano exclusively, and had the alto in the closet. All three models are Yanagusawa 901s. Only now, for a few months, I have I been using the alto, and mainly because one of my customers prefers it. In that sense I am new to the alto...
I question whether you should even let your clients know that you own an alto. Leave it in the shed.

Then, as you start down the road of developing your personal sound on alto, get your horn checked for leaks before you spend a lot more time on it. I don’t think you’re ready to discuss mouthpieces. Ditch the idea of playing your alto “professionally”, and spend some time with what you’ve got.
 

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Thank you, AdamK. Which Lakey model do you recommend?

MDaveJ, thank you for the tips, but when I said "raw" sound, I meant it in the sense of "natural," "unadultered" sound, straight out of the instrument, as opposed to that which might be affected by a microphone, equalization, or effects. I just meant to say that I had realized how much these things could change the sound of the instrument, and that it should be taken into consideration before giving all the credit to the mouthpiece, for example. But ALL of your suggestions are very well received, including the ones made on that point.

Of course, assuming that folks will continue to point to the mouthpiece itself as the main source of my problem of having an uneven and inconsistent tone, and of having occasional harmonic squeaks, the next logical question is "which alto mouthpiece should I buy, to replace the current one?", which can probably be a subjective question, to a point, but can also have a general concensus of an answer, so I still think it is worth asking, especially since my next gig is in three weeks, and I want to get something fast, and get used to playing it, soon.

I would also prefer to limit the investment to about $100 or so, if that is possible, but if not, close to it. If no such is available, perhaps there is an inexpensive "tribute" out there, or worst case, a next-best soultion, for the time being (as I am on a very low budget these days).

I have an old Runyon Products catalog, that rates their mouthpieces according to four qualities: 1. depth of tone (light single-tone vs. dark with overtones), 2. Quality (thin and piercing vs. thick and muffled), 3. Flexibility (bendability vs. steady pitch), and 4. Volume (loud vs soft). (see attachment)

While my main concern is evenness and consistency in my tone, this explanation above would seem to confirm that some mouthpieces are, indeed, very true to the intended pitch, while others shift easily depending on subtle adjustments in embouchure. (e.g., the Selmer C* seems to be very steady and inflexible, as I recall, whereas my Metalite and Runyon Custom mouthpieces bend far too easily for my needs). Nevertheless, the Runyon catalog itself offers no mouthpiece that leans toward "true" on that spectrum, but rather, all of them lean toward "flexible" or "bendable".

However, I am attaching a theoretical image also, of the kind of rubber mouthpiece that I think I need, if anyone can offer suggestions regarding one that matches my criteria (compared to the Runyons)
Don't get a Lakey.
Get a much more traditional mpc, like a Meyer with a cane reed and play it until it sounds like what's in your head.
 

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T

Of course, assuming that folks will continue to point to the mouthpiece itself as the main source of my problem of having an uneven and inconsistent tone, and of having occasional harmonic squeaks, the next logical question is ....
I would not assume it is the mouthpiece. It could be the isntrument has leaks, or even your fingering technique whereby LH is out of sync with RH. A to D squeaks can be caused by left hand closing a millisecond before the right. This coupled with a very tiny leak (amost anywhere including at the tenon or bow to body joint). Other things to get sorted are have it throuroughly checked and tested by a good tech, and think about your fingering. Try closing the LH just slightly before the right on those D notes and see if the rpblem is still there.

Having said that i would question your stetement about getting a balance between mouthpiece brightness and price. You have some very basic issue here, I would work on getting brightness in spite of a bright mouthpiece - ie with learning to control your tone or sound better.

We also need to bear in mind plenty of peop[e do play a similar set up without the squeaks.
 

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Am I way off base here to suggest the following things?

1. Ditch the Metalite and Fibracells. That sounds like a very soft setup, based on the fact that I tried to play a Fibracell 3 on a Link-style piece and it felt like paper. Playing super-soft setups can cause you to back way off on breath support because they're too responsive. I could see how something like this would squeak a lot.

2. Get a Meyer-like piece and some real cane reeds. Like a size 6 mouthpiece and size 2.5-3 vandoren Red Javas or ZZ. A setup like this will help you develop a stable, pleasant tone, and if you outgrow it at some point and want to experiment with high-baffle things on alto (not my cup of tea, but whatever) then go for it.

3. Like Pete suggested, make sure your horn is 100% leak-free.

4. If you don't like your tone, hit the shed. Have you studied with a private teacher at any point? Based on what you're saying it sounds like you need to take a step back and just develop your chops for a year or so. When I was struggling with not liking how I sounded, the first thing I did was long-tones daily for 3 weeks and was amazed at how big of a difference I started hearing after that time.
 

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I would suggest you get a GOOD mouthpiece. What you're playing would be damn difficult for an experienced professional to make sound like anything other than a kazoo, and that only at very high volume levels.

Personally I'm a fan of the Meyer. There are a lot of other good alternatives.

Learn how to get a bright sound as well as a dark sound out of a medium opening Meyer and a medium strength cane reed.

Hie thee to the woodshed!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for taking the time to offer such helpful suggestions. I will have to download this entire thread and read it several times over, just to make sure I don't miss any little details.

In fact, even when one person contradicts another, in the suggestions, there is always something for me to learn from both, so I should hope that none of you will hold anything back for the sake of not stirring up a little disagreement with the others.

Yes, a private teacher would be nice to have, but, at the moment, for reasons that I cannot explain, I am on a very low budget, and cannot hardly afford so much as one lesson, at the rates they charge, but I think I know a professional at a music store nearby who would be happy to give me some tips, if I should happen to take my horn in and play it for him for a few minutes, in order to get him to diagnose these issues with the mouthpiece and reed.

Your suggestions regarding the squeaking issue are very interesting. I bought this particular horn in near-mint condition, fifteen years ago, and have used it very little since, and it has shown no signs of having any leaks so far, but I do not mean to ignore the possibility that it may have tiny leaks that have gone unnoticed, so I will have it inspected more professionally, and will put my own leak-light to it, before I do, including to check the tenon.

I do, indeed, think it much more likely that I have poor coordination between my left and right hands, specifically as Pete mentioned. I have even caught myself with poor synchronization, in recent years, but did not realize that it could cause a squeak.

(I call it a "harmonic squeak" for lack of a better term, although the pitch of the squeak is not high at all, as a typical squeak is, but seems to be related to the harmonics relative to whichever note I happen to be landing on, as I mentioned earlier. They are of a lower pitch, such as when one bites too hard on low G and ends up playing high G without the octave key depressed.

While I have not made a note of every case, specifically I have noted the following: middle Bb to middle Eb, middle Bb to middle A, middle A to middle D, middle D to low G, and a few more, leading me to believe that there was some relation between the squeaking and the abrupt change in the number of tone holes opened or closed.

While you have all given me excellent direction regarding the potential source or the squeaking, I am still in the dark about the greater problem, which is my uneven and inconsistent pitch.

Of course, my assumption for the moment, is that I just need a better mouthpiece, and a cane reed, but it would seem that there was a better explanation in addition to that. Perhaps you meant to say that, once I get a better mouthpiece and cane reed, I just needed to be more careful about maintaining a consistent embouchure? Admittedly mine has been a bit sloppy until now, as I have given more attention to other simultaneous challenges while performing, such as avoiding feedback from the speakers, making timely page-turns, locating the D.S. on the score, on a previous page, and making sure I don't lose my place. Years ago, at a nighttime wedding ceremony, having already rehearsed together on a previous day during daylight hours, I now had the additional surprise of having the host turn out most of the lights during the wedding, itself, at which point I could hardly see my sheet music anymore. I had been nervous enough, as it was, and now this. Suffice it to say that it was hard to concentrate on my embouchure, at that point.

So, while I have been sloppy with my embouchure until recently, admittedly, there is something to be said for the fact that some mouthpieces are just inherently susceptible to bending notes whenever the embouchure begins to slip. Do you mean to say that I cannot expect to find a mouthpiece with an inclination in the opposite direction, to play a more "true" tone, rather than a "bendable" tone, that, at the same time, is bright, thin, and jazzy? I understand now that a lot depends on me, but THAT much?

As I had hoped, there does seem to be a bit of a general concensus that the Meyer mouthpiece would be a good, economical alternative to my current mouthpiec, for the time being, in addition to several others suggested, (including in private messages). Thank you, everyone, for sharing your opinion. Is the Meyer just as "bendable" as the Runyon Custom and the Rico Metallite? Just curious.

Or was it more my Fibracell reed's fault for the bending?

Assuming that there are several models of Meyer available, which one do I need, in order to attain that bright, somewhat loud sound, bu without all the "bendability"?

And, assuming that I chose the right FACING previously (albeit not the right mouthpiece), when I settled down with the Runyon Custom 8 on soprano, and the M7 Metallite on tenor (Metallite offered nothing wider), which facing is comparable on a Meyer?

(Or maybe that question is answered already on one of those facing charts out there)

Turf3 says "medium" facing and "medium-strength" reed. Does that mean like, comparable to the Runyon Custom 8 facing on a 2.5 vandoren Red Java or ZZ reed, as Buddy Lee suggests?

(P.S. Incidentally, I did not mean to say that I was playing the alto ONLY because one of my clients preferred it, but rather, also because I have been wanting to break it out myself, for years, seeing it sit in the closet so bright and shiny for so long, while my others grew tarnished from use, and partly, because I have been playing in ensembles lately where it was much more convenient to use the alto than tenor anyway. I have also had beginner-level students, who had only an alto, and I would hate to make them believe that they needed to switch to tenor, only from seeing me use it instead of an alto. I would rather encourage them to use the alto that they already have by playing an alto for them myself.)
 

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Well, "medium facing" and "medium strength reed" for me on alto would be a Meyer #6 and a 2.5 standard Vandoren reed. (Actually I play on a #7 Meyer but there's not a whole lot of difference.)

Since I have to throttle back and control my volume when playing on that setup over a 16 piece big band, I would say it offers more than adequate volume. You can make it play as bright as you want, but you'll get the added benefit of a good tone. And you can always darken and lighten the sound, if you want to, unlike those high baffle grass cutter dog whistle squeak-o-matic pieces that basically offer one tone - flaps up and balls out.

If you're having trouble projecting over a loud rock band with a middle-of-the-road something like what I've described above, your best recourse is to use a microphone. If you're having trouble projecting over a mid-size group of moderate volume then you need to go work on your airstream and embouchure. Read Larry Teal's book and watch the video "the music of Joe Temperley" where he gives good lessons on projecting and playing in the true bel canto style that gives volume with richness (I think it's part 4 or 5 of the 5 videos).
 

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As to other distractions keeping you from concentrating on your embouchure, you need to practice, so the embouchure for a given instrument is second nature. I'll play a four hour gig and unless the chops get tired I doubt I think about embouchure once during that time. When I put the horn in my mouth, what happens is deeply ingrained from the thousands of previous hours.
 

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You can work on your embouchure -but don't be so fixated on the embouchure that you forget to have a proper breath support. Embouchure and breath support must work hand in hand and IMHO the key to a steady intonation is 80% the breath support.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thank you, Turf3 and Alain. I will start looking for an inexpensive Meyer.

Alain, I assume that by "breath support" you mean steadiness and evenness of air flow, in addition to breathing in the right places?
 

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Thank you, Turf3 and Alain. I will start looking for an inexpensive Meyer.

Alain, I assume that by "breath support" you mean steadiness and evenness of air flow, in addition to breathing in the right places?
Yes, and this is obtained by using the diaphragm (you should feel a slight tension in your abdominal muscles).
 

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That Runyon chart is a nice attempt at comparing their mouthpieces. But I interpret the “Flexibility” to be more based on tip opening than mouthpiece design. More open tips can be louder but are a bit wild to control for intonation. So the tone bends easily with little embouchure variation. Smaller tips lock into pitch easier but are also less expressive. I think this is how most players think. But I do not know what Runyon was thinking of when making this chart.

Runyon’s are not being made anymore but some dealers still have a few for sale.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thank you, Alain and Mojo.

Wow. I had no idea that the tip opening (which I mistakenly called "facing") affected the intonation. Thank you for that important lesson.

After 17 years of playing, I am afraid that I never bothered to look into mouthpieces, but just stuck with the two that were recommended to me at the time, so excuse my ignorance on this point, as I see that Meyers have been around for a hundred years, and used by famous musicians. Yes, I have heard the names thrown around, Otto Link, Berg Larsen, and others, but since I was not willing to pay hundreds of dollars for a mouthpiece, I did not continue reading about them.

Weiner Music offers the following Meyer mouthpieces, and I have no idea which one it was that Turf3, Mjdave, AdamK, and Buddy Lee were recommending:

Meyer Richie Cole Alto Rubber Mouthpiece (MR-402-RC 5 MEDIUM FACING ONLY)
Meyer G Hard Rubber Alto Sax Mouthpiece (MR-402-G-18M 5 THROUGH 10)SMALL, MEDIUM, OR LARGE CHAMBER, LONG, MEDIUM, OR SHORT FACING, ETC.
Meyer Metal Jazz Alto Sax Mouthpiece (5-9)
Meyer New York Alto Hard Rubber Mouthpiece (5-8)

I have also seen these mentioned online today in various places:

Meyer MR-402-6MM Rubber Alto Sax Mouthpiece
Meyer MR-402-5MM Rubber Alto Sax Mouthpiece
Two New York USA Versions 1 and 2
Reissue of Meyer New York Limited Edition
Crystalyte
Tru-Flex model
Meyer Alto Bakelite Saxophone Mouthpiece For Popular Jazz

Before I begin searching by tip opening, facing length, chamber, etc., I think I need to know the exact model, for starters, assuming that I continue with a 2.5 reed as I always have, but of cane.

And if you happen to know of a "tribute" that is less expensive and essentially the same, by all means, let me know.
 

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Wow, I didn't realize there are so many Meyer variants.

I would go for the standard Meyer hard rubber alto in a 6 facing. (More about terminology below). Medium chamber. Here's the listing at Woodwind/Brasswind.

https://www.wwbw.com/Meyer-Hard-Rubber-Alto-Saxophone-Mouthpiece-472750.wwbw

I think the "New York" variant is slightly different, a little higher cost, maybe a little better quality control, but someone else will have to chime in.

As to "facing" vs. "tip opening", strictly speaking the "facing" means the complete contour of the curve, from the flat table to the tip. How much opening at each position along that curve is the "facing curve" and this is typically tabulated, by putting the mouthpiece on a surface plate and measuring the distance that feeler gauges of different thicknesses will go into the gap between the curved part of the facing and the surface plate. There is a special gauge that's used to measure the exact opening at the very tip.

All that said, most people simply refer to the max. opening at the tip. It's very common (I did it above) to refer to a "#6 facing" or a "0.080 inch facing" as a shorthand, because no one carries around complete facing tables to refer to. Some mouthpieces offer "short facing" or "long facing" which refers to the length of the curve from the tip to where it transitions to the flat. All else equal, a mouthpiece with a longer facing will play easier, faster response on low notes, the reed will close up earlier at high volume, and may be a little less pitch stable. Whether one prefers a longer or shorter facing is individual, but well made mouthpieces have a facing length that's chosen to work well with all the other design aspects of the MP. For that matter, the details of the facing curve (is it a circular arc tangent to the table, or more like a series of linear slopes connected by radii, or something else?) have a big big impact on the responsiveness of the MP under different conditions. Again, a well made MP will have a facing curve design that's matched to the rest of the piece.

Frankly I think that it's a bad idea for most sax players to get too concerned about details of mouthpiece facings and trying to decide what kind of facing they prefer, other than a general sense of preferring more open or more closed. In my opinion it's far more useful to actually try the mouthpiece, under various conditions, and see how you like it. I think for the vast majority of sax players it's smarter to let the mouthpiece makers do their job, buy a good quality piece that works well for you, and get on with it.

One last point: don't make the mistake of thinking that "6*" for example has any meaning other than comparing tip openings of different pieces from a single manufacturer. The numbers are not the same amongst manufacturers (a #8 Meyer tenor has about the same opening as a #6 Otto Link, and the details of the facing curve are different, too) and the presence or absence of the * means different things. I believe that Otto Link and Selmer basically use it as a half-step (#6* = 6 1/2) but Brilhart, I believe, used it to designate facing length. If you want to compare tip openings across different MP models, use the actual measurement in inches or mm. And as I noted above, take that with a grain of salt because they can vary, and because the rest of the shape of the facing curve has big effects on responsiveness that aren't captured by the single tip-opening number.

Reiterating again, though - I think there's a great danger of obsessing over tiny differences betweeen mouthpieces and reeds where additional practice time would help make those tiny differences less important because you simply blow over them.
 
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