Hello, I have a Yamaha YAS-82Z alto sax, along with a Rovner Mark 3 ligature and playing on Vandoren ZZ strength 3 reeds. I am looking for a good jazz mouthpiece to go with this setup, so what would be a good place to start?
I always suggest a Meyer either 5 or 6 as a first jazz mouthpiece for alto. It's easy to play in tune and is capable of providing a very characteristic lead alto sound, especially if you're in a school jazz ensemble.
Meyer is the gold standard for a reason. You can play legit and then unleash it for the bebop finale without changing a thing. Get a couple of them and play test. The rails on my three are completely different, but each one play's great. If you're looking for little bit richer tone and more power, try a Morgan Jazz--you won't go wrong.
Don't knock hard rubber. They are not as bright (especially with that custom z, which is already really bright) and are more comfortable if you are starting jazz after learning classical. I use my soloist d (tenor) for classical and whenever I play a ballad or something else like that when I need a nice, smokey, dark sound. For strick jazz, I would recommend a more open facing like an E.
Definitely a Meyer 6M. Its kind of the standard jazz mpc to start with. You may have to change reed types/sizes depending on your own personal preference. I played a Meyer 6M for 5 years before switching to a new mouthpiece. The last reed I used with it was a Red Java 3. But that's just me.
Whichever mouthpiece you end up buying, be sure to test out different reeds with it to find what plays best.
I never liked the Rovner ligs (or other soft ligs.) I think the lig should anchor the reed solidly to the piece and maximize the transmission of vibration to it, not just hold the reed in place. What has worked best for me is a decent brass lig (standard Selmer ligs seems to work fine) that is trued to fit the diameter and conical dimensions of the mouthpiece itself. Hammer the lig lightly with a rawhide mallet with the lig on the mouthpiece if necessary. Then mount the lig about as low as possible on the mouthpiece with the reed in place. Tighten the bottom screw nice and tight, back off the upper screw a bit. That offers the max amount of reed in vibration and can open up the sound a bit, I've found. I'm having good experiences with synthetic Bari reeds on a Runyon 22 #6 on my Conn 6M alto. I like the convenience of not having to wet the reed when on big band and rock gigs when you come back from a break or switch horns. Rico Plasticovers do the trick also. But, cane reeds do allow you to adjust the playability of each by leveling the facing, shaving or shortening the reed, etc. To evaluate mouthpieces and ligs, you really have to go to a shop with a large selection and play test them. Picking/buying one by name without play testing is a shot in the dark.... But if you are gonna shoot in the dark, the Meyer with an open facing is as good a shot as any...
Disclaimer...This is my opinion, therefore it is mine.
This is a fiercely debated point here on the forum but your ligature choice is BY FAR the least important choice in the mix. Whatever mouthpiece you choose (and the Meyer type is a good recommendation from my perspective) you must find one with a flat table, even rails, and a clean tip rail. This forms the foundation when it comes to having reeds perform well (or not if any of these are "off") on a more consistent basis. Then, find a reed brand that you like and put a good one that isn't warped on the nice flat tabled mouthpiece. Anything that will hold the mouthpiece and reed firmly together will perform well...metal lig, Rovner lig, an old shoe lace, whatever. Check out Pete Thomas' site HERE for the best explanation I've found as to why this is the case.
Enjoy the search for a mouthpiece...it's a lot of fun in a frustratingly strange way.
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