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Discussion Starter #1
I thought I knew the most important factors what comes to mouthpieces but my recent experiments have been confusing..

I've used different tip openings on tenor, from 9 to 5* and almost every size between those two. I really like some resistance (good resistance) and accurate control in a mouthpiece. All the Links that I've played have had a great sound but the control has been so and so (I've had many professionally refaced Links too).

My current favorite mouthpiece for tenor is a metal RIA 4*. The tip opening is equivalent to a Link 5* but the overall design inside the mouthpiece is quite different. It has a bullet chamber (can't say about the chamber size) and the sidewalls are straight. I think that these factors make this mouthpiece very comfortable for me. But I miss the fat, rich and deep Link-sound. The RIA sounds a bit too generic for my taste. If I just could have a mouthpiece with the RIA playability and Link sound, that would be the one! I've been thinking of even smaller Links (I have currently a 5*). Would a Link 4* or 5 with a harder reed offer me more control without losing the fat, rich, deep sound? I know some professional players using metal Links 4*-5 with hard reeds and what I've heard those players I feel that they have as big and fat sounds as players who use more open mpcs.

Thanks,
-TH
 

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-TH
I know you're an experienced player. The key to attain the control of a Link of any size is to just keep playing it. It might take six months it might take six years but if you want the sound that only a Link can produce you just have to keep with it. A harder reed and a lot of air from the gut is a good place to start. I'm most comfortable tone and control-wise with a 7* and a 3.5 reed but if I'm feeling a bit lazy i'll use a 2.5 and I notice a tonal difference but not less control of the piece. I attribute that to time spent using Links. I've used Links(almost exclusively) for 48 years, they've always been the perfect piece for me and I always get whacked for this but I feel that every player should be able to use a Link because most times for most things it's the appropriate mpc.
 

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-TH said:
But I miss the fat, rich and deep Link-sound. The RIA sounds a bit too generic for my taste. If I just could have a mouthpiece with the RIA playability and Link sound, that would be the one!
I think that Thomas is right . . . if you like the Link sound then stick with it and learn to play it. There's no free ride with these things, it's a compromise. If you want the sound of a large chamber, small baffle piece, then you have to "pay" for it with a solid airstream. If you want something easy to play then you pay with, in my opinion, subpar sound.

I like balanced setups (6* - 7* with 3 - 3.5 reeds assuming a Link-style design) but would personally rather go down in tip/up in reed strength than the other way around. Thin reeds always sound thin to me. I once test played a .074 Broadus with a #5 reed and it sounded very cool.

Good luck!
 

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I have tried several metal RIA tenor pieces. And still have an unused #4 in a drawer somewhere.

For a short time I played on gigs RIA metal tenor pieces, #7, #8 and a #6, as well as tested this #4.
Tip 6 was the nearest to link sound for me (I've played lots of metal Links so I think I know).
However the .120 tipped #8 is the one I liked the most although it was clearly too wide for me - at that time (20 years ago).
 

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Here's a simple, inexpensive experiment. Put a small dental wax baffle ($1.00) in an Otto Link to see if you like the Link qualities with added projection and ease of playing. I did this to my NY 7* and it retains most of the nice Link tone but projects better. I prefer this tone to, for example, an SR Tech Pro or a Vandoren V16 I once ordered .The baffle stays put until you wish to remove it.
 

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I am a die hard modern Link NY 5*player (for now ;) ) with Zonda 3.5k reeds. I was surprised to find that I really liked the Vandoren V16 T75 metal with 2.5 or 3 reeds. The beek profile has alot to do with what I can and can not play. I realised I could play a Morgan 8L with a 2.5 reed as well. I loose that dense sound but it is flexable and spread. I am really surprised how little pressure is on my face. Two different sounds. :D
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for your replies!

I'd like to know what variables affect the most what comes to ease of playing and accurate control. So, the tip openings are equal (Link vs. RIA) but the internal construction is quite different. Is it the bullet chamber, maybe a bit smaller chamber, straight sidewalls what makes the RIA much more easier and controllable for me (or all these combined)? I was thinking of facing lengths. Do RIAs have a shorter facing length than a stock metal Link? It came in to my mind that maybe all the mouthpieces that I like have one thing incommon: a shorter facing length (assuming that the RIA has shorter facing than the Link)..

-TH
 

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Honeyboy said:
Here's a simple, inexpensive experiment. Put a small dental wax baffle ($1.00) in an Otto Link to see if you like the Link qualities with added projection and ease of playing.
I'm all for experimentation and if it's a tone you dig in the end, go for it. However, a Link is a Link in large part because of the baffle design and as such, adding your own changes the fundamental voice of the piece. The "added projection" so often referred to a benefit of this type of modification is, in my opinion, simply a change in EQ bias toward the high-mids.

I've heard many pieces with added baffles ranging from those which occur "naturally" from bending a metal piece open to massive epoxy wedges and none of the pieces have ever sounded like the original design. Intonation also suffers with the more radical additions. Again, if it's a sound you like, great but don't expect to gain ease of playing and control without what I think is a sacrifice somewhere else.
 

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m3pilot said:
I'm all for experimentation and if it's a tone you dig in the end, go for it. However, a Link is a Link in large part because of the baffle design and as such, adding your own changes the fundamental voice of the piece. The "added projection" so often referred to a benefit of this type of modification is, in my opinion, simply a change in EQ bias toward the high-mids.

I've heard many pieces with added baffles ranging from those which occur "naturally" from bending a metal piece open to massive epoxy wedges and none of the pieces have ever sounded like the original design. Intonation also suffers with the more radical additions. Again, if it's a sound you like, great but don't expect to gain ease of playing and control without what I think is a sacrifice somewhere else.
Unfortunately, I have less than average lung power and output due to a lifetime of asthma and bronchitis. As much as I like the Link tone without a baffle, I really need a little boost with the help of a small baffle. I find I am able to still enjoy the full deep low end of the Link with the addition of the baffle, and be able to play at a volume which meets most of my needs. Not all Links sound the same, and I bet you could find a Link w/o a baffle that sounds pretty close to what I have. As I said above, the tone I get is alot more Linkish than other "Link like" mouthpieces such as the SR Pro or the Vandoren V16. I guess I'm not a purist, and that's okay with me.I need to enjoy what I'm doing.
 

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Honeyboy said:
I need to enjoy what I'm doing.
And that should be the first commandment of, well, just about anything actually. I think it's pretty well known that Brecker had to make compromises with his setup due to physical impairment as well.
 

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-TH said:
Is it the bullet chamber, maybe a bit smaller chamber, straight sidewalls what makes the RIA much more easier and controllable for me (or all these combined)?-TH
I would say yes. All those combined.

-TH said:
Do RIAs have a shorter facing length than a stock metal Link?-TH
Maybe. But it might depend on the tolerances in the manufacture. And as you know - they are sometimes...well, variable.
Anyway, I did feel the RIAs had shorter facings than I would have preferred.
 

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Honeyboy said:
Unfortunately, I have less than average lung power and output due to a lifetime of asthma and bronchitis. As much as I like the Link tone without a baffle, I really need a little boost with the help of a small baffle. I find I am able to still enjoy the full deep low end of the Link with the addition of the baffle, and be able to play at a volume which meets most of my needs. Not all Links sound the same, and I bet you could find a Link w/o a baffle that sounds pretty close to what I have. As I said above, the tone I get is alot more Linkish than other "Link like" mouthpieces such as the SR Pro or the Vandoren V16. I guess I'm not a purist, and that's okay with me.I need to enjoy what I'm doing.
Is the SR Pro really Link-like at all? I see how the V16 is, but the SR Pro seems to be pretty different in every way except for the relatively wide profile.

And TH... I think you shld stick w/ your Link setup that you've been playing. I dont doubt the drawbacks you mention, but you'll be better off just sticking w/ your bread and butter setup. I've heard recordings of you and you've got a terrific sound. I had a crummy SS Berg Larsen that I played for 11 yrs exclusively. Even though my mpcs now are beter in just abt every ay, I often wish I'd just stuck w/ what I knew best. Switching will mess you up in weird ways

Dont be frustrated if mouthpiece comparison experiments yield conflicting data. Even guys who have been making them for decades are perplexed.
 

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dstack79 said:
Is the SR Pro really Link-like at all? I see how the V16 is, but the SR Pro seems to be pretty different in every way except for the relatively wide profile.
I've heard both suggested on the website as Link alternatives which is why I gave them a shot.(the Vandoren was also supposed to be like the old Dukoffs). The SR Tech Pro does have a round chamber but a higher baffle and the (metal) V16 Vandoren has straight sidewalls. Both had kind of full bottom ends but didn't have the pretty Link tone, in my ears.
 

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I agree with Thomas on this one. Just pick a Link (or Barone in my case) and just learn how to play it. Once I learned how to play my Barone Jazz, I can't put it down, and I see myself going to the grave still playing this piece.
 

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I always read here about learning to play a link. What am I missing? I've never found links to be very resistant or hard to play. Maybe altisimo is harder.
 

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I never had to "learn" to play a Link. I think some people feel that they don't have the bite that some of the other mouthpieces have so the reaction is to think that the mouthpiece is a problem. For Tenor, nothing sounds like a Link. Don't work too hard playing one, just relax and listen.
 

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TH; may I suggest a Yanagisawa metal piece? Maybe a 7? These have the straight sides and comfortable beak angle but are basically Link on the inside. Now, take what I say with a grain of salt, because I'm totally different than any of the other guys in that I played things like Berg Larsen 130/0 or Brilhart Level Air 9* for many years before I discovered Dave Guardalas pieces. I've been playing a Guardala 'King Curtis' for almost 20 years now, and just tried a 'Laser-Trimmed' 'Super King' today that's a keeper. Even so, I know that what Thomas and others are saying about Links is true, although I could never make one work for me. The closest I came was the Yanagisawa, and I wish I had kept that one for further work. It had the 'complex' tone you're looking for with just a taste of 'rollover' baffle for quick response. Brilhart made an interesting mouthpiece years ago but they're simply not found now - the 'Velvet Tone', but it was a round 'fat boy' type. Guess who played one? Boots Randolph!
Another thing I have found to be true is, you're going to sound like yourself on whatever you play - no mouthpiece changes King Curtis to Stan Getz. But, a mouthpiece can make it easier for the sound in your head to come out of the horn - that's what everybody is looking for whether they know it or not. Which brings up another important point - it's far more important to play like you want to sound than it is to have a particular mouthpiece. For example, my 'head sound' has changed over the years to more of a complex tone with just a little Brecker in it. Correspondingly, I'm getting that out of the same Guardala I've been using all along - it's a state of mind. Bottom line, you will ultimately sound like that 'head sound' almost regardless of the mouthpiece. You just need to find the one that 'facilitates' what you're hearing, but you must learn to play the way you want to sound.
 

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spiderjames said:
I always read here about learning to play a link. What am I missing? I've never found links to be very resistant or hard to play. Maybe altisimo is harder.
Many people, coming from a high-baffled piece, haven't developed the support requisite for getting the most from a Link.
 

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1saxman said:
Another thing I have found to be true is, you're going to sound like yourself on whatever you play - no mouthpiece changes King Curtis to Stan Getz. But, a mouthpiece can make it easier for the sound in your head to come out of the horn - that's what everybody is looking for whether they know it or not. Which brings up another important point - it's far more important to play like you want to sound than it is to have a particular mouthpiece. For example, my 'head sound' has changed over the years to more of a complex tone with just a little Brecker in it. Correspondingly, I'm getting that out of the same Guardala I've been using all along - it's a state of mind. Bottom line, you will ultimately sound like that 'head sound' almost regardless of the mouthpiece. You just need to find the one that 'facilitates' what you're hearing, but you must learn to play the way you want to sound.
Gosh, this chap knows what he's talking about. Thank you. I'm a inveterate m/p swapper myself but the above is the bottom line.
 
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