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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone, I recently got a Couf Superba I bari and I'm having some issues with finding a good mouthpiece. I went to the local music store, Music & Arts, and tried a Yamaha mouthpiece that was a considerable improvement over the freebie that came with the horn, but still not all that great. I'd really like to find a good store in the Houston area that would at least have more than one mouthpiece (tall order, I know), but I'm not having much luck. I've been mostly gone for the past ten years so I don't know what stores are out there in Houston that are any good. Alternatively, I'd settle for meeting up with another bari player to at least check out the horn and play with their setup.

I'm 99.9% sure this is a compatibility issue (mostly the mouthpiece, and maybe me as well) just from experience, every pad is new and I haven't found any leaks. Any help is appreciated.
 

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If you played a guitar, Houston Texas would have a chocolate river full of orange fish. Fleming Used Instruments 1401 Yale St, Houston, TX 77008 is the shot in the dark.
 

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Its funny, but in my experience it is hard to find the right mouthpiece for any baritone sax. You really have to be open to anything. Have you been playing baritone before getting the Couf? What kind of music do you play? Are you looking for a 'legit' tone for blending or a more 'out front' sound?
 

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I think a Couf (which, of course, is a Keilwerth) would be a pretty middle-of-the-road horn that would respond well to about any kind of MP. In other words, I would doubt that there are certain configurations to avoid (unlike, for example, the Conn 12M which is justifiably notorious for not working well with small chamber high baffle mouthpieces).

My guess, from the fact that you don't already own a bari mouthpiece or have any established preferences, is that you are new to playing baritone. If that's true, then you do not have a mouthpiece problem, you have an airflow problem. You will not get either good tone or good response from an alto- or tenor-sized airstream on a baritone.

I have two recommendations.

1) Get a Yamaha 5C or 6C mouthpiece, and some #2 or 2.5 Vandoren reeds. These are extremely middle of the road conservative choices. Using these when you go to step (2) and start building your baritone embouchure and airstream will mean that you will be focusing all your efforts on embouchure and airstream development, rather than adapting to the idiosyncracies of a particular MP/reed combination. The Yamaha MP is quite inexpensive (well under $100 if memory serves).

2) Work on airstream and embouchure. I would like to point you to two sources.

2a) Not to brag, but I have posted here a number of times the two tone building exercises I have used for decades; both are derived from long tone work but are more than just playing a note for a long time. I think you could probably search my handle and find these, rather than me retyping the whole business here.

2b) Go to You Tuba and find the four or five part video series "The Music of Joe Temperley" - the next-to-last part and the last part have Joe T's thoughts on how to get a big compelling sound out of a baritone sax, together with examples of the 80 year old Temperley easily outblowing a professional bari sax player some 40 years high junior. What Joe presents is more conceptual than a series of specific exercises, but it's extremely important.

Finally, when you do those tone and embouchure development exercises, if it's possible, do them outdoors in a big open space without reflecting surfaces. This is a big help in developing a big rich tone. It's what the Texas Tenors used to do (guys like Buddy Tate, Arnett Cobb, etc.)

If my assumptions are incorrect and you're an experienced professional baritone sax player with decades of experience, then I'm sorry, and I got nuthing for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'll give Fleming a try, I've been there once but it was a realllllly long time ago. I plan to use this one for jazz music, possibly rock & roll in the distant future. Let me describe the issue:

When I use the freebie I have to loosen my embouchure up a ridiculous amount, especially to play D2-F#2 (those are almost unplayable, it wants to play 1st overtone every time). I tried a Yamaha 5C and it responded much better except the right hand keys on the second octave still required a very loose embouchure, I had to have barely any pressure at all on the reed to play those notes. I've had similar issues trying to play Metalites on alto and tenor, so maybe I'm part of it? I play #3 Hemkes on bari and producing a note takes little effort since I have a pretty strong air stream. I guess I'll know more after going to see Ed.

Funny you should mention Joe Temperley, I've been watching his videos. Man he is good!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
To answer all questions: I'm fairly new to bari, getting a good air stream is no problem but I will continue to work on embouchure. I'd like something with some power so as not to be completely drowned out by trumpets.
 

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I think you may have an octave mechanism problem. Is the upper octave vent staying a little bit open when you play the notes you mentioned? Normally these notes should be very easy to play.

Unless, that is, you have a supertight embouchure and you're forcing the notes to break upward, in which case you need to recalibrate.

I doubt very much whether you have a mouthpiece problem. I wish I could play your horn and show you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I think you may have an octave mechanism problem. Is the upper octave vent staying a little bit open when you play the notes you mentioned? Normally these notes should be very easy to play.

Unless, that is, you have a supertight embouchure and you're forcing the notes to break upward, in which case you need to recalibrate.

I doubt very much whether you have a mouthpiece problem. I wish I could play your horn and show you.
Winner winner chicken dinner! I just found that the upper octave pip is not properly being covered by the pad. Looks like some hack job repair tech got his hands on it at some point. See photo links below. How much do you think it would cost to repair this? Sorry for the dark photos, hopefully you can see how poor the pad contact is by the impression. Too a photo of the "wrap" in the body, looks kinda crooked to me.

http://s115.photobucket.com/user/trentmcinturff/media/image1 1_zpsyy67o51v.jpg.html

http://s115.photobucket.com/user/trentmcinturff/media/image2_zpsqraekcu0.jpg.html
 

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It looks like something got bent, or alternately a defect of alignment from the factory, thus the pad is way off center to the vent. Have I got that right?

Hard to say what's the quickest least expensive way to fix it from a photo, but unsoldering and repositioning the pigtail probably ain't it.

Just talking through my hat, I'd probably take the little arm with the pad off, put a double bend in it (kind of an "S" curve), getting it more or less centered over the pip, and then put in a new pad. Maybe $25. Someday when you want to spend a lot more money and time you could find out exactly what's wrong and fix it right. There might be something else bent that you could see in person and would be fairly easy to put right.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
You got it. I made the seller give me a small refund to cover repair costs since it was described as "ready to play", so looks like I'll be taking it in soon. I'm glad I finally got this figured out. Thanks to all who responded!

This stuff reminds me of working on my old Honda's: you think the carb is clogged and it's a bad filter, you think the points/condenser are bad and it's a bad ignition switch, it seems like whatever your first diagnosis it usually turns out to be something else.
 

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Where in Houston do you live? I recommend "Best Band Repair" (Steve Hultquist) on Jones/Mills road (next to the Met Church). He's usually in the shop from 12 to 6. 832-286-8388. He will give you a quote for the repair, and he's usually quite reasonable. Tell him I sent you!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
That's funny you mentioned him because my sax teacher came by today and gave me Steve's info. He's about 7 min away, whereas Fleming is MUCH further. I'll give him a try, thanks for the tip!
 

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Not sure what you mean about the "wrap". I'm assuming that it's what you also are calling the pigtail. If that's bent or out of alignment, then the vent is out of position. Are there any tone holes which are also out of position? Bending the arm isn't correcting the cause. It's just adapting to it. Fix the twisted tubing if that's out of alignment. A good shop can do that. Asking for the "quickest" repair really isn't relevant unless you have something urgent to justify it. I can understand least expensive, but I don't think that unsoldering, repositioning, and resoldering the tubing would cost that much more than "fixing" the part that isn't broken.
 

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To answer all questions: I'm fairly new to bari, getting a good air stream is no problem but I will continue to work on embouchure. I'd like something with some power so as not to be completely drowned out by trumpets.
Start with a plain ol' Vandoren V16. From WWBW or somewhere. Bari mouthpieces are all about trial and error, by mail. Everybody will have their own suggestions, but Vandorens are at least consistent.
 
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