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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'm doing this to help out some of the beginning classical players, and I thought it might be useful for some others. This is a comparison and a list of the qualities of the classical mouthpieces I have tried. I kept a notebook of these from when I worked on a project at the University of Arizona in 1995 and I've added some more notes on many of these recently (as I looked for a new piece for my new horn.) All of these were played on either a Yamaha YAS-875 (If they were produced before 2000) or on my Grassi 2000 Professional (which you can think of as a Mark VI. It's a carbon copy of a Mark VI, right down to the composition of the brass alloy.) All were tested with a Vandoren 3 Traditional reed, and Rovner lig. (They didn't have the Optimum back then, and I still had a Rovner, so when I tested the new stuff, I tried to stay consistent.)

French style mouthpieces:

Selmer S-80 (C*) - Medium chamber, medium rollover baffle, square chamber. Produces, not surprisingly, a medium dark sound. Facings tend to be fairly inconsistent between pieces of the same facing. Probably the most popular mouthpiece in the world. Square chamber darkens the sound, but also has the effect of making it more "spread". Square chamber also helps to increase response, but tends to encourage poor breath support if you get lazy. Available for all saxophones, including sopranino and bass. Players using this piece are too numerous to list, but include Harvey Pittel, Fred Hemke (metal version), and others.

Selmer S-90 (180) - Same as S-80 but with a larger chamber. Slightly darker sound with more resistence. Available for SATB. The only player of note that I know using this is John Sampen.

Selmer LT (Larry Teal) - Medium round chamber, flat baffle with a very slight rollover. Slightly brighter and more focused sound than the S-80. Only comes in one facing, equivalent to a C*, but with a longer curve. Less immediate response, but encourages better breath support. Available in alto and tenor only. Players using this include Don Sinta and Michael Hester.

E. Rousseau New Classic (NC4) - Long rollover baffle, arched chamber with straight sidewalls, medium chamber. Very bright for a classical piece. Very good response, easy overtones and altissimo. MUST HAVE GOOD BREATH SUPPORT! Available for SAT. Not a good beginner's piece because it takes a while to "tame". Very smooth and even once it is "tamed" though. Works very well with Yamaha horns. Players using this include Eugene Rousseau and Kenneth Tse.

Vandoren V5 (A27) - Flat baffle, smaller round chamber. Very long facing. Tried three, very consistent facings. Bright sound and kind of breathy. Poor low end response. Need a lot of air for this one. Available for SATB. Most notable player using it is Claude Delangle.

Hite Classic (M64) - Shorter rollover baffle, round "squeeze" chamber, built-in bite plate. Very consistent facing, only available in one facing. Excellent response across all registers, slight edge to the tone that may make it unsuitable for classical playing. Slimmer mouthpiece that may be difficult to find ligatures to fit. Very well made piece. Available in SATB. I don't know of any players using them currently.

Vandoren Optimum (AL3) - Very slight rollover, slightly larger chamber than V5, round chamber. Very consistent response, very consistent facings (tried 3). Very free blowing with a bit of resistence. Medium bright sound, similar to S-80. Great altissimo! Available in SATB. Only player that I know is using it is Otis Murphy, but I expect that to change.

Morgan Symphonic (3C) - Long rollover baffle, round chamber, larger chamber (nearly as big as a Rascher piece). Excellent response, down to the lower end, very dark sound. Appears to be modeled on a Selmer Table C*. Very free blowing, with some resistence. Very good altissimo, although not as good as the Optimum. Available in SATB. Used by James Houlik on tenor. (Houlik uses a Bilger-Morgan piece on tenor, not a 3C),

Selmer Soloist (modern C*) - Medium rollover baffle, "horseshoe" style chamber. Good response, brighter than the S-80. Slight "reedy" sound, but very warm. Rubber is harder and shinier than any vintage Soloist I've ever seen. Available in alto and tenor only. (Could account for the difference in tone quality) Don't know of anyone using this piece right now.

Bari Symphonic (C*) - Short rollover baffle, piece is very similar to a Meyer. Too much edge for classical work.

Selmer Metal Classic (C*) - Rollover baffle, small chamber. Good response, very similar to the Optimum, but not as warm. Very easy altissimo, and good control. Low end response isn't as good as more modern pieces. Available in SATB. Used by Marcel Mule (!).


I'll add the Rascher School pieces later...(Yes I did try them!)...
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Rascher (German) Style Pieces

Rascher Mouthpiece - Incredibly dark and VERY resistent. Felt like I was blowing against a wall. Excellent altissimo, good control. Difficult low end. VERY slight rollover baffle, HUGE chamber. If I didn't know better, I'd think that it was a Buescher that someone refaced. Lacked a bit of center for me, but I think that I would need to use it for a while to make it work right. Available in SATB. Used by the Raschers...

Caravan (Large Chamber) - Dark, although not as dark as the Rascher. No rollover baffle. Control is not as good as the Rascher piece. Excellent altissimo. Very large chamber, although not as big as the Rascher.

Caravan (Medium Chamber) - Slightly brighter, very similar to the Morgan. Still a very large chamber. Best control of the Rascher type pieces, although that is probably because it's similar to what I am used to. I could be wrong but I think I see a slight rollover in the baffle. Used by Steven Mauk on soprano (!)
 

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Wow!!! Thank you!!
 

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Did any of these pieces have significant intonation issues with any of your horns?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
The only ones I had intonation issues with were the Rascher and the Bari. I suspect that the Rascher just didn't want to work with my horn, and the Bari just wasn't a very good mouthpiece. (They make excellent jazz pieces, though.)

The Rascher played flat throughout all registers and I couldn't get it on the cork enough to fix it. It wasn't out of tune with itself though.

The Bari was sharp in the high end and flat on the low end. It was a bad mouthpiece, and I'm not sure whether it was the specific piece or the design.
 

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SpeakNoEvil said:
wow. Thanks for the info. I currently use a C* and consider my legit sound rather thin. My teacher recommended that I try a S90 and a Soloist. Any thoughts or suggestions would be much appreciated.
I'd add the AL3 Vandoren, Morgan 3c and Caravan MEDIUM chamber to that trial list if you are having trouble getting a robust sound. The real answer, though, is breath support, long tones, and overtone work.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
awholley said:
I'd add the AL3 Vandoren, Morgan 3c and Caravan MEDIUM chamber to that trial list if you are having trouble getting a robust sound. The real answer, though, is breath support, long tones, and overtone work.
Agreed. If you have a thin sound, the reason is poor breath support and probably incorrect throat position which is solved by overtone exercises. A new mouthpiece won't help.
 

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Very nice work JMax. Perhaps a mod should come by and sticky this as it could aid in slowing the numbers of redundent threads.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
So amended, thanks Steve.

I appreciate all of the praise...this was a lot of work to get this finished...
 

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Nice List, but one correctiion is needed if you can edit.

"Morgan Symphonic (3C) - Long rollover baffle, round chamber, larger chamber (nearly as big as a Rascher piece). Excellent response, down to the lower end, very dark sound. Appears to be modeled on a Selmer Air-Flow C*. Very free blowing, with some resistence. Very good altissimo, although not as good as the Optimum. Available in SATB. Used by James Houlik on tenor."

The Air Flow has a smaller chamber than the Morgan and side wall are not as scooped. Perhaps you were thinking of a Selmer "Table" series tenor mouthpiece?

Houlik does not play a Morgan 3C. He does play on a piece that he designed with help of David Bilger and Ralph Morgan. It has a large facing, less baffle, large chamber and scooped side walls than the Morgan "C" or "L" mouthpieces. they are simply marked James Houlik. Both Bilger and Morgan made these pieces. Whle the bodies differ on the outside, they are the same inside and are lovely playing pieces.

I also think altismo is excellent on these a subjective to the player. I found the Optimum harder to play than the Houik. But, i have played that piece for some years now and am quit used to it.
 

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SpeakNoEvil said:
wow. Thanks for the info. I currently use a C* and consider my legit sound rather thin. My teacher recommended that I try a S90 and a Soloist. Any thoughts or suggestions would be much appreciated.
Definitely try an S90; I've been using one for three years, and it has had very consistent intonation, solid response, and a very in-tune altissimo register from the very beginning. A great mouthpiece for players of all walks of life, IMHO.

My teacher, Bill Street, also uses this mouthpiece.
 

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Another praise! Great work. Please try more pieces! And I agree this should be a sticky post.

Ever tried a Geo. Bundy 3 for Alto? I just got one from a guy here on SOTW, and I think it would be a great classical piece! I don't know where it fits into the 'classical vs. jazz' piece portfolio, but it sounds more classical to me.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
The vintage Bundy pieces are definitely classically oriented, but I didn't want to try all of the vintage mouthpieces...there's just too many of them. I would guess that they'd be similar to a Buescher, with a little bit more brightness.


And I'm going to try and do one of these for tenor too...I've already started on it.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
srcsax said:
Nice List, but one correctiion is needed if you can edit.

"Morgan Symphonic (3C) - Long rollover baffle, round chamber, larger chamber (nearly as big as a Rascher piece). Excellent response, down to the lower end, very dark sound. Appears to be modeled on a Selmer Air-Flow C*. Very free blowing, with some resistence. Very good altissimo, although not as good as the Optimum. Available in SATB. Used by James Houlik on tenor."

The Air Flow has a smaller chamber than the Morgan and side wall are not as scooped. Perhaps you were thinking of a Selmer "Table" series tenor mouthpiece?

Houlik does not play a Morgan 3C. He does play on a piece that he designed with help of David Bilger and Ralph Morgan. It has a large facing, less baffle, large chamber and scooped side walls than the Morgan "C" or "L" mouthpieces. they are simply marked James Houlik. Both Bilger and Morgan made these pieces. Whle the bodies differ on the outside, they are the same inside and are lovely playing pieces.

I also think altismo is excellent on these a subjective to the player. I found the Optimum harder to play than the Houik. But, i have played that piece for some years now and am quit used to it.
Yes, you're right about the Table vs. Air-Flow...I was thinking of the Table version. I remember reading in Saxophone Journal that Morgan had based the "C" series on an old Selmer piece.

As far as Houlik goes, he plays on a Bilger-Morgan "Houlik" model, which is actually most similar to the Morgan "L" pieces, with a tip opening of .95 (on tenor). When I put his name on the Morgan post, I meant to say that he was the only "name" classical player I could think of who played Morgan pieces. I'll amend that to make it more clear. (I wish I knew why more people didn't play Morgan's pieces for classical work. They are great pieces, and one of the few that I think Rascher and French players could both use. They were based on a French Selmer mouthpiece, and play-tested by David Bilger, so you really get the best of both worlds!)

Speaking of Bilger, I couldn't get a Bilger "Gold" piece to try, but considering the history, I'd assume that they are similar to the Morgan 3C. (I have heard that the Bilger pieces may be going back into production soon, headed up by his widow. It's just a rumor right now.) I also didn't test the Lomax, which I've heard is a nice piece. I did test a Bamber Classic, but I see no reason to put that here, because it's really a student-line mouthpiece.
 

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1) Morgan completely distances himself from the current Bilger mouthpieces. They are nothing alike. Ralph gave me this information himself.

2) Srcsax HAS the Houlik mouthpieces and studied with Houlik much more recently than I. Any place your info differs from his, he's likely to be the correct one.

3) George Wolfe would probably differ with you about whether the Bamber is a pro-quality mouthpiece. It's reputed to be the most faithful copy to date of the short-shank soloist. Mr. Wolfe certainly gets professional results from it. Just listen to his beautiful tone on Mozart's Canon Inversus on the America's Millennium Tribute series.

4) This is an interesting thread. I'm glad you started it.

Alan
 

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Your doing a great job J.

I played a Morgan 5L on tenor for a few years before i studied with Houlik. . They are somewhat similar pieces, but the 5L thins out in the palm keys. I have had the pleasure of selecting my pieces from a large selection from Houlik's "stash" and they all varied to some degree.

LOMAX Alto: I was one of the proto type testers and have two right here in front of me now.

They are made with a square chamber and similar to a Selmer SA80 design. Mine have slighly larger tip openings (C**, D) and have a French sound, but a tad more husky in tone. ALtissimo is easy, low end rather up front. Mine are thicker at the tip than a Selmer and i believe this gave me more of a heavy tongue. A cross between Germanic and French saxophone?
 

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Steve, have you played any of Lomax's soprano pieces? I'm certainly curious about those.
 

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Merlin,
At the time i was checking his pieces out he only made alto pieces. Never got a chance to try anything else.
 
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