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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm wanting a real good jazz sound with my tenor and I'm looking for the best jazz mouthpiece I can get in the $60-$120 range. I know absolutely nothing about mouthpieces, I went to a local music store and was clueless on which mouthpiece did what, which was better, etc;. Anyone gimme any clues on where to look?
 

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www.wwbw.com has a huge selection and a trial policy. (you have to call them and they'll send you 4 mouthpieces to try out with 25% deposit). Under $120 I'd stick with hard rubber/plastic. Morgan, Runyon, Otto Link are popular. The folks here will respond to inquiries about how specific pieces sound and how the quality control is (varies widely in different brands). Or browse some old posts for ideas.

-ANDYJ
 

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You are about to enter the labyrinth! Ultimately no one can tell you what is the best mouthpiece for you but we (the people on this forum) can save you literally years of stumbling around in the dark.

That said, I strongly recommend a Morgan. I've been playing them for 6 or 7 years now after stumbling around in the dark myself for many years.
No other brand even comes close in the consistency department. Every one I have ever tried (well over a dozen) played well. That's because they're hand finished, among other reasons. Unlike Runyon or Link or anything else in the price range. All you have to worry about is finding the best tip opening and chamber size for you and your horn. As opposed to most other brands where you have to worry (or wonder) whether a piece is flawed out of the factory.

Many people on this forum recommend and play Runyons so there are no doubt some good ones but they are not hand finished making quality control/consistency an issue especially when mail ordering, and they're plastic (which I hate) instead of hard rubber.

I don't recommend Otto Link at all (vintage notwithstanding) because their quality control is pathetic to nonexistent. Most of them are not worth the box they stick 'em in. This goes for most brands that you will find in a store.

Morgans are around $140.

The only other brand I can think of worth checking out in your price range is a hard rubber Barone. Around $100. As far as I know these are still hand finished.


Give us some more info on your current setup and what sound you like.

Good luck on your search!

I'm gonna crawl down in my bunker now to await the siege of the Runyonites!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Right now I just own a concert mouthpiece. It's out a real big clean sound which is nice, but that jazz tone is what I'm out to get. I'm playing on a horn I'm sure none of you have heard of but you can check it out here:

http://www.zacharymusic.com/Zachary_Music/NewSax.htm

It is the ZeuS ZTS 650 tenor.

Probably my favorite sax player is Sonny Rollins, I really that sound.

I have noticed everyone talks about Runyons on here so I will check that our first, but that doesn't mean as Kosma said that a Morgan or any other brand is just as good. Is there like sizes on the mouthpieces or are they all the same? If so what size will be best for me?

Thanks for all the comments so far, I think I'm gettin close to knowing a little about what I'm out to look for :)
 

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The Morgan is a great choice (I like the M series myself). For a bit less money, you should also consider the Vandoren Java mouthpieces (NOT the Jumbo Java), also a great mouthpiece. Make sure you know what tip size you're playing now, and don't buy a mouthpiece with a tip size considerably larger. Regards.
 

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I'd still like to know what kind of mpc you are playing now. 'concert' is pretty vague.

On sizes: The two main variables are tip opening and chamber size.

Tip opening is denoted by a number (or letter in the case of selmer).
Chamber size is small medium or large and may or may not be marked.

Generally speaking, tip opening choice is mostly about comfort and chamber size is about sound.

Again generally, a medium chamber is brighter and a large chamber is darker.

There are exceptions though. One example being my mpc. It's a Morgan 7EL. The L is for large chamber but it plays at least as bright as my 6M (medium chamber).

I hope this gives you some guidelines to follow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
My mouthpiece right now is a Vito II. Other than Woodwind Company, thats all it says on the mouthpiece. So as far tip opening or chamber size I'm clueless to what it is. I like a real bright sound most, so a small chamber mouthpiece may be ideal for me. But if the small chambers sound off and aren't used commonly, I think I would rather go with a medium. I'm not to interested in a dark sound, so I will stay away from a large unless there is one like the one you are talking about.

Also, I need to find out somehow the sizes of my mouthpiece I'm on right now, any ideas where to look? One more thing I saw on my mouthpiece is a little drawing which is a circle with a triangle inside, but I believe this is just the Vito logo.
 

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Most likely that pc is around a 5 tip opening and medium chamber.

I think you would be very happy with a Morgan 5M or maybe a 6. You'd probably be amazed at the difference and much more comfortable.
Try some Runyons too, why not.

I wouldn't recommend a small chamber. I don't even know who makes one now. Maybe Meyer still does. I have a few old Vandorens with small chambers but they don't play very well.
I think they're odd and I've never even heard of anyone playing one.
 

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Most stock mouthpieces that come with horns are narrow to medium pieces, and too narrow for a full Jazz sound. Many Jazz players use wider tip openings than a 5. Those who use the narrower pieces (e.g. Stan Getz, John Coltrane) use hard reeds with them. Sonny Rollins, who you mentioned you liked, plays wide mothpieces with medium reeds, and he has been using a couple of mouthpieces over his carreer. In the 50's he played most often a metal Otto Link (around 10), then a Selmer (was it an H?) around the "The Bridge" recording, then he switched to Berg Larsen stainless steel (130/2) and LaVoz medium, which he apparently still plays today. He used several others, like Lawton or Wolf Tayne.

I do NOT recommend you simply copy the setup of any player and expect to sound like him. But I'd encourage you to try a more open mouthpiece than a #5. Remember also, the numbering of mouthpieces is different for different brands, there are comparison charts available in the net (e.g. http://www.saxgourmet.com/mpfacing.html). For Jazz tenor sax a tip opening of 100-110 would be a medium and a good place to start if you have some experience with your stock mouthpiece. A popular choice for a Jazz mouthpiece is an Otto Link 7* or 8, metal or hard rubber. The metal is available with the regular chamber or as "NY" with a bigger chamber for a fuller and darker sound. I cannot confirm the quality control is as bad as Kosma said, at least not in Europe. I tested and bought a couple of Links over the last two years, all of them were good players right out of the box.

If you switch from your current mouthpiece to a wider tip opening, combine it with a soft reed (1,5 or 2) in the beginning. Practise long tones to build up your breath support and embouchure, then increase the reed hardness step by step until you get the sound you like and the setup that suits you the best (most probably a #2 1/2, #3, or #3 1/2). If you have to work too hard to get a sound, the setup is not the right one for you.

Smaller chambers will give a brighter tone, as Kosma said. A wider tip opening will give you a darker tone, but it can be combined with a softer reed, which then gives a brighter tone than a harder reed. Another variable not mentioned yet is the baffle, size as well as design. Higher baffles (i.e. a narrower space between mouthpice and reed) make a piece brighter and easier to play. But the tone becomes thinner. The curve and evenness of the facing also makes a lot of difference how easy and consistent a piece plays. On http://www.mouthpieceheaven.com you can learn a lot about mouthpiece terminology and variables. You'll also find a list of setups of popular players there.

There is only one basic rule for mouthpiece choice: Try before you buy!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
This is my second time to type this message, I had it all completely finished then I went to submit and It deleted everything. Alright, I have pretty much decided on a few things. A medium chamber mouthpiece will probably give a sound closer to the sound I'm wanting. As far as tip opening I'm not real sure though. I want it to be as easy to play as possible but If ease of play means not as good of a sound then I will go with something bigger than a 6 which I had in mind.

I've always used thin reeds on every instrument I play, they are just easier to work with. On sax I use a 2. As far as tip opening though, I put alot of air in the horn usually but if the opening is so big to where I'm taking breaths every measure that's definately not what I want. So, from what all of you have said I think a 6 would work best. But I can't say that with confidence.

I do have about 4 months of experience on sax, but a considerable more amount on clarinet, bass clarinet, and similar instruments. Sax came easy to me and I'm already playing on a level similar to an average person who has been playing for 2 years. So with all of that being said, you should be able to judge the best tip opening for me. I like ease of play without sound compromise, and also take into consideration the bright, full sound I'm after. Put all this together and give me your best opinion on what I should be getting. Also, the three names I'm going to be looking at once I've decided the tip opening I'm going to want are Runyon, Morgan, and Otto Link. Which ever one of them is the best bargain I will grab.
 

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As Ritchie said, Bergs are wonderful and with lavoz theyre excellent combination..
I use almost the same as sonny did (or does, i don't know exactly what he uses today)- metal 120\2 and Lavoz Medium and it works great for me.
 

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Well, someone's gotta say it. Otto Link - the most popular jazz mouthpiece ever. If you learn to get a sound that you like out of a Link, you know that the sound is coming from you and not the mouthpiece. I suggest you start with a 6 opening. Morgan is not a bad choice either.
 

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Ritchie, excellent link. That was really usefull to me.
The best rubber mouthpiece I ever played was a Morgan. Hands down. Nicely priced as well. Berg's are nice too, although, i've never played the rubber ones.
I'm honestly surprised at how many people talk about Runyon here. It's blowing my mind. I have truly really never taken Runyon seriously, but from reading all the input about them, i'm going to try one just to see what I think of them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Yeah, I'm starting to lean towards a 6 or 7. Alot of places the tip opening is listed as .110 or something like that and aren't clear whether it is a jazz mouthpiece or not. Some suggestions on where to find a Runyon, Morgan, or Otto Link jazz mouthpiece would be helpful. Medium chamber, 6 or 7 top opening, all the other specs are up to you. Thanks.
 
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