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In fact, I'm getting two of them on trial, a 7* and an 8*.

I'll post a review once I get a chance to play them.
 

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Dr Sax, your clip was one of the reasons I decided to order the SBB. In fact, your sound test with the four mouthpieces was fun and interesting. Thanks for posting it.
 

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bfoster64 said:
In fact, I'm getting two of them on trial, a 7* and an 8*.

I'll post a review once I get a chance to play them.
I think you will be glad that you are trying both the 7* and 8*. To me, they are like different mouthpieces. After you asked about the tip opening on your SDA, I tried the 7* again on mine SDA. I still preferred the 8*.

Also, I have really come to appreciate stiffer reeds with this mpc. I have some old Rico Jazz Select 3.5 reeds. They are pretty stiff, and I get a bit of "air" in the sound. But the tone is really nice. I will have to give Hemke 3.5's a try. Currently, I only have 3's.
 

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I got the SBB 7* and 8* in the mail today. Very nice looking pieces. The chamber and baffle closely resemble a Morgan EL, but Zagar says the intonation on the SBB is even better. I'll try them out tonight and post my first impressions.
 

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Almost snap! I received a 6* and 7* in the mail today - initial observations to follow.
 

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Add me to the list, I have received a SBB and a Traditional bronze in a 6* opening. I will also compare to my older Zagar vintage bronze (2006 model).
 

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A few closeups

Since Zagar's site is not so picture-rich, I guess some may find useful these closeups of the 2 pieces (the one marked just ZAGAR is the SBB) I just got from him:

 

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yeah, some closeups could be useful if I was able to see the pics you posted... Is it just me that can't see them?
 

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Guys, so this info doesn't get spread (lost) around the forum, would you three consider starting a new thread together, something like "Zagars Evaluated" and all three of you posting, maybe even comparing with each other, your impressions. If it's all together it could not only be an easy-to-find single source for the future, but fun to have you guys talking back and forth as well. Something to think about. Thanks.
 

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Believe it or not, I've drafted reviews and impressions on two separate occasions and both times when I hit the "submit" button there was a problem with my connection or with the site so I lost what I had written and it wouldn't post. My frustration peaked when I hit the "back" button and found myself staring at a blank reply box. I really wish someone would make it so that the text you were writing is still there when you hit "back."

I know, whine whine whine.

My other excuse is that this piece is taking a little while for me to get used to it and I want to give it a fair and comprehensive review. Considering the standard set by the level of detail in some other members' reviews, the bar is high!

My initial impressions, however, are that the piece plays with near-perfect intonation and the altissimo is really easy and in tune. The low end is dark, round, and fat. The high end is clear and very thick, not thin at all like a baffled piece. I'd say the SBB is a great piece for jazz. My Morgan puts out a lot more volume and edge when I push it, but the SBB does respond very well, especially for a piece with almost no baffle. The SBB really makes a beautiful, saxy sound. I'm keeping the 7* and playing it with Vandoren ZZ 3.5 reeds and a Rovner EDII ligature. I haven't played a good vintage Link STM on tenor, but I imagine this piece is pretty close. Or maybe more like a vintage Dukoff Hollywood. I'd like to compare it to a few of Barone's metal pieces. I have a feeling the SBB would hold its own. It is light years ahead of Zagar's earlier Cool School and Zagar-Morgan pieces, which I own. Zagar is making some impressive innovations for which he deserves recognition.
 

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bfoster64 said:
My initial impressions, however, are that the piece plays with near-perfect intonation and the altissimo is really easy and in tune. The low end is dark, round, and fat. The high end is clear and very thick, not thin at all like a baffled piece. I'd say the SBB is a great piece for jazz. My Morgan puts out a lot more volume and edge when I push it, but the SBB does respond very well, especially for a piece with almost no baffle. The SBB really makes a beautiful, saxy sound. I'm keeping the 7* and playing it with Vandoren ZZ 3.5 reeds and a Rovner EDII ligature. I haven't played a good vintage Link STM on tenor, but I imagine this piece is pretty close. Or maybe more like a vintage Dukoff Hollywood. I'd like to compare it to a few of Barone's metal pieces. I have a feeling the SBB would hold its own. It is light years ahead of Zagar's earlier Cool School and Zagar-Morgan pieces, which I own. Zagar is making some impressive innovations for which he deserves recognition.

My impressions are not dissimilar to yours.
I ordered a Traditional bronze and a SBB both in a 6 opening and had already the traditional of one year ago which was named "Vintage bronze". Unfortunately the comparison is not entirely fair because my previous piece is a 7 opening and lately (actually too late...) I found myself more at ease with smaller ones, in the range of 6 or 6*. This might also explain why I like a bit better the new ones.

The SBB is surprisingly the least lud of the bunch, while the loudest is the vintage 7 (perhaps because of the larger opening), the Traditional being in the middle.
The Traditional is, again surprisingly (for its name) the brightest of the bunch and also a bit more edgy when pushed, but still retains the warmth and fullness that all Zagar pieces have.
The SBB is the darkest and very, very easy to play in all register. Intonation is phenomenal, I don't think I do better with any other mouthpiece I have (not few...). I think it's the one that would deserve the most the name "Vintage" since it sounds that way, with a strong core and that depth that Links are known for. Speaking about Links, I have an excellent Link STM 6 retouched by Ralph Morgan (everybody who tried it made me an offer to buy) and I prefer the SBB. Sound quality is similar but the SBB has more core and it's easier to play in the high register, while the STM is capable to get louder. During this summer I trialed a Florida STM and sent it back after 2 days because I preferred by far both the Morgan-Link and the Zagar vintage.
So for me the SBB holds its own very well with Links. Sonically speaking, the closest thing I tried is a Barone NY: fortunately the SBB does not have the sheer resistance of the Barone that made me sell it even though I liked the sound a lot.
It is presently my favorite mouthpiece on all my tenors (Martin, Aristocrat, Yani 901, B&S 2001, Cannonball) and it literally "revitalized" my Cannonball raven which I thought of selling but now I am changing my mind: it now has the depth I thought was lacking and the ease of play I loved since the first blow.

Identified my favorite in the SBB, I am not sure about the real differences between the Traditional and the Vintage bronze. It is my impression that the Traditional is a bit brighter and equally full as the Vintage. As I said before, the comparison would be simpler if the opening was the same. The new Traditional bronze sonically and also in the way it plays reminds me quite a bit the JJ DV NY, but it's more reed-friendly and with quite less buzz. It's also easier to control but here the comparison is rather unfair because my Jj DV NY was an 8 opening.

The included ligature EVO-5 is an excellent match. I tried others and went back to it.

Also note that, while I also think the new line of bronze mouthpieces is a vast improvement vs. the older "School" models, I have been a fan also of those. They lacked volume and projection but not everybody is looking for those charachteristics in first place (certainly not me). I still think that the Cool School is the best choice to emulate the Stan Getz sound.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
rispoli said:
Also note that, while I also think the new line of bronze mouthpieces is a vast improvement vs. the older "School" models, I have been a fan also of those. They lacked volume and projection but not everybody is looking for those charachteristics in first place (certainly not me). I still think that the Cool School is the best choice to emulate the Stan Getz sound.
Regarding the "Cool School" piece, I agree it has some good characteristics not the least of which is the precise intonation it affords in all registers. I think it is even a little better than the SBB. I don't have any other pieces that have such precise intonation.
 

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Impressions on Zagar mouthpieces

I hesitated posting these sentiments as I am not a pro. I have received plenty of compliments regarding my ear(s), but my technical skills lack behind and my career prevents me from doing something dramatic about it at this point. So take my impressions with a grain of salt. On the plus side, I believe you will find a fairly balanced view as they are no longer my main pieces. Also, I prefer hard rubber.

I have owned two Cool School mouthpieces. I currently own four (!) vintage bell bronze pieces that I have had slightly modified by Brian Powell. I have tried three SBB mouthpieces about a year ago, ie early version. That is the basis for my comments.

Cool School:
Owned a 7 and an 8. I agree with bfoster64 and rispoli in their assessment. Not bad at all for legit jazz. Even register, easy subtone, not a whole lot of volume. Sold mine for the latter reason. Hardly received anything for them as I sold them at the peak of the anti-Zagar bashing. It is good to see that there are now more enthusiasm. Zagar did something different with the Cool Schools in attempt to revamp pieces for legit jazz and that takes guts.

Vintage Bell Metal Bronze
Mine are the early ones ($350 a piece). The only reason why I ended up with four is that I hardly have any materialistic interest and so my significant other and my best friend each ordered one and I ordered two. By the time my birthday came around, returns were no longer accepted. I ended up with two 7 and two 8. The 8's played better than the seven; fuller tone, better response, bigger sound. All of them easy to play throughout the entire register and well suited for post-bob and other straight-ahead jazz. Very consistent these early bronze pieces are. I can't tell the difference between the 7's; neither between the 8's. In spite of Zagar's claims that baffles are unnecessary, the Vintage Bell Metal Bronze do have a bit of baffle. I wanted the 7's t play like the 8's and all of them to have a bit more roll-over baffle so I send them to Brian Powell. He expertly opened the 7's to 7*'s and 8's to 8*'s. To Zagar's credit, Brian did point out that the facings were very good before he perfected them. Brain's work did the trick in terms of adding more volume to the 7's and the slight rollover baffle that make these pieces play really well. Brian also pointed out that it is the hardest material other than stainless steel he has worked on. Contrary to stainless steel, they will not rust but oxidize to a dark brown color over time. This is already evident in areas that Brian has modified. Brian found hat the Zagars really well made and extremely resilient. Basically, I think he prefers never to see another again. Apparently they were really hard on his tools.

Super Big Bore (SBB)
I didn't own them and no longer wish to own any. I tried some SBBs about a year ago. One was quite good, very powerful with a lot of punch. However, you really had the feeling of playing two different pieces at one - Jekyll and Hyde. In the low register fat robust tone. D2 and above it changed character. Much more edgy and modern. I guess over time one would learn to adjust. The other SBBs were mediocre and inconsistent. Seems that Dr. Sax, bfoster64, and Rispoli all lucked out but there are definitely SBBs to avoid out there.

Mr. Zagar
I have a couple issues with this guy. It seems that whenever he puts out something new, he decides that what he made before was no good, which I believe is a pure marketing ploy. He must like his old pieces because he offered and appeared very keen to trade them for new ones. The Vintage Bell Bronze pieces apparently were of a higher caliper and consistency, something he is evidently aware of, although he keeps reiterating that the newer pieces are superior. This is not to deny that I have a lot of respect for his craftsmanship and innovation.

Again, these are comments from an amateur.
 

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brasscane said:
Mr. Zagar
I have a couple issues with this guy. It seems that whenever he puts out something new, he decides that what he made before was no good, which I believe is a pure marketing ploy.
My experience too.
He's certainly not alone, though, among mouthpiece makers, using these selling strategies.

Regarding the SBB, the one I tried one year ago, one of the first made, was not my cup of tea either. It was brighter, with more rollover baffle than now and not as good down low, but wonderfully responsive. The one I have now is totally different (otherwise I'd have returned it too), with no resemblance whatsoever with the previous one except the responsiveness. This one is quieter and darker sounding.

For you it's certainly not worth shelving the extra money since I believe from your description that after Brian's work your older model are possibly even better. Plus the difference vs. the stock Vintage bronze is not that much to start with...
 

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bfoster64 said:
....Zagar is making some impressive innovations for which he deserves recognition.
I agree bfoster64. I also own one of the earlier Zagar hot schools, and there is no comparison in sound quality when compared to my SBB.

I dont have the very latest SBB. Mine is the earlier 2nd ed. model, and I received mine in early January this year.

As far as I'm concerned, the SBB has provided me with a mouthpiece that has the best of all worlds. It plays brighter than my best slant, but retains the core of the best florida STMs in my collection.

I'm a believer, and woudn't sell or swap my SBB for any other mouthpiece.

Perhaps you are right brasscane: maybe there are SBBs out there that aren't as good as others. I wouldn't even bat an eyelid to try out another one, especially if I had mine stolen:twisted: (I've had horns, mouthpieces and necks with mouthpieces stolen, but i'm fully insured;) )

So to agree with bfoster I would be surprised if the latest version that zagar is selling hasn't been improved in some way (...those gold'n ones look cool!)
 

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Hmmm. I'm wondering if the Vintage model that I just received on trial is not a good example of these. To me, is sounds and plays very like the Cool School (as much as I can remember of the Cool School) - that is, it plays very well, with good intonation, but it basically too quiet for my purposes. If it is any help I play a Brian Powell refaced vintage brass Tonemaster now. I was hoping for something similar but with perhaps a tad more life. Based on this, I am wondering if I should not cancel the order I have with David Zagar for the SBB. I play unmiked and really can't use a piece that doesn't speak loudly.
 

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A few follow up comments:

1. If you're playing un-miced with loudly amped instruments, these low-baffled pieces will probably not give you enough volume. You can play the SBB pretty loudly if you push it, but that could get tiring over several hours of performance. My Morgan 8EL gives me volume with much less effort.

2. Regarding consistency: my 8* is not as well-finished as my 7* (the one I'm keeping), i.e., the baffle and chamber are visibly much less symmetrical. My 7* is not perfectly symmetrical, but it is pretty close. With all the curves in the SBB, less than perfect symmetry is understandable.

3. Regarding the Jekyll/Hyde comment, I get that feeling when playing the 8* because I have to use a softer reed so the piece gets very bright in the high end. But with the 7* and my ZZ 3.5 reeds, the tone seems very even. There is a nice amount of brightness that comes through as I go up the scale, but nothing like a high-baffled piece, and relatively little edge, and it doesn't thin out.

4. Regarding Zagar, he's an interesting guy to talk to and a salesman, so don't let him tell you otherwise; but he does know a lot about his product and his willingness to speak at great length with potential customers is laudable. I also like his design philosophy and the concepts he uses to talk about the benefits of his new designs, such as "neutral embouchre" and "generic saxophone sound." They seem a little more grounded in reality than some of the concepts used by other mouthpiece designers. Zagar's obviously thought a lot about his designs and has built on his past experiences designing mouthpieces. He also has a lot of respect for Morgan's designs and has studied them closely. As a Morgan fan, that's a positive for me.
 

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Has anyone compared the cut of the new varieties to the old ones (Cool School, Hot School)? Are they completely new designs, or just the old design with a metal piece?
 
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