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Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2009
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Discussion Starter #1
It seemed like in the 80s nobody played HR on tenor and now Playing a hard rubber mouthpiece is fairly common. I made the switch about three years ago whenever I try metal now I just don't hear the same things that make Hard rubber great for me.

Any thoughts on this either way?
 

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I don't know, I've never really been able to tell a tonal difference just because of the material. The brightest, harshest pieces I've played were HR. Feels different in the mouth, but thats about it.

Maybe there weren't as many wide choices in HR mouthpieces in the 80s so metal meant brighter? I really don't know much about mouthpiece history, just which ones I like to play:)
 

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If I recall in the 80s almost everyone wanted to sound like a gas powered chainsaw so they went to metal mouthpieces.
Perhaps there is a greater selection of accessible and quality HR mpcs today than there was in the 80s?
(I saw after posting that the previous poster suggested the same.)
 

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I think maybe less information on what choices were available. Every music store seemed to carry the same thing. HR link, metal link, metal Berg Larsen, SA 80 that was about it. Jazz players used mostly metal links, rock players mostly Bergs. I used a HR link on tenor. Stumbled onto a goldbeck on alto just because it came with a horn. Never bothered to look beyond that until a couple years ago. Ignorance was bliss.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
spiderjames said:
I think maybe less information on what choices were available. Every music store seemed to carry the same thing. HR link, metal link, metal Berg Larsen, SA 80 that was about it. Jazz players used mostly metal links, rock players mostly Bergs. I used a HR link on tenor. Stumbled onto a goldbeck on alto just because it came with a horn. Never bothered to look beyond that until a couple years ago. Ignorance was bliss.
I never even thought about hard rubber until I heard Tim Price and what a big Full sound he got with his Lamberson. In the past few months I have tried many different pieces and for me Hard rubber just seems better. I have tried a few that I just didn't like, but all and all I get a fuller richer sound with hard rubber without that shrillness of some metal mouthpieces. I haven't ruled out going back if I found something great. Funny, prior to making the switch the last time I had a hard rubber piece it was the one that came with the horn back in High School
 

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It's the chamber, not the material. I'd be willing to bet if you heard the same player play on a rubber version of a mouthpiece, and then a metal version of EXACTLY the same piece, you'd hear no difference. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that such beasts exist. (The Link RGs come close though.)
 

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Well, the material matters in terms of how the mouthpiece feels to play, even if the end result is pretty much the same. A HR mouthpiece has a wider profile, and it vibrates very, very differently in the mouth. I prefer metal for tenor because I prefer the feel of it.
 

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There is one mouthpiece maker, Ponzol, who makes exactly the same model in metal (M2) and rubber (Custom). I happened to have both (still have the Custom) in the same 110 opening and there is a huge difference in how they play and sound.
The M2 is louder and really edgy, the Custom is not as loud or responsive and warmer, not edgy (not a HR Link either, though). Totally different mouthpieces.
The chamber shape and volume might have a more relevant influence but after this experience I can't buy the theory that material doesn't matter. Perhaps the type of metal doesn't, but rubber, plastic or metal I believe play a role in how a specific mouthpiece design responds and sounds.
 

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Im not going to make an absolute stand either way but I tend to lean towards the facing and chamber design being more the prmiary factor than the material. However, Id venture to say another variable that cannot be discounted is the way each design requires the player to adapt his/her embrochure. The small size of a metal mouthpiece in comparison to the larger size of an a same chambered hard rubber mouthpieces creates different dynamics as the mouthpiece interfaces with the players oral cavity/throat etc...

...just a thought that I feel is too frequently overlooked.
 

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The only metal I ever liked was the Link STM for Tenor. In HS you look cool if you play metal. Record yourself on metal and HR and listen for the depth of sound.
 

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dirty said:
Well, the material matters in terms of how the mouthpiece feels to play, even if the end result is pretty much the same. A HR mouthpiece has a wider profile, and it vibrates very, very differently in the mouth. I prefer metal for tenor because I prefer the feel of it.
Me, too.
 

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bruce bailey said:
The only metal I ever liked was the Link STM for Tenor. In HS you look cool if you play metal. Record yourself on metal and HR and listen for the depth of sound.
Whatever works for you, but I've recorded myself countless times and don't find rubber pieces are "deeper" sounding than metal pieces, on tenor. And high school was way too long ago for me to have any impact on my playing preferencss......
daryl
 

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I play a metal but prefer the wider profile of HR - I like the feel of HR but the sound of metal. I don't know why, but I can play a metal Link but not a HR one. What I would like to see is a metal mouthpiece with the wider profile of HR. Don't know of any other than Guardala Fat Boy's and who can afford one of those?
 

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Here is a paper comparing a couple of Dukoffs in similar materials:

http://hal9000.ps.uci.edu/Does Saxophone Mouthpiece Material Matter.doc.pdf

RIA used to make similar mouthpieces out of HR, Aluminum, and Brass (heavy hunk of metal). They felt different but sounded the same to me. The facing quality is a bigger deal than the material. A lot of guys report differences but if you do not know how to measure the facing, it may be the reason.

Runyon Quantums come in metal and Delrin. The Delrin one is brighter and edgier. I think this is because the material is thin enough to participate significantly in the vibration modes.

Ralph Morgan believes his Excalibers vibrate more due to the thin walls. There may be something to that. Non-metal material may mater more when it is thin.
 

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The primary difference which I think is overlooked is how each material handles reeds, and the main difference between the two for me is response and articulation capacity. I think these differences stem from the reed/mouthpiece interface. Rubber tends to be a better material for a reed to be sitting on for hours at a time, intermittently dry and wet, vibrating away constantly. Metal chews up reeds faster and they don't settle as well. A tendency for me has been that metal mouthpieces seem to make the individual tones resonate more but that the superior response and articulation time of rubber makes it a better choice for me. Hard rubber profiles also feel better in the mouth because as my embouchure gets fatigued, it helps to have it more rounded out so that the fatigue is more spread out. On metal it is more compact and fatigue happens more quickly.

I don't think the actual tones produced vary that much, but I have noticed that a lot of metal mouthpieces can tend to have a "nasal" or annoying type of sound, whereas a lot of rubber mouthpieces can have a "foofy" or stuffy/dead kind of sound. This is mostly heard by the player in the form of facial resonance. I'm sure that the vice versa can happen too, but that's not been my experience.

I have noticed that harder reeds don't respond as well on metal as they do on hard rubber, in general. For metal my embouchure preferes a larger tip opening (~110) and softer reeds (java 3's).
 

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Razzy said:
The primary difference which I think is overlooked is how each material handles reeds, and the main difference between the two for me is response and articulation capacity. I think these differences stem from the reed/mouthpiece interface. Rubber tends to be a better material for a reed to be sitting on for hours at a time, intermittently dry and wet, vibrating away constantly. Metal chews up reeds faster and they don't settle as well. A tendency for me has been that metal mouthpieces seem to make the individual tones resonate more but that the superior response and articulation time of rubber makes it a better choice for me. Hard rubber profiles also feel better in the mouth because as my embouchure gets fatigued, it helps to have it more rounded out so that the fatigue is more spread out. On metal it is more compact and fatigue happens more quickly.

I don't think the actual tones produced vary that much, but I have noticed that a lot of metal mouthpieces can tend to have a "nasal" or annoying type of sound, whereas a lot of rubber mouthpieces can have a "foofy" or stuffy/dead kind of sound. This is mostly heard by the player in the form of facial resonance. I'm sure that the vice versa can happen too, but that's not been my experience.

I have noticed that harder reeds don't respond as well on metal as they do on hard rubber, in general. For metal my embouchure prefers a larger tip opening (~110) and softer reeds (java 3's).
Interesting comments on the reeds, Razzy; perhaps this is one reason I prefer Fibracells on tenor, seeing how I always plays metal pieces on tenor. For me, more open pieces, (8*-9), with less hard reeds, (2 1/2's) work better for what I'm going for on tenor anyway. The size of the mouthpiece certainly comes into play as well. I've tried to keep my tenor, alto and sop mouthpiece sizes similar, (making going back and forth between them a little easier), which means hard rubber on sop and smaller profile, (usually metal), on tenor......daryl
 

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I think a lot of players use fibracells on metal for that very reason. Cane's a real hassle on metal mouthpieces whereas on rubber I find it easier to work with.

Even so, I'm playing a Barone NY 7* worked on by JVW right now, with Java 3's. This setup is incredible, and I'm willing to deal with the challenges of cane on metal for the time being... strangest thing though, put a 3.5 on this guy and the pitch goes out the window.
 

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I have always used cane reeds. I use them on my Dukoff, and Link STM with seemingly no issues. As far as Metal versus HR, I find it hard to tell, since a lot of these pieces are made with very different sounds in mind. Like a Beechler Diamond Inlay HR makes my Dukoff sound dark in comparison, when the Dukoff is already a somewhat bright piece. In the end, I think it's more about the chamber.
 

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The original post by Sonnymobleytraneprezbirdgetzsimms :D (just joshing with ya!) and the third post in the thread hit a point.
First of all about the bias swinging towards metal in the 80's and then the desire to 'sound like chain saws'.

I wouldn't describe it exactly like that but I get the jist.
This period was when I became interested in the sax and without any developed chops I have to say that I thought metal baffled pieces aided my tonal approach much better than baffled HR pieces.
They seemed/felt/resonated with a more raucous auora than any baffled HR piece.
My belief in that being a significant factor has diluted as my chops have got better.
I still think I can hear a general difference between the materials.
I still listen too and ask players who's style I like, what they use in the search for the gold at the end of the rainbow but rock or subtone....
metal or HR doesn't matter too much once your chops are more in control than the mouthpiece.
Pushed to one side of the fence or the other? I would swing that there is a difference that can be over ridden and its far less significant than dimensional design.

But what about that 80's metal thing compared to now? flares vs drainpipes?
 

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Supposedly aren't metals for jazz and playing loud and mainly rubber for classical sax?
 
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