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Discussion Starter #1
Question! What do you find can be the most tiring attribute of a mouthpiece? Opening? Facing length? Beak profile? Chamber? Reed strength?

I’ve been trying to figure this out on tenor, a lot driven by trying to find a mouthpiece that is suitable for all situations while being most friendly to the doubling chops (flute, clarinet). What do you think?
 

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Well, its a combination of all attributes but generally speaking its safe to say the combination of the facing and reed strength are what instantly feels 'too hard' or 'too soft'. Any time you try to play on a set-up that is more demanding than what you are used to, you will experience embouchure fatigue rather quickly. So, an 'open' mouthpiece alone does not necessarily mean it will be hard to play - its the reed that you put on it that is too hard for you on that mouthpiece but may be fine on one less open.
 

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Agreed, it's a combination of everything. For pits, my rubber link 7 goes on the tenor for most shows. The reed books for tenor are usually inner voices that require blending under the Alto in the reed 1 book. My rubber link is very comfortable to play with a soft reed so my attention and stamina can be focused on the clarinet and flute parts. When I played Footloose a few months back I used my more regular mouthpiece because it's all lead tenor.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Yes, I’ve done similar things depending on the show between my rollover and baffle model Rpc’s. Those are easy to play with soft reeds , and are handy for that purpose. But they happen to be kind of finicky with reeds, so not as great in a pit when you don’t really want to be dealing with that on saxophone. (Clarinet reeds are bad enough!). But sometimes I feel like the rpcs are too freeblowing and are more taxing in a way trying to control them at less than flat out volumes. I’ve been messing around with a d Addario 8M that I feel is pretty middle of the road and easy to pick up and play but not sure I like the facing.
 

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Well, its a combination of all attributes but generally speaking its safe to say the combination of the facing and reed strength are what instantly feels 'too hard' or 'too soft'.
This ^^^.

A mouthpiece with a bad facing curve can be terrible, but a good facing curve with a bad (size) reed can also be terrible. What is 'bad' also highly depends on the player (your bad could be my good, and the other way around).
 

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A well designed large chamber can be quite free blowing.

Start to mix it with short facing and a big tip and playing can become tiresome.

A famous maker once put out some pretty cool pieces but they had large chambers and short facings to compensate for the darkness of the pieces. They sounded good but were never very comfortable to play and response was kinda sluggish.

The entire process is a balancing act. All of the variables you mention and more interact with each other to create the experience. Id also say a good third of players have eyes bigger than their chops and use pieces that are too open. Its the process of making music...its not hard labor and ditch digging.
 

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I know nothing about mouthpiece making but I’ve always gone back to Links.
It seems that the Early Babbitt models have all the aspects in the medium category of everything, except possibly the curve being on the longer side. The nice baffle at the tip, not too small a chamber, not too high of a beak (which for some reason makes them play brighter).
Then you have all the high baffle pea shooters that box your sound in a corner.
 

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Well, we are essentially unanimous.
I agree a combination of all attributes creates an "easy" / "tiring" effect.
I think that it is worth paying attention to the air flow caused mainly by the inside profile/size of the mouthpiece. Some players like and need free air flow (even overflow), for others - the excess of the blown air stream is tiring, preferring mouthpieces that absorb less air. Creating sound with mouthpieces that need more air flow can be more tiring - but "more" usually creates other (maybe more) possibilities of expression.
There is the other side of the coin: It depends on the embouchure apparatus and the strength of the facial muscles of the player.
Strong "face" woodwind player sometimes can consider less opened tips, longer curves and so called "easy blowing" mouthpieces to be tiring, smaller chambers as limiting (tiring), and need to compensate them with very stiff reeds. But the above features by many people are considered to be less tiring in the end (what is expressed in the wording "easy blowing").
I feel extreme features of mouthpieces as too tiring (too long-smooth curve of rails / too short rapidly falling curve, too large / too small opening tip, too high / too low beak, e.t.c.). It's just that these "average values" are the most convenient, that's why producers and refacers sell them the most. Most people do not like getting tired themselves (over strength).
Maybe I am just "middle of the road", but I noticed that many players use mouthpieces with quite similar "middle" parameters, so I believe they have choosen mouthpieces with those attributes as easier, not more tiring.
But in this "middle" there is a margin of action and adjustment to the own, very personal feeling of the given attribute as more/less tiring.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Whaler, I’ve got a fairly used EB hr that measures .116. The tip is a bit dinged up and I’m not sure the facing is true as it been played a bunch. Thinking it would be nice to have it cleaned up and see how it plays. As is, it’s got the most balanced sound of any of the mpcs I have but it’s pretty open. I was surprised at how bright it is actually. I had never played an EB piece before.
 

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All the descriptions given to sound, you have to remember, are based on the experiences of the person giving them.

In other words, if you say a mouthpiece is bright, we would really need to know where you are coming from to make that statement. That would give us a better perspective. A guy playing a Guardala Super King mouthpiece will not find VINGS EB hard rubber bright. A guy playing a 1930’s Slant will find it WAAAY bright compared to what he’s using

A combination of many things can make a mouthpiece tiring to play for somebody. Beak height, chamber size, facing length and curve, etc. It’s definitely a balancing act to get what you want. That’s why we all enjoy different mouthpieces.

There is something out there for everybody to enjoy.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I agree with the above comment about trying to play a loud mouthpiece quietly being taxing. That’s the .115b for me, it’s flexible and you can voice it darker but unless you are blowing hard it’s tiring to play. Kind of like keeping one foot on the gas on one on the brake. But for loud gigs when you are blowing hard the whole time it’s very comfortable.
 

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Trying to play a loud mouthpiece on a soft gig get really tiring after 1-1.5 hours.
As can playing a 'soft' mpc on a loud gig!

I'd say that assuming you have a decent mpc, it's mostly a matter of how well adjusted you are to it. If you're constantly switching around, going from one mpc to the next, not spending enough 'time in the saddle' on any of them, you'll never get comfortable.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
As can playing a 'soft' mpc on a loud gig!

I'd say that assuming you have a decent mpc, it's mostly a matter of how well adjusted you are to it. If you're constantly switching around, going from one mpc to the next, not spending enough 'time in the saddle' on any of them, you'll never get comfortable.

Yes to that! I dislike switching around based on situations for that reason. But I think at the extreme ends (loud, soft) it’s better than trying to make something work. I’m after the most comfortable versatile mpc that covers as much of the center as possible.
 

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Yes to that! I dislike switching around based on situations for that reason. But I think at the extreme ends (loud, soft) it’s better than trying to make something work. I’m after the most comfortable versatile mpc that covers as much of the center as possible.
On alto, my Meyer does everything. On tenor, every once in a while my rubber link comes out because it's so easy to whisper a low Bb and high F.
 

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As can playing a 'soft' mpc on a loud gig!

I'd say that assuming you have a decent mpc, it's mostly a matter of how well adjusted you are to it. If you're constantly switching around, going from one mpc to the next, not spending enough 'time in the saddle' on any of them, you'll never get comfortable.
When playing a soft mouthpiece loudly, I eat the mouthpiece and play as loose as I can while still playing in tune. It gets frustrating but not fatiguing for me. The other way around tires your chops because you are usually biting down all night to close off the tip opening instead of switching to a smaller tip opening and/or a softer reed.
 

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When playing a soft mouthpiece loudly, I eat the mouthpiece and play as loose as I can while still playing in tune. It gets frustrating but not fatiguing for me. The other way around tires your chops because you are usually biting down all night to close off the tip opening instead of switching to a smaller tip opening and/or a softer reed.
Good point. This is why I avoid mpcs at either extreme. The best mpcs (for me) are ones that play well both at low and relatively high volume, without causing fatigue. Luckily, I've got more than one that fits this specification.
 
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