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Discussion Starter #1
I'm using a plastic Buescher mouthpiece at this point. I play mostly smooth jazz and pop. Is there something that could get me a more contemporary sound without going too dreadfully out of tune? I like sweet tone or bright tone, nothing woofy or stuffy. And will the size make a diff in how it matches my horn, or is that more of a match for one's blowing preference or mouth shape?

Someone suggested Caravan mouthpieces as a good match for the vintage Buescher, but their website describes them as a classical mpc, so I'm not sure.

Thanks for your suggestions!
 

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well...30's buescher could mean anything....
what about giving the serial# and wether its an alto tenor or something else?
cheers,philip
 

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Cat: I have owned, and still do own several vintage Buescher (and other vintage brand) saxophones. They ALL played very well with my contemporary mouthpieces. The myth that old saxophones require vintage mouthpieces is just that - a myth. DAVE
 

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As long as it's not a bari or soprano, most Buescher horns are pretty forgiving regarding intonation with medium chamber pieces. That said, you really do need to tell us which horn.
 

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This is a bit hard to answer but here are my observations having owned a lot of vintage horns. I am assuming it is for alto.
I use a Selmer S-80 D for all of the horns. I can use a Meyer 6M or a Selmer Super Session just fine too.Many here at SOTW say that you need a large chamber mouthpiece on vintage horns but I have never found that to be the case for ME. The Caravan IS a classical mouthpiece and for what you mention about your style, I think any Hard Rubber mouthpiece should work except large tip openings, High baffles or very small chambers. THIS is where the problem arises as there are a lot of choices. I prefer Selmer or Meyer but that is just me. I go for a studio sound, not stuffy and not icy bright. Those are a good starting point IMO. If you have a Buescher mouthpiece, it may be very closed (.055"ish) so when trying a more open one, a softer reed would be best. I would not go too wild on the tip, maybe in the .067-.075 range. Here is a comparison chart for alto mouthpieces for a start. You really need to go someplace to try some or borrow from fellow players. I think a Meyer 5M may fit your needs. If you are on a budget, start off with a Rico Graftonite B3 which I think should be a good one for you, Cheap under $20.

http://jodyjazz.com/facing-page/alto-sax-mouthpiece-facing-chart/
 

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MY Buescher experiences were altos, sopranos. and one C-mel.

The sopranos played/play just fine with Super Sessions, S-80's, Morgan Vintage (regular chambers), Link STM, Joe's Missing Link, Phil's Sapphire, etc.; the altos played/play just fine with Meyers, Sinta, S-80, Super Session, Soloist, Brilhart, etc. DAVE
 

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A Medium Chamber Meyer tunes very well on my TT. (That's slightly earlier though- it's made in 1924.)
The only criticism I have of its tuning with that mpc is that the notes with the neck octave key open trend somewhat sharp.
 

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A 1930s Buescher Alto or Tenor, is very mouthpiece friendly. Much more so than some Selmer Mark VII saxes! High baffle, med chamber, no baffle, large chamber. Doesn't really matter. These play like modern saxes, with archaic ergonomics!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
The sax is a 1936 Aristocrat alto. I don't have time to look at the serial no. right now, as this was a busy day.

My favorite saxophonist is John Coltrane, by the way. But my fingers can't fly like his because of arthritis, so I go for musicality and line and composition of the underlying piano part. (I love his tone and style!)

I have been told that mouthpieces don't really give you a certain person's sound, and I believe it. On soprano sax, I sound much better when thinking my own personal inner mouth shape, etc. than when trying to imitate someone else, but my Bari Gold mouthpiece has made a nice difference in my playing on that instrument.

I don't want to be just an imitation of anyone on alto either, but to find what, for me, is the cutting edge of what I can do with my physique and my horn. I appreciate all who already posted with advice. It gives me things to look into. I'm not on a reaaally cheap budget, because I'm spending accumulated Christmas money, but I still don't want to just burn money unnecessarily.
 

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Correct that the player has his own sound but some extremes in mouthpieces can thwart the effort. The Buescher mouthpiece is probably stuffy and small sounding from that period and a really wide tip high baffle piece can be hard to manage. That is why I would say to start with the Rico B3 which is middle of the road and very forgiving and use that for a while before you take the plunge. The Morgan Excalibur is an excellent choice but at $250+ you may want to wait until you find the tip/chamber that is best for you.
 

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The sax is a 1936 Aristocrat alto.
You have a great horn there, assuming (as with any horn) you've had it in to the tech and put into top playing condition.

Any decent mpc will work fine on that horn. A modern mpc will not go 'dreadfully out of tune.' Those vintage Bueschers play as well in tune as any of the best horns out there and there is nothing about a modern mpc that would cause the horn to play out of tune (the player maybe, but not the mpc :)). So it will simply depend on what you like in a mpc. Try out some of the better known brands. As others have pointed out, that old Buescher mpc (huge chamber?, sm tip) is probably not the best choice unless you are playing classical music maybe. Look for a more modern piece.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I neglected to say that I also have a V-16 (A6) mpc. Would the Rico Graftonite be similar to the V-16? To me, it seems like the V-16 has buzz instead of bite. I try to open my throat more for it (a suggestion I read), but I sure don't get much subtlety out of it.

So you know how my technique (or lack thereof) stands, here's a draft with my soprano on the left, the alto on the right, both at the same gain level. I play the Buescher mpc on the first verse and the V-16 on the last. You will hear that I don't get much subtlety out of the V-16. Eeesh. Sorry for the intonation too.

http://susansfreechristianmusic.com/soprLEFTaltoRIGHTgrace-draft.mp3
My soprano mpc is so fulfilling to blow and gives lots of expression. I wish I could find one that great for alto. (I haven't played alto much lately because the sop mpc is so much better.) So I debate...should I start with Rico to gauge size? Or I could order a couple diff. sizes of an STM and return one, if I were sure that was the best. It sure sounds good on recordings I've heard.
 

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Given this, the Graftonite isn't going to make you happy at all. It's cheap, but it's also very buzzy and bright.

I'd go with a Meyer 5M or 6M myself, given what you've just asked for. An old Brilhart Tonalin as well. For what it sound like you're trying to do, I use an Ishimori Traditional Jazz 7*, but that's pretty Meyer-esque with a slightly higher floor (a tad brighter). It's also pretty expensive. I think the Meyer will serve you well. Very flexible piece.
 

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I neglected to say that I also have a V-16 (A6) mpc. Would the Rico Graftonite be similar to the V-16? To me, it seems like the V-16 has buzz instead of bite. I try to open my throat more for it (a suggestion I read), but I sure don't get much subtlety out of it.

So you know how my technique (or lack thereof) stands, here's a draft with my soprano on the left, the alto on the right, both at the same gain level. I play the Buescher mpc on the first verse and the V-16 on the last. You will hear that I don't get much subtlety out of the V-16. Eeesh. Sorry for the intonation too.

http://susansfreechristianmusic.com/soprLEFTaltoRIGHTgrace-draft.mp3
My soprano mpc is so fulfilling to blow and gives lots of expression. I wish I could find one that great for alto. (I haven't played alto much lately because the sop mpc is so much better.) So I debate...should I start with Rico to gauge size? Or I could order a couple diff. sizes of an STM and return one, if I were sure that was the best. It sure sounds good on recordings I've heard.
That changes the game....use the Vandoren. Have you not tried it yet?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Given this, the Graftonite isn't going to make you happy at all. It's cheap, but it's also very buzzy and bright.

I'd go with a Meyer 5M or 6M myself, given what you've just asked for.
Which of them are you referring to? I see a Richie Cole, a G Series, a Hard Rubber, and a metal jazz one. Thanks!
 

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Which of them are you referring to? I see a Richie Cole, a G Series, a Hard Rubber, and a metal jazz one. Thanks!
Actually I was just referring to the run-of-the-mill HR Meyer. Think Cannonball Adderly or Phil Woods. I haven't tried a metal Meyer. Haven't played the "G" model either but if you read the literature on the G, it describes a Desmond-like sound to it. Desmond played on a Gregory model 4A-18M, not a Meyer. If that's the sound you're going for, that seems like it might be a good place to start.

The 5M is a pretty flexible piece tonally, and I play a little darker on these than the famous people I mentioned above. The 6M has a little more tip opening and pitch flexibility. Your horn tends to the dark side and the Meyer is a good counterbalance to that. That said, if you're looking for something a little "sweeter", then the Vandoren Bruce mentioned seems like a good plan.

At the end of the day, the mouthpiece is only a piece of it. A good friend, Sam Sadigursky, uses an old Selmer Airflow on alto that he had opened up by Brian Powell. No one would thing of a 40's Airflow as being a particularly bright piece, but Sam manages to get a pretty bright sound out of it when he cares to.
 

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i got a friend who swears by a (vintage) Brilhart Tonalin on his 'Crat alto. (i think Bird played the Ebolin.)
 

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That changes the game....use the Vandoren. Have you not tried it yet?
Yeah, the V16 is a Meyer type alto mouthpiece, just made by a company (Vandoren) which seems to have much better quality control these days than the company that bought Meyer's name. If the V16 is too buzzy for you, then you're going to hate a pea shooter like a Rico or the chain saw that is an Excalibur for alto.

I use a Meyer style, modern mouthpiece, but made for very open tipped playing, which I can't recommend for everyone (especially if you haven't been playing for long). I also play a bit of smooth jazz and pop, as well as old school jazz, rock, funk and what have you. What you really need is a mouthpiece that will allow you the comfort and flexibility to develop your own style and sound. Because deep down, music genre is a state of mind. There is no magic mouthpiece solution. It just takes time.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I actually ordered an Excalibur 6M, and it doesn't sound like a chain saw to me. On my sax, it gives a really sweet tone, plenty of meat but with shine too. The only disappointment is that they sent me what appears to be a used or open-box mpc instead of a new one. I know the price advertised was a good sale, but the website didn't say anything about it being open box. There are pits on the side of the table where someone's metal lig must have dug into it, and the finish doesn't seem shiny and new, a few marks on the beak. So, I'm taking it back to my local store today for a refund, and they'll send me out what it supposed to be a new new one to replace this. I wouldn't mind some exterior marks for the good sale price if they had advertised it properly, but since the high notes aren't responding as well as I'd expect, I thought maybe the finish being worn and the little side pits were having some effect on it.
 
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