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Discussion Starter #1
I am looking for a mouthpiece that excels at altissimo, but is also flexible throughout the range of the horn. What's the best choice? New or used. Thanks.
 

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Any decent mouthpiece will do. Finding the correct reed to match the said mouthpiece, and your individual voicing tendencies contribute to your success at the extended range. A horn that's in good shape also helps.

That said, let's start with basics. What do you currently play, and which pitch are we referring to?
 

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Its hard to recommend a piece without knowing more about the sound profile you want. Overall, the better the mouthpiece is made the more accessible the altissimo. Also low baffle piece are a little harder but still easily managed. Anything with some rollover or baffle will help it pop out if its made properly. Warning: Shameless plug...My Rift is on the brighter side but not a paint peeler. The altissimo is very easy (so far as altissimo is ever easy).

Just be aware that a piece with crooked facing at the tip or the facing flattens or curves up a tad your life will be more difficult. The problem for you is that you cannot see these flaws. It can look perfect but be wrong. I have refaced many beautiful mouthpieces that played like garbage.

It probably goes without saying but...your horn needs to be in proper regulation too.
 

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Hi SuperAction80,

I play alto.

Thanks!
That's a good start. What kind of alto do you play? What type of mouthpiece are you playing, and what type of reed /strength are you using with it? What kind of issues are you experiencing with your current setup? How long have you been playing the saxophone, and what is your musical background?

Sorry to sound like I'm grilling you, but the more answers we have, the better we'll be able to help.

fyi, Sigmund451 (Phil) is an excellent mouthpiece maker, and has extensive knowledge on this matter. Everything he mentioned above is totally expert knowledge.
 

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I first hit the altissimo range on a more open tip mouthpiece than I had ever played, but I found that when I went back to the more closed tips, (which I generally prefer), I could suddenly access altissimo on those as well. So, I think the more open tip just helped me gain familiarity with the type of embouchure and feel I needed for the altissimo--a bit like how some folks will use harder reeds than usual to practice altissimo.

But yeah, talk to Phil. His mouthpieces are great, and he'll help you pick the right one.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I am looking for a high baffle mouthpiece like a Jody Jazz Jet - I tried a 6 and it was great. I want something even brighter though. Aside from a Dukoff D chamber, what else is worth trying? A Jody Jazz DV? Jumbo Java?
 

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Ive owned the Lakey, jody jazz DV, jumbo java A45. All were for me fairly easy for alt. But I strangely enough got my alt and flexibility doing diantonic chords on a scale. So do (in G) GBDF# then down GECA, then up BDF#A down BGEC etc. it is boring for me but for whatever reason when I do that with a tuner and met perfectly up the horn to alt F# and down to Low Bb if (its in the scale) my tone, flexibility, and alt got better. Don't know if that will help you but that worked well for me. But heres the secret , you have to play it more mins/hours than you usually do and it takes sometimes months to see the results. But its worth it if you want better K ( I currently play an Earnie Northway which has a high baffle that I filed down a bit) Its big and fat but I can get up to alt D easily.
 

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I had a similar experience to Saxaatu. I played a newer Meyer 6m for over a decade, then went to a Jody Jazz DV7. It was very free blowing and open, but I also think it gave me a bit of placebo effect. I’m thinking if I’m playing this amazing mouthpiece, of course it’ll let the altissimo pop. I now play a D’addario select Jazz DM5 with a Vandoren optimum ligature and ZZ 2 1/2 reeds and altissimo is just as easy. Build up the chops and you can make it work on a wide variety of mouthpieces
 

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Lakeys. But you may need to try a bunch of them to get a good one or get one refaced.
I had a Lakey in college for a short time and I was incredibly sharp in the high end of the horn. I could not control that mouthpiece. Later switched to a Beechler S5S that was much easier to control for me........
 

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Well, I'm not a red hot altissimo player, but alto is the horn where I have the best altissimo, and I have found the best MP for that is an old Selmer Soloist C* and the second best is my Meyer #7. Neither of these is a particularly high baffle piece.

Honestly, I have tried a number of high baffle grass cutter duck call mouthpieces but I have not found them to give any better REAL WORLD projection than the good old Meyer; and I don't think the altissimo was all that much easier either. Yeah, in the practice room they sound bright and cutting as all heck, but when you are trying to be heard over a 16 piece big band without amplification, you need more than just the high-baffle shrill sound. In my opinion, to really be heard, you need to generate a lot of sound over the whole set of frequencies; i.e., a more balanced sounding piece. And if you are playing rock or some kind of heavily amplified music, then I think you should rely more on the amplification and less on trying to have a super-cutting sound, anyway.

I think I can get a wide range of sound qualities out of the Meyer mouthpiece, whereas with the shriller ones I've tried through the years you just get one sound, and not a very good one at that, in my opinion.

And finally, the people who really have the great altissimo are the classical guys, and they're playing on MPs a lot like what I described above; not high baffle pieces.

All the above is my opinions, formed by my own particular experiences, and you may have totally different experiences and opinions.
 

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Be careful with high baffle pieces, they can be very difficult for young players to control. I also personally believe that they're unnecessary on alto.

If you want clear, stable altissimo, devote 10-20 minutes every day to practicing your overtones. It will save you hundreds of dollars and get you where you want to be more quickly and effectively.

The biggest mistake a lot of young alto players make when learning altissimo, is search for the brightest mouthpiece they can find and bite hard. Remember: Phil Woods played a medium chamber Meyer. And besides, the more you work on your fundamentals, the better you'll be at judging which mouthpiece is right for you.
 

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I've been using a stock Meyer 8 medium with a Java green box 3 reed on alto for a few years now, and altissimo up to D comes out easily. Depending on the reed I can get up to F above that, but it starts to sound a little thin.

Prior to that I was playing a metal Bari WTII 8. It responded well altissimo-wise, but tended to peel paint. I could get away with that in a small group, but not in big band, and I find by now that I think my sound is better overall by not being almost completely edge.
 

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I am looking for a high baffle mouthpiece like a Jody Jazz Jet - I tried a 6 and it was great. I want something even brighter though. Aside from a Dukoff D chamber, what else is worth trying? A Jody Jazz DV? Jumbo Java?
I haven’t played the Jet, but I do play a JJ DV and keep going back to it except on low volume gigs. The Altissimo seems to work fine. Like others have said - once you get used to voicing the altissimo notes, any good MPC works. I think you need to find one that you really like in the ‘normal’ register - the altissimo is in there.
 

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I just keep an altissimo-specific piece in my shirt pocket and swap it out as needed. I’ve gotten so fast at it that I only miss about two measures of music, but it sure beats learning how to play the mouthpiece I have. 🤣
 

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In general the higher the baffle on the mouthpiece the easiest the altissimo. The likes of Jumbo Java, RPC with baffle, Theo wanne durga, etc
What I found though is that once you can manage your altissimo, you can produce them in low baffle mouthpieces, and with extra depth in the sound. Once going back to the high baffle pieces, the higher notes sounded thin. Just my experience.
I do believe it has more to do with the voicing than with equipment. In saying that, a close mouthpiece may not work too well (at least not for me) but you need to invest some time in finding what you are looking for in terms of sound before digging a hole in your pocket.
 
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