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Hello! My son (13) is going into 8th grade next week and is in both jazz and symphonic band. This will be his fourth year playing Alto Sax and I'm upgrading him to a used Yanagisawa a901. He's been playing a Yamaha yas-26 with a 4C mouthpiece. My question is, should I get a different mouthpiece for the Yanagisawa? I probably need to keep it under $150. I really know next to nothing about this stuff and he's only 13 so doesn't really know either. I thought I'd turn to you fine folks to see if you had any suggestions? He likes playing jazz and seems to like dark and smooth...
Thanks in advance for any help.
 

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The Yanagisawa A901 is a great Alto, lucky lad!
You don’t need to buy another mouthpiece just to use with the new horn, the Yamaha 4C will be fine. But the ebonite mouthpieces that are sold with Yani horns are very good, so if you feel like treating your son to a new mouthpiece as well then a 5CR is the one to go for - actually you could see if the original mouthpiece is available with the A901.
 

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When I was teaching beginners I'd put them on a rubber Meyer 6* for all-around use, medium chamber. It's enough of a facing to get a plenty big enough sound, versatile enough to control at ppp, but might take some getting used to with embouchure and breathing. Use a 2 1/2 reed for starters. Consult with his teacher -- if no teacher, get him some lessons! They're totally worth it.
 

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My daughter is a senior in HS now, and has used a Selmer Soloist-Style, or "scroll shank," C* from the '70's for all her jazz, pep band, symphonic needs. Real nice all-around mouthpiece- she just changes reeds to suit the situation. Due mostly to her dad's GAS, she has tried many others, but keeps coming back to that one, which was bought from her private instructor shortly after she started playing.
 

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I think that changing sax and choosing a new mouthpiece at the same time introduces too many variables.
So my advice would be to stick with the Yamaha 4C mouthpiece for now (unless the new saxophone comes with a Yanagisawa mouthpiece). Then maybe look at a mouthpiece next year.
Selecting a mouthpiece is a very personal thing, so your son will have to be the one who makes the final decision, but you can choose the candidates.
 

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When I was teaching beginners I'd put them on a rubber Meyer 6* for all-around use, medium chamber. It's enough of a facing to get a plenty big enough sound, versatile enough to control at ppp, but might take some getting used to with embouchure and breathing. Use a 2 1/2 reed for starters. Consult with his teacher -- if no teacher, get him some lessons! They're totally worth it.
I have never seen a Meyer 6*. I’ve seen them with length-of-lay designations like S and M, with the chamber size written out (and maybe also designated by letters if the diamond-like stamp on the table can be read), but never a * like Selmer uses. DAVE
 

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That Yani A901 is a really nice "next" horn beyond the YAS-26, congratulations! My 14-year-old still plays his YAS-26 in everyday band class, and I give him my YAS-82Z for auditions and performances. He tried out a Yani A901 and liked it a lot (so did I) but he stopped lessons to put more time into basketball so I didn't buy it.

To your original question about mouthpieces- I upgraded him to a Vandoren A5 A28 mouthpiece and he sounds great (coming from a Yamaha 4C which is now his backup). Before we settled on the Vandoren, I had him try out my Rift 7 and he liked it, but too open for him at this stage of his playing. He plays wind ensemble pieces and sometimes jazz in his school band, and his tone has a large/focused presence up and down the horn. I'd love to see him work harder on music because he's very talented, but that's another issue.

Good luck!
 

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To me, your question is more about whether your son has outgrown the beginner 4C mouthpiece and not really about matching a mouthpiece to an upgraded saxophone. Admittedly, the Yani is a tremendous instrument and the switch to this upgraded sax may have prompted you to think about upgrading the mouthpiece but that is almost irrelevant because even if you didn’t upgrade the sax, the question of mouthpiece upgrade could still be looming just due to your son’s progress.

If your son wants to upgrade the mouthpiece, then you have two general paths depending on music styles (and playing style). As SaxDadPaul’s daughter had done, a common upgrade is a Selmer Soloist C*, which is also a fairly narrow tip mouthpiece that works well for symphonic/classical playing. Of course, it can also be used for all other styles too, including jazz but is is generally thought of as a classical mouthpiece. The other direction is to go to larger tip mouthpieces (as suggested by bokogee and two wheels). Larger tip mouthpieces take a more flexible reed and are often associated with jazz (although you could also just use them for other styles as well). Being larger in tip, they do require more air support and do allow easier note bending (great for jazz, not quite as encouraged for classical).

When my son was about 13, because he was very interested in jazz, he upgraded to a meyer-based mouthpiece at a 0.079” tip. By then, he was using a 4-1/2 hardness reed for the 4C but went down to a 2 for the bigger tip. It probably took him about 3 weeks to get comfortable with the increased need for more air but after that he never went back to a narrow tip classical mouthpiece (even for classical work). He eventually settled at a 3 reed for his alto mouthpiece after about a year. In fact, for the rest of high school, he played both alto and tenor and exclusively played larger tipped jazz mouthpieces for everything. But as SaxDadPaul suggested, plenty of kids just stick with the classical Selmer C* for everything too. I believe most of my son’s peers just stuck with Selmer Soloists (just personal preferences for each kid).

BTW, my son did try his friend’s shiny Yani 901 when he was a freshman and could tell it was a great sax. Loved the ergonomics and the notes just popped out but it just wasn’t for him (he said its tone is too bright for his taste and had the same comment about Yamaha saxes).

-floobydust
 

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I have never seen a Meyer 6*. I’ve seen them with length-of-lay designations like S and M, with the chamber size written out (and maybe also designated by letters if the diamond-like stamp on the table can be read), but never a * like Selmer uses. DAVE
They don't come in * facings, just numbers then the facing length. Good luck finding a good one. Phil
 

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if the yanagisawa has the 5 hard rubber mouthpiece that most came with ,this is a great mouthpiece better than the 4C yamaha which is also a great beginners mouthpiece.
i personally play a meyer 6M on alto.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Wow, thank you all for the replies! You've given me a lot to consider. I really appreciate you taking the time to respond. Saxophones are just a lot more complicated than I ever knew. They sure are beautiful instruments though, aren't they? Thanks again, Robin
 

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Oh, and to give some context of tip openings for some of the mouthpieces that have been suggested, thrown out there so far:

Yamaha 4C: 0.067”
Selmer C*: 0.067”
Yanagisawa 5: 0.072”
Meyer 6: 0.076”
Rift 7: 0.080”

With the different tip sizes, there is some trial and error to dial in the right stiffness of reed, so depending on how you upgrade, expect some experimenting with reed hardness. You can see how a transition to a Selmer C* would be easiest (same tip opening, so can just use same reeds as the 4C). With my son who is now 21 years old and a jazz major in college, he now uses high end mouthpieces. First, he had a Philtone Rift 7 on alto but for the last two years have settled on a Lebayle (not sure of model) of similar 0.080”. But at your son’s age, he likely does not need a high end (and pricey) mouthpiece and there are certainly much more modestly priced upgrades.

-floobydust
 

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I'd suggest changing one thing at a time. His old mouthpiece is a "known" for your son so start with that on the new horn. When he gets real comfortable with this setup (meaning lots of practice) he'll likely know when it's time to look into new mouthpieces. I recently purchased a new tenor (52nd street) after auditioning many different horns. I was using an expensive mouthpiece and on a whim switched to an old Brilhart... The other sax players with me thought I switched horns - the sound was incredible! Point being its all about the sound - doesn't matter what the piece is if it gives you the sound you want.

By the way, when I did my final audition and subsequent purchase, I took both mouthpieces with me. When I made the selection I asked Tim (Sax Alley) if he had a better mouthpiece similar to the Brilhart. He simply asked, "why?" . "Its all about the sound and that's a great sound."
 
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