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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone!
I'm sorry if this thread exists somewhere but I couldn't find what I was looking for.

I was wondering if someone can either give me a source or a basic spiel about mouthpieces. I just don't get the whole free-blowing, tip-opening, .0whatever-number, C M or no letter, thing...

What do the letters (such as yamaha 4C or M6 or whichever) mean?
What is the tip opening and how does size affect sound and playability?
What determines what size you need? your sound? your lung capacity? your embouchure? what style of music you play?
What's parameters in sizes are considered fairly average?
How does your mouthpiece affect the reed you would choose?

Sorry, I know it's a lot of questions but all the answers I've found through googleling are a little vague:baby:

I'm considering purchasing a book that will teach me these sort of things so any suggestions for that or a web source would do too...
 

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There are several charts and tables on the net comparing the different mouthpieces with regard to tip opening. http://www.jodyjazz.com/facings.altosax.html is one of the better (there are charts for the other sax sizes too). This chart classifies mouthpieces into Narrow (beginners) - Medium (most of us) - Wide (professionals).

As to what size you need - there is no fixed answer. Of course, the chart I refer to tells you that if you are a beginner, you do not choose a very open mouthpiece. Otherwise:

- A narrow opening and a hard reed is ideal for a pure, clarinet-like sound
- A wide opening and a soft reed is ideal for rock
- A medium opening and a medium reed is the compromise most of us go for

Hope this helps
 

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I'll add that mouthpiece makers usually select their own model designations. Those designations are relatively consistent throughout their line of products, but rarely have any correlation to other makers' designations. For instance, in alto saxophone mouthpieces, Meyer uses a numbering system to designate the tip openings, followed by a letter to designate the length-of-lay, and a word to designate the chamber size (e.g., 6S-Medium Chamber, or 7M-Small Chamber - describing two of my Meyer pieces' markings). But Selmer-Paris uses a word or letter/number to designate a particular design (horseshoe chamber, round chamber, etc.) and a letter designation for tip-openings and maybe an asterisk to designate a small increase in that measurement (e.g., Super Session F, S-80 C*, Soloist F - describing three of mine).

This is where a chart mentioned by SveinJo comes in handy. Note the markings on a mouthpiece, then consult the chart to determine the tip-opening measurement of the questioned mouthpiece. This way you may be able to narrow your choices among the various mouthpiece brands if you prefer a certain range of openings.

Examples of results . . . I prefer open tips on soprano (a Morgan Vintage 7 or a Selmer Super Session J - both are around .069 or .070, used with a soft reed like a shaved Vandoren ZZ #2); but I can come close to the same result using a smaller tip opening and a harder reed (like a Super Session E with a slightly harder reed). The SS-E set-up gives me more of an oboe tone than does the open tip set-ups. DAVE
 
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