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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi,

I was wondering how to make a choice of a different mouthpiece when:

a) I'm not a pro
b) Shops don't stock full range of mouthpieces.
c) Shops only have typically one or two for testing, some don't even do that due to health risk.
d) There appear to be a lot of different designs in baffles, chambers in the one line, for example Vandoren have mouthpieces with Small and Medium chamber which they state: (Alto V16)Small Chamber: Particularly focused and dynamic ideal for lead.
Medium chamber: Warm and expressive, ideal for section playing.
But what shape? round, horseshoe?? Does their heuristic apply to other mouthpieces??

Is there a heuristic or some definitive guide to this??

I only know of one heuristic which is: Larger tip opening = softer reed.

Cheers.
 

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Grafton + TH & C alto || Naked Lady 10M || TT soprano || Martin Comm III
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Thanks for making me learn a new word.

There are several heuristics, but often there are many exceptions. e.g. a larger tipopening may require a softere reed, but not necessarily. That's my experience anyway. It tend to be the interaction of wider tip and facing curve that determines the strengthn of reed that is best for you. (Note I said, "best for you", not "best for everybody")

The first rule I have when somebody asks this is:

What is wrong with what you have, and in what ways do you think you can improve it? Once you know that, that you well on the way to getting more useful answers than you might otherwise.

Having said that I understand the problem when you aren't in a position to walk into a large store and try everything out, this is why I visit the trade shows whenever possible. But I understand that is not always possible, geographically.

What also compounds the problem is the marketing hype you often get, so a manufacturer's description of a sound or concept is to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Nor can you rely on soundclips of other people playing, one person might sound one way on a particular mouthpiece, another person sound different.

I don't even think typical heuristics such as high baffle = bright sound always apply.

In the end there is no substitute for trying them out to see what suits you and even if you can go to a store, it often takes a few weeks to really know, so in the end, if you really have to get a new mouthpiece, invest in buying a few then selling them on if they aren't right. That is what I have done over the years.

Another philosophy, is to get one mouthpiece and stick with it. The advantage of that is you get to know it so well, you develop the ability to get whatever you want from that mouthpiece without the distractions of that constant hunt for the holy grail.
 

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Another philosophy, is to get one mouthpiece and stick with it. The advantage of that is you get to know it so well, you develop the ability to get whatever you want from that mouthpiece without the distractions of that constant hunt for the holy grail.
This is excellent advice - the best mouthpiece is always the one you're most used to. The problem is selecting one to stick with!

Choose, or at least start by trying, a well designed and well made mouthpiece with a moderate tip opening with moderate baffle from a good manufacturer like Vandoren.
 

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Choose, or at least start by trying, a well designed and well made mouthpiece with a moderate tip opening with moderate baffle from a good manufacturer like Vandoren.
I second the vandoren recommendation. I don't think you can go wrong with a Vandoren, they are the "safest" if you like. What I mean is the other "traditional" makes, Otto Links, Meyers, Berg Larsen, and the newer brands such as Guardala, Jody Jazz etc. can all be great for many people, but just not suit others. Some kind of Vandoren is what I'd reach for if suddenly I had no mouthpieces and needed something in a hurry.

Alternatively speak to one of the smaller "one man" custom mouthpiece makers/refacers like Ed Pillinger, Morgan Fry or Ron Coelho.
 

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Once you've decide what you want to try, you can usually pick up some great pieces 'lightly used' from other forum members here on SOTW.

That way you won't be too out of pocket when you re-sell if you decide the piece isn't for you.
 

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And don't overlook the importance of the ligature/reed combo. In some cases it can turn a mouthpiece from average (non impressive) to a killer piece.
And vica versa ofcourse. It is an never ending quest.
 

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The first rule I have when somebody asks this is:

What is wrong with what you have, and in what ways do you think you can improve it? Once you know that, that you well on the way to getting more useful answers than you might otherwise..
This is really the crux of the matter when you come here to ask for advice on a mpc. I'd add that you should let us know what you are using now, what sort of music you want to play, and what sort of sound concept you are after (assuming you have a 'sound concept' at this stage).

Most of the heuristics you'll hear are only generalities and need a lot of qualification. This is because several factors work together in determining the characteristics of a mpc. And I agree with Pete that it's not always the case that a larger tip requires a softer reed. Maybe at the extremes. I use the same strength reed on a .105 opening as on a .120 (tenor). So even that heuristic is not to be trusted!

Many dealers and mpc designers will allow you a trial period with a mpc. If you don't like it, you can send it back and get a different one. So that's one way to go.
 

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I 'Third" the Vandoren pieces. Many of my intermediate students are playing them in various tip/baffle designs and are doing great. As the other's have posted, you've just got to find a piece that you are comfortable with and work on it...for at least 9 months. That's been my experience with my students anyway. What type of music are you interested in playing? The MPC hunt is a kind of "Holy Grail thing" and you can get stuck messing around looking for pieces and not paying attention to your own embocuhure and technique. The MPC is only a tool, and I see your frustration in finding the right one. I hope you have a teacher...he/she can help you a lot!

As JL said, try to find a dealer who will give you a trial period and then charge a modest re-stocking fee for those you want to return. Be very careful with E-bay. You can get burnt badly as MPC's are expensive and quite a few sellers offer thier pieces with a 'No Return" policy. Don't do this if you can avoid it. Get a good Vandoren and then stick with it. At your level you need to develop chops and get a better idea of what your sound is going to be. Don't dump a lot of cash into something you don't need. You'll figure it out as you advance.

Also, there are, as mentioned above, good deals from members on this forum along with some very fine MPC makers. Check them out if you wish, but I think the Vandoren will suit you fine for now. Best of luck!
 
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