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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I need some advice on a new tenor piece. This will be for my Martin Music Man (Comm.III). I completely love the sound and free-blowing nature my current setup (Runyon Quantum Spoiler 11 [w/ spoiler] 2 1/2 reeds), BUT, there are little pitch issues (a wee bit sharp up high, a wee bit flat down low -nothing I can't compensate for), and a bit of instability below low C crscendo-ing from ppp to fff, again, not impossible to work around. And no, there are no leaks. The horn was just overhauled and is perfect, and I spent a lot of time with the tech afterwards (one of the best in the business) minutely checking, making sure everything is perfect mechanically, which it is. He's pretty sure the minor warble is an acoustic issue rather than mechanical one, and despite wishing it were otherwise, we're both thinking a larger chamber piece might suit me the horn bit better.

The constraints are that I like a very edgy, (but not buzzy or overly bright) fat (but not dark) sound, but I have a rather 'old school' or classical embouchure; lip is rolled way in. I know, I know, wrong embouchure for what I want (I play fusion jazz), but I had a sadistic polish woman public school music teacher as my first saxophone instructor and my lip is still afraid of her, AND I'm 60 years old, so the embouchure ain't changing.

So I'm looking for maybe a large chamber, high baffle piece that with my 'wrong' embouchure, will sound edgy and raucous when I want it to, but also blend and subtone nicely and not be buzzy or overly bright, thinking the larger chamber will get along better with The Martin. Even though I've been playing for a very long time, I don't have a zillion pieces in a drawer. I've used mostly Lakey's historically until I found the Quantum Spolier (which I love), but I've also tried Link STM's (didn't care for), Level-Air's (meh). I'm thinking maybe a Dukoff, although I'm not sure if their chambers are much larger than the Runyon.

Any suggestions?
 

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That's interesting because Runyon spoilers and Bobby D's have the rep of being quitissentially bright. High bafflle is sort of a Hallmark for attaining more edge. I think I know where you're going, though as I had a similar journey awhile back when I had to change my emboucher due to some nerve damage and found the medium chamber 70s Berg I'd played loving for years wasn't getting me where I wanted.

Edgy but fat? Not so focused that it lacks warmth, but not so dark it feels flabby?

In the end, I ended up going with a not so high baffle and a not so high chamber and found success with a couple of different mouthpieces that were more full spectrum even though I had to use softer reeds to achieve some buzz.

TLDR, don't discount the importance of reed strength, though that may require you to lighten up on that lower lip.

That said, I'm happy to share some of my own experience if you'd like. Keep in mind that these mouthpiece and reed characteristics are really about how they enable you to shape what you want and not necessarily how they force you to into a specific sound. If emboucher adjustments are off the table, you may find it very difficult to find the sound you're looking for.

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The only thing I find intonation wise on these "older design" horns is that more open mouthpieces (over 100) tend to get a bit sharp up high and some notes in the mid range get a bit airy. Of course everyone is different. I use about .095" from Meyer and Metalite with no issues. Talking Tenor here.
 

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I played a Guardala 'King Curtis' on my Music Man 212xxx and that was with Selmer-style brown tone boosters. The thing was super sweet and did not need any 'large-bore' mouthpiece. Right off the bat you're using a clarinet 'roll-back' embouchure that really doesn't work on the tenor because of the more straight-in angle of the mouthpiece. I never would recommend anyone use a Quantum on a Martin especially with the spoiler. You are depending on that spoiler to give you the 'sizzle' you need to get with a more traditional mouthpiece and embouchure change. You shouldn't have to spend a fortune to get a good mouthpiece and I'd suggest a current production Otto Link 'Florida', maybe 7*. The Runyon numbers are much higher than others for the same tip.
 

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I played a Guardala 'King Curtis' on my Music Man 212xxx and that was with Selmer-style brown tone boosters. The thing was super sweet and did not need any 'large-bore' mouthpiece. Right off the bat you're using a clarinet 'roll-back' embouchure that really doesn't work on the tenor because of the more straight-in angle of the mouthpiece. I never would recommend anyone use a Quantum on a Martin especially with the spoiler. You are depending on that spoiler to give you the 'sizzle' you need to get with a more traditional mouthpiece and embouchure change. You shouldn't have to spend a fortune to get a good mouthpiece and I'd suggest a current production Otto Link 'Florida', maybe 7*. The Runyon numbers are much higher than others for the same tip.
I was not aware that there was a "current production Otto Link 'Florida'".
 

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Did you bother to look on the JJ Babbitt web site? They are making several 'vintage' Link models.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks guys! Some good bits in here

The only thing I find intonation wise on these "older design" horns is that more open mouthpieces (over 100) tend to get a bit sharp up high and some notes in the mid range get a bit airy. Of course everyone is different. I use about .095" from Meyer and Metalite with no issues. Talking Tenor here.
You're saying chamber size may be less relevent than tip opening as far as the intonation issues...interesting. That makes sense with this horn, but the intonation isn't as much of an issue as the warble because I'm so used to compensating for it. The big tip and soft reed means I'm always cognizant of pitch anyway. Honestly, neither one is that problematic, but there's one of my tunes we do in my band where I wrote this horn part that swells from ppp to ff down low. Not something I would do all that often; maybe ever until now, and if it wasn't for that part of that tune, I might not have even noticed that the warble is actually a bit of an issue when I'm doing that.

The Runyon is pretty open, the saxophone.org chart says it's .125 (I didn't even know it was that open) but after 10 years I'm very used to it. I thinking going under .100 would feel pretty weird. Are you saying a larger chamber might not improve the intonation?

"Right off the bat you're using a clarinet 'roll-back' embouchure that really doesn't work on the tenor" -1saxman

Hmmm...been about 5 decades now...good thing band members, audiences (and me) didn't know that; could have ruined the whole thing ;-)

I do have a re-worked Guardala Studio that Phil-Tone did. Pretty sure it's a larger chamber than the Runyon. As I recalled it was redone to soften and lower the baffle and make it more 'link like'. I found it a little dark for me, but I'm going to try it and see if it helps with the intonation and warble.

"Keep in mind that these mouthpiece and reed characteristics are really about how they enable you to shape what you want and not necessarily how they force you to into a specific sound. If emboucher adjustments are off the table, you may find it very difficult to find the sound you're looking for." -grubbery

That's the thing; the Runyon Spoiler I've used for the last 10 years with this horn is EXACTLY the sound I'm looking for! I love it!!

I don't know about y'all, but you play a horn for a while, especially a vintage one, and you adjust and get used to it's little idiosyncrasies and you don't even notice them anymore. It's only since this overhaul was done and I started going over everything with a fine tooth comb, checking each note's intonation with a tuner, crescendo-ing ppp to fff long tones at the bottom of the horn, etc that I even noticed these things. Then the suggestion comes that this particular mouthpiece / horn combo may be a bit sub-optimal. So now the idea of a larger chamber but high baffle mp has me intrigued to see if it's better. But I'm most definitely NOT looking for a different sound. I'm looking for essentially the same sound I've already got, but a mp that works better with the horn. So...looking for suggestions for high baffle, larger chamber mpcs. Probably ones others would find overly bright.

???
 

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You might want to check out Steve Neff's review of high baffle tenor mouthpieces: http://www.neffmusic.com/blog/categ.../tenor-mouthpieces/tenor-high-baffle-reviews/
He doesn't always state the chamber size of the test piece, but there are sound clips of each piece. I did see that on the third page of the link, he mentions that the Wanne Kali mouthpiece has a large chamber.
If nothing else, you can see if any of these pieces match the sound you are going for.
 

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Thanks guys! Some good bits in here



You're saying chamber size may be less relevent than tip opening as far as the intonation issues...interesting. That makes sense with this horn, but the intonation isn't as much of an issue as the warble because I'm so used to compensating for it. The big tip and soft reed means I'm always cognizant of pitch anyway. Honestly, neither one is that problematic, but there's one of my tunes we do in my band where I wrote this horn part that swells from ppp to ff down low. Not something I would do all that often; maybe ever until now, and if it wasn't for that part of that tune, I might not have even noticed that the warble is actually a bit of an issue when I'm doing that.

The Runyon is pretty open, the saxophone.org chart says it's .125 (I didn't even know it was that open) but after 10 years I'm very used to it. I thinking going under .100 would feel pretty weird. Are you saying a larger chamber might not improve the intonation?

"Right off the bat you're using a clarinet 'roll-back' embouchure that really doesn't work on the tenor" -1saxman

Hmmm...been about 5 decades now...good thing band members, audiences (and me) didn't know that; could have ruined the whole thing ;-)

I do have a re-worked Guardala Studio that Phil-Tone did. Pretty sure it's a larger chamber than the Runyon. As I recalled it was redone to soften and lower the baffle and make it more 'link like'. I found it a little dark for me, but I'm going to try it and see if it helps with the intonation and warble.

"Keep in mind that these mouthpiece and reed characteristics are really about how they enable you to shape what you want and not necessarily how they force you to into a specific sound. If emboucher adjustments are off the table, you may find it very difficult to find the sound you're looking for." -grubbery

That's the thing; the Runyon Spoiler I've used for the last 10 years with this horn is EXACTLY the sound I'm looking for! I love it!!

I don't know about y'all, but you play a horn for a while, especially a vintage one, and you adjust and get used to it's little idiosyncrasies and you don't even notice them anymore. It's only since this overhaul was done and I started going over everything with a fine tooth comb, checking each note's intonation with a tuner, crescendo-ing ppp to fff long tones at the bottom of the horn, etc that I even noticed these things. Then the suggestion comes that this particular mouthpiece / horn combo may be a bit sub-optimal. So now the idea of a larger chamber but high baffle mp has me intrigued to see if it's better. But I'm most definitely NOT looking for a different sound. I'm looking for essentially the same sound I've already got, but a mp that works better with the horn. So...looking for suggestions for high baffle, larger chamber mpcs. Probably ones others would find overly bright.

???
10mFan Boss or Robusto come to mind. Theo doesn't make the Kali anymore, but the Shiva has a ribbed chamber. I've found all three play with great consistency, ultimately decided they work for me. Interested I have a Rhodium Boss and a gold Shiva I'll probably be putting on the market soon.

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"The Runyon is pretty open, the saxophone.org chart says it's .125 (I didn't even know it was that open) but after 10 years I'm very used to it. I thinking going under .100 would feel pretty weird. Are you saying a larger chamber might not improve the intonation?"


I think someone else has mentioned it, but the Runyon sizes are different - 11 Runyon is not the same as 11 link, it's probably more like a 7 or 8 link. I had a runyon quantum which was size 8, but sold it because it was too narrow (wish I'd sent it off to someone to be opened up - it was a nice piece apart from the tip opening).

10mfan boss would definitely fit your requirements of being edgy, but still fat.
 

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Theo doesn't make the Kali anymore, but the Shiva has a ribbed chamber.
True, but they come up on Ebay from time to time. The Shiva is stated to be Wanne's brightest tenor piece, but it does not look to be a large chamber piece. But the OP might like to listen to the sound clips of the various pieces (Shiva included) on Wanne's website to see if any of the sounds fit his style.
I also agree that a 10mfan Boss might just fit his bill.
 

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I need some advice on a new tenor piece.

So I'm looking for maybe a large chamber, high baffle piece that with my 'wrong' embouchure, will sound edgy and raucous when I want it to, but also blend and subtone nicely and not be buzzy or overly bright, thinking the larger chamber will get along better with The Martin.

Any suggestions?
SR Tech Fusion,
Quality build metal piece but needs a patch as there is no bite plate.
Available in 2 tip openings 108 & 115
Step baffle and large chamber

A demo I found
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AgY8VbJG0Xo
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for the vid link saxlicker. Hard to see for sure, but that guy's embouchure looks similar to mine as well (I wonder if he knows "that doesn't work on the tenor" ;-)
It's a nice sound.
 

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There is a Westcoast MOFO on Ebay now, but only for a few more minutes, and it is still sub $200. High baffle and large chamber.
 

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I'm going to recommend a Rico Metalite. High-ish baffle, medium/med-large chamber. Powerful, but versatile. Certainly cheap enough to pick up the whole line. It's been my experience (as well as others') that the smaller tips are brighter, the larger tips are a little darker. M5=.095", M7=.105", M9=.115", and if you can find one, the discontinued M11=.125". I also have a SaxScape Downtown .115" "prototype" for sale (based on a Dukoff D8) that's a little brighter and more open than I really care for, but could be what you're looking for.
 

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Metalites are great for the money. It may not end up as your main mpc but good to have in the arsenal for about $30.
 

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I went from hr V16 T9 to John Thomas .115 & found intonation improved in the palm keys. It has a squeeze in the throat that gives resistance to those palm keys & the rest of the range is just nicely focused with a darker tone than the V16. Plenty of edge with Rigotti Gold 3.5. But my mpc was refaced by Mojo so your results may be different.
 
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