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Hi there- I am the mom of a 14 year old tenor sax player. I am a music teacher myself but a string player so I'm a little lost when it comes to wind instruments. So My son has been playing for 4 years right now and he is quite good having made it into honor bands- symphonic and jazz. I've been looking into buying him a new saxophone since he is still playing his student level yamaha but until I get the money for that I was wanting to get him a new mouthpiece since I have heard that makes a big difference as well. His teacher suggested a Selmer C star. She is a clarinet player by experience so I trust her when it comes to reed instruments but I am wondering if any of you out there have found a comparable mouthpiece for less money. I also had found a website for Kessler music out of Vegas that makes custom mouthpieces for less. Does anybody out there have any experience with Kessler's and are they worth it? Also, I am guessing from the stuff I have seen that plastic is mainly a student level material whereas I would be looking for a hard rubber for an upper level player- and metal for jazz? I know just the basics and trying to learn to do the best for my son. He is really talented and I want him to have an instrument that does him justice. Any information is appreciated!
 

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A C* is awfully closed on tenor. I would go a little more open. I am selling a piece that would be pretty good for students. PM me if you want some more info. Otherwise, if you want something decent that isn't too expensive I would try this one:

http://www.wwbw.com/J---D-Hite-Artist-Tenor-Saxophone-Mouthpiece-462430-i1143185.wwbw

I really do believe there is a huge gap in the well made student mouthpiece market. Unfortunately, making a decent mouthpiece costs too much compared to what students can afford or are willing to spend.

Best of luck.
 

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Hard rubber mouthpieces can be used for all applications, depending upon how they're made. Same for metal. A Selmer C*, though a staple for classical players, is often used by beginners. If you want something decent off the shelf that isn't going to break the bank, I'd look into Vandoren mouthpieces, like a V5 (T27 or T35).
 

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I would suggest Rousseau mouthpieces - not that costly and available in classical and jazz models. The sound of a mouthpiece is determined mainly by geometry (tip opening and chamber size/shape) and less by material.

Regards Bo
 

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Discussion Starter #5
So I am guessing that there is no easy answer to what chamber size/shape or tip opening a player should use. How would I know what is best for my son? Do we need to go and try out mouthpieces?
 

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Going out to try mouthpieces might be the best way I would think. Being that your son has been playing for four years already, he should kind of have in his head the type of sound that he is looking for, and the kind of sound that he wants to be able to achieve, along with the particular style that he enjoys playing most. At this point in time I would think he would definitely be able to judge a piece and be able to tell if it is right or not for him. Not saying anything out of disrespect for his teacher of course, but a clarinet really is a different animal altogether and this might be why she may have suggested what she has. Have to try a lot of brands of mouthpieces as well as tip openings and chambers. It really is the best way. Good Luck
 

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Although I still play a Selmer S80 C* after decades of playing tenor sax, I would endorse the idea of trying out several before buying if that proves to be possible where you live. The C* is a classic for a lot of sax music but has its limitations as do all mouthpieces. So much of it depends on the type of sound you're going for and the kind of music you are wanting to play. After four years your son probably has his own idea of the sound he finds appealing. If he can have some hands on experience with several mouthpieces he can probably tell you which one is most in line with what he wants. Like anything else, there are mouthpieces that cost as much or more than some horns, but there are also many that are more moderately priced that can serve really well and last indefinitely if they are cared for. Good luck and keep asking for help. There are LOTS of experienced players here who will give you input as to what has worked for them and what they have learned over the course of many years.

And it's great you're encouraging your son's interest and ability in music! Keep it up!
 

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Your son is very lucky to have a mom like you! I'm sure he'll go far on the sax if he keeps it up.

Just to clear up one misconception:

I would be looking for a hard rubber for an upper level player- and metal for jazz? I know just the basics and trying to learn to do the best for my son. He is really talented and I want him to have an instrument that does him justice.
Hard rubber and metal mpcs are both used for jazz. The material is not what determines how a mouthpiece sounds. How it sounds (aside from the player, of course) is all down to the mpc DESIGN. That is a huge topic in itself. But when/if your son starts playing jazz, he won't have to limit his search to a metal mpc by any means.

Does he have a good saxophone teacher who can advise him? I think that would be the best way to go. Kessler's is a very respected music store and I think they could provide some good advice also.
 

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I agree that trying is the most important. In the 1960s I use an Otto Link on tenor but one of those vintage ones will cost over $500 if you can find one. I like the Morgans ($200+), older Brilharts ($75+) and one of my favorites are the Ricos which new run $20-30. Excellent players.
 

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>> he is still playing his student level yamaha but until I get the money for that I was wanting to get him a new mouthpiece since I have heard that makes a big difference as well.

In my opinion (and many others I’m sure), that is absolutely correct and a smart approach.

>> Also, I am guessing from the stuff I have seen that plastic is mainly a student level material whereas I would be looking for a hard rubber for an upper level player- and metal for jazz?

Often true but not necessarily. We (Ted Klum Mouthpieces), in addition to high-end metal lines, currently offer two mouthpiece lines made from high-performance medical grade polymer composites; the Acoustimer Series which is RTV molded, and hand-finished, and the Acoustimax series which is injection molded, machined, and hand-finished.

Our Acoustimer line is available in one core design for alto, and two core designs for tenor. If you are inclined to try a high-end mouthpiece from Ted Klum Mouthpieces for your son, I might recommend our FocusTone Acoustimer in size 6* which translates to 095 tip opening. http://tedklummouthpieces.com/store_detail.php?id=1008

At $350.00, these are not cheap. However, what you get with this is a Signature Series mouthpiece which is on the level of a modern-day vintage piece in a remarkable medical-grade material with a Ted Klum custom refacing job. If you see what Ted’s refacing work on vintage pieces goes for on ebay (if you can get one), in comparison this price is not high. Also, Ted no longer does refacing on vintage mouthpieces, though there are others (some of whom have studied under Ted) who do this work.

Our Acoustimax-Composite (internet priced at $235.00), which is currently only available for alto, http://tedklummouthpieces.com/store_detail.php?id=1011, is made from another medical-grade material which outperforms hard rubber in its physical properties (strength, durability) and biocompatibility. The Acoustimax-Composite material can withstand boiling water and steam sterilization processes. We have actually performed these tests in our labs (as well as multiple cycles through a dishwasher, immersion in pure bleach, drop testing onto concrete, and other tests), with no damage to the mouthpiece. Though the Acoustimax –Composite can handle this tortuous treatment, we explicitly recommend against performing any such test on any customer mouthpiece.

A significant benefit of the use of medical grade polymers in the Acoustimer and Acoustimax Composite lines is in the “biocompatibility with the oral cavity” of these materials.

Between the two, the base polymers in these materials have certified to numerous standards in other applications, including:
- FDA 21CFR177.1655 for food contact
- United States Pharmacopeia (U.S.P.) class VI for medical use
- ANSI/NSF Standard 61 - Drinking Water System Component - Health Effects
- Water Regulations Advisory Scheme - Items Which Have Passed Full Test of Effect on Water Quality - BS6920
- Kunststoff Trinkwasser Empfenhlungen (KTW) – German Federal Health Office
- DVGW Arbeitsblatt W 270 December 1990 - Micro Organ Organism Growth in Drinking Water

I do not believe that hard rubber, with its high sulfur content, could ever achieve these certifications.

Inexpensive plastic mouthpieces are typically made from acrylic or other more traditional commodity polymers and are just molded, without costly finishing operations. Some more expensive plastic mouthpieces may use what are known as “engineering grade polymers”, such as polycarbonate. We studied virtually all of the polymers in existence in the development of the Acoustimax-Composite. Our ultimate selection was based on acoustics and biocompatibility. We ended up with a costly “high performance” category of polymer, which is quite different from the others mentioned, and requires very expensive tooling to mold in, due to the temperatures and pressured involved.

Inexpensive injection molded mouthpieces typically have a pronounced edge or shelf in the interior between the chamber and the bore where the injection molding gates meet and separate as the mold ejects. The geometry of the chamber leading into the bore has a huge effect on the performance of the piece. The Acoustimer and Acoustimax Composite series have no such edge or shelf, but a smooth series of swept curves through this area. This feature is implemented using low-volume RTV molding in the Acoustimer series, and in an innovative and costly injection mold design in the Acoustimax series.

Though our polymer-based non-rubber mouthpieces are high-end, they are well suited for students who wish to uplift their playing. What is most striking about Ted Klum mouthpiece is how in-tune they play. I had the pleasure to sell an Acoustimax-Composite to a 10 year old player the other day. His mother, being a doctor, particularly appreciated the biocompatibility features. He and everyone in the room immediately noticed the difference in his sound. His band director and teacher shortly after advanced him in his section and now also has him playing a harder reed. She commented “there is no holding him back now”! This was a most gratifying experience.

So, as you have read this far, thank you for reading my rather long-winded reply to your question. I am obviously biased as I am a member of Ted Klum Mouthpieces. I can tell you that we are a small company that has done some big things with polymer-based materials. We really did our homework on these, through more than three years of research and development. Check around for other’s feedback on this. Should you choose to try our non-metal or metal mouthpiece products, I am confident that both you and your son will be pleased with the results.

Best of luck in your and your son's search for his ultimate mouthpiece!
 

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Selmer S80 C*, C**, D could all be good choices, or a similar hard rubber mouthpiece with no baffle (like the classical Rousseau or Vandoren models). Best to have him try a few different ones and see what has the best feel. Typically, your classical mouthpiece has a med to larger chamber (either round or square) and no baffle. $125-$150 isn't cheap, but is pretty reasonable for a high quality mouthpiece.

Like many players, I used Selmer S80 C*/C** for my tenor and alto when I did a lot of legit playing during my music study in college. Btw, if your son does decide to major in music when he goes off to college, it would be a good investment at some point for him to have an alto saxophone. There is a lot more solo repetoire for alto than for the tenor saxophone.

As mentioned earlier, jazz mouthpieces could be hard rubber, metal, wood, plastic, or delrin (a hard resin material). The design (baffle, chamber type and size) is much more important than the material. Very many choices, depending on the sound and style.
 

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I like a medium tip on soprano and alto but for Selmer Tenor mouthpiece, I would not consider anything smaller than an E or F.
 

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Hi there- I am the mom of a 14 year old tenor sax player. I am a music teacher myself but a string player so I'm a little lost when it comes to wind instruments. So My son has been playing for 4 years right now and he is quite good having made it into honor bands- symphonic and jazz. I've been looking into buying him a new saxophone since he is still playing his student level yamaha but until I get the money for that I was wanting to get him a new mouthpiece since I have heard that makes a big difference as well. His teacher suggested a Selmer C star. She is a clarinet player by experience so I trust her when it comes to reed instruments but I am wondering if any of you out there have found a comparable mouthpiece for less money. I also had found a website for Kessler music out of Vegas that makes custom mouthpieces for less. Does anybody out there have any experience with Kessler's and are they worth it? Also, I am guessing from the stuff I have seen that plastic is mainly a student level material whereas I would be looking for a hard rubber for an upper level player- and metal for jazz? I know just the basics and trying to learn to do the best for my son. He is really talented and I want him to have an instrument that does him justice. Any information is appreciated!
I have purchased an entire horn and mouthpiece setup from Kessler and have had wonderful results. I had been playing a student selmer prior to their horn and my goodness, how welcome the change was! I really do recommend Kessler, but be wary because sometimes communication can be problematic if you just rely on email. If you can go and visit the shop itself, I think that would be a fantastic idea.
 

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I always hesitate to post on this kind of thread, but the amount of information here is so widespread, I'd like to respond not only the OP but to the others.

This is a mouthpiece for a 14 year old, so nothing extreme should be considered. By extreme I mean any high-baffled piece. For tenor I recommend a nice Link-style hard rubber piece. I say "Link-style" because the likelihood of getting a nice Link is so small. Look for the following two characteristics: roll over baffle and curved side walls.

I say this because this mouthpiece type is suitable for both concert band and jazz band, and it keeps the player from having to switch. If you get a high baffle piece suitable for louder jazz and rock/blues/funk work, then that piece won't be easy to play in concert band. On the other hand, a good Link-style piece can be made to work in these styles, through embouchure, throat and reed changes (though admittedly the high baffle paint peelers are easier to play).

BTW, despite what your son's teacher says, I do NOT recommend a Selmer S80 C*, especially for tenor. For one thing, these mouthpieces are inconsistent these days, for another, the square shaped chamber is just not right, especially for one developing his or her sound. The older Selmer round chamber style is fine though.

So now I've told you what NOT to buy, the question is what to buy? For cheap, a Bari Esprit is especially good. A little more gets you a standard Bari mouthpiece, I'd get about an .85 or .90 tip opening.

If you have the option of getting a mouthpiece refaced, then buy a Link Tone Edge, about a 5* or 6*, and have it refaced by one of the many fine refacers available. Or, just buy a "Custom Link" from Phil-Tone.

I've played the Kessler mouthpiece you mention on soprano, but not tenor. It looks OK, but the straight sidewalls bother me.

The point is, for a 14 year old student, no matter how talented, a middle-of-the-road straight ahead mouthpiece is best, because this will require him to develop his tone. If he is interested in jazz, there is no better choice than a Link-style piece.
 

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I always hesitate to post on this kind of thread, but the amount of information here is so widespread, I'd like to respond not only the OP but to the others.

This is a mouthpiece for a 14 year old, so nothing extreme should be considered.
Agreed.

If you have the option of getting a mouthpiece refaced, then buy a Link Tone Edge, about a 5* or 6*, and have it refaced by one of the many fine refacers available.
Wait, what happened to nothing extreme?
 

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Why is everyone so opposed to using a C* ? If it's so terrible, why was it the staple for so long? I used one all the way through High School, and for two years in college. Then I got hold of an old Soloist C*. For classical playing, I got complimented on my tone all the time. I think they should give it a blow and see what they think. If they are going to college as a music major, they're going to need a more closed piece for classical playing.
 

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Wait, what happened to nothing extreme?
I don't think a Link is extreme, and I don't think a 5* to 6* range is extreme either. What is extreme is the variability of the manufacturing quality, so refacing is often required to make them "right".
 
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