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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone,
I recently purchased a new metal tenor moutpiece from amazon (link below), however something isn't right and being relatively new at the tenor sax I'm not really sure what. When I unpacked it and put on my #2 RICO tenor reeds on, it didn't fit correctly. It was too wide for the table. I eventually was able to get the ligature on, but when I tried to use it, any note above the D with the octave key was extremely high and squeaky. I then tried it with my Alto # 2.5 RICO reeds, but pretty much the same thing happened. None of the other notes sound quite right, however I can't tell if that's just the change from plastic to metal. I figure that it's one of three problems.

1: The mouthpiece is not fitting over the cork, and the seal is not complete. The cork is indented due to the old mouthpiece (I got it from my school), so this seems like it could be a possibility. Would this require a recorking?

2: I purchased an incorrect mouthpiece that does not fit my sax correctly. If this is the case, where can I get a correctly fitting one for under $80 USD?

3: I need a special/different reed for this moupiece. If so, where can I get one which will work?

I know that the sax works fine because everything can play correctly with the old mouthpiece.

The brand is Pan American, if that matters. I recently had it serviced, however the neck wasn't recorked.

I'm new to the forums, so if this is in the wrong place please let me know. Thanks in advance for any help.


Here is the link to the mouthpiece I bought.

http://www.amazon.com/Tenor-Saxopho...-56&keywords=tenor+saxophone+metal+mouthpiece
 

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Welcome to the SOTW forum.

I would venture a guess that the answer is - none of the above and that this very inexpensive (likely) Chinese made mouthpiece just has a lousy facing on it or at best one you're not skill enough to deal with for any number of reasons.

Do yourself a favor and send it back then start a thread detailing your skill level, the type of music you presently play, what your present setup is and what you like/ don't like about it, what kind of sound you're looking for, and what kind of budget you have for purchasing a new mouthpiece. You'll get much better advice and better suggestions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for your reply. Your explanation is very likely, however I still believe that there may be something else wrong because I am still able to play the lower notes. Either way, where would I create this thread? Thanks again.
 

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What Keith said...

However, having said that, I bet your plastic mouthpiece is little to no baffle. This one, at best is a higher baffle piece than you're used to and requires a different airstream than you know how to produce.

You could also wrap some plumber's tape around your neck cork to allow this thing to fit and provide a proper seal.

Then again, it sounds very suspiciously like one of those poorly made Chinese mpcs.

You do need to provide additional info Keith described in his last paragraph in order to get meaningful feedback. Me? I'm just rambling & waiting for supper to be ready!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Again, thanks ratracer. Where should I post this info? Here or in a separate thread, and in what part of the forum?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well, I decided to give the mouthpiece a couple more tries, since I wanted to make sure I had attached everything correctly. This time, the lower notes sounded even better, and I was able to hit some of the higher notes too, albeit contorting my neck at an odd angle to get underneath the mouthpiece. I am still getting a very high screeching/screaming noise when going very high and switching between notes 3-4 notes away from each other in the higher register. Is this something that will improve with practice? If so, any tips on the best way to blow and hold my mouth? Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
My skill level is somewhere between novice and intermediate. I have been playing alto for around four years now, and just recently moved to tenor for marching band season. I have gotten pretty experienced with the Tenor, and can play most of the range from the low A# to the high F (Three lines up from the top of the staff if that is the correct way of describing it.) on my tenor. Past there I can hit most of the notes, but not consistently and with great effort. I can hit everything up to the same note on my alto.

My current setup is Berekley Student Alto, and a very, very rusty Pan American Tenor with a few dents but working fine otherwise. I use a plastic mouthpiece on my alto with RICO #2.5 reeds, and up until now a plastic on my tenor. Now I am using the gold-plated metal mouthpiece with #2 RICO tenor reeds. I mainly use the tenor now, and want to keep it up for a few years. I am now able to more successfully use this new mouthpiece after adjusting my technique. I like the clarity this new mouthpiece brings to the tenor, versus the quieter sound of the plastic. My cork is a bit indented from use, could this majorly impact performance? If so, how much do recorkings generally cost?

I'm currently playing a variety of music, however I really love Clarence's sound as well as Mark Rivera's sound. I love the rock n' roll saxes, espically from Born to Run, Only the Good Die Young, Big Shot, and Jungleland. Any sugguestions on changes/improvements to my current setup? I'm on a VERY tight budget, so anything above $100 for new mouthpieces or similar things are out of the question.

Thanks!
 

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Seriously, do yourself favor and return that thing. It is garbage. I bought one just out of curiosity a while back, and it really was unplayable. At this point you should stick with a nice reliable student mouthpiece without much baffle and work to get a good sound with it by working your airstream. I know that's not what you want to hear, but it's what a teacher would tell you. Speaking of which, take Neff's advice and get one. I'd bet they wouldn't be able to play that mouthpiece you have there either.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I AM able to play the mouthpiece with a slight adjustment to my embouchure and airstream. My band director is a brass player, however is learning woodwind so I will have a teacher soon. I understand that it is a probably a poorly-made mouthpiece, however since I am able to play now, (and the sound is much clearer) wouldn't it make sense to work with it for a while? I can't tell 100% that it's on tune, but it sounds like it is doing its job as a mouthpiece decently and on tune. My original problem with not being able to play through it was resolved with a quick change in technique, is it possible that this is a decent piece after all? Once I adjusted my technique I found it actually a bit easier to play than my student mouthpiece.
 

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The reed fitment on metal mouthpieces is typical. The reed is usually wider than the table and the reed also hangs off the end. Sounds like you have that worked out anyway. The neck cork will have to be replaced but as already said, you can just temporarily shim it. I have used plumber's Teflon tape but also have used a simple strip of paper wrapped around the old cork. That must be a good seal or you simply can't play. All cheap mouthpieces are not automatically bad, and all expensive ones are not automatically good. If it plays, it plays.
Do you have any idea what the tip opening is? Does it have anything on the mouthpiece or box like a 7 or 8, or 100 or 110 for example?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
No, the box only had a picture of the mouthpiece on each side, with a tag saying,

Saxophone
Tenor
B1
#7 Gold
 

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Well the problem is a $39 no-name metal mouthpiece is going to be an "unknown"- You don't even know what tip size it is. Sure it sounds a little better each time you play it but are you biting or being drawn into some other bad habit in order to get that improvement.

Neff is absolutely right - get a teacher who is an accomplished sax player. If you are dead set on keeping this piece have them evaluate it so at least you have some idea of what you have.

We get a fair number of posts like this especially at the start of the new school year and I just wish more of folks would post BEFORE they spend the money instead of after they've purchased something that's not working well for them. There are so many good lightly used mouthpieces for sale here in the marketplace section of SOTW that you probably could have gotten a great deal on something that would have served your purpose much better.

Do as you like, but when you get tired of struggling with the $39 doorstop send an e-mail to Mark at this e-mail address- [email protected]
Tell him what you are looking for, or better yet what your new teacher is suggesting you should get. He's a great guy and very easy to work with. There's a good chance he'll have a few pieces around that fit your requirements and will give you a good deal on something that will work for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
The only real difference I'm making to my technique is using less of the mouthpiece for higher notes, and more of the mouthpiece for lower notes, plus maybe a small change to where I blow into the mouthpiece, but I can't be sure. Can this really have such a huge affect on my habits? Just because it's $39, does that really mean it's not the best? Shouldn't a small change in technique be expected when making such a drastic change in the type and shape of your mouthpiece? I will take your advice and try to find a teacher, or even a local sax player who may be able to help me out with this more.
 

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If you can't play the full range of the instrument with the mouthpiece coming straight into your face, the mouthpiece may be CRAP. It actually looks like cheap junk in the photo.
Try a harder reed and/or loosen your embouchure if you think it's a good quality product.

If your director is a brass player and 'learning' how to play sax, he's NOT a saxophone teacher. He's a brass player who can get sound out of a saxophone.
Find someone who actually has a LOT more experience playing tenor to test out your 'gold' plated mouthpiece. If they can't play on it, go back to what you were using. To keep fighting with it will only slow your progress.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I meant that I can't get those last few notes on any mouthpiece. This one made the higher ones a bit easier to hit. That's just my strength and skill, almost nothing to do with the mouthpiece.
 

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Which 'last few notes'?
Upper altissimo range, or the low stuff below first line E on the staff?
 

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The only real difference I'm making to my technique is using less of the mouthpiece for higher notes, and more of the mouthpiece for lower notes, plus maybe a small change to where I blow into the mouthpiece, but I can't be sure. Can this really have such a huge affect on my habits? Just because it's $39, does that really mean it's not the best? Shouldn't a small change in technique be expected when making such a drastic change in the type and shape of your mouthpiece? I will take your advice and try to find a teacher, or even a local sax player who may be able to help me out with this more.
Very, very, small adjustments are normal but the way you are describing it it sounds like you are moving the piece in and out of your mouth in order to get the notes to speak in different ranges. You shouldn't need to do this. You are effectively changing the facing length - lengthening it for the low notes and shortening it for the upper octave. This would indicate either a poorly faced mouthpiece and/or one with a tip opening that is too large for you to handle.

I can assure you it's "not the best". It's not just the cost but that is one indicator. A sax mouthpiece may just look like a piece of plastic or metal with a little curve at the end but it's not that simple. Check out this;

http://www.stohrermusic.com/2011/11/how-to-choose-a-saxophone-mouthpiece/

and this;
http://tamingthesaxophone.com/saxophone-mouthpieces


These are written by a couple of very well regarded SOTW members as well as fine sax players. They will give you some idea why all mouthpieces are not created equal.
 

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Ahhh that time of the year when advice is requested, but when it's given, the person asking refuses to take any if it. Oooh to be in high school again. :)

To restate what has already been said, get rid of the mouthpiece, and find a competent teacher. Your teacher may be the most experienced and proficient trumpet player on earth, but that will not help you with your current issues. You're also relying on him to get lessons, become proficient on the saxophone, understand all the bad habits that only years of experience will teach you, and want him to reiterate all of that knowledge to you. That's a lot to expect, and even though many of the players on this board have much experience with all things saxophone, few to none of us are experts in brass. We can study brasswinds, but most of us wouldn't feel comfortable teaching novice brass students about the instrument until we've put several years into it ourselves.

First off, I can't claim to know whether or not the piece plays without playing it. The piece looks like your standard Chinese metal piece, which usually range from just below OK to unplayable. Maybe you got a really good one, but odds are against you on that. Have a competent saxophonist play your setup in order to make sure that horn and mouthpiece are playing well. You should NEVER have to make such drastic changes to your embouchure in order to play through the normal range of your horn. Getting into the habit of changing your technique in such a manner will be detrimental to your progress.

If a teacher is unavailable, take pictures of your horn and equipment, and take video of your playing. Post the video on YouTube, and attach a link here. We'll then have a better idea as to what the issue is, and can give you better advice as to how to correct it. Unfortunately, there are too many variables, and we're all shooting from the hip with your brief post.

Fyi, your tenor is not rusting. Brass can tarnish, and it can also lose the zinc in the alloy, and this creates red patches called "red rot". This is somewhat less serious than rust, and can take many decades to actually cause issues with the metal's integrity. The steel springs, rods, and screws, on your horn, can rust, but the rust cannot spread to the body. The rust can potentially wear out the action if it's stuck grinding away at your rods and key barrels. Those Old Conn stencils, like your Pan Am, are excellent players when in good condition. That said, most have been used heavily for about 80 - 100 years. That's a lot of time for a lot of things to go wrong. A tech may have to do considerable work to the horn in order to bring it into optimal playing condition.
 
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