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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I've been playing alto saxophone on and off for 40+ years and I have always used relatively narrow tip openings whether it be for classical or jazz. Today my setup is and S80 C** (0.068") for classical and a Meyer 5 (0.070"). I'm feel really comfortable with these tip openings and I don't really feel the need to change, but I am curious. In prior mouthpiece safaris I've noticed that in general larger opening mouthpieces had more resistance, were more flexible in pitch and allowed me to play louder. My question concerns whether resistance, flexibility and volume are the only things gained when using a more open tip. For instance, all things being equal are larger openings darker? Does giving the reed a little more distance from any baffle on the mouthpiece cause a darker tone?
 

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Grafton + TH & C alto || Naked Lady 10M || TT soprano || Martin Comm III
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Does giving the reed a littler more distance from any baffle on the mouthpiece cause a darker tone?
Potentially if the chamber volume is increased, however there is a lot more to it than just tip opening because the facing curve is equally as important a parameter in what can shape the sound.

If anyone can find two mouthpieces with different tip openings but exact same facing curve then that may be a more meaningful discussion.

Likewise a larger tip per se does not necessarily mean more resistance or flexibility.
 

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Cannonball Vintage Reborn Tenor Sax with Otto Link STM NY 7
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My OL STM NY 7 is darker because of the larger chamber, and not the tip opening.
 

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My own experience has been (only Link type mouthpieces) that closer tips have more midrange "core" or body that can feel like brightness. It seems to me that larger tips can play bright depending on the mouthpiece but they have more energy in the low and high registers and the middle usually feels a little "sucked out" for me. They can generally be pushed a lot harder and get more aggressive and loud but for me I always miss that core of the tips 7 and below.

I'm sure there are infinite exceptions that refute my experience. Every mouthpiece is different and every player is even more different.
 

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In addition to more power from an open tip, I can get a much bigger sub tone, which is very important to me on tenor, more so than on other horns.

Mine are also quite bright due to the high baffle. So any increase in darkness is cancelled out. It’s the combination of tip and baffle that gives me the sound and response I’m after. I just can’t get there on a small tip.

One more thing, big tips on alto have only made me miserable. Intonation is all over the place and takes a ton of effort to control. It’s not worth it. I only play big tips (~.120) on tenor.
 

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“All things being equal.” The devil is in the details. If I tried to play a large tip opening with the same reed I use on a small tip opening, then sure, it would have more resistance. But I don’t. I have to find the reed that works with each mouthpiece. At that point, all things are not equal anymore. In general I find my darker mouthpiece/reed combinations tend to be the smaller tip openings, but I don’t have many different sizes of each mouthpiece, so it’s hard to make a an accurate generalization.
 

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For comfort, I went from 6 to 5 on alto. Just want to make a plug for the D'Addario Select Jazz which I got as a return/blem for $128. Cosmetically it was as-new, and Mojo measured it when working on another piece and said he wouldn't change a thing. It has a vinty look which, to be shallow, pleases me as I assemble the set-up.
My alto tone model is Jim Snidero who has a great sound in my opinion but also is easy to hear clearly with all his instructional material. On the DSJ I get very close to that, and subtone is easiest of all my alto pieces. Finally, no gurgle on bell notes with Ref54 FLSTD.
 

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It ain't the tips, as more the chambers - don't be asking questions - go do some experiements.
 

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Chamber size has never made any audible difference to me. My small chamber Bergs sound the same as my larger chamber Dukoffs. Intonation might be a little different.
 

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Short answer is no.

It is more the combination of things. The chamber is definitely probably the largest part of it. Baffles play another large part. Generically, the larger tip would take more air (without overblowing the mouthpiece) allowing you to fill the chamber faster and make the horn sound more... “forceful” is the word that comes to mind but... Larger tips may be easier to bend notes a little but, that is relative really. You can still do it on a smaller tip mouthpiece you just have understand the micro-movement of the embouchure to enable it. As for resistance, I think that is pretty much all reed facing curve interaction. It may require more air but not be more resistant. The best examples of this I have seen are the Marantz Slant Legacy and the Navarro BBS HR pieces on tenor. In fact, the curve on the latter is so efficient, on a larger tip opening that I normally play I went up in reed strength to get to my normal level of resistance. Baffles can play some role in this because of the space between the reed vibration near the heart of the reed but, that doesn’t make it darker.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
I'm reading through all of these responses and its clear that your experiences doesn't exactly match up with mine except I think we can agree on that larger opening tips facilitate putting more air through the mouthpiece and louder volume. My experience is based on the Selmer S80 C* through E and Meyer and Meyer-like mouthpieces 5 through 7. Larger tip openings especially when getting to 0.080" or higher usually require me to drop a reed strength to maintain a resistance that I am comfortable with thus I equate larger tip openings with more resistance. Also, sometimes it seems like the more closed tip openings, especially if they are coupled with a rollover baffle result in a brighter sound (i.e. more buzz). I noticed that most of you didn't mention any monster tip openings like 10 or 12. Those seem to be played by guys who need some volume, but I always wondered what players were searching for when they start experimenting with larger tip openings.
 

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S: SA II. A+T: Martin HC1 T: Mark VI A:39 King Zephyr B: Martin HC imperial
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Their are five variables to play with.
1. Facing Curve
2. Facing Opening
3. Baffle
4. chamber size.
5. You.

Theo Wanne has some good pages on each of these and look through his site on his each of these play out. Eg. Baffle Types | Theo Wanne

People ignore impact of #5. Physiology difference are going to create difference in sound. I tend to play brighter.

Also, people can counteract what they are trying to do with a mouthpiece. Eg. If you try a vintage Otto link New York with a long facing and do not take enough mouthpiece in and bite too hard you are effecively making it a medium facing with and even smaller opening.
 

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In addition to more power from an open tip, I can get a much bigger sub tone, which is very important to me on tenor, more so than on other horns.

Mine are also quite bright due to the high baffle. So any increase in darkness is cancelled out. It’s the combination of tip and baffle that gives me the sound and response I’m after. I just can’t get there on a small tip.

One more thing, big tips on alto have only made me miserable. Intonation is all over the place and takes a ton of effort to control. It’s not worth it. I only play big tips (~.120) on tenor.
I don't think there's anything uniquely challenging or troublesome moving to wider tips on alto re: intonation & control, relative to other horns. Sometimes it's absolutely worth going to a wider tip opening on alto, but all this is relative...i.e., facing curve plays a big role in the overall picture...relative to a piece w/ a longer curve, a wider tip on a shorter curve may not seem wider at all re: control & intonation.
 

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I'm reading through all of these responses and its clear that your experiences doesn't exactly match up with mine except I think we can agree on that larger opening tips facilitate putting more air through the mouthpiece and louder volume. My experience is based on the Selmer S80 C* through E and Meyer and Meyer-like mouthpieces 5 through 7. Larger tip openings especially when getting to 0.080" or higher usually require me to drop a reed strength to maintain a resistance that I am comfortable with thus I equate larger tip openings with more resistance. Also, sometimes it seems like the more closed tip openings, especially if they are coupled with a rollover baffle result in a brighter sound (i.e. more buzz). I noticed that most of you didn't mention any monster tip openings like 10 or 12. Those seem to be played by guys who need some volume, but I always wondered what players were searching for when they start experimenting with larger tip openings.
I guess I have the opposite idea of resistance than you. On my Berg 120 on tenor, the resistance is extremely low. In other words, it's like blowing through an open pipe. There is virtually no resistance. I play that tip opening because I can't get the same big, rich and flexible sound with big subtone that I would get on a C*. I've tried, and it's just not possible. A C* is perfect for a classical tone, but not for a huge Dexter Gordon type of sound. No offense to high school kids, but that's the kind of sound I end up with on a C*, if you know what I mean.

But as I said before, this really only applies to tenor for me. I play a .090 tip on alto and .075 on c-melody (smaller than alto). I play .067 on soprano, also on the open side, a .110 on bari which is medium open and .100 on bass (otherwise, I would hyperventilate).

I don't think there's anything uniquely challenging or troublesome moving to wider tips on alto re: intonation & control, relative to other horns. Sometimes it's absolutely worth going to a wider tip opening on alto, but all this is relative...i.e., facing curve plays a big role in the overall picture...relative to a piece w/ a longer curve, a wider tip on a shorter curve may not seem wider at all re: control & intonation.
I do find that big tips do increase pitch flexibility quite dramatically for me personally. I find it quite challenging to find the pitch center for each note on alto on a really large tip (.100+). I'm sure I would adjust with practice though. On tenor, big tips also require more embouchure strength for me. In my youth, a .120 was no problem. But now it wears me out. In my old age, I'm more comfortable on a .115 these days.

Having said that, it's all just numbers. The goal for me is not a number, it's a sound. Those are the numbers required to get the sound I want.
 

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The short answer is yes. The average reed position is farther away from the baffle making the effective chamber volume larger.
I've owned several models of the same mouthpieces in different tip openings and this has been my experience. I don't know if it's because of the marginally larger chamber size (as @MojoBari says above), or the corollary fact that the reed is marginally closer to the baffle, or if it was just coincidence due to small individual differences in the individual examples of the mouthpieces I tried being correlated with the tip opening.

I do know that the effect was in the opposite direction than I expected a priori (i.e., going in, I expected that larger tip openings would be brighter).
 

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It is generally held that a more open mouthpiece, even one with a high baffle ( I don't like that terminology - the baffle closest to the reed should be called 'low' IMO) can be 'dark' if the player is a 'hard' player pushing air and its a free-blowing mouthpiece - plus the attributes of the reed factor in. It is possible to 'play dark' on equipment that most would call 'bright'. The problem with the term 'dark' is many believe that it means 'dead' with a flat sound from top to bottom. This is frequently heard by players today and it would be funny if it were not so tragic. You simply must have a 'core' to the sound that can also have sizzle on top of the core. If you only have the 'flat/dead' sound with no zing, it just loses interest - this sound is not used in legit playing either. I think it is most likely that, for the powerful player, the open, free-blowing mouthpiece with a softer reed (but not 'mushy' - it needs to have a solid core that adds back resistance to the mouthpiece which results in putting some 'wood' into the sound) is what is needed. Some players have gone so far as to work up to a #5 reed on a 130/0 (Grover Washington) and still get that same effect.
 

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In addition to more power from an open tip, I can get a much bigger sub tone, which is very important to me on tenor, more so than on other horns.
This is one thing I do like about bigger tips, along with speaking easier in the extreme low register.
 

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I guess I should mention tip openings based on what you mentioned, I currently play on .080 and .085 Alto tips for the most part (Lamberson , Ponzol, Drake). I did play on .105 and .098 on metal alto pieces prior. On tenor, I play between .98-.115 with the hard leaning towards .110. I have been courting the idea of a monster tip as I did used to play a 9* STM with ridiculous reeds. I actually contacted Matt Marantz about it Saturday but, he basically said he really didn’t like opening pieces past 10s because he didn’t think most pieces had enough material to do so.
 

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It is generally held that a more open mouthpiece, even one with a high baffle ( I don't like that terminology - the baffle closest to the reed should be called 'low' IMO) can be 'dark' if the player is a 'hard' player pushing air and its a free-blowing mouthpiece - plus the attributes of the reed factor in. It is possible to 'play dark' on equipment that most would call 'bright'. The problem with the term 'dark' is many believe that it means 'dead' with a flat sound from top to bottom. This is frequently heard by players today and it would be funny if it were not so tragic. You simply must have a 'core' to the sound that can also have sizzle on top of the core. If you only have the 'flat/dead' sound with no zing, it just loses interest - this sound is not used in legit playing either. I think it is most likely that, for the powerful player, the open, free-blowing mouthpiece with a softer reed (but not 'mushy' - it needs to have a solid core that adds back resistance to the mouthpiece which results in putting some 'wood' into the sound) is what is needed. Some players have gone so far as to work up to a #5 reed on a 130/0 (Grover Washington) and still get that same effect.
We’d all love to hear your sound since everyone else is so dull and lacking in core…
 
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