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Discussion Starter #1
Hi. I have recently had the opportunity to measure a couple of unaltered tenor stm Florida links. One is a no usa 4 and the other a later 60's model 7*.

The first thing I notice is that the original curve does not follow either a radial or elliptical curve. In fact the curve seems to reverse on itself like an s shape at or near the end of the tip rail. I have been looking for resources to gather more data because I have a client who is collector and just loves some of these mouthpieces and would like me to make a replica of the curve on a blank. I found one detailed facing measurement on sax.mpostma.nl and it exhibits similar curve shape but different actual measurements.

I've been using google but all I get are comparison of the tip gap with other mouthpieces not the detail information on the curve I'm looking for.

I made a replica using a radial curve and matching the baffle and chamber of the original. I think it sounds good and plays great but the client says it's not as loud as the original and the tone not as bright. He shared a recording of both to illustrate and there is a big difference on volume. I trust that he is doing everything correct to record a fair comparison since he is a professional audio engineer and producer.

Once I make them both the same approximate volume the tone of both mouthpieces is very close but the original is a little brighter. I will attempt to duplicate the original curve on another blank for comparison but before I do I was hoping for some feedback or possibly additional resources on the original Link facings.

I attached the plot of the facing measurement of the original stm 7*

Thanks


View attachment 245230
 

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That blue curve is not typical of a vintage Link or any other good playing curve. Curves should never have concave sections.
 

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If the blank is not the same as the original using the same curve...or a corrected curve will not yield the same tone.

There is noting special about a Florida curve...its all in the execution and in the design of the chamber as it relates to all its parts.

Thats why its BS when companies brag about using the Original Link Curve...they might but it doesnt mean it will sound anything like a vintage link.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I have measured 2 manufactured several years apart and with different gap sizes both show this "bump". Also the measurement found at Mpostma shows the same thing. Each measurement is different and I know that they were done by hand but each shows a similar charactistic.

The bump on the plot line is really a flat spot the starts about 4-7mm from the tip (just at the end of the side rail or slightly before) and goes straight to the tip. It's like the curve is held open with an elongated elliptical curve and then transitions into a straight shot to the tip. I have also seen new mouthpieces from other manufacturers that has a similar characteristic for instance my berg 100/1/M.

I understand that your guys seem to think this is wasted time. I'm not so sure.

I made a replica of the chamber with a near perfect radial curve and I think it played great. The Client tested it and said it did not sound the same of have the same punch.

So I made another and applied exactly the curve you see here with the same gap and when I played it I could instantly tell the difference.

I know there are other ways to achieve the same type of punch by changing the angle of the baffle but as mentioned by others it will alter the tone in other ways.

anyway as mentioned in the original post I'm really just looking for additional measurements to see where it leads.

Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #7
That blue curve is not typical of a vintage Link or any other good playing curve. Curves should never have concave sections.
Thanks I've learned a lot reading your posts and watching your videos over the last few years.

In regards to the blue line as you know the scale in the x axis is not the same as the Y axis so that really exaggerates the visual data. I replicated the curve and found that it is a flat area on the facing that starts in this case at about 7mm from the tip and extends to the tip. After working with different facing lengths and elliptical ratio numbers I found that with the facing length set to 55 and the elliptical ratio set to 4.5 the blue line follows the red target until right at 7mm from the tip where the deviation begins.

this is not as much about copying some mythical beast as it is learning why my client likes it so much. Also since I played it I have to admit the difference is interesting and not difficult to control.

I'm used to playing radial curves on my mouthpieces which usually have wider gap sizes. Recently I tried using some elliptical ratios 3 and up particularly on smaller gap mouthpieces and soprano. On these smaller gap mouthpieces the elliptical curve really seems to open them up and make it easier to control.

Thus my interest in what appears to be an altered curve that plays so well.

Thanks again.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Errors near the tip are more critical than other areas. They can cause a lack of clarity, poor response and difficult altissimo
You will not get any argument from me there.

The interesting thing is that clarity response and altissimo are excellent on the 7* I am working with. That's what put me on this inquiry.

Thanks
 

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Are you using a tip opening gauge for the two readings near the tip? It is possible that you are getting some error in your data set when you combine feeler glass gauge readings with tip gauge readings.

Feelers are usually pretty good but you can check them with a micrometer or calipers. Tip gauges are harder to verify for accuracy. I use a set of gauge blocks when I loose faith in one of my gauges.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Are you using a tip opening gauge for the two readings near the tip? It is possible that you are getting some error in your data set when you combine feeler glass gauge readings with tip gauge readings.

Feelers are usually pretty good but you can check them with a micrometer or calipers. Tip gauges are harder to verify for accuracy. I use a set of gauge blocks when I loose faith in one of my gauges.
The last measurement before the tip is actually calculated not measured directly. I use this method to help determine the gap at the center inside edge of the tip rail. I use the digital caliper from the theo wanne kit to measure the tip and to check how close my calculated measurement of the tip rail is.

Thanks

edit: I went through my feeler gauges with my digital vernier caliper and the wanne depth gauge to compare. There is a consistent difference on the order of 0.02mm between the printed size and the measured size when measured with both gauges when testing the gauges from the wanne kit and some good quality gauges I augment the set with. I did use 2 stacked feeler gauges that I made and have not yet replaced with better ones yet. Of the 2 stacked gauges one is within 0.02mm of my previous measurement, the other is off 0.04mm both are as flat as I can manually make them.

Substituting these numbers in the spreadsheet does not make much difference.
 

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I chased the "original Link curvature numbers" for awhile and came to the conclusion that they don't exist. I have also copied some vintage Link facings on to other similarly designed mouthpieces. Some of them didn't sound/respond as well as my original Slant #6 and some of them sound/respond better. It might be the relationship of a certain curvature with the internals of that particular mouthpiece. It might be the inaccuracies in my transferring the Link lay on to other pieces, with some unintentional "mistakes" making the piece play better (for me) than the Link. And, despite my attempts to ignore it, it could be some kind of "reverse confirmation bias" that makes me think that my white plastic mouthpiece with the Link facing plays just as nice as the Link.

With due respect to the professional mouthpiece facer, the idea that one can repeatedly hand finish a curvature to accuracies measured in increments of one thousandth of an inch is a bit unrealistic. And probably unnecessary. Shoe sizes and eye glasses aren't measured with such fanciful precision and nobody claims that a size 9.3478 shoe is what is required for their optimal performance. The ultra-precision on a mouthpiece is even more suspect when it is coupled with the reed, usually a slab of dried grass that is cut differently by different makers.

I don't want to imply that the curvature doesn't matter, or that a degree of accuracy isn't required. It's just that the search for the Link Holy Numbers is likely to lead down a rabbit hole. On the other hand, claiming to have found the Link Holy Numbers might be profitable because there are undoubtedly people who believe that the numbers exist.

Mark
 

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I agree Mark, knowing the exact mythical numbers does little to make a good ormgreat playing link. Mouthpieces are about the interactions that occur across all variables. This is why I adhere to the idea of making one piece at a time and making adjustments as it is played. To reach the decided goal requires different operations on different areas of a piece...even if the curve and blank is the same. Its not about erasing variance, its about working with existing variance to create a piece that plays and voices well.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I chased the "original Link curvature numbers" for awhile and came to the conclusion that they don't exist. I have also copied some vintage Link facings on to other similarly designed mouthpieces. Some of them didn't sound/respond as well as my original Slant #6 and some of them sound/respond better. It might be the relationship of a certain curvature with the internals of that particular mouthpiece. It might be the inaccuracies in my transferring the Link lay on to other pieces, with some unintentional "mistakes" making the piece play better (for me) than the Link. And, despite my attempts to ignore it, it could be some kind of "reverse confirmation bias" that makes me think that my white plastic mouthpiece with the Link facing plays just as nice as the Link.

With due respect to the professional mouthpiece facer, the idea that one can repeatedly hand finish a curvature to accuracies measured in increments of one thousandth of an inch is a bit unrealistic. And probably unnecessary. Shoe sizes and eye glasses aren't measured with such fanciful precision and nobody claims that a size 9.3478 shoe is what is required for their optimal performance. The ultra-precision on a mouthpiece is even more suspect when it is coupled with the reed, usually a slab of dried grass that is cut differently by different makers.

I don't want to imply that the curvature doesn't matter, or that a degree of accuracy isn't required. It's just that the search for the Link Holy Numbers is likely to lead down a rabbit hole. On the other hand, claiming to have found the Link Holy Numbers might be profitable because there are undoubtedly people who believe that the numbers exist.

Mark
thanks as I said I'm not on a quest for the holy grail just looking for more information and perhaps a pattern that may help move my understanding beyond just radial or elliptical curves.

Having at least a touch of ocd does bug me during the facing process. I have had to learn when close enough is close enough so as not to cause problems to other parts of the curve. I have also made odd tools to help with small problem areas along the curve because working with the flat glass I sometimes find it hard to isolate small issues in-between other good measurements.

if you still have and would be willing to share I would be interested in any of your past "unicorn" data. :) Meanwhile I'm looking at the blog post you linked to.
thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I agree Mark, knowing the exact mythical numbers does little to make a good ormgreat playing link. Mouthpieces are about the interactions that occur across all variables. This is why I adhere to the idea of making one piece at a time and making adjustments as it is played. To reach the decided goal requires different operations on different areas of a piece...even if the curve and blank is the same. Its not about erasing variance, its about working with existing variance to create a piece that plays and voices well.
I understand what you are saying and most of my focus in the last year has been to really get a feel for the way the baffle interacts with the facing and reed. Some of my earlier work played well as far as the facing but many of my rollovers were just too high. This has been a long slow process to become consistent and improve my understanding, skill and tools.

For a little background: I started making mouthpieces with a 3d filament printer about 3-4 years ago and did that for about 2 years. During the process I designed finished and learned the facing process on probably 50 mouthpieces before I felt like I was getting consistent results. Since then I've made and sold more than 200 plastic mouthpieces priced for the struggling Philippine saxophonist, but plastic is not very durable in the heat and I live in a tropical climate so I decided to do something a bit more ambitious and use brass.

What followed was another year of (sometimes painfully) learning how to make patterns with a 3d resin printer that would be used to make rubber molds for wax injection and casting. Now that my casting work is pretty consistent I'm chasing the remaining bits of missing knowledge, skill tools etc.

While my blanks are designed on a computer everything from that point is done by hand so I have great respect for craftsmen like yourself who breath soul into their work.

Thanks
 

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I’ve played, and owned, quite a few original Links of all vintages. I’ve owned a few re-faced Links also.
Nothing beats a good original and it’s probably not perfection.
If I can wrangle the best original DR Florida Link I’ve played from an guy I know, I’d love to have one of you guys measure it like this.
It’s marked 8* and I doubt it’s any more open that .095 or so because when I looked at it and played it, it was right in my wheelhouse.
It screamed early Brecker. Nice and edgy and that ain’t no 8*.
 

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In addition to radial and elliptical curves, a power function is sometimes used.

http://www.sfoxclarinets.com/Mathematics.html#mpcefacing

It fits some clarinet facing curves I have measured. It might fit some vintage Link curves which often have more curve near the table under the heart of the reed and are flatter near the tip (which I find is weaker for good altissimo response). When the power function power is equal to or over 2, it gives a similar fit as elliptical curves. Under 2, it gives the curve that is flatter near the tip.

Theo Wanne did a study of Link curves and fitted a quadratic function to his data set. He called it “the Ring”. It used to be on his web site (without exact parameter details). Polynomials can fit data sets closely but you need an extensive data set. They tend to fit irregularities, like concavities, that you should not copy to a new mouthpiece.

There are many good playing curves that do not fit simple mathematical curves. But if you have a bad playing curve, steering it towards an elliptical curve that is close to it will almost always make it play better. Even if you only go halfway to the the elliptical target, it will usually play better.

An elliptical formation with an aspect ratio of 2 is equal to a radial curve. So when I say elliptical curve I am including radial as an option.
 

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YES! Many, many production pieces with rollovers have baffles that are too high and contribute to lots of problems.

I think this is why a lot of companies have abandoned rollover designs. A gnats ***** difference makes a world of difference with a rollover. Not as much with other designs. Is absurdly critical and it cant be accomplished by a set of numbers. It takes a blend of experience and intuition.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
In addition to radial and elliptical curves, a power function is sometimes used.

http://www.sfoxclarinets.com/Mathematics.html#mpcefacing

It fits some clarinet facing curves I have measured. It might fit some vintage Link curves which often have more curve near the table under the heart of the reed and are flatter near the tip (which I find is weaker for good altissimo response). When the power function power is equal to or over 2, it gives a similar fit as elliptical curves. Under 2, it gives the curve that is flatter near the tip.

Theo Wanne did a study of Link curves and fitted a quadratic function to his data set. He called it “the Ring”. It used to be on his web site (without exact parameter details). Polynomials can fit data sets closely but you need an extensive data set. They tend to fit irregularities, like concavities, that you should not copy to a new mouthpiece.

There are many good playing curves that do not fit simple mathematical curves. But if you have a bad playing curve, steering it towards an elliptical curve that is close to it will almost always make it play better. Even if you only go halfway to the the elliptical target, it will usually play better.

An elliptical formation with an aspect ratio of 2 is equal to a radial curve. So when I say elliptical curve I am including radial as an option.
I remember finding the theo wanne curve analysis ages ago before I started to learn the craft. Yeah, he did not go into detail. I'll check out the power function as well but for my purposes the opposite of the power function is more like what I'm seeing.

While playing with the settings in the spread sheet for Start (facing length x2) and Elliptical Ratio it seems like 2 curves are being blended together. One a very short start length with ratio of 1 for the first 6-10mm from the tip blended with a much longer curve with a ration above 3. Of course this only works for the one curve at a time but it intrigued me to go looking for more.

Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #19
YES! Many, many production pieces with rollovers have baffles that are too high and contribute to lots of problems.

I think this is why a lot of companies have abandoned rollover designs. A gnats ***** difference makes a world of difference with a rollover. Not as much with other designs. Is absurdly critical and it cant be accomplished by a set of numbers. It takes a blend of experience and intuition.
Yes I am painfully aware. Hahaha!

I have taken to making measurements of the baffle profiles starting 1mm from the inside of the tip rail 1mm apart for 6 or more mm to capture what seem to work best and to provide targets for the finishing of each style of mouthpiece.

This is both giving me data to work with and a better feel (touching with my finger) for what a good rollover or straight baffle should feel like.

Thanks
 

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I remember finding the theo wanne curve analysis ages ago before I started to learn the craft. Yeah, he did not go into detail. I'll check out the power function as well but for my purposes the opposite of the power function is more like what I'm seeing.

While playing with the settings in the spread sheet for Start (facing length x2) and Elliptical Ratio it seems like 2 curves are being blended together. One a very short start length with ratio of 1 for the first 6-10mm from the tip blended with a much longer curve with a ration above 3. Of course this only works for the one curve at a time but it intrigued me to go looking for more.

Thanks
For special cases where a client wants me to copy a facing that does not fit an ellipse, I have resorted to blending 2 curve segments. But more often I just use the measurements as a target and not use a curve fit at all.
 
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