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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The "Early" Babbit STM mouthpieces produced in the 70s are easily distinguished by the facing number stamped on the side in a large font. They have other characteristics such as a generous roll over baffle which seems flatter, and seem to be made of different materiel from the current Link STMs (more nickle?) They also seemed be better finished than the current STM .

What I am calling "Middle" Babbit STMs were produced starting in the 80s, have the facing number stamped on the shank, but can be easily distinguished from the current links by the quotes around the "super" of super tone master stamped on the shank. The current links loose the quotes. The "middle" babbits I have played tend to have a richer tone spectrum than the current links.

Does anyone know of other characteristics of the "Middle" Babbits STMs or the early Babbits STMs for that matter? Also when did the current links loose the quotes? And does anyone know if Babbit has changed the facing curves on the various STM along the way?
 

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Oh jeez, here we go! You're correct that the '80s "S"TMs - I just call them that - are not the same pieces as the current line. I will offer what I know to answer your questions, but I cannot guarantee what follows will not be almost, but not quite, entirely unintelligible: trying to figure out Links is harder than keeping dog breeds straight. ;)

For tenor, Babbitt has produced 5(!) different versions of the STM since they bought out the Link brand:
- First, leftover blanks made in the Florida factory which were obtained in the 1974 buyout, then shipped to and finished in Elkhart.
- Second, the Early Babbitt.
- Third (I think), that weird long-body one.
- Fourth, the '80s "S"TM.
- Fifth, the current STM.

Some notes about how that translates to the other voices:
- Leftover Florida blanks existed for all voices, and in the HRs as well.
- The long-body is unique to tenor. I hope.
- The bari blanks also changed from the '80s to the current line.
- I have never had an EB bari, so I do not know how that fits in.
- I have only hearsay on the altos. The current ones ain't Floridas, that's all I can say for sure!


Right. On to questions.
Does anyone know of other characteristics of the "Middle" Babbits STMs or the early Babbits STMs for that matter?
My opinions:
- The leftover Floridas are exactly what they sound like. The facing I believe was slightly different, but the one I tried was more or less like any other Florida.
- The whopping one EB for tenor I have played was bright for a Link, and the highs thinned out in a way I did not like personally, but the owner loves it. I suspect both traits were due to the high almost-step baffle right behind the tip, which AFAIK is normal for them.
- I agree that the '80s "S"TMs are generally better than modern: I consider them to be the last of the 'good' Links. They're usually a bit darker than a Florida or especially EB, but the feel and versatility are still there.
- There are some good modern ones, but QC is lacking at best, and most I've tried are stuffy and dull. I'm 0 for 8 on tenor myself. I have one for bari that is really good, but I had to try six to find it, and I gather I still got lucky. :disgust: And then a few months ago I got an '80s one which I like slightly more. :faceinpalm:

Also when did the current links loose the quotes?
I have heard from a few people that it was in 1991. HOWEVER I can find no hard proof of that date, so take it as an estimate. "Luke, I am your father"....

And does anyone know if Babbit has changed the facing curves on the various STM along the way?
I don't know either way*.
I'd speculate not between the '80s and current*, based on tip openings and facing break lengths on the pieces I've measured (for tenor, 4 '80s and 7 current), but I don't measure the whole curve with multiple feelers. You'd have to ask a refacer who does to get a real answer.
* I'm referring to the average there. Standard deviation (aka quality control) has definitely gone downhill - even mid-'90s examples of the current version reputedly have better facings than today's, even though the blank is still the same.


Sorry I'm speculating on so much of this, but at least I say so when I do. Hopefully someone else can come along and help cobble together a bit of solid information.
 

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I think it doesn't make much sense to introduce a 'middle Babbitt' Otto Link model based on the disappearing quotes in the "Otto Link" stamp on the ridge. That seemed to have happened around 1997 because the stamp used by Babbitt had to be replaced because it became too old. If I'm right Mojo posted that somewhere on the forum.

During every Otto Link model production period small changes have been seen between baffle and chamber characteristics, but the changes within one model are usually not that big. The same applies for the modern Otto Links (produced since the 80's) and the disappearing quotes are only cosmetic, not linked to huge mouthpiece design changes that have an influence on the sound. So IMO no need to give them a new name.

You might want to check these threads/posts a bit further:

https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showt...etal-quot-Otto-Link-Identification-quot-chart
https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showt...ginal-facing&p=2580547&viewfull=1#post2580547
 

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I think it doesn't make much sense to introduce a 'middle Babbitt' Otto Link model based on the disappearing quotes in the "Otto Link" stamp on the ridge. That seemed to have happened around 1997 because the stamp used by Babbitt had to be replaced because it became too old. If I'm right Mojo posted that somewhere on the forum.

During every Otto Link model production period small changes have been seen between baffle and chamber characteristics, but the changes within one model are usually not that big. The same applies for the modern Otto Links (produced since the 80's) and the disappearing quotes are only cosmetic, not linked to huge mouthpiece design changes that have an influence on the sound. So IMO no need to give them a new name.

You might want to check these threads/posts a bit further:

https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showt...etal-quot-Otto-Link-Identification-quot-chart
https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showt...ginal-facing&p=2580547&viewfull=1#post2580547
Wanne's material is a guideline. It is not complete and it is not 100% accurate.

As for minor changes in the baffle, I always assumed that was just inconsistency rather than deliberate change! How did Selmer put it? "Allowing each player to find 'their' unique instrument"? :D

However, every '80s "S"TM I've ever had in my hands played differently than the current ones but similarly to each other. That is very unlikely a result of random chance, and even moreso that multiple players note the same characteristics.
Physically they are also slightly different, but consistently and enough to notice.
I'll see if I can get a modern one in at a store or something so I can document a comparison and offer something to actually substantiate what I'm saying. I realize my word as a dude at a keyboard is worth diddly squat.
 

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Wanne's material is a guideline. It is not complete and it is not 100% accurate.

As for minor changes in the baffle, I always assumed that was just inconsistency rather than deliberate change! How did Selmer put it? "Allowing each player to find 'their' unique instrument"? :D

However, every '80s "S"TM I've ever had in my hands played differently than the current ones but similarly to each other. That is very unlikely a result of random chance, and even moreso that multiple players note the same characteristics.
Physically they are also slightly different, but consistently and enough to notice.
I'll see if I can get a modern one in at a store or something so I can document a comparison and offer something to actually substantiate what I'm saying. I realize my word as a dude at a keyboard is worth diddly squat.
Wanne is not the only source, but he has seen many old and modern Links and knows for sure what he is talking about.

I have a big Otto Link collection myself with examples of all metal models since the 1930's and know from playing them (and the ones from collections of friends) that the magic can often be found in the old models from before the 'real' Babbitt period (so before the 80's). The after 80's STM's can play well, but are not considered valuable and top-of-the-bill pieces anymore. That's also why not many people see the need for another differentiation in this area, knowing that (smaller) differences occur.

Also getting one modern mouthpiece from a store to compare to one older one won't give you reliable comparison data, because they can vary per individual mouthpiece. You have to compare/see/play many before you can make a good analyses.
 

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Bingo...think of it like statistics. You need a measure of central tendency, not a N of 1.

1 sample can easily be outside the bell curve and thus make for deceptive and flawed conclusions.

This happens in the market all the time. I recently had a discussion with Theo about certain vintage pieces. We both came to the same conclusion about some specific models.

There are real models in the market place that fetch significant dollars. They are on the expensive side but their performance does not merit the cost.

Why do some models get high priced? ....because they are rare and thus players think they want them.

If you duplicate that piece to exact measures and sound what happens?

No one likes it.

Its kinda funny unless you are the maker.

Never underestimate the cult value that gets assigned to rare items.
Never underestimate the placebo effect.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you very much for your responses. A lot of really good information!

Most the 80s "S"TM that I have played do seem to play better that most the later STM I have tried. So that is why I was wondering if there was some specific difference between the 80s "S"TM and later STM.

In one of the threads mrpeebee provided, Theo Wanne talks about going to the Babbit factory and "seeing a dozen ladies" facing the mouthpieces. Maybe they were finishing the baffle also? To me this is very instructive.

So while there may be no real obvious difference between the 80s "S"TM and the current STM, I could speculate that some of the "dozen ladies" were really good mouthpiece finishers doing quality work and that maybe some of them left or retired, or maybe there was additional pressure to be more "productive" at the expense of quality starting in the 90's.

What ever the case, it is clear that there is certainly variation in Links of any vintage and more so as of late. But unfortunately it is very difficult to try the older ones out side by side since they are so pricey and hard to come by. It has even become more difficult to be able to try a number of new ones side by side.

I have gone through current STMs 10 at a time trying to find a good one and I have found a couple good ones.

So best to find a good one, stick with it, and do long tones :)
 
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