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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A large proportion of The Old Masters used Otto-Link mouthpieces.
Without doubt, some of these these mouthpieces were superb...the best available at the time.
It must be remembered however that these pieces were hand crafted using relatively primitive hand tools...albeit with great skill & much empirical knowledge. Replication was impossible, & each mouthpiece would have it's own nuances & character....some, in all probability, were ghastly.
We all know that we will not sound like "Sore Lips" McCoy using identical equipment, or even his own personal sax & mouthpiece.
Despite all this, in the eyes of some, nothing comes close to a vintage Otto-Link.
Most of the many threads here on the subject of current Otto-Links mention the huge inconsistencies between identically marked mouthpieces, and we are told, almost dismissively, that a new Otto-Link "must be sent to a refacer". Personally I would prefer to buy something that works; just as I would not expect to send my new car to "a specialist" to make it perform satisfactorily.
This reverence is surely offensive to modern mouthpiece manufactures who have methods of measurement & machining inconceivable a few decades ago; to say nothing of consistency to within + or - 0.000346 of a Milliblean!
The very best vintage Otto-Link can be measured & consistently replicated by manufactures using CNC milling & Spark Erosion equipment....yet the old diehards (& the gullible) would prefer to pay huge sums for a mouthpiece made with a knife & fork....bless them.
Perhaps the modern well equipped manufacturer, to give the veneer of verisimilitude & authenticity, should include tooth marks & that lingering sulphurous taste.
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I also propose that the same logic applies to reeds.....we have instruments costing many thousands of Pounds, yet rely on a piece of stick to make it work................... ;)
 

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Captain,
You must realize that it is usually the fault of the player-not the equipment. I've played Links for over 50 years and have had dozens of them. In all of those, only one was unacceptable. Many think that if "they" can't make it work why of course it's no good. I say it's the lack of experience and the unwillingness of most players to want to actually work at playing the horn.
I particularly like your line, " a mouthpiece made with a knife & fork...."
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Captain,
You must realize that it is usually the fault of the player-not the equipment. I've played Links for over 50 years and have had dozens of them. In all of those, only one was unacceptable. Many think that if "they" can't make it work why of course it's no good. I say it's the lack of experience and the unwillingness of most players to want to actually work at playing the horn.
I particularly like your line, " a mouthpiece made with a knife & fork...."
Absolutely correct Thomas...as ever.
Please do not think that I am slagging Otto-Links, I am not; they have made, & continue to make, some lovely pieces....but so do other manufacturers.
I am saying however that stamping on the name does not endow it with some mystic power handed on by the Greats. There is no magic involved, just attention to detail.
Otto-Link appear to have lost this attention to detail, otherwise the need to reface, in so many cases,would not be necessary.
There are quality issues; I have two Links, one is nearly as good as my SR Tech Fusion, whereas the other, a NY, is unequivocally, unquestionably & comprehensively dreadful.

It occurs to me Thomas that if you have had dozens of Links then there was something lacking, otherwise you would have persisted with the first. :) Hopefully, with you current Link you have found the Holy Grail.
 

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Some of those Links coming out of Babbit are positively dreadful. I bought a STM NY 7* from WWBW a few years ago. The table was slanted, the rails weren't the same width and looked almost like a hockey stick going to the tip. Was pretty ugly. Now, although you say you don't want your new car to have to go to a specialist, all I had done was have it "cleaned up" to what it was supposed to be. Cost me $40. Turned a mouthpiece that wouldn't play, into a quite nice piece of equipment. This is similar to having your tires balanced, or on the older cars, having the carburator adjusted. Very minor work that once put into regulation, will stay in regulation for a while, just was overlooked by the factory.
 

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Some of those Links coming out of Babbit are positively dreadful.
I totally agree with this, however I can't deny that the link has found a certain place in saxophone history, and was at one time in many cases the leader in the field.

But I think mouthpiece choice is very subjective, I have never liked Links except on my baritone. On alto I have tried several, ancient and modern, and they all sucked bigtime.

On tenor, I have also tried loads and id once find one that I really liked, sadly it belonged to somebody else.

The great thing is that there is now more than ever, plenty of choice. Or maybe that isn't such a great thing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Some of those Links coming out of Babbit are positively dreadful. I bought a STM NY 7* from WWBW a few years ago. The table was slanted, the rails weren't the same width and looked almost like a hockey stick going to the tip. Was pretty ugly. Now, although you say you don't want your new car to have to go to a specialist, all I had done was have it "cleaned up" to what it was supposed to be. Cost me $40. Turned a mouthpiece that wouldn't play, into a quite nice piece of equipment. This is similar to having your tires balanced, or on the older cars, having the carburator adjusted. Very minor work that once put into regulation, will stay in regulation for a while, just was overlooked by the factory.
Uncommonly charitable of you.
To me, a mouthpiece released from a reputable manufacturer with all the faults you list would be, quite simply, a bad mouthpiece. A very real quality control issue.
 

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Almost everything in the saxophone world is based on reputation. Why do people play Links? Because a lot of the old masters played them. Why does every band director in the world tell kids - even tenor players - to use a "Selmer C*"? Reputation. Why is the Yamaha 82Z line not used by more classical players? Because it's a "jazz" horn...again, reputation.

This is why every mouthpiece manufacturer compares their mouthpieces to a Link, or Meyer, or whatever. How many ads for a new mouthpiece have you seen that don't include a phrase like "plays like the old Florida mouthpieces"? Even the companies themselves have gotten into the act - think of the Babbitt "Vintage" or the Selmer Reference 54.
 

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Even the companies themselves have gotten into the act - think of the Babbitt "Vintage" or the Selmer Reference 54.
Even Cannonball is making a "Vintage" series...

Whoops. Wait a moment. They weren't around even 20 years ago. What the heck is a vintage horn made in Taiwan??? :shock:
 

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Even the companies themselves have gotten into the act - think of the Babbitt "Vintage" or the Selmer Reference 54.
Even Cannonball is making a "Vintage" series...

Whoops. Wait a moment. They weren't around even 20 years ago. What the heck is a vintage horn made in Taiwan??? :shock:
A paperweight? :D . Emphasis on Taiwan "VINTAGE". Not new Taiwan, for those that may get confused ;) .
 

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Uncommonly charitable of you.
To me, a mouthpiece released from a reputable manufacturer with all the faults you list would be, quite simply, a bad mouthpiece. A very real quality control issue.
Plus 1.

I sometimes see people say it's excusable to expect a saxophone to need some setting up, and it's possible this is true when it's shipped as opposed to you buying it from a shop - for things to have gone a bit out of whack in shipping, but a mouthpiece?

No, no , no it should work straight out of the box, if not there should be a warning: "This mouthpiece is not yet finished"

Almost everything in the saxophone world is based on reputation. Why do people play Links? Because a lot of the old masters played them.
Luckily this is not the same in the world of sports. All athletes and sports people seem to embrace technological advances.

The answer I suppose is that there is no competition to get the ideal saxophone sound, especially win the case of solo performers. I suppose in a band setting there is more of a case for fixed criteria, e.g. there may be to some people the ideal lead alto sound and there probably are band directors who judge people on how close they can get to that ideal, but I wonder how many times we will have to repeat to beginners: "It's not the equipment!"
 

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Even the companies themselves have gotten into the act - think of the Babbitt "Vintage" or the Selmer Reference 54.
Even Cannonball is making a "Vintage" series...

Whoops. Wait a moment. They weren't around even 20 years ago. What the heck is a vintage horn made in Taiwan??? :shock:
A copy of a vintage horn made in France.
 

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Personally I would prefer to buy something that works; just as I would not expect to send my new car to "a specialist" to make it perform satisfactorily.
You can say that again. After all what is the thing but a piece of metal that's been milled and drilled in a machine shop where repeatability and adherence to tolerances in this day and age ought to be down to gradations of one micron, unless the equipment is anti-deluvian and the operators are totally untrained or stoned out of their gourds. The teenagers at Voci-Tech could do a better job than Link seems to do. This isn't rocket science you know, and they've been turning out much more complicated machined metal parts since the middle of the 19th century so what's the excuse here?

To carry Capt. Bbs example a bit farther, imagine if MOPAR manufactured pistons, push rods, valves and bearings as inconsistently as Link does, so that when a repair shop finished doing a valve job the car ran like total sh:t or not at all, and they had to tell every customer that in order for it to run normally they'd have re-machine each valve-seat and each cylinder to match the different individually varying specs of the inconsistent parts--at an additional cost of $70 to $100 each.

The really sad thing here is that my 9 year-old son's 100's of hot wheels cars are manufactured to more exacting standards than Link mouthpieces are.

There really is no excuse for it and I can't understand why people put up with it.
 

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It's not that they can't do it, I'd suggest that they've worked out that it's probably just not profitable for them to do so.
 

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Certainly today we have available machine technology that is far superior to that of the 1950's and 60's however in terms of hand tools, not necessarily. I'd say the hand tools they were using to produce the original Otto Links were just as good and in most cases the same as what is available today, nothing 'primitive' about them. Evolution of hand tool technology for metal work and the like was probably quite advanced in the are of "what works best" and what is most comfortable to use long before the 1950's..
 

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It's not that they can't do it, I'd suggest that they've worked out that it's probably just not profitable for them to do so.
It's entirely this. Making them better, whether it's by CNC machining instead of casting or by better molds and finishing, is less profitable than doing what they do now.

Ad to the "they should play good" crowd -- they do play (more or less). I've never seen a modern Link that I can't get a sound out of. Good is another story. They're just not good. Good costs more money to make. You get what you pay for, just like anything else. I don't know why this should surprise anyone.
 

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Captain,
You must realize that it is usually the fault of the player-not the equipment. I've played Links for over 50 years and have had dozens of them. In all of those, only one was unacceptable. Many think that if "they" can't make it work why of course it's no good. I say it's the lack of experience and the unwillingness of most players to want to actually work at playing the horn.
I particularly like your line, " a mouthpiece made with a knife & fork...."
Absolutely correct Thomas...as ever.

It occurs to me Thomas that if you have had dozens of Links then there was something lacking, otherwise you would have persisted with the first. :) Hopefully, with you current Link you have found the Holy Grail.
I've been questioned about this in the past. The main reasons I've owned many Links is if a fellow player tried and liked one I had I'd just give it to them and go get another-you could buy them new for $19.00, I'd lose them or they'd lose themselves or I'd have a temper tantrum and fling one across the room..those are just several scenarios.
I switched to Tenney Jazzmasters about a year and a half ago. I'm all set.
Thanks for providing the opportunity to clear that up.
 

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I think you may be making much out of nothing. It seems that many people do a fairly reasonable cost-benefit analysis. I own a hand refaced (modern) link, and while you're correct that mouthpieces can be (and are) CNC machined to exacting tolerances today, I payed much less for my hand-finished and play-tested mouthpiece than I would have for one of these technological wonders. Regarding those who pay a lot for vintage mouthpieces, as long as they play test them before buying, I won't judge. Once a mouthpiece has been found to play well, its provenance is irrelevant. I don't care whether it was expertly machined, played by Coltrane, or hand-whittled by someone who has never seen a saxophone.
 

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Well that's my thinking. If these mouthpieces are being cast or whatever instead of CNC milled, it keeps the cost down. The downside, is that unless EVERY mouthpiece is getting finished by hand, they're not going to be identical and some are gonna suck, some won't. If you put good finishing on them, well you may as well buy something from Barone or Wanne or whomever. Most of there mouthpieces come from Link blanks or were modeled after them.
If I'm paying $150 bucks for a new STM tenor mouthpiece, that's pretty cheap relatavily. At the same time, I could go buy say a SR Tech Legend, which is essentially the same thing, but is CNC milled and it'll play similar to what the STM's are supposed to. At the same time, that mouthpiece costs $300, but you aren't playing roulette with them. They all come out identical to every other one. Spend a bit more in the $400 range, you can get the designer pieces, which have a bit more options but that comes with a cost.
Think Toyota Camry vs Lexus GS350. Both have a V6 on the same frame with the same body, but on the trim is different, and the interior is much different. The Lexus is twice as expensive,*not sure about twice, but you get the picture*. If Babbit started CNC'ing their mouthpieces then the costs would go up because they wouldn't be able to make all the blanks and keep the demand at bay.

Similar with the horns. I know Selmer's quality control is crap at the factory. This isn't really excusable, but say they knocked $1k of the asking price and sent it without pads/corks. I'd rather pay my tech to put a full pad set and felts on and have it work like it's supposed to than play hit and miss. At this point I've stopped telling my students to go play test horns at stores. Outside of my tech, the only stores around are music and arts. They don't set up the horns once they get there. They unwrap them and put them on the shelf. This blows because I've played a YAS-23 that played the snot out of a Selmer III. There is no way that that should happen, but the 23 didn't leak and was regulated properly. They go to my tech and he can't afford to keep a lot of these horns in stock because they don't move.

ok that was random tangent my apologies. I'm just saying, the prices would go up if Babbit had to either change their manufacturing process to CNC or if they paid a LOT of mouthpiece techs to get each one right. The casting for the blanks is probably 40 years old by now, if they had to go to CNC I bet the prices would go up 25% or so. Sure they'd all play great, but who's going to pay $200 for a standard link STM?
 

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SaxPlayer1004 said:
ok that was random tangent my apologies. I'm just saying, the prices would go up if Babbit had to either change their manufacturing process to CNC or if they paid a LOT of mouthpiece techs to get each one right. The casting for the blanks is probably 40 years old by now, if they had to go to CNC I bet the prices would go up 25% or so. Sure they'd all play great, but who's going to pay $200 for a standard link STM?
*Raises Hand*

Look, that's only $50 more than what they're selling for now, and less than what the "Vintage" ones are selling for. If it played well, it would be worth it.
 
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