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Discussion Starter #1
I am currently playing a Morgan Fry Super Vintage mouthpiece which produces a fantastic tone. It has a high baffle, but the high baffle is only the length of the facing curve. The high baffle is considerably longer than that of a typical rollover baffle, but considerably shorter than the typical high step baffle. My understanding of physics is only rudimentary. However I am a public school band teacher with 25+ years of experience playing jazz, funk and rock and I also have experience as a studio musician here in Chicago. Although I don't fully understand the science behind it, my ear and playing experience has led me to develop a strong preference for mouthpieces with a high baffle, but a high baffle that is relatively short. I read a post by Morgan Fry here on SOTW over a year ago and I am paraphrasing what I took away from the discussion. Morgan said something to the effect of a high baffle only has a great impact on the oscillation of the reed for the length of the facing curve. A high baffle produces the Bernoulli effect on the air stream as it passes across the reed. I can already hear the science experts arguing back and forth as to whether this is true, but that is beside the point. The point I want the experts to address is this: it is my contention that a high baffle has a great impact on the oscillation of the reed for the length of the facing curve, but beyond the facing curve a high baffle has little to no impact on the oscillation of the reed for 2 reasons; 1. Once you get past the facing curve, the oscillation of the reed further down has much less impact on your tone since that part of the reed is not opening and closing against the facing, and 2. By the time you get past the facing curve, the reed is too stiff to be greatly impacted by changes in the air stream caused by the baffle. Through experience having played at least 40+ mouthpieces over the years, I have acquired a taste for the relatively small number of mouthpieces that have a high, yet short baffle. 2 examples come to mind: My beloved Morgan Fry Super Vintage, and my Phil Barone Super New York. Mouthpieces that have a high baffle that is long, such as a Guardala MB 1 or 2, produce a tone that is rather nasal and too bright. I don't like the effect of a high baffle once you get past the facing curve. I love the tone of my Theo Wanne Durga, because it has a high baffle but due to the large chamber, the tone does not have the nasal quality of a small chamber mouthpiece. However, I believe the tone of a Theo Wanne could be improved upon by making high high baffle much shorter. More specifically, my question for the science experts is this: does a high baffle change your tone predominantly due to the impact it has on the air flow in the mouthpiece, or does a high baffle change your tone predominantly due to the impact it has on the reed response as the air enters your mouthpiece? Although I am know expert, my experience tells me it is both to some extent. My reed response is very different on a high baffle mouthpiece. Morgan Fry said a high baffle produces the Bernoulli effect, causing your reed to spend more time in the closed position, which tends to produce more edge. All I know is I have been searching the world over to find more mouthpieces with a high baffle that is only the length of the facing curve, since the only mouthpieces I have played that fit that description are my Morgan Fry and Barone Jazz, both of which are no longer in production. BTW I just ordered a SYOS Yanick Coderre, because I believe that has the approximate baffle and chamber combination that I just described. Let the science arguments commence! LOL
 

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Interesting question. I await the answers. Hopefully one of our mpc manufacturers knows. Or one of the engineering types. Sorry I can’t help. From what I remember from physics classes the Bernoulli effect makes some sense. Or maybe the Venturi effect. The narrowing of the tube caused by the baffle causes an increase in the speed of airflow and a drop in air pressure. So the pressure on the input side (your oral cavity) will be higher than the pressure inside the mpc chamber - after the baffle. It must be causing an enhancement of the higher partials and/or a damping of the lower ones. How? Don’t know. First guess is that lower air pressure means lower density of air molecules in the choked area below the baffle and that causes the effect.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Maybe Morgan Fry will respond???:cautious:
Not likely. I contacted sax.co.uk about ordering a Morgan Fry mouthpiece a few months ago and their response was that Morgan suddenly stopped responding to their orders for new mouthpieces over a year ago. Morgan also hasn’t responded to SOTW discussions about his mouthpieces for over a year now. Allegedly Morgan moved to Florida and I heard he was planning to move his business to the USA. However the pandemic has likely postponed or possibly even destroyed that plan, since a large percentage of professional saxophone players are going through financially difficult times right now with most live performance venues having been shut down.
 

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As a dedicated, but decidedly amateur, mouthpiece fiddler, I offer the following comments:

1. Venturi, Bernoulli, malarki - these effects really don't apply to mouthpieces, except perhaps at the first 3-4 mm behind the tip rail, because even with a high baffle, mouthpieces open so quickly that the volume of air expands enough and the speed slows down enough, that these effects are minimal to the point of non-existence.
2. The length of the baffle probably does matter somewhat, but how it matters is very likely different for each player. It's nice that you have found out something about your preferences - though I caution you that shortening (or lengthening) a baffle in a different piece may not give the effect you expect.

Have you tried experimenting with blue tack or dental wax in a different piece? Take, for example, a nice-playing STM - add a wax baffle, and play around with the dimensions. You'll probably learn as much that way as by observing the length of the baffles on your two fave pieces. There are just too many ways that facing, baffle and chamber interact to make the kind of conclusion you have made into a generalization. I am NOT saying you are wrong - just that it might not work the way you expect with a different piece, and most certainly won't work the way you expect for other people.

A high baffle piece sounds brighter because it has an abrupt chamber shape change (the step) which causes some turbulence or something and excites the higher partials more. I think... But I've played paint peelers that have a rollover baffle - one that is very high. However, high baffle pieces can be "easier" to blow, other things being equal, thus requiring less air for a loud sound, and maybe the brightness comes from that. It's all very complex, and I don't think that anyone really understands it completely. And frankly, I wouldn't trust anyone who says they do (note that most mouthpiece guys who post here don't say that...)
 

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Its an art. Our 'science' is not advanced enough to know why - you just make it a certain way and it works. Once an artisan makes one that is great, and some ham-fisted nincompoop later 'fixes' it, it will never be any good again. If science knew how they work, they could mass produce the best mouthpieces of history - but they can't. Not even with perfectly exact laser measuring and computer-controlled machinery. Oh, they'll play, but they don't have that certain 'something' - that takes a certain gift and years of experience to make.
Submitted only half in jest.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
As a dedicated, but decidedly amateur, mouthpiece fiddler, I offer the following comments:

1. Venturi, Bernoulli, malarki - these effects really don't apply to mouthpieces, except perhaps at the first 3-4 mm behind the tip rail, because even with a high baffle, mouthpieces open so quickly that the volume of air expands enough and the speed slows down enough, that these effects are minimal to the point of non-existence.
2. The length of the baffle probably does matter somewhat, but how it matters is very likely different for each player. It's nice that you have found out something about your preferences - though I caution you that shortening (or lengthening) a baffle in a different piece may not give the effect you expect.

Have you tried experimenting with blue tack or dental wax in a different piece? Take, for example, a nice-playing STM - add a wax baffle, and play around with the dimensions. You'll probably learn as much that way as by observing the length of the baffles on your two fave pieces. There are just too many ways that facing, baffle and chamber interact to make the kind of conclusion you have made into a generalization. I am NOT saying you are wrong - just that it might not work the way you expect with a different piece, and most certainly won't work the way you expect for other people.

A high baffle piece sounds brighter because it has an abrupt chamber shape change (the step) which causes some turbulence or something and excites the higher partials more. I think... But I've played paint peelers that have a rollover baffle - one that is very high. However, high baffle pieces can be "easier" to blow, other things being equal, thus requiring less air for a loud sound, and maybe the brightness comes from that. It's all very complex, and I don't think that anyone really understands it completely. And frankly, I wouldn't trust anyone who says they do (note that most mouthpiece guys who post here don't say that...)
Way ahead of you. I started a thread to get advice on creating a baffle and I am having a good time experimenting with dental wax and even poster putty temporary baffles. I know precisely how much I love a mouthpiece with a high yet relatively short baffle. I am still surprised that of the over 40 mouthpiece brands I have tried, only 2 (Barone SNY and Fry SV) were designed with a high yet short baffle. I don’t believe this is a coincidence. I just found out that SYOS will allow you to design your own mouthpiece internal dimensions, so the sky is the limit! Can’t wait to try the new SYOS I ordered, which also has a high yet relatively short baffle.
 

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Engineering is rooted in science but often relies on trial and error testing when the science is very complex or not well understood.

Most of the sax sound comes from the vibration of the standing wave of air inside the sax. Its vibration is set up by the puffs of air agitating it at the very tip of the mouthpiece. Futher downstream, the shape determines tone and intonation. The locations of node and anti nodes is important. The transition area in the mouthpiece is not well understood. There is some study on what mouthpiece volume is best and whether this mouthpiece should be short and fat or long and narrow or something in between. But this too needs to be dialed in by the player with trial and error.

The Bernoulli effect near the tip is real and can be significant. Higher baffles make the reed vibrate and speak easier. So you need to use a stiffer reed with them or a .005-.010” more open tip to compensate to get a similar blowing feel compared to lower baffle mouthpieces.

Baffle and throat design change the brightness and focus of the sound. I think this is best studied by trial and error. Starting with a large chamber low baffle mouthpiece and adding putty/wax to change the design can be very enlightening.
 

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There seem to be several questions here.

1) Why does a high baffle tend to increase the high frequency components of the tone?
2) Does the baffle shape nearer the tip rail have a greater effect than further down the mouthpiece, and if so, why?
3) Amongst the several different typical shapes of high baffles, what are the differences in how they affect the relative predominance of high, middle, and low frequencies of the tone?

I disagree that the answers to these questions can only be reached by mystical insight, as 1saxman seems to imply. These are exactly the kinds of questions that experimental science is perfectly equipped to answer.

However, answering these questions costs money and time. Unless it's worth someone's money and time to answer these questions by determining the exact mechanisms that affect sound production in this area, the answers are going to remain experience-based without understanding the mechanisms. That's what we have now. It usually works, until even an experienced mouthpiece expert encounters something that he can't explain based on experience. Then you get the typical head scratching and "Hmm... I sure didn't expect it to act like THAT." I would submit that at present no one understands the real physics of why and how the high baffle does what it does, and that speculations about sharp transitions vs. rounded ones and so on, remain speculations in the absence of data, hypotheses about mechanisms, and testing of those hypotheses.

Don't get me wrong. It's possible to do a tremendous amount of good work without understanding the physics of why a high baffle does what it does or why different designs do what they do.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Engineering is rooted in science but often relies on trial and error testing when the science is very complex or not well understood.

Most of the sax sound comes from the vibration of the standing wave of air inside the sax. Its vibration is set up by the puffs of air agitating it at the very tip of the mouthpiece. Futher downstream, the shape determines tone and intonation. The locations of node and anti nodes is important. The transition area in the mouthpiece is not well understood. There is some study on what mouthpiece volume is best and whether this mouthpiece should be short and fat or long and narrow or something in between. But this too needs to be dialed in by the player with trial and error.

The Bernoulli effect near the tip is real and can be significant. Higher baffles make the reed vibrate and speak easier. So you need to use a stiffer reed with them or a .005-.010” more open tip to compensate to get a similar blowing feel compared to lower baffle mouthpieces.

Baffle and throat design change the brightness and focus of the sound. I think this is best studied by trial and error. Starting with a large chamber low baffle mouthpiece and adding putty/wax to change the design can be very enlightening.
Thanks for this rather enlightening explanation. Everything you are saying in this post agrees with what my experience has told me over 20 years of playing on at least 50 mouthpieces.
 

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I am certainly not a "science expert" but this question fascinated me because of my interest in acoustics so I did a bit of "digging". There is scarce written information about what takes place acoustically inside a mouthpiece compared to the rest of the saxophone. The most comprehensive study to date is the dissertation by Frederick Wyman written in 1972 and his most sophisticated piece of equipment was the oscilliscope. I will start with a visual definition of the "Bernoulli Principle" that is referred to in the text below.

8175


From Benade FMC
When the reed is very nearly closed the air flowing past into the mouthpiece tip has a particularly high velocity which means that there is a Bernoulli force acting there trying to help close the reed. The magnitude of this extra closing force depends critically on the inside shape of the mouthpiece tip—the region known as the baffle. . . . When the Bernoulli effect is made large, a lower blowing pressure P is required to close off the reed.

From Nederveen AAWI
When the amount of blowing pressure closes off the reed for a portion of its cycle it is called “beating”. On the cylindrical clarinet the beating reed closes the aperture for about 50% of the time. On conical instruments the closing percentage is less that 50 percent of the time in fact equal to the relative “truncation” of the cone to the complete cone to its apex. This can offer one explanation why the saxophone is much louder than the clarinet.

From Benade’s class notes
Straight Baffle ----- small Bernoulli force at reed tip
High Baffle ----------large Bernoulli force at reed tip
High Baffle ----------reed tends to snap shut when nearly closed
High Baffle ---------- “A” (pressure) is very large just before reed closes (large A has the ability to support oscillation on a low Z* peak)
High Baffle -----------reed screeching at almost any squiggly peak or taking off at its own (resonant) frequency.
High Baffle------------easy blowing (other things being equal) IF YOU CAN CONTROL IT (and if you like the much wilder tone)

Before being too hard on Arthur Benade for his opinions on saxophone tone, please remember that he lived from 1925 to 1987. Growing up in the '20's and '30's he listened to swing music which was was the jazz music of its day, and the popular music of its time. Influential saxophone players back then played with sound of Rudy Wiedoeft and Tommy Dorsey. Remember he also wrote that resonators make a saxophone sound "harsh". :)

* Z refers to acoustic "impedance" and is defined as the ratio of acoustic pressure "p" to acoustic volume flow "U".
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I am certainly not a "science expert" but this question fascinated me because of my interest in acoustics so I did a bit of "digging". There is scarce written information about what takes place acoustically inside a mouthpiece compared to the rest of the saxophone. The most comprehensive study to date is the dissertation by Frederick Wyman written in 1972 and his most sophisticated piece of equipment was the oscilliscope. I will start with a visual definition of the "Bernoulli Principle" that is referred to in the text below.

View attachment 8175

From Benade FMC
When the reed is very nearly closed the air flowing past into the mouthpiece tip has a particularly high velocity which means that there is a Bernoulli force acting there trying to help close the reed. The magnitude of this extra closing force depends critically on the inside shape of the mouthpiece tip—the region known as the baffle. . . . When the Bernoulli effect is made large, a lower blowing pressure P is required to close off the reed.

From Nederveen AAWI
When the amount of blowing pressure closes off the reed for a portion of its cycle it is called “beating”. On the cylindrical clarinet the beating reed closes the aperture for about 50% of the time. On conical instruments the closing percentage is less that 50 percent of the time in fact equal to the relative “truncation” of the cone to the complete cone to its apex. This can offer one explanation why the saxophone is much louder than the clarinet.

From Benade’s class notes
Straight Baffle ----- small Bernoulli force at reed tip
High Baffle ----------large Bernoulli force at reed tip
High Baffle ----------reed tends to snap shut when nearly closed
High Baffle ---------- “A” (pressure) is very large just before reed closes (large A has the ability to support oscillation on a low Z* peak)
High Baffle -----------reed screeching at almost any squiggly peak or taking off at its own (resonant) frequency.
High Baffle------------easy blowing (other things being equal) IF YOU CAN CONTROL IT (and if you like the much wilder tone)

Before being too hard on Arthur Benade for his opinions on saxophone tone, please remember that he lived from 1925 to 1987. Growing up in the '20's and '30's he listened to swing music which was was the jazz music of its day, and the popular music of its time. Influential saxophone players back then played with sound of Rudy Wiedoeft and Tommy Dorsey. Remember he also wrote that resonators make a saxophone sound "harsh". :)

* Z refers to acoustic "impedance" and is defined as the ratio of acoustic pressure "p" to acoustic volume flow "U".
Thanks for that insightful research! Although my only college degrees are in music and I haven’t formally studied science, I have acquired a great deal of knowledge on the subject because like you, I love to read anything and everything I can find on a topic of particular interest. I guess that’s why I read this forum regularly. The points in this document are exactly what Morgan Fry was saying in his post I paraphrased. It also agrees with my experience.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for that insightful research! Although my only college degrees are in music and I haven’t formally studied science, I have acquired a great deal of knowledge on the subject because like you, I love to read anything and everything I can find on a topic of particular interest. I guess that’s why I read this forum regularly. The points in this document are exactly what Morgan Fry was saying in his post I paraphrased. It also agrees with my experience.
Someone with access to 2021 technology ought to further research the effect of a high baffle on the airflow and reed oscillation. Seems to me this would make for a rather interesting post-graduate research paper for someone in the field.
 

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Two quick items off the top of the head (interesting discussion!)

1) Bernoulli Effect ideas are based on the assumption that you are dealing with laminar, inviscid, uncompressible fluids.
In this case, air travelling mostly in a straight line with no local rotational motion, no "frictional" losses, no compressing or rarefying of the air column.
The Bernoulli Equation is a Conservation of Energy equation. Any such complications make that very hard to use numerically.
So just as an observation, Bernoulli is insufficient to understand what is happening, particularly in the region of interest, i.e. the baffle.

2) The player is so much a variable here that computational analysis promises to be complicated.

I bet some F1 folks with all of their computers and CFD could get a handle on this in fairly short order. It could be understood, at a price (as already pointed out)
And then they would still be relying on fine finishing anyway. They could engineer the world's finest SYOS / Sugal 3D / Rico Metalite, and I expect it would still be
much better for some folks than others.

The "best" parameters are not the same for all.

I also expect this is why the OP finds that there are few that suit him so well. His preferences / physiology / playing style are somewhat atypical.



Anyway, great reading so far. Mike Mulligan vs. the steam shovel, eh?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Two quick items off the top of the head (interesting discussion!)

1) Bernoulli Effect ideas are based on the assumption that you are dealing with laminar, inviscid, uncompressible fluids.
In this case, air travelling mostly in a straight line with no local rotational motion, no "frictional" losses, no compressing or rarefying of the air column.
The Bernoulli Equation is a Conservation of Energy equation. Any such complications make that very hard to use numerically.
So just as an observation, Bernoulli is insufficient to understand what is happening, particularly in the region of interest, i.e. the baffle.

2) The player is so much a variable here that computational analysis promises to be complicated.

I bet some F1 folks with all of their computers and CFD could get a handle on this in fairly short order. It could be understood, at a price (as already pointed out)
And then they would still be relying on fine finishing anyway. They could engineer the world's finest SYOS / Sugal 3D / Rico Metalite, and I expect it would still be
much better for some folks than others.

The "best" parameters are not the same for all.

I also expect this is why the OP finds that there are few that suit him so well. His preferences / physiology / playing style are somewhat atypical.



Anyway, great reading so far. Mike Mulligan vs. the steam shovel, eh?
I beg to differ. Really great discussion points though. I don’t think my preferences are atypical because my tastes are obscure or needs are so unique. It is my contention that the primary reason only a small percentage of us jazz and funk/rock saxophonists prefer a high yet relatively short baffle is because so few of us have ever played a mouthpiece like that because the high baffle trend started with Guardala’s pieces he made for Michael Brecker and from that point on, just about every high baffle piece was essentially a copy of the Guardala pieces. Honestly it took me 26 years of playing saxophone semi-professionally and trying every mouthpiece I could find before I finally discovered the concept of a high yet short baffle while reading a Morgan Fry discussion of baffle here on SOTW. So I of course ordered the Morgan Fry but he isn’t making mouthpieces anymore. My Barone SNY is also a great piece with a high but short baffle, but Phil isn’t making this model anymore. So there really are very few mouthpieces being produced with those dimensions and most sax players have never tried a mouthpiece like that. I bet a large percentage of jazz and modern sax players would love a mouthpiece like that the first time they tried it. Btw after searching the world wide web regularly for months, I think I finally discovered a mouthpiece currently in production with a high yet relatively short baffle, and I just ordered it from SYOS; the Yanick Coderre signature piece. Btw my Theo Wanne Durga is a huge step in this direction, since it has a high baffle with a large chamber. But I like the Morgan Fry piece better because the high baffle is significantly shorter than Theo’s high baffle. I will report my findings once I receive the SYOS.
 

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Note that saxoclese’s post quoting Benade does not comment regarding the length of the baffle - that, as mentioned before, will affect the chamber volume (also missing from the conversation).
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Note that saxoclese’s post quoting Benade does not comment regarding the length of the baffle - that, as mentioned before, will affect the chamber volume (also missing from the conversation).
Saxoclese’s comment would seem to imply that no one has yet published any research on that aspect of a mouthpiece’s internal dimensions. The only thing we have to go on at this point is the experience of us small percentage of players who have played one of these rare pieces.
 

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Saxoclese’s comment would seem to imply that no one has yet published any research on that aspect of a mouthpiece’s internal dimensions. The only thing we have to go on at this point is the experience of us small percentage of players who have played one of these rare pieces.
Where did you get this idea? High baffle pieces are very popular and existed well before Guardala. What about high baffle Bergs?
 

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1) Why does a high baffle tend to increase the high frequency components of the tone?
2) Does the baffle shape nearer the tip rail have a greater effect than further down the mouthpiece, and if so, why?
Here's just a thought about another possible factor beyond airstream velocity. Resonances within the mouthpiece have to have a big impact on sound production. If you look at something like speaker enclosure design or microphone design, the structure of the volume and the surfaces defining it are critical to controlling resonances.

If certain frequencies are reinforced and other suppressed by the resonances in the volume of the mouthpiece, that will affect the frequency spectrum that is seen by the horn. The higher partials have shorter wavelengths. So for 1), perhaps the smaller volume under the active portion of the reed with a higher baffle favors higher frequencies. I don't believe the wavelengths get nearly as short as the distance from the baffle to the reed, but there could absolutely be some interactions of this sort that would affect timbre. Or timber if you're playing a wood mouthpiece. Re. 2) Maybe just because the more flexible and free tip of the reed has more ability to respond to such interactions? Any other point in the reed is attached to more reed before and after while the tip is open ended so maybe more able to be affected by high resonant frequencies reflecting around in the mouthpiece.

No hard science there just another possible angle to yak about:)
 
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