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Discussion Starter #1
I'm looking to buy one of the two German style mouthpieces...from what I've gathered, the Raschers play better on vintage and the Caravans on modern horns. I play a Ref 54, which is obviously modern.

However, I've heard (but I may have heard wrong) that the Rascher helps better control of the low register notes, which is the main purpose of me getting one of these two mouthpieces. My teacher believes that one of these mouthpieces will force me to fix something wrong with my embouchure, as it did for him when he got to college.

I have been playing an s-80 C* for a while, any suggestions? Thanks!
 

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I'd go with the caravan.
 

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I agree - Rascher pieces usually work best on horns of a certain age or older - say the 20s to 50s Bueschers whose stock mpcs they were modeled on.
 

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At the risk of reopening a can of worms, I feel compelled to mention that the Reference 54 alto is widely reported (but not ALWAYS) to have gurgling low notes. That symptom probably has nothing to do with your embouchure. The Ref 54 I had definitely had the problem. I cured mine by using a Series III neck. Some people drop something like a wine cork in the bell to change the acoustics in the bottom U. Others simply learn to voice those notes carefully if they need to play them softly. Still others report no problems at all. Selmer has reportedly revised the Ref 54 neck in the past year or two, probably to get rid of the problem.

If that is your problem, the mouthpiece won't change a thing, I tried 5-6 different pieces, including Caravan, Selmer, and Vandoren. All were about the same.

Edit: Here is an active thread related to what I am talking about. The problem existed in some Mark VIs.

http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?167063-Which-VI-altos-have-the-patch-in-the-bow
 

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Answer: Buy a Selmer Soloist C* with the ligature and cap. The reference 54 is supposed to resemble the 1954 Selmer Mark VI, but of course we all know it is similar but not the same. The Soloist C* was the mouthpiece that came with the Mark VI, and has a horseshoe chamber when you look through it. It's very different from the S-80 pieces, and I think it may be the answer you seeketh.

Back in 1966 I played on an old Martin with a C*, but switched to the Rascher tenor mouthpiece after Siquard Rascher had come to my college for a music camp. He said it would take a year to adjust to it, and he was right. Looking back, I was better off and had a better sound with the Selmer Soloist C*.

I bought one of the new ones a few years ago, and they are great. Just as good as the original. It is what I would call a well balanced mouthpiece. If you want to play screaming jazz or rock it would not be appropriate, but it really is an amazing mouthpiece that sounds good, is easy to control, well made, well designed, and has stood the test of time. Try it...you might like it.
Wisco
 

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I never approved of Rascher's idea that you needed to put your playing totally on the shelf for 6 weeks to a year (a year?) to use his piece. Probably it was a test of commitment. To him it wasn't just a mouthpiece, it was a philosophy. The one couldn't work without the other.

Personally, I think we're far enough along today that we can see it as an esthetic - one sound among many, and not necessarily restrictive of other sounds.

Think about it - if you were playing an S80, how long would it take you to get used to a high-baffle rock & roll paint peeler? Would you need to stop playing your S80 entirely? No. No one would ask you to. It's another esthetic - part of versatility, which is part of musicality.

Maybe in the 60s and 70s you had to make the extreme choice, because everybody was going to tell you you were nuts, cultish, retrograde. Those truths have blurred. Boundaries are as fluid as we find them to be. For instance, overtones are good for everyone now.
 

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Rascher mouthpieces are good, but require a large bored horn to be in tune and play their best. They can be a bit inconsistent too, however, I used one to get to PMEA all-states. The second tenor in Regions used a Caravan on his Custom EX, so it was interesting to have a fully "Rascher-esque" tenor section. For safety, I'd use a Caravan (large chamber version), it'll work better with your Selmer because they're designed for modern horns.

On a different note, you may want to consider the Vandoren Optimum line of mouthpieces. For me, they had much of the smoothness that I loved about the Rascher but with greater tonal flexibility and infinitely better response. I found that over time, the Raschers proved to be limited in their tonal spectrum for me, plus, produced a rather antiquated sound for contemporary works. The Optimum line ultimately does more for me while working less. Also, you don't need to change embouchure a lot or adopt a totally different pedagogy. They're much better than the S80 line, at least on A-T-B, so give them a look. Try the AL3 facing.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I used to have a soloist C*, didn't like it, it was too bright.

As for the gurgling problem on Ref 54s, that is the problem and never knew it was a consistent problem on them so I sent you a PM about it, awholley.

Thanks for the input everyone!
 

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On a different note, you may want to consider the Vandoren Optimum line of mouthpieces. For me, they had much of the smoothness that I loved about the Rascher but with greater tonal flexibility and infinitely better response.
You sort of allude to this, but I think the whole rationale of the Rascher mpc/pedagogy was to have less tonal flexibility, and readjust yourself to a setup that gives you less help with response (plus strong self-talk that "this is how it ought to be").

It's a very Protestant ethic. Work for its own sake is as noble as work for art's sake. ;)
 

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I think the Caravan would be a better fit because it should be an easier switch but......

......what is the problem that the mouthpiece is supposed to correct?

I had lots of experience with the early Caravan mouthpiece in the late 70's. I was playing a Larry Teal mouthpiece in college and my teacher was playing one of the early Caravans. I liked the dark sound he was getting on his Mark VI. I purchased one from Dr. Caravan and continued to play it for the rest of my undergraduate days. I did realize that I could not produce the sotto voce that jean marie londeix, or Donald Sinta or others got with the Selmer mouthpieces.

When at grad school at Michigan State and studying with James Forger, I switched to a C** that we picked out at the Selmer factory in Elkhart. Don Fabian and Griff Campbell were fellow grad students and on that trip that day. They lent their ears to the selection process. A couple of years later I was performing some unaccompanied pieces at a Saxophone Symposium in Potsdam NY including the Ryo Noda Improvisation #1. In the audience was Ron Caravan. He sought me out later to enthusiastically discuss my performance, which he had enjoyed. It seems that Dr. Caravan found my sound to be just fine with the Selmer mouthpiece too!
 

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I did realize that I could not produce the sotto voce that jean marie londeix, or Donald Sinta or others got with the Selmer mouthpieces.
I've never heard sotto voce used in sax terms. Do you mean subtone?
 

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I've never heard sotto voce used in sax terms. Do you mean subtone?
I am talking about a hushed transparent sound in the upper register, especially palm keys. Almost a stage whisper in character. A good example is the recording of Donald Sinta performing the 2nd and 3rd movements of the Paul Creston Sonata. When I heard this sound, I knew I wanted the color in my vocabulary. The variants of the C* make it much easier to produce the sound than the Germanic mouthpieces. You sacrifice some darkness in your overall sound to gain the flexibility however.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I think the Caravan would be a better fit because it should be an easier switch but......

......what is the problem that the mouthpiece is supposed to correct?

I had lots of experience with the early Caravan mouthpiece in the late 70's. I was playing a Larry Teal mouthpiece in college and my teacher was playing one of the early Caravans. I liked the dark sound he was getting on his Mark VI. I purchased one from Dr. Caravan and continued to play it for the rest of my undergraduate days. I did realize that I could not produce the sotto voce that jean marie londeix, or Donald Sinta or others got with the Selmer mouthpieces.

When at grad school at Michigan State and studying with James Forger, I switched to a C** that we picked out at the Selmer factory in Elkhart. Don Fabian and Griff Campbell were fellow grad students and on that trip that day. They lent their ears to the selection process. A couple of years later I was performing some unaccompanied pieces at a Saxophone Symposium in Potsdam NY including the Ryo Noda Improvisation #1. In the audience was Ron Caravan. He sought me out later to enthusiastically discuss my performance, which he had enjoyed. It seems that Dr. Caravan found my sound to be just fine with the Selmer mouthpiece too!
Well apparently I'm doing some "clarinet-ish" thing where I'm pulling my jaw back instead of keeping it pushed forward. And he had the same problem going into college and when Dr. Megihan at FSU gave him a Rascher and it corrected it right away, and then his low notes were clean and crisp on the head.
 

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Well apparently I'm doing some "clarinet-ish" thing where I'm pulling my jaw back instead of keeping it pushed forward. And he had the same problem going into college and when Dr. Megihan at FSU gave him a Rascher and it corrected it right away, and then his low notes were clean and crisp on the head.
That makes sense......you will have to change with one of these mouthpieces otherwise no sound will come out of the saxophone! They really do promote a more circular embouchure. The Rascher perhaps even more than the Caravan. I've never thought of mouthpiece therapy before, but it might be just the thing!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
That makes sense......you will have to change with one of these mouthpieces otherwise no sound will come out of the saxophone! They really do promote a more circular embouchure. The Rascher perhaps even more than the Caravan. I've never thought of mouthpiece therapy before, but it might be just the thing
Yeah exactly, we tried and tried to change on my C* but I just couldn't make it a habit, so this was the ultimate solution.
 

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I agree - Rascher pieces usually work best on horns of a certain age or older.
So, then would Rascher pieces also work best on newer saxes when performed on by players of a certain age or older?
:mrgreen:


I am lovin' this thread. It got me to reading other, longer, older threads about "the" Rascher school. Very interesting reading.

I have a slightly peripheral question I think should be easily answerable so I'll toss it in. Since there are those of you who pay particular attention to matching up the acoustical characteristics (scientific and/or experiential) of mpcs to horns, I have this question from the perspective of playing "classical" music.

- - what mpc allows modern Keilwerths the greatest tonal flexibility? Thanks.
 

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So, then would Rascher pieces also work best on newer saxes when performed on by players of a certain age or older? :mrgreen:
Well, the player is the most important part of the setup, so it would follow logically. But how logical is anything about sax playing?

I am lovin' this thread. It got me to reading other, longer, older threads about "the" Rascher school. Very interesting reading.
Ain't it though? It's more interesting than the music at times.
 
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