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Discussion Starter #1
Hi folks,

today I got a used Otto Link STM NY for tenor sax in the mail. I had never tried the NY series before so I got curious and eventually found this one for a reasonable price, so I bought it.
Playing saxophone for 30 years now and being a professional player for many years my demands are quite high when it comes to a perfect playing mouthpiece. I've tried a lot of tenor pieces in the past fifteen years and a couple of years ago I eventually started refacing pieces for my own needs. Today I'm a happy guy as I can achieve the sound I'm looking for without spending much money for customized mouthpieces, I simply do it myself.

I had the idea to record the adjusting process today step by step and share it, maybe it's interesting for some of you guys. I was using the same saxophone, reed and ligature on all recordings. I also checked my results after every single step with another reed and another tenor to make sure that I really got the adjustments that I wanted from every step, but for the recordings it's all time through the same setup.

---

1. So let's start with the initial impression: I play the mouthpiece for the first time as it came to me:
https://soundclick.com/r/s8az1b

I noodle around a bit and basically the sound of the piece is quite okay as I had expected it from a stock metal Link. I have a hard time when it comes to accurate phrasing and time feel - there is some resistance in the piece that makes it sound a bit dull and it doesn't feel good when I play. Still interesting sound and okay, you can play it but it's not a piece I would like to play for the rest of my life in this state. When I look closely at the tip rail I notice that it's not even. The plating is thicker in some places and the reed tip doesn't fit the tip of the mouthpiece well.

2. I adjust the tip rail to the shape of the reed and make the rail a bit thinner to get a little bit more buzz from the mouthpiece:
https://soundclick.com/r/s8az1d

Yep, the sound is a little bit more present now, just slightly. It's still hard to get a fluent phrasing from the piece as I usually like it. So now I measure the curves of the side rails. And as it's typical for stock Links: One of both sides is fine, the other one (the right side) differs in two regions, towards the tip and towards the middle section of the rail. It's quite accurate for both rails towards the breakpoint though where the reed touches the mouthpiece: both rails get in touch with the reed on the same level.

3. So firstly I adjust the tip region on the right side, taking off material:
https://soundclick.com/r/s8az1e

Oh yes, now it sounds and feels much better. The mouthpiece starts to sing in the upper register, the dullness is gone. The scale is not quite even yet, I still feel some resistance around g2/a2. I measure again and find some slight differences between the rails in the middle section of the right one.

4. I adjust the middle section of the right side, taking off just a little hint of material:
https://soundclick.com/r/s8az1c

Another improvement! The mouthpiece sings and plays effortly throughout the range now. Phrasing with flow is much easier to achieve, articulation is working and the piece still has some edge, there's more character in the bottom tones - I like it, now it sounds AND feels great to me and that's the thing I was looking for. Of course it will take some time to fully adjust to the mouthpiece as a player but from a setup perspective the fundamentals are now set for a fortunate development.

---

If you don't hear any changes at all on the recordings during the process make sure to compare the first and the last track after you've read the above. It's quite subtle I think but it makes a huge difference for me in terms of how I feel and how the perfected tool inspires me as a player.
Maybe the result is not special at all for some of you here, but the point that I like about all this is that I don't have to make clear to a refacer or someone else what sound I would like to achieve. No natural barrier in communication - it's hard to describe a sound/feel-change that subtle to a refacer. I have the sound in my mind and it can transfer directly to the mouthpiece (most of the times at least), no verbal detours - I truly enjoy that.

Now comes the practicing and then the reality check on a music performance in front of an audience, we'll see, we'll see ...


Best
Jo
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Oh and just to clarify: I'm not a professional refacer, I won't enter the business, I don't take any orders or anything. This is no kind of advertising in any way. I just do that for myself and have fun.
 

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Interesting enough. I had almost bit through an Otto Link NY I used for about 5 years. It became close to unplayable. I had another piece I was using and decided to have a go at it. It was the first of several pieces I have worked on now.

Filled the gap. Made the table flat. Opened it up a little. Added a baffle. I used it for another 2 years and loved the result.

Baby steps. You can take the material off but you can't put it back on.
 

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Interesting enough. I had almost bit through an Otto Link NY I used for about 5 years. It became close to unplayable. I had another piece I was using and decided to have a go at it. It was the first of several pieces I have worked on now.

Filled the gap. Made the table flat. Opened it up a little. Added a baffle. I used it for another 2 years and loved the result.

Baby steps. You can take the material off but you can't put it back on.
If I could make files that put material back on I would sell files, not mouthpieces!
 

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Hi folks,

today I got a used Otto Link STM NY for tenor sax in the mail. I had never tried the NY series before so I got curious and eventually found this one for a reasonable price, so I bought it.
Playing saxophone for 30 years now and being a professional player for many years my demands are quite high when it comes to a perfect playing mouthpiece. I've tried a lot of tenor pieces in the past fifteen years and a couple of years ago I eventually started refacing pieces for my own needs. Today I'm a happy guy as I can achieve the sound I'm looking for without spending much money for customized mouthpieces, I simply do it myself.

I had the idea to record the adjusting process today step by step and share it, maybe it's interesting for some of you guys. I was using the same saxophone, reed and ligature on all recordings. I also checked my results after every single step with another reed and another tenor to make sure that I really got the adjustments that I wanted from every step, but for the recordings it's all time through the same setup.

---

1. So let's start with the initial impression: I play the mouthpiece for the first time as it came to me:
https://soundclick.com/r/s8az1b

I noodle around a bit and basically the sound of the piece is quite okay as I had expected it from a stock metal Link. I have a hard time when it comes to accurate phrasing and time feel - there is some resistance in the piece that makes it sound a bit dull and it doesn't feel good when I play. Still interesting sound and okay, you can play it but it's not a piece I would like to play for the rest of my life in this state. When I look closely at the tip rail I notice that it's not even. The plating is thicker in some places and the reed tip doesn't fit the tip of the mouthpiece well.

2. I adjust the tip rail to the shape of the reed and make the rail a bit thinner to get a little bit more buzz from the mouthpiece:
https://soundclick.com/r/s8az1d

Yep, the sound is a little bit more present now, just slightly. It's still hard to get a fluent phrasing from the piece as I usually like it. So now I measure the curves of the side rails. And as it's typical for stock Links: One of both sides is fine, the other one (the right side) differs in two regions, towards the tip and towards the middle section of the rail. It's quite accurate for both rails towards the breakpoint though where the reed touches the mouthpiece: both rails get in touch with the reed on the same level.

3. So firstly I adjust the tip region on the right side, taking off material:
https://soundclick.com/r/s8az1e

Oh yes, now it sounds and feels much better. The mouthpiece starts to sing in the upper register, the dullness is gone. The scale is not quite even yet, I still feel some resistance around g2/a2. I measure again and find some slight differences between the rails in the middle section of the right one.

4. I adjust the middle section of the right side, taking off just a little hint of material:
https://soundclick.com/r/s8az1c

Another improvement! The mouthpiece sings and plays effortly throughout the range now. Phrasing with flow is much easier to achieve, articulation is working and the piece still has some edge, there's more character in the bottom tones - I like it, now it sounds AND feels great to me and that's the thing I was looking for. Of course it will take some time to fully adjust to the mouthpiece as a player but from a setup perspective the fundamentals are now set for a fortunate development.

---

If you don't hear any changes at all on the recordings during the process make sure to compare the first and the last track after you've read the above. It's quite subtle I think but it makes a huge difference for me in terms of how I feel and how the perfected tool inspires me as a player.
Maybe the result is not special at all for some of you here, but the point that I like about all this is that I don't have to make clear to a refacer or someone else what sound I would like to achieve. No natural barrier in communication - it's hard to describe a sound/feel-change that subtle to a refacer. I have the sound in my mind and it can transfer directly to the mouthpiece (most of the times at least), no verbal detours - I truly enjoy that.

Now comes the practicing and then the reality check on a music performance in front of an audience, we'll see, we'll see ...


Best
Jo
Was recording 2 recorded exactly the same as the rest. It sounds totally different to me as if you are standing further from the mic and not facing the mic straight on. Just wondering? Great idea........
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hi folks,

today I got a used Otto Link STM NY for tenor sax in the mail. I had never tried the NY series before so I got curious and eventually found this one for a reasonable price, so I bought it.
Playing saxophone for 30 years now and being a professional player for many years my demands are quite high when it comes to a perfect playing mouthpiece. I've tried a lot of tenor pieces in the past fifteen years and a couple of years ago I eventually started refacing pieces for my own needs. Today I'm a happy guy as I can achieve the sound I'm looking for without spending much money for customized mouthpieces, I simply do it myself.

I had the idea to record the adjusting process today step by step and share it, maybe it's interesting for some of you guys. I was using the same saxophone, reed and ligature on all recordings. I also checked my results after every single step with another reed and another tenor to make sure that I really got the adjustments that I wanted from every step, but for the recordings it's all time through the same setup.

---

1. So let's start with the initial impression: I play the mouthpiece for the first time as it came to me:
https://soundclick.com/r/s8az1b

I noodle around a bit and basically the sound of the piece is quite okay as I had expected it from a stock metal Link. I have a hard time when it comes to accurate phrasing and time feel - there is some resistance in the piece that makes it sound a bit dull and it doesn't feel good when I play. Still interesting sound and okay, you can play it but it's not a piece I would like to play for the rest of my life in this state. When I look closely at the tip rail I notice that it's not even. The plating is thicker in some places and the reed tip doesn't fit the tip of the mouthpiece well.

2. I adjust the tip rail to the shape of the reed and make the rail a bit thinner to get a little bit more buzz from the mouthpiece:
https://soundclick.com/r/s8az1d

Yep, the sound is a little bit more present now, just slightly. It's still hard to get a fluent phrasing from the piece as I usually like it. So now I measure the curves of the side rails. And as it's typical for stock Links: One of both sides is fine, the other one (the right side) differs in two regions, towards the tip and towards the middle section of the rail. It's quite accurate for both rails towards the breakpoint though where the reed touches the mouthpiece: both rails get in touch with the reed on the same level.

3. So firstly I adjust the tip region on the right side, taking off material:
https://soundclick.com/r/s8az1e

Oh yes, now it sounds and feels much better. The mouthpiece starts to sing in the upper register, the dullness is gone. The scale is not quite even yet, I still feel some resistance around g2/a2. I measure again and find some slight differences between the rails in the middle section of the right one.

4. I adjust the middle section of the right side, taking off just a little hint of material:
https://soundclick.com/r/s8az1c

Another improvement! The mouthpiece sings and plays effortly throughout the range now. Phrasing with flow is much easier to achieve, articulation is working and the piece still has some edge, there's more character in the bottom tones - I like it, now it sounds AND feels great to me and that's the thing I was looking for. Of course it will take some time to fully adjust to the mouthpiece as a player but from a setup perspective the fundamentals are now set for a fortunate development.

---

If you don't hear any changes at all on the recordings during the process make sure to compare the first and the last track after you've read the above. It's quite subtle I think but it makes a huge difference for me in terms of how I feel and how the perfected tool inspires me as a player.
Maybe the result is not special at all for some of you here, but the point that I like about all this is that I don't have to make clear to a refacer or someone else what sound I would like to achieve. No natural barrier in communication - it's hard to describe a sound/feel-change that subtle to a refacer. I have the sound in my mind and it can transfer directly to the mouthpiece (most of the times at least), no verbal detours - I truly enjoy that.

Now comes the practicing and then the reality check on a music performance in front of an audience, we'll see, we'll see ...


Best
Jo
Was recording 2 recorded exactly the same as the rest. It sounds totally different to me as if you are standing further from the mic and not facing the mic straight on. Just wondering? Great idea........
Hi Steve, thank you!

I wasn't facing the mic straight on on any of the tracks actually, I feared it would clip and you couldn't hear any fine differences at all. I was probably a bit further away at track two. But apart from the lower volume I still hear slightly more buzz on it than on track 1... or am I the only one hearing it that way (as I played and felt it)???
 

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Discussion Starter #7
You can take the material off but you can't put it back on.
Oh yes, I've painfully experienced this in the past several times with some pieces I could have been happy with at a certain point in the process. There were playing fine yet, but then greed prevailed over reason and I wanted MORE SOUND. ...bad idea. They're still in the drawer and always when I go for a new reface I get them out and build them up in front of me as a reproachful reminder.
 

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I think i hear better clarity in 4 vs. 1, however, for me, i like the grittiness of 1 as well.
I so think you got an overall better sound.
And if you like it, hooray!
 

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I think i hear better clarity in 4 vs. 1, however, for me, i like the grittiness of 1 as well.
Interesting experiment Jo!

I actually agree with above and like the sound in clip one, hearing more resistance and a grittier sound. But I know from my own recording experiences playing many different pieces that what you hear in a (compressed mp3) clip doesn't always correspond to what you experience as a player playing the piece.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thank you for your replies. I know what you mean with the grittiness in track 1. But believe me, you wouldn't have enjoyed that kind of resistance coming from a bad facing if you had played it.
It's fine to have some resistance to have something to blow against, your overall sound can benefit from that, but that kind of (good) resistance usually comes from a reasonable baffle/chamber configuration, not from a bad facing.
If I was looking for a more gritty sound I'd rather go with another mouthpiece design to start from, say a Berg or something similar and reface that. A classic link design is not what I associate grittiness with. The NY I have has a bigger chamber and a short but gentle rollover baffle, supposed to produce a dark and rich sound with some overtones in it for overall presence and that's what I think this piece was designed for. Very different from the Florida or Early Babbit configuration, you can get grittier with these I guess.
 

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If I was looking for a more gritty sound I'd rather go with another mouthpiece design to start from, say a Berg or something similar and reface that. A classic link design is not what I associate grittiness with. The NY I have has a bigger chamber and a short but gentle rollover baffle, supposed to produce a dark and rich sound with some overtones in it for overall presence and that's what I think this piece was designed for. Very different from the Florida or Early Babbit configuration, you can get grittier with these I guess.
Still there are a lot of Link players with a gritty sound (Ben Webster on a Master Link, Jacquet on a Tone Master, Cobb, Lockjaw and Willis Jackson on a Florida). Indeed Berg's can sound even more gritty, but also more two dimensional compared to a gritty Link. Especially in Webster's sound you can hear a lot of resistance from the mouthpiece, not sure if it came from a bad facing, chamber design or player hard reeds (I think he played 3/3.5 reeds on an opened Master Link till about an 8* tip).

I have two modern NY STM's (a standard 11 and a refaced 9*) and both can actually also become very gritty. Here are two compare clips I made some years ago between both of them and two original Florida Links (in case you're interested, amateur alert):

- 'Blues in Db' - medium tempo (Florida no USA 10* - Florida USA 11* - NY STM 11 - NY STM 9*):
https://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=13487643

- 'In A Mellow Tone' (Florida no USA 10* - Florida USA 11* - NY STM 11 - NY STM 9*):
http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=13488077
 

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Still there are a lot of Link players with a gritty sound (Ben Webster on a Master Link, Jacquet on a Tone Master, Cobb, Lockjaw and Willis Jackson on a Florida). Indeed Berg's can sound even more gritty, but also more two dimensional compared to a gritty Link. Especially in Webster's sound you can hear a lot of resistance from the mouthpiece, not sure if it came from a bad facing, chamber design or player hard reeds (I think he played 3/3.5 reeds on an opened Master Link till about an 8* tip).

I have two modern NY STM's (a standard 11 and a refaced 9*) and both can actually also become very gritty. Here are two compare clips I made some years ago between both of them and two original Florida Links (in case you're interested, amateur alert):

- 'Blues in Db' - medium tempo (Florida no USA 10* - Florida USA 11* - NY STM 11 - NY STM 9*):
https://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=13487643

- 'In A Mellow Tone' (Florida no USA 10* - Florida USA 11* - NY STM 11 - NY STM 9*):
http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=13488077
Thanks for the clips Peter! Yes, you're absolutely right, there are lots of different sounds coming from Links. I just listened to your blues clip, interesting comparison. For what I hear I'd say you get the NYs quite gritty but to me it seems that you get more grit with your Floridas. Maybe the opening of the piece adds to the grittiness, you sound more like that on the 9* than on the 11.
 

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Thanks for the clips Peter! Yes, you're absolutely right, there are lots of different sounds coming from Links. I just listened to your blues clip, interesting comparison. For what I hear I'd say you get the NYs quite gritty but to me it seems that you get more grit with your Floridas. Maybe the opening of the piece adds to the grittiness, you sound more like that on the 9* than on the 11.
Thanks for listening Jo.

Indeed the FL's are from nature more gritty because of the bigger baffles (compared to the NY STM's). The NY STM 9* became more gritty because of the too soft reed (a Rico Royal 2) for this tip, the NY STM 11 is the most clean sounding mouthpiece from the four.
 

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I think there are several sources of a gritty sound. One of them is a facing curve that is flat or even a little concave near the tip. The reed kinda slaps on this surface instead of rolling over it. That is my theory. Some players like this some just put up with it.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I think there are several sources of a gritty sound. One of them is a facing curve that is flat or even a little concave near the tip. The reed kinda slaps on this surface instead of rolling over it. That is my theory. Some players like this some just put up with it.
That's interesting, never thought about that.
I've had the theory in mind that it gets grittier with an even curve at the tip because of the reed being closer to the baffle area as a whole. The mouthpieces with flat curves that I've played on all had this in common at least.
 

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Jo,
Great job and very kind of you to do this for people to be able to experience the process with you!
You sound great, as always!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thank you all! I also hope that people get a feeling for what all the gifted and experienced mouthpiece designers here do all day, spending months or even years with adjusting and playtesting their creations before they're ready for sale.
I truly have the deepest respect and trust for all you people doing this. It's good to know that I can order a mouthpiece from you any time and know it's good work even before I played it. People like you brought me into this practice, thank you for that - it's fun, science and craft at the same time.
 
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