Sax on the Web Forum banner

Refaced mps, my first experience

2656 Views 15 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  dexdex
I just got them back. 2 dull and dead STMs I recently decided to have refaced, to give them a chance not to remain in a drawer. I had bought them cheap on a local auction site.
1. Alto STM 7*
2. Tenor STM 8 (not the one I currently play)
The refacer I chose for commodity, being in Switzerland, is Jo Schnabl, Mouthepice-Pro.
Germany is close to Switzerland (wirklich ?), and postal services are fast and reliable.
After a first contact by mail, I sent him the mps, and then I explained my expectations by mail.
Alto: bring it back to life, as I have actually never come across a somehow playable alto STM. Jo told me that Sonny Stitt used to play on a STM on alto, which I had never realized.
Tenor: make it THE lush low-end + harmonics mp.
He checked the mps, confirming they were stock and probably from the 80s. Another mail exchange where Jo detailed the work he was planning, and ... there we go.
I got them back, nicely packed in small foam tubes, like those used to insulate plumbing pipes.
First comment: the machining is very nice and smooth, great high precision job. The bare brass looks through, as well as the thin silver layer at certain places.
Second comment: my tenor is currently at the workshop, therefore it doesn't make much sense to check the tenor mp on the tech's Elimona.
So: let's go for the alto !
First impression: the Légère reed looks strange on that shiny mp, usually I play a black HR mp. On the first couple of notes, I'm immediately struck by the easiness. The whole range just pops out without effort. Strangely, the STM seems to project a bit less than my stock Meyer 7M. What about the lig ? I adjust the Rico H I use on my tenor STM, and ... magic, it works. The mp now has that similar behaviour tenor STMs have: roundish as long as you play gently, but building up some edge as soon as you push.
Great job, Mr Jo ! I'm gonna love that alto piece.
A suivre ... (once my tenor's back home).
See less See more
1 - 5 of 16 Posts
I try to take the shortened buy mouthpieces which are guaranteed to be good, and consistent, straight out of the box; mouthpieces that therefore need no refacing....mouthpieces made on CNC machines....mouthpieces such as the SR Tech.
I have a drawer full of the others; A STM Link which is gorgeous, & several other "identical" Links which are dogs.
Why should a new mouthpiece require refacing?
CB: good question. Why do you think it took me decades before I considered the refacing alternative ?
All mps stated in my signature are "of the shelf" ... so far. All 4 bought used, most from those drawers music shops have. All are "survivors" of many changes. Nothing unusual.

1. why do these overhyped CNC mouthpieces cost SO much ? This industrialized technology should make them cheaper than the handmade pieces of art. Someone must be cheating...
2. why aren't the established "market standards" (Link, Meyer, Berg, etc...) doing a better job ? On purpose ?
3. why are the above mentioned over-hyped and over-priced CNC mouthpieces so disappointing ? Any great sounding alto or tenor out there playing any of them ?

It really took me some time to make-up my mind. A refaced tenor STM I played at a friend's home recently kind of triggered the process: you can have the STM sound and feel, but with better response, fatter low and high end, etc..
Having also some dogs lying around, I decided to ... take the risk. Except a couple of €€s, I had nothing to lose.

Here I am. :silent:
An alternative to the CNC pieces is, as you rightly say, the exquisite hand made masterpieces from Morgan Fry, Dr. Pillinger & RPC, to name but a few....the possibly downside is the uncertain possibility of obtaining an identical replacement.
CNC pieces are, above all, consistent.
The high price could be justified by the first cost of the machinery....considerably more than a simple lathe & a set of warding files. :bluewink:
Re-facers carry out excellent work, & will be in business for as long as manufacturers such as Otto-Link, Berg Larsen and Dukoff apply insufficient quality control to excellent designs.
After looking at the pictures at his web site, it looks like Jo is doing excellent work!
I liked how he is thinning the side rails and making the side rails equal in thickness.
When work is done on the table to make it flat, the side rails can become thicker. A lot of refacer's won't work on this increased thickness of the side rails.
I hope to be able to play something Jo has worked on in the future.
Indeed, a true craftsman.
However...nothing results in a flatter table than a milling machine, or surface grinder; & side rails can be precisely what one dials in...with unparalleled consistency.
If this perfect hand made mouthpiece can be made, then a CNC mill can copy it....every time. Simply tell it what you want & it will do it.
The handmade mouthpiece market exists to make what does not exist in production form....for the ultra picky customer who "knows exactly what he wants" it real, or just in his imagination.
Craftsmen nonetheless.
He offers the brains, vision and know-how of the craftsman (plus his own musicianship), but the precision and consistency of modern machining.
In a nutshell, the total, ideal, package.
Circa 85% of that sound is you....the mouthpiece is simply a way of channelling it.
1 - 5 of 16 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.