Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 5 of 5 Posts

·
Undistinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
723 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Recently, I was scouting around for information on these couple of mouthpieces but I didn't find a lot. So I told myself that when I got my new Vandoren SL4 mouthpiece in, I would do a post on this topic, as these are popular choices for people who are looking for a classical style mouthpiece from the mass market.

Equipment used for this review :
1) Keilwerth SX90 II straight sop
2) Hemke #3 reed
3) generic 2 screw metal ligature

Physical comparison and comments
Side by side, the Rousseau is noticeably longer than the other two mouthpieces, due to the longer shank on it. The Vandoren and Yamaha are almost identical in length. Of the three, the Yamaha is the slimmest, with the VD being quite fat, and the Rousseau even fatter. As to the fit on the neck cork, the VD and Yamaha seem like being close to a standard fit, whereas the Rousseau is noticeably tight (which I don't like), though not as tight as something like a Runyon Custom. Rousseau and VD are made from hard rubber, and Yamaha is plastic. Tip openings on these pieces are similar, running in the 0.049 to 0.051 range. Prices on these pieces run around $100, $60 and $25 fot the VD, Rousseau and Yamaha respectively.

Play Test and Comments
The Vandoren is new to me, so I am the least used to it. It struck me as having a somewhat different character from most of the pieces I own or have played. It sounds rounder, warmer and sweeter than the other pieces I have played to date. My feeling was that there was something special in the sound of the SL4 that had great potential to be developed, and was close to my current tone concept on soprano sax. It doesn't strike me as a particularly easy mouthpiece to control. I have some difficulty making the lower notes speak consistently, but when they do, they are quite beautiful. I think I am not used to the short facing used on the SL4, probably. I feel that this mpc altissimos relatively well compared to the other mpcs here, and in general comparisons. Overall, I am taken with this mpc, but I'll need to work on it to play it properly, but the effort should be worth it. I am happy with this latest mouthpiece purchase.

The Yamaha is a bit of a revelation. Despite being dirt cheap, it is a remarkably good playing piece. It was the easiest to play of the three pieces, and very even up and down through the registers. It has a very nice clear tone, sounds dead neutral to me, neither bright nor dark. Altissimo seems the weakest of the three pieces. And if I were to nit pick, perhaps I could say I felt it lacked a bit of 'complexity' to the sound, which was clear as a bell. But I have to say I am mightily impressed with this budget wonder, and the people who play this piece definitely know what they are doing.

The Rousseau sounds to me a kind of similar to the Yamaha, but with a tad more character to the tone. It is easier to control than the VD but less so than the Yamaha, and so in sound, price and playing character sort of stands in the middle between the other two pieces. Again, altissimo is better than the Yamaha, but not as good as the SL4, while the low notes speak easier than the SL4 but not the Yamaha. Overall, I'd have to say it is a fine piece, and I'd have no problems playing it as my main piece. As mentioned before, the shank section is somewhat narrow, so it squishes your neck cork too much, making it loose for other standard sop mouthpieces. Not a problem if you are a one mouthpiece kind of person.

Conclusion
The concluscion at this time is that all three are really fine mouthpieces. To a degree, they all deserve their place in the soprano mouthpiece universe. The SL4 seems that little bit more special, so it is easy to understand why large numbers of the classical community, pro and non-pro, play the Vandoren V5 and Optimum pieces as their main choice. I am convinced enough to want to put in the time to learn how to play this mouthpiece properly, and it is likely this will become my main soprano mpc.

The Yamaha is really excellent, and at a ridiculously low price point. There's really nothing much to quibble about and this cheapie will bring a player from beginner to advanced levels with no problems. I suppose the main drawback is the fact that there are thousands of these floating around, so it lacks some image and snob appeal.

The Rousseau is deservedly an excellent mouthpiece at a lower price range. For your extra dollars over the Yamaha, you get a mpc with a bit more complexity to the sound, in my estimation. And from a branding perspective, it seems to have more appeal than the Yamaha.

The differences between the three mouthpieces are there, but they really are equally competent pieces. The one we prefer is largely down to individual choice and taste. These pieces range from the neutral to the darker side of the tonal spectrum, so Kenny G wannabes should consider other more suitable pieces for their musical ambitions.

Bias Statement - New Broom Bias +1, Ownership Bias +1
As I have just purchased the SL4, I am naturally inclined to want to prefer it. Furthermore, the Rousseau and Yamaha are loaners from a friend, so the ownership of the Vandoren further increases my favorable bias towards it.

Sound Clips
I decided to make three short simple clips of these mouthpieces, just for my own listening and evaluation, so I thought I might as well include them here for others to listen to, if they were interested. So please do not take my opinion of it, but listen for yourself and form you own opinions.

Unfortunately, there is quite a lot of noise in the clips, which is something that happens when I convert the wav files to the mp3 format. Wav files are too large to post, and this noise problem is something I have yet to find a solution for. So apologies for that, but hopefully you can listen past the noise artifacts and get a fair idea of what each mouthpiece sounds like. Playing the clip at a lower to mid level will slightly mitigate this noise problem a little.

Please feel free to chip in with your own experiences with playing these three mouthpieces, or from your own reactions to the soundclips. Thanks for reading, and may everyone find that mouthpiece of their dreams.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
14,268 Posts
Interesting - thanks for posting. I listened to the three - they all sounded similar to me. If I had to pick one it would be the SL4 only because I thought the intonation throughout the range was just a bit better. The overall results, though sounded like a typical close-tipped set-up. Thanks again. DAVE
 

·
Undistinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
723 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Interesting - thanks for posting. I listened to the three - they all sounded similar to me. If I had to pick one it would be the SL4 only because I thought the intonation throughout the range was just a bit better. The overall results, though sounded like a typical close-tipped set-up. Thanks again. DAVE
Hi Dave

Thanks for listening and your comments. I agree with you - they sounded more similar than dissimilar. Not really a suprise since they are pretty similar pieces to start with. However, us 'reviewers and critics' have to try to nitpik and say something learned lol...
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
1,001 Posts
Thanks for supplying the clips. I thought they were very close. I did not notice the noise you mentioned.

I think the difference you note is from what you hear in your head when playing. We don't get that from the clips.

I'd pick the easiest to play.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Thanks to zorrosg for an excellent review. I agree that his SL4 sounded best. In my quest for the ideal soprano mouthpiece, I was considering a Rousseau, but now I don't think I need to try it. I already have: Vandoren SL3, Vandoren S27, Selmer Concept, Yamaha 4C, and Yamaha 6C. I have a Yanagisawa 991 curved soprano, and usually use a Rovner Dark ligature and Hemke #3 reeds. My current favorite is the Vandoren S27 for its ease of play, and a clear tone with character. The SL3 is similar but a bit brighter. The Yamaha 6C is also nice, but has less color to the tone, and is slightly harder to play some lower notes. Least favorite and most disappointing is the Selmer Concept, which is hard to play and has a slightly fuzzy tone. The Yamaha 4C is OK, but the 6C has better tone quality. I've only played soprano sax for about 6 months, and acquired these mouthpieces because I wasn't happy with my sound. But now I think I need to keep practicing and refining my embouchure.
 
1 - 5 of 5 Posts
Top