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Discussion Starter #1
No questions or brags, just thought I'd share a very small personal victory.

I've always thought it'd be fun (and pragmatic) to be able to adjust my own mouthpieces. With that in mind I had a Brilhart Ebolin tenor piece that wasn't quite right, so I used the opportunity to try to tweak it. It was sounding good, and I got cocky, so I kept going. Of course, with my attempt I messed it up even more than it was initially. I sent it off to have a proper facing put on it, and it was okay, but (I'm guessing) the tech didn't adjust the baffle behind the tip. Initially I thought it was great, but after some playtime, I found the piece was brighter, raspier, and if pushed too hard a little chirpy. Low notes were okay-ish.

So today I used some fine sandpaper and files and successfully managed to take the baffle down and make the piece a beautiful player! I also widened the tip rail just a little -- it was a touch too thin. It's not quite as smooth and shiny as it was, and there are still some marks from the files, but it plays smooth and dark, low notes and altissimo both speak very easily, as does everything in between. While I probably just got lucky, I'm putting this one in the 'W' column.
 

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You are brave! I don't even trust myself to color my own hair...
 

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You are brave! I don't even trust myself to color my own hair...
LOL What little hair I have left isn't worth coloring, so this is my outlet... :whistle:
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Also, it isn't my main piece, and while I'd sunk the cost of the reface into it, it still wasn't too much money not to try.
 

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Well maybe you've found a new talent! :)
 

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Nice experiment. :)

A good advice when changing mouthpieces yourself is to be very careful. The border between improving and destroying a piece is very small if you don't have good tools and/or proper knowledge about what effect a certain change can have. I read a lot about mouthpieces, but never touched one myself.
 

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Nice experiment. :)

A good advice when changing mouthpieces yourself is to be very careful. The border between improving and destroying a piece is very small if you don't have good tools and/or proper knowledge about what effect a certain change can have. I read a lot about mouthpieces, but never touched one myself.
Brother, don't I know it! My first tweak of this piece turned out great. I honestly should/could have stopped there and been happy with it. But a little more tweaking and I managed to give it a convex table. The tech flattened the table and opened it up a little (.083 to .087). I very gradually sanded down the baffle immediately behind the tip rail, and very lightly adjusted the tip. I'll find a less valuable piece to practice adjusting the rails, tip opening, etc.

But you're right. I definitely got lucky.
 

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Glad it turned out.

If you have pieces you dont want to gamble with chose a better tech next time. Baffle adjustments are a huge part of the job...often more important than the curve. If it was not addressed it was not a "Proper reface". It sounds like you do a better job than the guy that got paid. If it was just tonally a matter of taste thats one thing, but chirpy and unresponsive are another.......maybe you got lucky but...anyway, congrats.
 

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If you have pieces you dont want to gamble with chose a better tech next time. Baffle adjustments are a huge part of the job...often more important than the curve. If it was not addressed it was not a "Proper reface". It sounds like you do a better job than the guy that got paid. If it was just tonally a matter of taste thats one thing, but chirpy and unresponsive are another.......maybe you got lucky but...anyway, congrats.
I'm only guessing he didn't adjust the baffle, but maybe he just didn't adjust it enough for my tastes. Either way, my tweak seems to have worked. On a side note, do you have a recommendation for buffing the sanded area back to a glossy sheen?
 

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Brother, don't I know it! My first tweak of this piece turned out great. I honestly should/could have stopped there and been happy with it. But a little more tweaking and I managed to give it a convex table. The tech flattened the table and opened it up a little (.083 to .087). I very gradually sanded down the baffle immediately behind the tip rail, and very lightly adjusted the tip. I'll find a less valuable piece to practice adjusting the rails, tip opening, etc.

But you're right. I definitely got lucky.
I've adjusted a few of my own pieces as well. No big dollar pieces mind you. Just some experimenting on Metalites and some other high baffle pieces.
I always have an identical piece to serve as a control and I make the changes gradually specifically so I can stop right at the point where I feel I got the sound I was after.
The first experiments were to overcome playability issues on a high baffle/close tip tenor piece. Just for funsies I had a baffle added to a relatively inexpensive piece as an experiment and found it mostly unplayable as the baffle and facing curve weren't considered as of a piece, so to speak. The reed was too close to the baffle and it just closed right up no matter what strength reed I tried. Taking a wild guess at the problem, I rounded over the baffle and added a channel down the middle, opening up an alternative pathway for the airflow and BINGO! instantly improved playing and sound.
So I thought I'd try it with a "better" piece and asked Ken Barry to open a similar channel to my specs in the baffle of one of the last Downtown prototypes he was selling. I had another piece with the same tip opening as a control and went back and forth between them. Full disclosure, Ken and I both noticed some difference in how the piece played, but not as much as we expected. But, a Frank Wells tenor piece I bought afterward had a verrry similar channel cut into the very high baffle, which got Ken to thinking maybe my idea actually made sense.
After that, with a little confidence and very little to lose, I set about taming a Metalite M5 bari piece. My goal was to shorten the baffle and reshape it into a double layered crescent, leaving the tips, rollover, rails and facing curve alone, taking ideas from one of Ken's older tenor pieces. I got lucky in that someone on eBay was selling an M5 that already had the chamber opened a little and the baffle shaped almost the way I wanted. After a couple of days of modify, play, modify, play, I think I hit the sound I wanted. I now have a Metalite that whispers sweetly at low volumes but still has plenty of baffle to roar when I need to ramp up the volume. The upper end isn't thin or harsh at all. It has a rich timbre in all registers and a very satisfying full, deep bottom. Probably the smoothest playing Metalite you'll find. The real test will come when I try to tame an M7, known to be the loudest and harshest of the Metalites.
But I don't, and won't, claim to be anything more than an amateur trying a little experimenting on cheap pieces in order to better understand what actually creates my sound.
It helps that I have plenty of pieces that were already modified by folks who know what they're doing, like Charles Bay and Greg Wier, that I could use for reference. I've learned a lot from Ken about the science of mouthpiece acoustics. I had a nice conversation with Greg about some basic theory and some ideas to achieve my sound goals, and I'm extremely grateful that guys like that would even give me the time of day.
Sorry for rambling. Long story short:
I'll clean up some minor flaws and play around with baffles a bit. But, if I decide I need to have real work done on a mouthpiece, I'll leave it to the folks who do it for a living and actually know what they're doing.
 

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I've adjusted a few of my own pieces as well. No big dollar pieces mind you. Just some experimenting on Metalites and some other high baffle pieces.
...
I'll clean up some minor flaws and play around with baffles a bit. But, if I decide I need to have real work done on a mouthpiece, I'll leave it to the folks who do it for a living and actually know what they're doing.
I've thought about tweaking Metalites, but I actually really like the way they play. I get a surprisingly warm Dexter-ish tone on tenor, Jackie McLean-ish on alto, especially on the M9 and M11, and while I can think of no direct comparison, I really like the soprano pieces as well. I have a couple bari Metalites, but no bari to play them on. I might consider tweaking some Graftonites, which work okay for me, but I'm not in love with them the way I am with the Metalites.

OP...Yes, you can make it glossy again...I sent you an email.
Thanks for the tips, Phil!

Funny, I grew up in a different small town in Pennsylvania (New Holland), and it also had a silk mill and Ritz Theater.
Are either still operational? Our Ritz has a community theater group, the Silk Mill has several businesses and a community college, but is no longer a silk mill.
 

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just thought I'd share a very small personal victory.
I am happy that this worked well for you.
I tried something similar when I had a 10M, none of the mouthpieces that I had would play in tune or they would be so far off of the back of the neck that it would not seal well and would move around while being played, rocking up and down. I took an older no name mouthpiece as an experiment and started by opening up the chamber with a Dremel tool until it played dead on through the range of the horn. I removed a bit at a time and kept retesting until it was there. I was making this mouthpiece a larger chamber piece by trying to match the chamber with the horn. This worked out really well. The next step was to flatten the table which also worked out well with 400, maybe it was 600 grit sandpaper on a flat surface. But now the mouthpiece tip opening was really closed, down in the .060 range or something like that. I got kind of cocky with this previous success and now tried to adjust the tip opening. I did this using the same sandpaper on a flat surface and holding it even, started randomly putting a new facing curve on this piece at the 1" facing curve mark, test playing after every swipe. Every swipe made it play worse and I stopped after 3 maybe 4 swipes. That was 2-3 years ago and it still sits on the shelf by where I practice as a reminder not to mess with any mouthpieces without getting proper equipment, training and practice on how to do this.
 

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I saw a show at the Hawley Ritz 2 summers ago. Two former HS buddies were in a 4 man show there. The Ritz has seen better days.
 

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I saw a show at the Hawley Ritz 2 summers ago. Two former HS buddies were in a 4 man show there. The Ritz has seen better days.
You are not wrong.
 

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No questions or brags, just thought I'd share a very small personal victory.

I've always thought it'd be fun (and pragmatic) to be able to adjust my own mouthpieces. With that in mind I had a Brilhart Ebolin tenor piece that wasn't quite right, so I used the opportunity to try to tweak it. It was sounding good, and I got cocky, so I kept going. Of course, with my attempt I messed it up even more than it was initially. I sent it off to have a proper facing put on it, and it was okay, but (I'm guessing) the tech didn't adjust the baffle behind the tip. Initially I thought it was great, but after some playtime, I found the piece was brighter, raspier, and if pushed too hard a little chirpy. Low notes were okay-ish.

So today I used some fine sandpaper and files and successfully managed to take the baffle down and make the piece a beautiful player! I also widened the tip rail just a little -- it was a touch too thin. It's not quite as smooth and shiny as it was, and there are still some marks from the files, but it plays smooth and dark, low notes and altissimo both speak very easily, as does everything in between. While I probably just got lucky, I'm putting this one in the 'W' column.
I was lucky with my first attempt at doing this, but it was beginners luck. And to be honest, further fiddling some years later ruined that piece. That was a couple of decades ago. I've persisted and have been able to tweak my mouthpieces with some success. I recommend Mojobari's mouthpiece work group on Yahoo, if you want to learn more about it; lots of good information there.

BTW, that area of the baffle just behind the tip is where slight changes can make a major difference, and where some of the last bit of refacing has to take place.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Alas, I don't know when to leave well enough alone. I took it from a decent (but not perfect) player, to various stages of playability, to "crap, I don't want to kill this piece!" So off to Mojo it goes. Hopefully he can pull it back from the brink.

Now would be a good time for someone to start producing Brilhart copies/clones/tributes with good facings for a reasonable price. If we can have Link and Meyer copies from just about every era of production, then why not at least a Great Neck and a Carlsbad. Maybe a Hard Rubber and/or a Personaline. Not asking for much.
 
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