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PART #1
Today I received the Ted Klum FocusTone Tonamax HR 7 .102 that I ordered (used) today. I was hoping that it would be slightly darker than my TM Custom 8 that I had been playing, and also less resistant due to the smaller tip. Unfortunately I ran into a number into a number of problems with it. I could not find a good reed, after trying an entire box of Jazz Select 3S/3M/3H. This is a reed he recommends ... I finally found used Red Box Java 3 that played OK however the sound was thinner than my TM custom and brighter in the upper register. To me, it sounded as if it needed a harder reed but the piece REJECTED the harder reeds I tried earlier. I also could not find a ligature that worked well on the piece ... I am really disappointed (especially for the big bucks this thing cost me). Is there something I am missing or has anybody else also had this experience?

PART #2
IF I end up returning the Tonamax (which is what I am currently leaning towards) does anybody have any recommendations for a piece slightly darker than a TM Custom 8 (maybe in a 6* or 7)?
 

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I play Ted's Focustone Precision, and his Focustone Tonamax, both 7* (0.105).

To truly get to most out of the Tonamax, you'll need a ligature that fits. The piece is smaller in circumference than most HR pieces. I use an Ishimori/WoodStone in solid silver, made for a HR Selmer. I also use a Marc Jean Model #701, unlacquered and a Vandoren M/O, gold plated. For reeds, I using Rigotti Gold 2 Hard, and 3 Soft.

Tenors are: Mark VI and Reference 54

I have no experience with the TM Custom
 

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Its rather crazy that a mouthpiece maker will recommend a reed. Some guys will play a 5 on it and some will play a 1 1/2 and the others all in-between. That's a very subjective thing. Sure, a .100 tenor piece is rather mild and you should be able to play a 3S on it, except some boxes of 3S will be a little stiff and bright. And not all .100 mouthpieces are created equal; it may have a long facing on it that needs a softer reed. Pick up a 3-pack of Rico Royal 2 1/2 and see how that goes. I play them on a .120 so most anybody should be able to play them on a .100.
 

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I highly recommend that you speak directly with Ted if you have a problem with your Klum piece. He is extremely open and helpful and very keen to make his customers happy. Just email him, explain your issues and I'm sure he will make suggestions to ameliorate the situation. I think it's a better solution than asking the wider community for suggestions at this point because everyone will give you a different answer and make you more confused ;).
 

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I highly recommend that you speak directly with Ted if you have a problem with your Klum piece. He is extremely open and helpful and very keen to make his customers happy. Just email him, explain your issues and I'm sure he will make suggestions to ameliorate the situation. I think it's a better solution than asking the wider community for suggestions at this point because everyone will give you a different answer and make you more confused ;).
+1
 

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+2 I the meantime, try a tighter lig, maybe from an alto or a fabric Rovner type and see what happens. Could be the reed not sitting firm on the table.
 

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I highly recommend that you speak directly with Ted if you have a problem with your Klum piece. He is extremely open and helpful and very keen to make his customers happy. Just email him, explain your issues and I'm sure he will make suggestions to ameliorate the situation. I think it's a better solution than asking the wider community for suggestions at this point because everyone will give you a different answer and make you more confused ;).
+3
 

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PART #1
Today I received the Ted Klum FocusTone Tonamax HR 7 .102 that I ordered (used) today. I was hoping that it would be slightly darker than my TM Custom 8 that I had been playing, and also less resistant due to the smaller tip. Unfortunately I ran into a number into a number of problems with it. I could not find a good reed, after trying an entire box of Jazz Select 3S/3M/3H. This is a reed he recommends ... I finally found used Red Box Java 3 that played OK however the sound was thinner than my TM custom and brighter in the upper register. To me, it sounded as if it needed a harder reed but the piece REJECTED the harder reeds I tried earlier. I also could not find a ligature that worked well on the piece ... I am really disappointed (especially for the big bucks this thing cost me). Is there something I am missing or has anybody else also had this experience?

PART #2
IF I end up returning the Tonamax (which is what I am currently leaning towards) does anybody have any recommendations for a piece slightly darker than a TM Custom 8 (maybe in a 6* or 7)?
I can't speak for this mouthpiece but from personal experience sometimes it takes me a few days and many hours to adjust to a Link type mouthpiece. There have been a number of pieces I have had that at first blow were disappointing to me. Then after playing it for awhile everything changes and it's like a different mouthpiece. I don't know what the chamber or baffle is like on the TM Custom but if the chamber is smaller than the Tonamax or the baffle is higher then you are probably used to blowing the required amount of air for you on the TM Custom but the Tonamax might need more air or support than you are used to. If you can spend some time with it and get used to it you might find you really love it after you adjust.
 

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IF I end up returning the Tonamax (which is what I am currently leaning towards) does anybody have any recommendations for a piece slightly darker than a TM Custom 8 (maybe in a 6* or 7)?
Yes. Return it while you can. Wanting a specific mouthpiece to work (for whatever reason) needs to be separated from actually finding a mouthpiece that works for you. There are so many out there to choose from, so if you have the ability to return a piece and move on without having to put it up for resale, that's the best option. As for looking for a darker mouthpiece than your Custom 8, I find going to more open tipped mouthpieces allows for a darker tone as opposed to moving to more closed tipped pieces as you are attempting to do.
 

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I agree with Grumps. Return it. I bought the first gen. Focus Tone composite 8. It was not what I expected, so I sent it back for an adjustment. It came back different but still not what I wanted, but now I owned it. I traded it 3 yrs later after a futile effort to satisfy. Return it.
 

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I agree with Nefertiti (he also has a great youtube video about it), you have to give it more time, at least a few days to see how it works for you. You have to get more used to it before it plays and you can decide if you think it's something for you. Just give it two or three regular practice sessions and do as you do with your mainpiece and then see if it feels like want it to be.
 

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I highly recommend that you speak directly with Ted if you have a problem with your Klum piece. He is extremely open and helpful and very keen to make his customers happy. Just email him, explain your issues and I'm sure he will make suggestions to ameliorate the situation. I think it's a better solution than asking the wider community for suggestions at this point because everyone will give you a different answer and make you more confused ;).
I couldn't have said it better. 100% agreed.
 

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With a used piece, you never know what special considerations were asked for. I've had Acoustimax B pieces made for me on two different altos with different needs and although they are ostensibly the same mouthpiece, they played wildly different due to my needs when they were crafted. Add to that the variable of reed selection... so and so may have told Ted he was playing a particular reed, and Ted may have shaped the tip rail to match that reed. Or the piece may be damaged. Etc. You're always running a risk buying a mouthpiece blindly before trying it, so I'd talk to Ted and see what can be done for the piece, go try other pieces somewhere until you find one that you like, or try to get the most out of the one(s) you have.
 

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... you have to give it more time, at least a few days to see how it works for you.
I'm a believer in the opposite, and I know whether or not a mouthpiece is right for me the very first time I play it. This is after playing on god-awful Level Airs for decades (because I got them as a kid and thought metal was "cool"). Once I started testing other mouthpieces, it was night and day. After some years of buying, trying, trading, and selling mouthpieces, I found my true preferences for each of my horns. The pieces of choice, I knew right away when first blowing them, and haven't changed mouthpieces on any of my horns in roughly ten or more years since.

And what about those Level Airs? After years of not using them, I took them out of the drawer and could barely speak on them. I couldn't believe I'd ever been able to play them. Could I have gotten used to them again? Sure, if that was all I had. Point being, you can get used to anything with enough time; but why fight your equipment? Again, wanting something to work needs to be separated from mouthpieces that actually work better for you. Assuming of course we're talking about experienced players, find them instead.
 

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I played LAs on tenor and Bari for 20+ years. I started on them for the same reason. Plus, they did do the job better for the type of playing I was doing compared to stock mouthpieces. I'm glad I stuck with them since I needed to develop as a sax player more than hunt for mouthpieces during those years. But now I know I like long facing curves so much better than the short curves of the original LAs.
 

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PART #1
Today I received the Ted Klum FocusTone Tonamax HR 7 .102 that I ordered (used) today. I was hoping that it would be slightly darker than my TM Custom 8 that I had been playing, and also less resistant due to the smaller tip. Unfortunately I ran into a number into a number of problems with it. I could not find a good reed, after trying an entire box of Jazz Select 3S/3M/3H. This is a reed he recommends ... I finally found used Red Box Java 3 that played OK however the sound was thinner than my TM custom and brighter in the upper register. To me, it sounded as if it needed a harder reed but the piece REJECTED the harder reeds I tried earlier. I also could not find a ligature that worked well on the piece ... I am really disappointed (especially for the big bucks this thing cost me). Is there something I am missing or has anybody else also had this experience?

PART #2
IF I end up returning the Tonamax (which is what I am currently leaning towards) does anybody have any recommendations for a piece slightly darker than a TM Custom 8 (maybe in a 6* or 7)?
I've seen the FocusTone Tonemax around (I mean pics... detailed)... but never played one of these.
Few days ago Ted Klum posted the mold of the chamber of a FocusTone compared to the mold of the chamber of a vintage Link...
And the mold of the FocusTone was smaller in diameter.



This was Metal FocusTone vs. a Florida Link. Being the first part of the name ("Focus"), I may guess that the same thing happens for the hr pieces ("FocusTone ToneMax" vs. a kind of vintage Otto Link).

These doesn't mean it couldn't "dark"... but for sure a smaller chamber (if the baffle/floor slope design is similar) gives more "focus"... and you can perceive that as more brightness.


Dark mouthpiece:
- 10mfan Merlot
- Drake Son of Slant/Bergonzi Slant/Reso... the Drake "Reso" is really dark.
- MouthpieceCafé "Slant Supreme"
- ... and the list is long.

I have 2 or 3 Tenor Madness Otto Link EB... they are designed as "bright hr Links"... but they had quite a lot of back pressure.



Its rather crazy that a mouthpiece maker will recommend a reed.
Some facings work better with some reed cuts (cut, not stiffness)... for example: open parabolic cut, like a Rico/D'Addario Jazz Select.
Some other facings work better with some other reed cuts... for example: a very "flat cut", like a Rigotti Gold/François Louis reed.

... I said it works better the mouthpiece paired with the reed. Then you may not like the sound it comes out.

For me not that crazy a craftsman recommend a certain type of reeds rather than others.
 

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I highly recommend that you speak directly with Ted if you have a problem with your Klum piece. He is extremely open and helpful and very keen to make his customers happy. Just email him, explain your issues and I'm sure he will make suggestions to ameliorate the situation. I think it's a better solution than asking the wider community for suggestions at this point because everyone will give you a different answer and make you more confused ;).
This is the thing to do, BUT don't forget that you are comparing mouthpieces with similar design concepts. Rollover baffle, largish chamber etc...In this case, tip size is going to play a part in size of sound ect ... The smaller the tip, the more focused and brighter, and the larger the tip, the more spread and husky and dark. Obviously there are exceptions when dealing with different designs such as small baffles etc...but for the most part when dealing with the same type of design, this is going to be the case.

I've owned hundreds and hundreds of pieces and have played everything from 10* to 4 and this is one of my many experiences when comparing pieces. So aside from talking to Ted, you are going to want to compare both pieces in the same tip IMO.

Good luck with everything, but I'd follow the advice originally quoted by DaveR even though I probably added to the confusion.
 

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...but the piece REJECTED the harder reeds I tried earlier.
I have played many Ted Klum mouthpieces, and never had the sensation that the mouthpiece actively opposed any reeds. What do you mean by this?

I also could not find a ligature that worked well on the piece ...
This sounds like the root of the problem - that, and inappropriate expectations.

Send it back - not because it's a bad 'piece, but because it is a poor match for you.
 

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PART #1
Today I received the Ted Klum FocusTone Tonamax HR 7 .102 that I ordered (used) today. I was hoping that it would be slightly darker than my TM Custom 8 that I had been playing, and also less resistant due to the smaller tip. Unfortunately I ran into a number into a number of problems with it. I could not find a good reed, after trying an entire box of Jazz Select 3S/3M/3H. This is a reed he recommends ... I finally found used Red Box Java 3 that played OK however the sound was thinner than my TM custom and brighter in the upper register. To me, it sounded as if it needed a harder reed but the piece REJECTED the harder reeds I tried earlier. I also could not find a ligature that worked well on the piece ... I am really disappointed (especially for the big bucks this thing cost me). Is there something I am missing or has anybody else also had this experience?

PART #2
IF I end up returning the Tonamax (which is what I am currently leaning towards) does anybody have any recommendations for a piece slightly darker than a TM Custom 8 (maybe in a 6* or 7)?
Hey there,

I have measured a bunch of these over the years. TK uses what I call a hybrid elliptical/flat tip curve that is not easy for me to get used to, personally. They are more ovular towards the back and flatter towards the tip. This creates a certain sensation and "feels" like a TK. I find there is negative resistance built into them a lot of times and for me they are more difficult to play than is necessary especially at bebop-jazz tip sizes (generally 7-8* is where most players in that category end up...)

You also have to remember that he now has a team of people working on these things. I don't think he does all the work on them anymore himself. He's a master, but that doesn't matter as much if he's not doing them all...

I've also seen funky tables on these things. I just fixed one for someone the other day that had an uneven table.

I recommend a (truly) flat table and a radial facing for jazz tenor. I feel like this responds the most freely up and down the horn, and the comment I receive again and again from pro players here in NYC is how easily the altissimo and low ends of the horn respond. I find this on my Slant Legacy too.

To answer your final question: You asked about a recommendation for a piece slightly darker than a TM Custom 8. Well, I definitely recommend my Slant Legacy HR. I can make it in any tip size, but it plays best at 7*-8* to me. I have made some of them in 6*-7 tips and they're cool at that tip size too. My Slant Legacy is very similar to the TM custom but mine has the chamber dimensions from an actual Slant and the baffle is not quite as pronounced as it is on the TM. It's more of a gentle, smooth slope down into the Slant chamber and it is a little bit warmer sounding without lacking projection or feeling stuffy. The facing style I use is very responsive and adaptable to a wide variety of reed brands and strengths. I switched to one about a year ago and haven't looked for anything else since.

You can hear what it sounds like here: https://soundcloud.com/mattmarantz/monks-dream

Let me know if I can do anything for you!

Best,
Matt
 

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+1 for talking to Ted. He's great to speak with and the customer service is first rate.
+1 for getting a ligature that works. I use a vandoren m/o on tonamax and my resotone.

Huge fan of Ted and his crew!
 
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