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I was just wondering...why is it that there are so many used tenor pieces for sale in the Marketplace forum, but we rarely see them in smaller tip opening sizes like 6 or 6* or even 5*?

I recently bought 2 Otto Link metal pieces, 6 and 6*and I can’t believe how much I like the smaller tips over larger ones! When I first started playing tenor, I went with .105 because someone advised me that is what most tenor players use. Are the smaller tips only good on Links or are there other brands where smaller tips are the sweet spot?
 

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Are the smaller tips only good on Links or are there other brands where smaller tips are the sweet spot?
I suspect that smaller tips work best on mpcs with low baffles and large chambers, like a Link. But they don't necessarily have to be Links; there are many brands out there with a similar design to a Link. I've found that on high (or med-high) baffle mpcs the opposite is true; it helps to have a larger tip to balance out the brightness that tends to result with a high baffle.
 

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I suspect that smaller tips work best on mpcs with low baffles and large chambers, like a Link. But they don't necessarily have to be Links; there are many brands out there with a similar design to a Link. I've found that on high (or med-high) baffle mpcs the opposite is true; it helps to have a larger tip to balance out the brightness that tends to result with a high baffle.
Rollover baffle pieces with a large chamber work really well within the 5*-6* range and you are right, they don't have to just be Links. It's the design that works well in that tip.

With high baffle pieces, they do work better in 7* - 9 tip openings. Not to balance out the brightness, but because the baffle is effectively lowering the tip size. This makes the resistance better. Small tip high baffle pieces are just too free blowing and feel constricted.

Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk
 

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I have a whole post up about my journey from going from a 10 star tip opening that I’ve loved for about 25 years, down to a 5*-6* tip. I did this over about a year and a half time period. I went down by half sizes and I spent about a month and a half or a little more on each size.
For me, it’s been the most joy to go through this. I went down by half sizes in 2 of my mouthpiece models, and I am right with you, minicooper!
Love the pieces more than ever in the smaller tips.
I will never go back above a six star.

So much fun to play with a lot less air needed, and I just couldn’t be happier.

You don’t see a lot of smaller tip openings for sale because a lot of guys are used to playing medium or bigger tip openings, and many of the vintage mouthpieces that were initially in smaller tip openings, have been opened to bigger tip openings so more players today can enjoy them. I am certainly guilty of having loads of those vintage pieces opened up. I think many players today would enjoy the smaller tip openings if they gave them a try for a while. I really feel like you need to spend time on the smaller tip openings if you are coming from a larger tip opening. It’s not something I would guess that you would enjoy right away. If you put your regular mouthpiece away and go a little smaller, and get to know the mouthpiece, you might find it very enjoyable.

I hope more people find out the joy of smaller tips in whatever mouthpieces you enjoy.
 

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Funny that not so long ago, some people were pressing the case for “increased efficiency” in mouthpiece design, and how everyone should go up in tip size if they tried those models.

I am grateful to Phil-Tone for recommending that I go to a smaller tip size in tenor. I just had him make me a backup in the same size.
 

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I just want to say that hearing (reading?) these comments is very reinforcing for me. I've been playing for about 5 or 6 years, but I've played guitar all my life (I'm in my 60's) and also bass. Taking up an entirely new instrument is a challenge when you have high musical standards and unrealistic expectations! A few years ago I got a great Mark VI. However, I was still using a student mouthpiece, so I got a used Berg Larsen metal mouthpiece with a medium to small opening. At the time my teacher said it was like switching from an old Honda to a Maserati and I had to learn how to drive it. It took awhile but I did it and my tone has steadily improved ever since. But it bugged me that I was using a mouthpiece with a small-ish opening. I thought I wouldn't really be a serious player unless I could blow a much larger opening...I have no idea why I thought this.... so I tried a couple. Another BL and a metal Link. I could barely get anything out of them! My teacher thought I was focused on the wrong thing: the tip opening. He said what matters is the sound, from top to bottom. He was right. I didn't need to go to a larger tip opening because I'm getting a really nice tone for the entire range of my Mark VI, so why fix what's not broken!

Of course, since I haven't used any other mouthpieces, I still look for something better than my BL (and that's a real can of worms!), but I don't focus so much on the tip opening.
 

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Rollover baffle pieces with a large chamber work really well within the 5*-6* range and you are right, they don't have to just be Links. It's the design that works well in that tip.

With high baffle pieces, they do work better in 7* - 9 tip openings. Not to balance out the brightness, but because the baffle is effectively lowering the tip size. This makes the resistance better. Small tip high baffle pieces are just too free blowing and feel constricted.

Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk
That's an interesting theory, about a high baffle effectively lowering tip size. I don't go along with it because all high-baffle mouthpieces are not free-blowing - but if you get a good re-face, it can become free-blowing (reed-friendly). You can use an open, high-baffle piece with a softer reed for a more lush sound and still have the 'head room' for wide-open playing because the more open tip requires the reed to bend more before closing. The other important factor is with an open mouthpiece, the baffle is farther from the reed, so even with the highest baffle you can still get a deep, rich sound if you tend to play that way - its not automatic. The drawback is the softer reeds wear out faster but its worth it. This really only applies to those who do 'hit the gas' when playing rock, R&B, etc., or who really seek a strong, liquid tone in any form of music they play. It is a totally different school from the small-tip/rollover guys who generally seek a drier and more complex sound with a harder reed.
With any mouthpiece, regardless of style, its my belief that you would seek to find one that plays more easily/free-blowing/reed-friendly. Then, when you want more resistance, you just use a harder reed.
Any way you cut it, mouthpiece selection is an extremely personal choice, and it is well-known that any good player will still sound like himself on any reasonable mouthpiece - certain ones just make it easier for him to do what he does. It is also known that it may take a player several weeks to become accustomed to a mouthpiece and fully regain his sound. However, most experienced players will know right away if a mouthpiece is going to be usable for them. For me, its hard to tell around the house but out on a gig, I will know right away and I'll get that thing off my horn ASAP.
I'm lucky to be in my 30th year on a tenor piece. I can't remember how many I've tried in the last 30 years but none threatened to make me change.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Funny that not so long ago, some people were pressing the case for “increased efficiency” in mouthpiece design, and how everyone should go up in tip size if they tried those models.

I am grateful to Phil-Tone for recommending that I go to a smaller tip size in tenor. I just had him make me a backup in the same size.
Yes, that is what I kept hearing too, “go up a size or half size”. I had to be convinced to try a smaller tip size, but adjusting didn’t take long at all
 

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Those of you who dropped significantly in tip size... How much of an increase in reed strength (if any) did you make?
 

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A friend who is one of the top alto players said that he uses a 5 meyer on his mark vi alto. He implied most people are not good enough to realized they can not control bigger tips.

Not sure about tenor. Here seems most prefer 7 and above.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Those of you who dropped significantly in tip size... How much of an increase in reed strength (if any) did you make?
I went from 7* to 6* and 6, but so far I didn’t have to change reed strength. I’m still using Rigotti 2.5 medium.
 

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Those of you who dropped significantly in tip size... How much of an increase in reed strength (if any) did you make?
That will depend on the mouthpiece. Many mouthpieces change the length of the lay to compensate for the change in tip opening - the net result is that the same reed strength will work equally well on both.

I am playing much the same reed strength (Rigotti 3M) on my Phil-Tone Intrepid 7* (.105) that I played on my Lamberson J8 (.120).
 

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I was just wondering...why is it that there are so many used tenor pieces for sale in the Marketplace forum, but we rarely see them in smaller tip opening sizes like 6 or 6* or even 5*?
Probably because those smaller tip opening pieces are not played by many tenor players, and maybe also because the few that play them like them enough to not sell.

I have pieces in my (big) mouthpiece collection from 4* to 12* and tried them all, but the smaller tips don't work for me. I've settled on a 10* Florida Link with 2 size reeds.

I also think what you prefer heavily relates to what kind of music you play and what sound you strive for. Everyone has to do his own search to find what works the best.
 

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What are the possible trade-offs between smaller tip/harder reed vs. larger tip/softer reed? The latter leads to a more spread sound, and intonation is less "locked in", right? Anything else?
 

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What are the possible trade-offs between smaller tip/harder reed vs. larger tip/softer reed? The latter leads to a more spread sound, and intonation is less "locked in", right? Anything else?
That's correct (I play very large tips with a 2 reed). You also get more flexibility in shaping your tone with a big tip / softer reed.

Small tip hard reed combinations give normally a more focused sound and control can be easier (if you don't take a too hard reed).

Above comparison is only for mouthpieces with roughly the same build characteristics.

Other stuff like facing length, baffle size and chamber size also play a role and of course the biggest role is for the player.

It's all personal preference, it's up to the player to find out what fits him or her the best.
 

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That's correct (I play very large tips with a 2 reed). You also get more flexibility in shaping your tone with a big tip / softer reed.
Above comparison is only for mouthpieces with roughly the same build characteristics. Other stuff like facing length, baffle size and chamber size also play a role and of course the biggest role is for the player.
Sure, ceteris paribus is what I meant. Thanks!
 

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It’s not as simple as bigger tip opening/softer reed, or smaller tip opening/hard reed.
There are lots of players out there who can play small tip openings with soft reeds and loads of players out there who like big tip openings with heavier reeds. Facing curves play a big part in this. You need to play what is comfortable for you as a player. That criteria may change over time for you, as it has for me. There is no one answer that will fit everybody. Ralph Morgan used to tell me that he would play lead alto in a big band with a super closed mouthpiece and a very soft reed. He was not a fan of big tip openings.

30 years ago I sold George Garzone a hard rubber Link 12 tip opening. When I ran into him a week later, I asked how he was enjoying it and he told me he was having a great time with it with his Rico Royal #5 reeds! He was running marathons at that time, and has lungs of steel!

I was using my 10 star with 2 1/2 reeds, and now I use a six tip with a number 3 reed.
Age is setting in, and I’m trying to make things as easy as they can be. :)
There are no right or wrong answers with set up. It’s totally individual. I am enjoying the smaller tip openings because they do not take nearly as much air to sustain the sound, and I don’t feel like I’m giving up anything. I can get a huge sound out of smaller tip openings without a lot of effort. They also have more focus than the bigger tip openings and more direct punch. Very enjoyable!
 

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A friend who is one of the top alto players said that he uses a 5 meyer on his mark vi alto. He implied most people are not good enough to realized they can not control bigger tips.

Not sure about tenor. Here seems most prefer 7 and above.
You've pointed out something very interesting here. It's about being able to control the setup. It has to feel very comfortable and part of that is feeling like you can control all the aspects of your playing. The first thing I hear go out the window is pitch, also articulation. Larger intervals don't slot as well if you're playing too open. After seeing guys like Joel Frahm who played a Tone Edge 5 next to a 7* and a 9, It's remarkable how you can hear that he's already worked out the kinks in the saxophone so the larger piece just sounds like what it is, a bit wider while the smaller pieces sounded fantastic as well but maybe a bit more focused. He was getting all that sound out of each opening. Hearing Seamus Blake on his setup that he was familiar with that was under a 7 and then very easily play large 8* we had in the shop with the same reeds was very eye opening. All that force he put into the small opening was unleashed in the more open setup. That's after mastering the instrument though.
 
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