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Tenor Players Switching From Metal to Hard Rubber Mouthpieces, WHY?

I've noticed in the last decade, or more, a lot of tenor players switching from metal mouthpieces (in most cases OL STM) to hard rubber. Examples are Ralph Bowen (Link STM to VanDoren Java), Jerry Bergonzi (Link STM th HR), Joshua Redman (OL STM to HR), Kirk Whalum (Guardala to VanDoren V16 HR), Eddie Daniels (OL STM to HR) and Victor Goines (OL STM to VanDoren V16 HR). And there are many more examples.

There seems to be more tenor players playing hard rubber today than ever before.

What do you think the reason is for this change?
 

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Re: Tenor Players Switching From Metal to Hard Rubber Mouthpieces, WHY?

I've noticed that too but Joshua is back on metal. I prefer the ringing sound from a good stm. HR are warmer but that's not the sound I'm looking for on tenor.
 

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The exponential increase of maker's (great and small) offerings in the last few years is amazing. The less people play saxophone the more makers there are selling mouthpieces and refacing them (of course because of this increase often refacing handmade mouthpieces!)

It seems to me that it is way easier to set an operation based on working on ebonite or various plastics than it is one based on metal mouthpieces which is simply more complex, expensive and labour intensive.


Also, there are very few among the metal mouthpieces producers who do Steel and that is precisely because it is way more complex than brass or bronze.

I think that there are and always were plenty of metal mouthpiece players with as full a sound and glowing warm sound on metal too.

It’s not the mouthpiece. It’s the player.
 

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Trend.

Also more boutique makers than ever before make hard rubber mpcs that are still affordable.
Exactly, and Joe Lovano created the fad with his wooden Francois Louie. Apparently wood is close enough to rubber to start it. The material has nothing to do with sound though, nothing whatsoever. This may be difficult but you really have to go with just how the mouthpiece plays, nothing else. You have to put everything out of your mind. Two of the greatest sounds ever were on metal, Coltrane and Sonny, not to mention who know's how many others on their metal Links. Phil Barone
 

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Prez in the 40's and Gene Ammons in the 40's 50's and 60's on plastic Brilharts for two more "greatest ever" sounds .

The player, yes indeed .
 

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Re: Tenor Players Switching From Metal to Hard Rubber Mouthpieces, WHY?

The trend to HR on tenor really started more like 2 decades ago and now I'm seeing more players, both famous and local to me, going back to metal on tenor.
 

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Some players just love gear and/or new/different things. Couple that with the recent availability of new mouthpiece makes coming on the scene. It seems human nature to want to try different things out. I've noticed some players switch to a new mouthpiece and ( maybe because it's the difference they like more than anything) they then go back to the tried and tested standrad STM or whatever. There can be a kind of "honeymoon" period.

I doubt anyone changes from metal to HR because of the sound of the material (as opposed to the design of the mouthpiece. However I believe there can be some difference in sound due to materials (depending on the density of the materials are being compared). Also whether you are comparing two identical mouthpieces with a high baffle design (which probably won't exhibit any significant difference in sound due to material)
 

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Prez in the 40's and Gene Ammons in the 40's 50's and 60's on plastic Brilharts for two more "greatest ever" sounds .

The player, yes indeed .
I don't know about the 40s, but the most classic Lester Young sound from the 1930s was a Conn tenor with an Otto Link metal mouthpiece.
 

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No such thing as one specific sound to describe a classic sound. There are so many that fit that description.

Prez, Hawk, Hodges, Bird, Desmond, Getz, Mulligan, Cannonball, Woods, Ammons, Rollins, Trane, Mobley, etc, etc, etc.... All are CLASSIC sounds to me, in their own right.

I know guys that switch from metal to rubber for the feel in the mouth. Guardalas may feel too thin for some, and HR Links might feel better too them, etc...
On the flip side, many love the thinner metal feel in the mouth and don't like the fatter hr feel. Lots of choices out there to get a piece that feels good and sounds good to you.
 

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Exactly, and Joe Lovano created the fad with his wooden Francois Louie. Apparently wood is close enough to rubber to start it. The material has nothing to do with sound though, nothing whatsoever. This may be difficult but you really have to go with just how the mouthpiece plays, nothing else. You have to put everything out of your mind. Two of the greatest sounds ever were on metal, Coltrane and Sonny, not to mention who know's how many others on their metal Links. Phil Barone
+1
 

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There is no discernible tonal difference between any of the (generally hard) materials, be they hard rubber, plastic, metal or wood. However, metal mouthpieces are typically a thinner profile, will feel different in the mouth and will require a more compact embochure. I don't doubt that metal mouthpieces will sound different as a result of the more compact embochure.

Edit: By "generally hard", I mean very hard in comparison to the thin sliver of bamboo that vibrates against it.
 

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I'd be curious to know whether there are any industry statistics on this. Have the major manufacturers or retailers ever made public any numbers regarding the total sales of HR vs metal mouthpieces, and has there been any significant change over the past few decades?

Maybe it's the former journalist in me, but I feel skeptical about assumptions made based on what certain famous players have done. It does seems as if there is a higher percentage of name players using HR today than in decades past, but it might also be that what Lovano and Bergonzi and Redman are doing isn't really indicative of what thousands (millions?) of other saxophonists around the world are up to.
 

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I'd be curious to know whether there are any industry statistics on this. Have the major manufacturers or retailers ever made public any numbers regarding the total sales of HR vs metal mouthpieces, and has there been any significant change over the past few decades?

Maybe it's the former journalist in me, but I feel skeptical about assumptions made based on what certain famous players have done. It does seems as if there is a higher percentage of name players using HR today than in decades past, but it might also be that what Lovano and Bergonzi and Redman are doing isn't really indicative of what thousands (millions?) of other saxophonists around the world are up to.
I totally agree. Besides, you can never believe what these guys say they play on - they are paid for endorsements and nobody can tell the difference definitively so who knows what they actually play. Case in point - which album was the first one Dexter recorded after switching from Conn 10M/HR to MkVI/Metal. It was sometime around '62. Can you really tell? How profound is the difference? It sounds like the same Dexter Gordon to me throughout that period.
 

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As we are getting older we want to sound darker. I'm 52 now and constantly is lowering mine baffles, - no mater if it's HR or metal.
 

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Re: Tenor Players Switching From Metal to Hard Rubber Mouthpieces, WHY?

I started on a Yamaha plastic mouthpiece that came with my first yts-23 tenor. After a year i switched to a metal link. Now, 23years later i am still playing on metal Link style pieces only with short periods on Hr. I like the more compact feel in the mouth and today i switched to a much thinner bite patch and it made a big difference in feel again and also flexibility.

As for the sound ,even a ligature change makes a difference on the sound!
 

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I chipped a tooth on a metal Berg. No fun. Hard rubber doesn't have the same "chipping" power.
 

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Case in point - which album was the first one Dexter recorded after switching from Conn 10M/HR to MkVI/Metal.
Dexter played a metal Dukoff on the 10M and after that setup was stolen a metal Link on a Mark VI.

About changing from metal to HR or the other way around: I think sound and feel of a piece are the main characteristics that make players switch, not the material. It has been proven by blind fold tests of Pete Thomas and Morgan Fry that pieces with exactly the same internal and external dimensions sounds the same, independent of the material they are made of.
 
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