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SOTW Columnist and Forum Contributor 2015-2016
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
The Gladiator Battle of Morgan Alto Mouthpieces: 6M vs 6L vs 6C vs 6E vs 6EL

Welcome to the Gladiator Arena...tonight we give you a special feature...all of the Morgan alto mouthpiece line...every single possible model, in a 6 tip opening, ready to do battle. Will one truly triumph over the rest?

Initial Impressions

Morgan Jazz 6M: The second Morgan mouthpiece I had tried...you guys might remember this one. It's the piece that made me doubt my infamous Lamberson Fmaj7. This one came into the matchup with super high expectations.

Morgan Jazz 6L: I just got this mouthpiece from Junkdude a week ago, brand new, 'cherry-picked' from a couple of Dave's stash. Looks great, chamber is indeed slightly larger than Morgan's M chamber. I expected big things from this piece.

Morgan 6C: An extremely rare model I happened to pick up....Ralph doesn't usually make these in a 6 tip...they are a special order. I couldn't get Dave to convince Ralph to make me one last year...someone did, apparently. And I snagged it. Hand-signed by Ralph Morgan.

Morgan Excalibur 6E: The Excalibur model's medium chamber. The metal band looks very cool and this piece really looked exceptional when I got it in. These are supposed to be a little brighter and edgier than the Jazz Models. Also very excited for this one.

Morgan Excalibur 6EL: The Excalibur model's large chamber. I expected this one to win the battle...a bit brighter and edgier, but with the added volume and warmth of the larger chamber? Sounds like a winner to me.

Winner: Tie between 6M, 6C, and 6EL

Appearance:

Morgan Jazz 6M: Spotless craftsmanship...perfect table, side rails, and tip. Nice round, medium chamber and the blank is of excellent rubber quality.

Morgan Jazz 6L: Didn't look quite the same as the 6M on the table, rails, and tip....perhaps one of his apprentices did this one. It wasn't bad, by any means. It still looked fabulous. But it wasn't complete perfection like the 6M was.

Morgan 6C: Rails weren't as thin as the Jazz models...but I didn't expect them to be, considering this is supposed to be Ralphs "Classical Model". Chamber was large, round, and gorgeous. Curved inner side walls. Excellent overall.

Morgan Excalibur 6E: Another flawless execution of craftsmanship on a mouthpiece. This one was nearly identical looking to the 6M, except with that cool metal band on the shank and a slightly more streamlined body. It looks very chic and still feels comfortable in the mouth.

Morgan Excalibur 6EL
: Very fine work on this one...not as spotless as the others but near-perfect. Indeed a larger chamber and still with the metal band on the shank. Tip was exceptionally proportionate in all areas to the tip of the reeds that were used.

Winner: Draw between 6M and 6E, with honorable mention for 6L, 6C, and 6EL

Response: I consider "response" to mean how quickly a mouthpiece responds to your air stream; how easily the extreme ranges of the horn speak; and how fast the articulation can be on that particular mouthpiece.

Morgan 6M: Response is instant across the range of the horn. I posted this before as the upper register was a little weak with a bad reed...not true..you just need a decently thick reed. I used a Vandoren Blue Box 3 and let me tell you...the palm keys were SINGING. . Altissimo improved as well, not effortless, but still easily accessible. I had no trouble up to alt. Bb...after that it started to become more difficult. Bottom register was FANTASTIC. Sub-tone was great, easy to access. Staccato Bb at ppp was cake. Love playing in the lower register on this piece. Articulation was great.

Morgan Jazz 6L: I expected a lot more than I was getting...the larger chamber was a twist on what I had been experiencing before on the medium chamber. It required more air to get this thing going. I found a softer air stream didn't work so well for lower end response. This piece should be used for those with experienced air streams, or whoever likes to constantly put a lot of air through the horn.

Morgan 6C: This piece is obviously built to be a little more resistant. That's not to say it's very resistant or stuffy at all...it isn't, but it's also not as instantly responsive as the other jazz models. You need to spend some intimate time with this piece, and come to an agreement on when and how the air is working and the response. A little time spent and I had no issues whatsoever. Low register purred and popped, no issues. Upper register wasn't as popping...but there weren't any issues, either. Very even throughout the entire piece.

Morgan Excalibur 6E: Did someone say response? Instant, easy response from Bb1 to Bb4. Everyting popped out immediately with absolutely no issues. Be careful though, if you overblow you'll get some harmonics popping out for you. Just take the piece in stride and make sure you focus on what you're doing...don't take the easy response for granted or you'll be hearing an octave and fifth above the note.

Morgan Excalibur 6EL: Almost a perfect compromise. The instantaneous response of the 6E with the larger chamber and bigger air stream. Again, soft/weak air streams didn't do well...especially in the lower register. But with a supported, focussed air stream, things were fine and dandy.

Winner: Morgan Excalibur 6E

Dynamics/Projection: Not the same thing, I know, but included in the same review. Projection, in my mind, is the ability to fill up a room with your sound; the ability to make your sound carry to the far corners of the room, no matter what volume. To me, volume is simply how loud you can play...a higher amount of decibels.

Morgan Jazz 6M: This piece loved to be played at any dynamic level. At soft levels, it's easy to control and doesn't break up on you. With the thicker cut reeds, you can play all the way up the registers with a quiet, full sound. Turn it around, and put some air in the piece, and it will sing for you. Projection was great...go ahead, fill the room up with sound.

Morgan Jazz 6L: Soft levels weren't as consistent in the upper register, even with a supported air stream. It enjoyed playing the lower register, but super soft palm keys were a little more difficult. Not by much, and surely curable with more time on the piece. Also not as loud as the medium chamber, more diffuse. The projection was a much more spread sound...also easy to fill up a room, but in a more spread out sense, rather than the brilliance or focus of the other jazz models.

Morgan 6C: Probably the quietest out of the matchup...and that really isn't saying much, because it wasn't a quiet piece at all. It wouldn't absolutely scream, but it would shout and purr for you. Very even, the tone stays the same as you increase in volume. Again, a more spread characteristic for projection, just slightly more so than the 6L.

Morgan Excalibur 6E: Move over Dukoff...a new power piece in town. I love how incredibly loud this piece can get...I think I killed a few birds with I was honking out Bbs....and neutered a few dogs with the screaming altissimo. VERY loud piece when you need it...softs weren't as incredible, but still sounded great. Projection is focused and fast...great for outdoor gigs or un-mic'd situations.

Morgan Excalibur 6EL: This one actually surprised me...I expected it to be loud as all hell. Instead, it had the focused projection of the 6E...just turned down a few notches. Slightly more spread than the 6E, but still a focused projection and sound quality. Soft volumes weren't as easy as the other pieces.

Winner: Overall balance goes to Jazz 6M.



Tone: I consider "tone" to be descriptive of the sound the mouthpiece gives to the player. Terms such as: bright, dark, full, thin, big, small, etc etc can be used to describe tone. Since it is such a controversial and individual topic, I will focus on things that other players will most likely encounter when comparing these pieces.

Morgan Jazz 6M: Very versatile piece. I've found Morgan's mouthpieces rely on the player to create a unique tone. They kind of say "Ok, here's everything you need to make an incredible sound...now go do it." I'm getting into that. It lets you shape the sound to that which you hear in your head. That being said, the piece has a balanced sound...not dark but not bright...but easily able to do either. I switched off between Paul Desmond and Gerald Albright without an issue. There's definitely some edge...but only if you really need it. Kind of a la carte selection. I dig.

Morgan 6L: Upper register wasn't as singing or brilliant as the 6M or 6E, but it was still thick and rich sounding. The lower register absolutely pours out of this piece, with proper air support. Definitely darker and more spread than the other jazz models. Fat sound!

Morgan 6C: Did I just say fat sound? Take it to the next extreme...this piece COULD be used as a classical mouthpiece. It doesn't have your typical focussed french sound, though. It sounds like a vintage piece...a fat, spread sound with gobs of richness and core. I really enjoyed this mouthpiece. Put this on a vintage Conn baby...*super deep bass voice* OOhhhhhhh yeahhhhh. I tried this puppy on a vintage Chu Portrait alto. Vintage heaven. Excellent sound quality, very unique.

Morgan Excalibur 6E: Take the 6M's a la carte tone ability, combine that with more edge and brilliance, and you have the Excalibur 6E. Versatile...not so much as the 6M...but close. I couldn't quite do Desmond with this piece...but straight-ahead to avant garde and rock was easy. Plenty of edge when needed...a thin, edgy reed and this piece could scream out over amplified instruments.

Morgan Excalibur 6EL: Great big band piece. A less powerful, slightly spread sound with some edge and gobs of clarity. Rich tone throughout the range. Used as a lead alto piece for a big band, this could have a bright future. Slightly darker sound than the 6E or 6M...but still has some extra edge and brilliance. Really a genius combination of tone colors, power, and edge.

Winner: I can't possibly pick one. Depends on your application. My PERSONAL preference is for the 6M, the most versatile of the lot.


Intangibles:

Morgan Jazz 6M: Probably the most popular model, and for good reason. It's also arguably the most versatile of the lot. Lots of talk and hype from ALOT of players...and it backs up the talking, with plenty of walking.

Morgan Jazz 6L: The unknown step-brother of the 6M...should really get more exposure, but its for a more specialized kind of sound. Still definitely worth a try if you're looking for something a little different than your typical "meyer copy" piece.

Morgan 6C: VERY rare mouthpiece, hand-signed and created by Ralph Morgan makes this a great collectors item as well as a great playing mouthpiece. The lore that will go on with this mouthpiece makes it even more desirable.

Morgan Exalibur 6E: Gaining praise everywhere, who wouldn't love them with those cool metal shanks? Although I guess some people confuse them with those Bari brand mouthpieces. A shame, because the Morgans have them beat by quite a bit. With power, edge, and instant response...these will continue to get more popular with commercial players. I have a pop recording next week and I'll be using one of these for it...

Morgan Excalibur 6EL: The black sheep of the family? I'd be willing to bet these are the least sold model of Morgan, just because they seem to be so specialized. They're still an excellent, hand-quality made mouthpiece....but it's hard to sell glass in a rain-forest...dig?

Winner: Morgan 6C


Overall winner: Who cares, they're Morgans!!

In reality you can't pick a true "winner" for this matchup. They're gladiators, remember? They all end up dying anyway.

The Morgan Jazz 6M would appeal to the player looking for a great playing, versatile-in-tone mouthpiece that could play many different styles. The 6L would be great for someone seeking something similar to the 6M, but with a little darker tone quality and spread characteristic. the 6C would be great for a classical player, or the jazzer who seeks a dark, round tone. The 6E is perfect for a lead alto/funk/rock player who needs power and edge at his disposal with excellent reliability. The 6EL would be a great lead alto piece as well, and also could work as a traditional jazz mouthpiece.

Every piece has its good traits, hopefully with this review you've gotten to see how each of them stack up next to one another. This one took ALOT of time so comments, hopefully good, are appreciated. I'd be happy to answer any questions via PM or email at [email protected] Please direct any and all flaming attacks, angry accusations, marriage proposals, and Paypal donations to that email address. Thank you.

Hope you all enjoyed!

Saxaholic
 

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Morgans...

Thanks for the review! What kind of Sax & reeds were you using for the tests?
 

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Reviews like that are something I wish we would see more of -thanks Saxaholic! Great job.
 

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Thanks for that. I love my 7e!

You do a wonderful job breaking down the characteristics. I think so many players get caught up in a mouthpiece hunt because they take the response & resistance elements for granted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Carl H: Thanks for pointing that out. I knew I'd forget something. I have edited the post to fix it.

Lairmon: I always use many different horns, and even players, for these reviews. The typical horns used are: Selmer 221,xxx Mark VI, Selmer 183,xxx Mark VI, Yanagisawa A992 alto, Selmer Reference 54 alto, Conn Portrait Chu Berry in gold plate 222,xxx, Buescher Big B, and occassionally other horns as well.

Reeds used include: Rico Jazz Select, Vandoren Traditional, Vandoren ZZ, Alexander Superial, and Alexander DC.

Everyone else: Thank you so much for the kind comments! It's nice knowing the work is appreciated...keeps me going and ready for more reviews.

Saxaholic
 

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Forum Contributor 2015, SOTW Better late than neve
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NO clear winner :? A draw :scratch: I always thought a Gladiator battle was a fight to the death :a-run:

Just kidding... As soon as saw the title I knew there'd be no title claimed ;)

So let me ask ya'... I was thinking on either the 6E or 6EL. Which one would you consider more versatile?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I wish I could name a clear-cut winner...but due to the differences in tone and their intended performance...it's difficult to pick a 'winner.'

You ask which is more versatile. I ask you, what are you planning on playing with them?

Both are going to be versatile mouthpieces...the 6E will lend itself to a prominant lead alto position, funk, rock, latin, and perhaps hard bop....that's not to say it can't play traditional stuff, too. The 6EL will lend itself to a more traditional jazz tone...big band, bop, straight-ahead stuff. That's not to say it can't play funk, rock, etc....it's just less suited.

Honestly, TJ, I think you'd benefit from the 6M or 6C. I could see the 6E being nice on the SDA. On the Conn Tranny you have, I recommend the 6M or 6C.

Saxaholic
 

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Forum Contributor 2015, SOTW Better late than neve
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I have a 7L and I do really like the deep lush tone on both horns. Although, I find it a little more resistant to my tastes sometimes. I was thinking on getting an Excalibur for lead and/or rock settings. So I guess an E is more in line to what I'm after.

Thanks bud :)
 

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Hey TJontheroad..I use a conn 6m around the same vintage as yours and I play a morgan 6m. It's very versatile. I can make it really bright and loud and it cuts through very well. Also, you can darken and warm it up a bit for combo stuff, but still keep the same central core sound.
 

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I have a few Morgans to choose from, both in alto and tenor. Love 'em all. I'm willing to bet you could spend a week with any ONE of the pieces in this review and become totally comfortable with it.
 

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10MFAN MOUTHPIECES "Innovation over imitation"
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I read the title and thought it was a PAY PER VIEW event!:violent1:







Your reviews are always excellent---you should be on staff here.

Thanks for all your hard work and honest reviews.
 

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Great report as usual... I do really appreciate them:)

Being a Morgan fan (as wel as Barone fan) I can only be OK with you valued comments (owner of 6L alto, 6C and 5EL tenor ;) )
 

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Great reading! Thanks Saxoholic.

I have liked the L series for tenor, but found that the low end would be resistant, as saxoholic did. It happened especially with regular (narrow?) bore isntruments mostly, but works well on the JKs. Then I tried a used 6E piece and loved it.
Soooo... at that point I lost control over GAS and I have been ordering a Morgan every time a paycheck comes in. I did not like the EL much as it was basically the same to me as the L series with a touch more edge. I am waiting for an M series piece this week.
 

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Where can I get picts of these mouthpieces? I tryed yahoo images and got nothing, and junkdude and all those sites just say "no image availible."
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Looks like I'll have to grab the new "ML" model and add it to the line-up. Anyone want to make my life easier by sending one this way? Shoot me a PM if so.

Also; be on the lookout for the next Gladiator Arena battle...featuring another very prominent mouthpiece maker with many models to choose from. Stay tuned!

Saxaholic
 

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Saxaholic,

Excellent reviews! My experience with Morgans -- I've played all of them except for the E -- is on the same page as yours.

The only thing that I'd add is, happily, the 6C is now listed on the Junkdude site as a regular item rather than as a special order as it used to be.

Ralph first made a 6C for me on soprano around 6-7 years ago and it was without a doubt the soprano mouthpiece of my dreams. Then, around 3-4 years ago (I think) Ralph made a 6C tenor piece for me and it was everything that I've wanted in a tenor mouthpiece. Since then, I've raved about the 6C every chance I get. For several years I bugged Ralph to make the 6C a part of his production line of facings. Happily, it's now easier to get one. Especially, since Brian & Erik are continuing to make 6C pieces.

A few months ago Erik made some adjustments to my back up 6C and the mouthpiece came back playing so fantastically that it's now my primary piece....and I'm sending my other 6C to him to have similar work done on it.

For me, the 6C has just the right point of balance between power and control. And, I think of it has having similar tonal qualities as a Frank Kaspar clarinet mouthpiece -- big dark, warm, resonant, "ringing" sound and exceptional projection.

Roger
 
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