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I have been on the search for many years for the perfect mouthpiece and reed combination. Just when I think I have found it, something will happen which will cause my sound to change, like replacing a reed (WITH THE SAME STRENGTH AND BRAND, GO FIG!!) and I am right back on my search. I have accumulated a box full of reed brands and strengths as well as about 5-7 mouthpieces. The mouthpiece that I played on for the longest period of time was a Ponzol Custom on my Alto Sax. When I was doing a lot of funk and contemporary jazz / gospel stuff, the mouthpiece worked great. However, it was when I started playing more straight ahead that the mouthpiece just didn't produce the sound that I wanted. It was too bright and thin. I tried every reed made on that mouth piece but to no avail. I even tried changing my embouchure but that is dangerous if you are not careful because it could mess up your intonation. Over the last 10 years after spending hundreds of dollars on mouthpieces and reeds, I decided to purchase Robert Scarff's book "Saxophone Mouthpiece Selection" published by Jamey Aebersold. In the book he breaks down the anatomy of the mouthpiece and talks about how each part affects the sound. He has tons of comparison charts and technical data as well. Now I don't recommend anyone else doing this and Robert Scarff doesn't either, but if you feel compelled and also feel that you have nothing else to lose, you can take matters into your own hands. That's what I did.

After years of searching, I had finally, however reluctantly, settled on an Otto Link 7 mouthpiece with RICO Jazz 3M reeds. This was the best that I could do and I was tired of spending money. I remember how much I loved the feel of that hard rubber Ponzol in my mouth when I was playing a lot of funk and contemporary jazz. So I decided that I was going to modify my Ponzol on my own. In Robert Scarffs book, he mentions that if you are going to make modifications, make small ones and test the mouthpiece after each modification to see how it responds. I wanted to do a good job so I went to my local Lowes hardware store and purchased a set of filers. This was a good set because it not only had flat filers, but curved ones as well so that I could get that smooth rounded cut. I also bought a cheap table vice for about $12 bucks so that I could keep the mouthpiece steady while I worked on it.

When I got home I set up my makeshift shop, said a little prayer and started modifying. I started with the flat file first to take down the baffle about one millimeter. After that modification alone, I was terrified so I took the mouthpiece out of the vice, cleaned it up, and tested it out. It didn't sound much different from the original. The sound was still very bright. I took the mouthpiece off the horn and put it back in the vice. I decided to take the baffle down about 2 millimeters this time. After testing it, I noticed that the sound did change and it wasn't as bright as before, but the sound wasn't stable. It was really ridged. I figured it was due to the flat shape of the baffle (mind you, just b/c I read Scarff's book it doesn't make me and expert. So don't let my impressive reasoning fool you :eek:) I then took one of my curved filers and carved a big groove in the middle of the baffle like the Berg Larsen. After trying that configuration out, I did notice a more focused tone than before. It was still; however, a little too bright for me. I didn't want to jump too quickly though. By this time, I had already made a significant change in the mouthpiece, so I decided to play on it for a few days. After that time period was up, I was still feeling that it was a little too bright. So I filed the baffled down about 2 more millimeters and then carved a big groove in the mouthpiece across the diameter of the chamber. This created a round opening. After trying this mod out, I was in love. I have been playing on this set up for a week now and it feels great. I didn't file the baffle down completely so I have some cut in the sound, but at least it is not completely dead like my Otto Link 7.

Anyone else going through or have gone through something similar?

LTrain
HotJazzChops.com
GospelSkillz.com
 

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Yes.

I've found that my dream mouthpiece on bari doesn't exist. I've gone through 15 or so mouthpieces of different openings, baffles, chamber construction, and so far the closet one to what I want is the very first mouthpiece I ever bought. Go figure :?

When I have a few more bucks I'm going to buy another one of the "close but no cigar" mouthpiece and have it refaced so it will hopfully be exactly what I want.

Hopfully...
 

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There are perfect mouthpieces? Oh crap, I'd better not settle for the one I've been practicing on for the last few years then....:D
 

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Wow congratulations !
I'm even hesitant to work on my reeds ! I don't think i'll be working on my mpcs anytime soon.
You play on the custom Ponzol, have you tried the traditional HR Ponzol ?
 

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I wouldn't say the Tradition Ponzol is any like the Custom. Totally different beasts.
 

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Funny, I've got several different mouthpieces that I could easily be happy with for a jazz sound. My latest fav is the Phil-tone that I reviewed in another thread. But there are others that are close: a Couf Artist Streamline, a King MO (which is all but identical to the Couf), a stock Yani hard rubber, a Barone hard rubber that Mojo did a little tweaking on, a Geo M. Bundy that Mojo opened up, and probably others that I'm forgetting at the moment.

I can't say the same about classical mouthpieces though. I'm still not really satisfied with anything.
 

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what happens if you get a gig in a rock -funk band now? you will need another mpc
 

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My tenor piece is perfect for everything but classical, but, I don't really do classical (except to work on reading). So I don't sweat it.

Glad to hear you got your piece. It's a great feeling to just relax and not worry about "setup" anymore.

Of course, if I have issues now, I know it's me (or I'll just blame the reed). ;)
 

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Meyers, end of the discussion.

Just get yourself a Meyer HR mouthpiece with Vandoren JAVA reeds and Rovner ligature. You can never go wrong with that. It's simply the best.
 

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craisycraze said:
Just get yourself a Meyer HR mouthpiece with Vandoren JAVA reeds and Rovner ligature. You can never go wrong with that. It's simply the best.
If that happens to match your tone concept. If not, then it's probably not the best. You know, different people like to sound different. That's one of the reasons there are different mouthpieces sold and purchased.
 

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chitownjazz said:
If that happens to match your tone concept. If not, then it's probably not the best. You know, different people like to sound different. That's one of the reasons there are different mouthpieces sold and purchased.
Nope. Meyer and JAVA.
 

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dirty said:
Nope. Meyer and JAVA.

Yea, everyone from Benny Carter to David Sanborn used Meyers and JAVAs:roll:
 

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craisycraze said:
Just get yourself a Meyer HR mouthpiece with Vandoren JAVA reeds and Rovner ligature. You can never go wrong with that. It's simply the best.

That's like saying "this is the best wine ever, end of discussion"
 

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daigle65 said:
That's like saying "this is the best wine ever, end of discussion"
No, it's more like saying, "This is the best mouthpiece/ligature/reed setup ever, end of discussion." :wink:
 

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i like my used yet newly-bought beechler bellite alto 7. i got it for $50 used. :) i find myself playing the beechler more than my old main mpc, the selmer super session E.

(with the rover lig, the beechler was $75....don't know if i might end up selling it for a higher price though....)
 
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