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Discussion Starter #1
Hi, I'm Ed. I've been playing for 7 years and I recently purchased a Guardala MBII mouthpiece with a .107 opening. I have been using the Vandoren V16 T7 hard rubber for a year at this point and I got a round otto link sound I liked but I decided to go with a Guardala for more edge, projection, and just more of a modern Brecker inspired sound. I use V16 #3 reeds on both and I find that switching between the two rather difficult. I'm in wind ensemble at school so I can make the Guardala work for that situation and the teacher hasn't really noticed, but it will never have that authentic classical sound. What I'm really trying to do is to continue developing my jazz sound, but when I switch between these two very different mouthpieces, it just confuses my tongue and mouth. I guess it's hard for me to maintain a good sound on both. Should I stick with one or continue to practice on both? What should I do?

Thanks,
Ed
 

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Stick with the one that really does it for you...if either. I dont want to confuse matters by sending you on a mouthpiece hunt but being confused is not that odd to me. Those designs are about as far apart as you can get in sound and approach.

No one can tell you which to pick but Id chose one and stick with it. Im sure there are players who can do them all but I would imagine they are still more comfortable with one or the other.

My thought is to decide on your sound concept (though it will likely change over time) and then make a choice. This is not as much a mouthpiece choice as it is a decision of concept. If you have the concept the answer will be self evident.

The answer is not in a box. Maybe the first question is: Why do you keep switching?
 

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Pick out two songs. One that sounds and feels really good on mouthpiece #1. Then another song that sounds and feels good on mouthpiece #2. Don't play the same material on the two different mouthpieces. Separate them by just playing the style of music you want to play for each mouthpiece. Use those two different songs as warm-ups when switching between the two different mouthpieces and music styles. The idea is to find the best song that quickly gets you to what you like about each mouthpiece. Players like Branford Marsalis can comfortably switch between Jazz and Classical musical playing very well. Don't think I'm now switching mouthpieces, instead thing I'm completely changing my style of play. For some players the awkward feeling can be trying to make a Jazz mouthpiece sound Classical or vice versa. Some players can do it, and others find it more difficult. If players can change from Alto, Tenor, Baritone and Soprano then changing mouthpieces on one instrument is possible with good focused practice. Knowing what material sounds good is a excellent starting point.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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I'm in wind ensemble at school so I can make the Guardala work for that situation and the teacher hasn't really noticed, but it will never have that authentic classical sound. What I'm really trying to do is to continue developing my jazz sound, but when I switch between these two very different mouthpieces, it just confuses my tongue and mouth.
If you think about this, it isn't your tongue or mouth getting confused, it is your brain. And it's not so much confused as not yet having the experience required to react quickly enough and send the signals to the muscles in your tongue and mouth to deal with the change. At first that may not seem very helpful advice, but it means that the issue is not inevitable, and that it may help you psychologically to realise you might gain control more easily than you think.

Ultimately though I think it would be best if you could just use one mouthpiece, and in order to make it as versatile as you need that obviously will take work in regard to control and flexibility of your tone and sound. This is a combination of finding the right mouthpiece which is versatile along with that versatility in your approach. I have had to have a very versatile sound throughout my career, so have worked very hard on this aspect which is something some players need to do, others do not if they "specialise" in just one or two genres.

For me the most obvious method is learning to control how much mouthpiece you take in. Again, this does need your brain to adapt a bit but less so than switching mouthpieces. Another way to get more edge out of a larger chambered or lower baffle mouthpiece is to learn to growl, and apply it in such a subtle way that it doesn't sound like a full on growl but just adds that teeny bit of grit to the sound.

But in order to do any of that you probably need to find that more versatile mouthpiece, in my case it was a larger chamber than a Guradala (which I did use for a while) and more subtly shaped baffle while still have some substance to it


The good news is that you can "get away" with it in Wind Ensemble so the issue is not quite so crucial, and also means you have probably further than you think in being able to control your tongue and mouth.
 

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Every professional player that I gig with that is serious about both their classical and jazz playing uses two mouthpieces. Use your Guardala a for jazz if you like it, but don't use it for wind ensemble. You need to use the right tool for the job. Just my two cents as an educator and professional player for 25 years.
 

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I agree Atonal... I also think the ensemble instructor is either deaf or the OP really can tame a Guardala. My guess is he is playing really quiet and hiding! That really isnt the object of ensemble playing.

Two mouthpieces is pretty standard. If the OP is going to use 2 pieces they should be strictly assigned as you suggest. If it still causes problems he should consider two hard rubber pieces. Guardala pieces are super tiny, especially compared to an ensemble piece. A more common beak size may be the ticket to less confusion. Just speculating.
 

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Hi Ed, I second having specialized mouthpieces. I have three: a hard rubber piece with a small opening with a low baffle for classical playing, a hard-hitting open piece with a high baffle and one sitting in between the two for straight-ahead jazz. They all need a different approach to be played, and I think the most important thing is to be aware of that and practice on them separetely, and even then you may need to learn to switch gears in your mind. You could argue that a capable player can do anything on any mouthpiece, but some mouthpieces make playing in a certain style just that much easier.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Two mouthpieces is pretty standard.
And there was me thinking fifty eight mouthpieces are standard these days.

I do get that many players will have a different mouthpiece for a different tone, my point was that if you can achieve the same flexibility with just one, then it's an idealler situation. Especially if the difference causes embouchure confusion.

In other words you develop the embouchure to get the different sounds as opposed to relying purely on equipment. But in order to do that, the mouthpiece itself also has to be something versatile (as opposed to a Guardala)
 

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Ed,

Don’t know if you are intermediate, advanced or professional. Don’t know if school is college or high school. A lot of the feedback above (one mpc preferred / two mpc preferred) is both conflicting advise and correct. If you are advanced or a professional, and find that you can not garner the sound you want with one mouthpiece, you will need to work with two....And I presume it would be good for the development of your embouchure and ear.

Please consider the following though: I am an intermediate player, and there are a billion things I need to work on to sound better in ensemble.....counting, hitting the wrong accidental, attack, articulation, dynamics, intonation, vibrato.......I’m not nailing those perfectly yet and until I do, my Community Band instructor isn’t going to give a hoot if I sound either classical or Jazz. I therefore play only one mpc at a time, even though I own 3. It allows me to focus on the much more obvious developmental issues. For the 4 months I am doing community band, I am on my classical piece for everything....all practices of all genres. I eliminate ‘lip confusion.”

For the rest of the year when I am working on methods and fun stuff, I use a baffled piece with a larger tip opening because I like the sound better. I have tried to switch back and forth and play a Jazz mpc on Monday morning for methods practice, and my Classical mpc on Monday evening for Band practice. What if find is that when I do that, my conductor looks my way more frequently and more often asks me what is going on in the saxophone section.

(And though I call myself intermediate, I am fine for a community band. The conductor has pulled off the second Tenor and moved her back to Alto....I don’t need the support any more)

......so I think it is just based on where you are in your development.

More food for thought:

I find that as my skill level develops, the difference in the sound quality between my different mouthpieces diminishes - and therefore my need for multiple mouthpieces diminishes. At the same time, my classical mouthpiece blends better in band, and so I play with much more confidence.
 

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I play in high school. All the advice seems helpful and I agree that Guardala probably shouldn't be used in classical, no matter how much you try, it's got a baffle and a small chamber. I agree with you that the mouthpieces are sounding similar at this point, the Guardala having a little more edge and crispiness. I think I will work with the V16 for classical and softer jazz settings because it is very flexible. But yeah, I'll allocate time for both mouthpieces and see where that takes me. Thanks everyone for the advice!

Ed,

Don’t know if you are intermediate, advanced or professional. Don’t know if school is college or high school. A lot of the feedback above (one mpc preferred / two mpc preferred) is both conflicting advise and correct. If you are advanced or a professional, and find that you can not garner the sound you want with one mouthpiece, you will need to work with two....And I presume it would be good for the development of your embouchure and ear.

Please consider the following though: I am an intermediate player, and there are a billion things I need to work on to sound better in ensemble.....counting, hitting the wrong accidental, attack, articulation, dynamics, intonation, vibrato.......I’m not nailing those perfectly yet and until I do, my Community Band instructor isn’t going to give a hoot if I sound either classical or Jazz. I therefore play only one mpc at a time, even though I own 3. It allows me to focus on the much more obvious developmental issues. For the 4 months I am doing community band, I am on my classical piece for everything....all practices of all genres. I eliminate ‘lip confusion.”

For the rest of the year when I am working on methods and fun stuff, I use a baffled piece with a larger tip opening because I like the sound better. I have tried to switch back and forth and play a Jazz mpc on Monday morning for methods practice, and my Classical mpc on Monday evening for Band practice. What if find is that when I do that, my conductor looks my way more frequently and more often asks me what is going on in the saxophone section.

(And though I call myself intermediate, I am fine for a community band. The conductor has pulled off the second Tenor and moved her back to Alto....I don’t need the support any more)

......so I think it is just based on where you are in your development.

More food for thought:

I find that as my skill level develops, the difference in the sound quality between my different mouthpieces diminishes - and therefore my need for multiple mouthpieces diminishes. At the same time, my classical mouthpiece blends better in band, and so I play with much more confidence.
 

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For Wind Ensemble/ Comm Band, I don't think either mouthpiece is a good choice. To loud and barky. Try a Meyer in about a 7M and you should be OK for all playing. I assume we are talking Tenor here.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Yeah you're right. I have a Meyer 4 and I like the pure sound I get on it but it's hard to play on such a small tip opening. Maybe I should try that instead?

For Wind Ensemble/ Comm Band, I don't think either mouthpiece is a good choice. To loud and barky. Try a Meyer in about a 7M and you should be OK for all playing. I assume we are talking Tenor here.
 

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I think it's two for each saxophone. It looks like I need 14 more saxophones.

Mark
Oh man... I think I am right at the correct balance but I have a preponderance of alto mouthpieces vs. tenor horns ... now I am sitting here chewing my nails and trying to not let the panic attack get the better of me
 

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Yeah you're right. I have a Meyer 4 and I like the pure sound I get on it but it's hard to play on such a small tip opening. Maybe I should try that instead?
Look for a 7M or 8M. I played tenor in Fennell's Wind Ensemble and find the 8M great. Even good for Jazz. You can find them on ebay for about $75.
 

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Now here's a twist: Does anybody play two almost identical pieces?
I play a Berg hard rubber 95 and a Berg hard rubber 100 (both M/1).
When a certain reed has run its course on the 95 and is too easy to play, I use that reed on the 100, and it's like reborn.
Ever try this?
 

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Back to the mpcs, the reason you're having trouble is partly due to switching between two very different mpcs. I imagine that Guardala with a high baffle, small chamber, and relatively small tip (for such a high baffle piece) would be pretty bright and difficult to play with any warmth. I'd suggest a bit softer reed for more versatility, but unfortunately that wouldn't help add warmth to an overly bright mpc. Still, a V16 #3 is a pretty hard reed; I guess high school kids like playing hard reeds for some reason.
 

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On tenor, I've lately been switching between a TK Acoustimer 7 (my fave for hard bop and soul jazz) and a metal Berg 105/0 (for R&B, rock and ska). On alto, I switch between a TK Acoustimax 6 and a Metalite 7, depending on the gig. But really, it always comes down to the reed.
 
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