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I was curious to hear to hear people's opinions of the Vandoren V16 for alto. I'm considering buying either an A6 Small + Chamber or an A7 Small + Chamber for playing as lead alto in a high school big band. I have been playing on a Yamaha 4C mouthpiece since junior high, but I'm ready to upgrade. I wanted to know if there is much of a difference between the two in terms of air support and darkness of sound among other characteristics. Thanks in advance.
 

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I have one of them. I don't play alto much so I can't remember which - I think it's an A6M. I don't think you'll see much of a difference between the A6 and A7 as the charts put them only .003 apart in tip opening. The difference between the softest and hardest reed in the same box of 10 would be greater than that in terms of feel.

Mine plays a little bigger and brighter than my favorite alto piece which is an older Meyer 7M. If you can find a way to try a few of them and pick the one that plays best for you that would be the thing to do. IMO, you'd be hard pressed to find a better lead alto piece for a high school jazz band for around $100 as the Vandoren pieces, by most accounts, tend to be more consistent than anything else in that range.
 

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I like them very much. In fact, I find them pretty often in pros setups, more than Jumbo Javas for example (I personally use a Jumbo Java A45). Altissimo is great in those V16. I liked better the A8, which has kind of a smaller facing than the A9. The sound is very beautiful.
 

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I have 5-8 in S chamber. I prefer the 6 and it is great for a solo piece and lead alto piece. You can pretty much play anything with that mouthpiece. I know several top saxophonists that also use them. Coming from a 4C the 7 will probably be too big a jump for you. Try the 5 and 6 and choose the one that suits you best.
 

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For my high school students, one of the alto mouthpieces I recommend is the V16 6M. They are excellent professional level mouthpieces based on a classic Meyer design. The 6 tip combined with the medium chamber give the best overall control for young players. I really like the small chamber too, but younger players have a more difficult time managing and adjusting to its tuning tendancies.
 

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I once bought one after playing several at a local store. I've forgotten which configuration but as I recall, I think it was a 7-tip.

After spending some time with it, I couldn't get around the chirping it gave me. I sent it to a refacer on this site and he was able to take the chirping out of it, but I never got on with it. I GAVE it away.

That doesn't mean you won't like one - or will. Those predictions are just false for anyone to claim. But it should tell you that those mouthpieces are not infallible. Of course, nothing saxophone IS infallible. DAVE
 

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No, I didn't, although to be honest, I don't recall which configurations I tested, then bought.

I've never been impressed with chamber sizes - I play mainly soprano but alto was a secondary saxophone on the gigs I had for years.

On soprano, I never separated out which chambers did what to my sound because there were so many factors at work in one piece that I could not isolate the chamber-size in making any assessments.

I know a lot of players want to THINK that each factor means something (and maybe they do), but to really reach any conclusion requires hours and hours of testing MANY mouthpieces, noting differences, and developing a matrix of variations before one can really conclude that chamber-size matters.

It just doesn't tell us anything for someone to say "I play a large-chamber" and that means it sounds a certain way. The reason it sounds "that way" could be because of many factors, including the quality of the chosen reed that day. Beware of generalizations. DAVE
 

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I can say with confidence that the tuning tendacies between the small and medium chamber V16s are different. I have found this through playing many of these mouthpieces while helping my students to select an alto mouthpiece that works for them. I also notice slightly more higher partials in the sound when I play the small chamber. Will a listener pick up the subtle difference? I don't know, but I do know that my advanced middle and high school students handle medium chamber pieces better than small chamber as it relates to intonation.
 

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I chose the Jumbo Java A45 by a kind Warren Hill's email and recommendation as my mouthpiece after Berg Larsen changed its design and did not fit my expectations. My old Berg just wore out. But V16 came pretty close. I do not like to keep changing equipment, but if I do, I can clearly see me playing on a V16 A8S without any doubt.
 

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I've played a few of these mouthpieces. Here's my opinion: the difference between the 6 and 7 due to tip opening will be much less than the unit-to-unit variation of these mouthpieces within the same tip opening or, as mentioned above, between the strength of reeds in a box. Not that there's all that much variability, as these are consistent off-the-shelf mouthpieces. But in playing a few samples, I did find one I liked better than others. Also, I like the small chamber more than medium.

If you want a reasonably priced mouthpiece that you can just buy and play and feel confident you are playing a fine mouthpiece, these are a great choice in my opinion.
 

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The V16 will be a lot brighter than the Yamaha 4c, especially the small chamber. I'd recommend a medium chamber with a 5 tip for jazz.
 

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I don't play alto much but I use a A6M on my Buescher TT and get a nice big sound. I don't recall a dramatic difference from the 4C though.
 

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I once had an A6S. Very bad piece. Dark, muffled, terrible projection and tone quality. I've tried other A6S's and they were quite good, up to par with some modern meyers that I've owned. From that I've learned that these pieces are terribly inconsistent. My recommendation is a Meyer 6M or a Jody Jazz HR 6*.
 

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One should not conclude a mouthpiece model is inconsistent based on one trial. Look to the forum to see if others have reported similar results.

In the case of Vandorens, they are among the best factory made mouthpieces out there. They are not perfect but 9 out of 10 of them are pretty good. My experience with Babbitt Meyers is 5 out of 10 and the JJ HR* is more like 7 out of 10.
 

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Mojo: Your point about Vandorens (and others not being perfect) is a good one.

I, for one, am not claiming anything about Vandoren mouthpieces based on one negative experience. But what I AM claiming is that if it happened to me, it can happen to others. Those who DO claim Vandorens are the answer need to realize that if I had a negative experience with one of them, others could also. My comment was only to alert others.

Vandorens need to be tested first, just like most mouthpieces, before buying one. Unless, of course, one can take the financial risk and accept that a mouthpiece bought sight-unseen may not work for you. And, I even play-tested my Vandoren A16 before I bought it. It was only after playing it for a while that I discovered the chirping. A refacing, while taking out most of the chirping, didn't result in a mouthpiece that worked for me, so I gave it away.

I happen to like Selmer mouthpieces but others routinely bash them as being inconsistent. Even with my good experiences with Selmer mouthpieces, I have experienced inconsistencies with some of them. Same with Vandorens. Don't be misled into thinking that every Vandoren mouthpiece is going to be a player. DAVE
 
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