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Discussion Starter #1
After playing for a while (less so when im playing for atleast a couple hours a day) my lower lip gets irritated and raw close to my gums. Its not so much from a biting pressure but more from a horizontal pressure pushing my out turned lip into the edges of my teeth. I have fairly sharp (almost serrated) teeth. I've been told so by my dentist and when mentioning that they can cause problems for sax he mentioned there was the option of filing them if the problem persists, but I'm 17 so I'd rather not jump to that this early. I've looked around SOTW and people have suggested things like dental tape and homemade toothguards (cut up mouthguard material formed to your teeth). I was wondering if anyone had other ways of protecting their lips from this kind of damage over the years, and if anyone's gone as far as to file their teeth for this reason. And before you ask, I play Rico 4's on a JodyJazz Jet 8 (.110) and Otto Link STM (Opened to .117). Thank You!
 

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And before you ask, I play Rico 4's on a JodyJazz Jet 8 (.110) and Otto Link STM (Opened to .117). Thank You!
This could be part of the problem. For me those reeds would be pretty hard on mouthpieces that open; have you tried softer reeds or more closed mouthpieces?
 

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I would suggest a #3 reed for your tip opening. Also, play "double lip" like an oboist in the middle range then duplicate the same amount of lower lip firmness. This little test could reveal a lot.
 

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This could be part of the problem. For me those reeds would be pretty hard on mouthpieces that open; have you tried softer reeds or more closed mouthpieces?
I have. They're not within my prefference/sound concept. If I'm looking for a new piece I try everything in the shop, and smaller pieces just don't play how I want them to. And yes, I've tried softer reeds but they don't respond/feel right. I've got a pack of 3.5s that I don't use for that reason.
 

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I have. They're not within my prefference/sound concept. If I'm looking for a new piece I try everything in the shop, and smaller pieces just don't play how I want them to. And yes, I've tried softer reeds but they don't respond/feel right. I've got a pack of 3.5s that I don't use for that reason.
Sorry. I would have to agree with the others giving you advice (we've all been 17!). At a .110 and .117 tips, you should be on 3 or 3 1/2 reeds (if playing most cane brands). Some brands run softer of course. But, jagged teeth could be a bad problem, even IF you're not biting. If you're going with a stiffer reed because you like the "dark" tone it produces, change mouthpiece design to a darker setup and use softer reeds! Same results, less work!
 

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To note: I play a Fibracell 3 on my .120 tip Theo Wanne Datta. It's comparable in strength to a VanDoren blue box 2!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Sorry. I would have to agree with the others giving you advice (we've all been 17!). At a .110 and .117 tips, you should be on 3 or 3 1/2 reeds (if playing most cane brands). Some brands run softer of course. But, jagged teeth could be a bad problem, even IF you're not biting. If you're going with a stiffer reed because you like the "dark" tone it produces, change mouthpiece design to a darker setup and use softer reeds! Same results, less work!
I understand that my setup is only making it worse, and I'll experiment with more reeds, but it's not as much of a darkness/sound thing as the response, control, and consistency throughout the octaves and theyre great for slaptounging and other percussive effects which i use often. And then there's the fact that it contributes to my desired sound on top of that. I played a bit softer on a couple legeres but the cracked/split from percussive effects way too fast to be worth the cost. So, it'll be hard to stop playing Rico 4's when they're cheap and they work so well for me.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
If I could find a synthetic that responds like legeres and doesn't visibly Crack within the first week of playing then they would probably be a viable solution. Though I also know Derek Brown (who does a ton of percussive effects) uses legeres without complaint, so maybe I was just really unlucky with mine.
 

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I had this problem for the first ten years I played. Braces made it worse. My heart goes out to anyone that's had to play a concert the day after having their braces tightened. Plus my embouchure was way too tight and my palm keys were flat as a result. It was really quite liberating once I literally loosened up a bit.
 

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Haha now that you mention it, my Palm keys are a little flat. I've been experimenting with taking in more of the mouthpiece (with the link, jets a bit big) and I found that loosens up my embouchure and results In better intonation and a bit richer sound. Is there anything else I can do during practice to help loosen my embouchure.
 

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There's a basic rule you seem to have ignored: the bigger the mouthpiece the softer the reed and the smaller the mouthpiece the harder the reed you use. Going for big and hard together is just giving yourself unnecessary grief. It has an adverse effect on your playing, too — if you're expending too much energy just trying to get the sound out, you've no hope at all of playing long phrases, particularly if they involve fast fingering.

I suspect you don't need to loosen your embouchure as such, but need to strengthen the muscles at the corners of your mouth so you don't chew on the reed when you go up high. This involves a conscious effort to drop your lower jaw while maintaining a seal with those muscles. To facilitate that, you will need to use a softer reed until you have it all sossed out.

Don't change mouthpiece, but for now, choose one of them and put the other away in a drawer for the next few months, the idea being to eliminate as many of the variables as possible while you're sorting out your problem.

. I can only speak from my own experience, and the sound I'm looking for might be entirely different from the one you want. I wouldn't bother with the Jody Jazz myself — too many highs and too few low partials in the sound. Your Link, however, is a different matter. I'd stick with that for the time being.

0.117 is effectively an 8** tip. I play an 8* STM (0.115) and I find I get best results with either a Rico Royal (yes, Royal - that's the French file cut) 3 or a Vandoren Red Java (French file cut again !) 2½, Vandorens being about a half-step stronger than Rico Royals. If you can't get enough edge with the French file cut, try Vandoren V16 reeds, again in 2½. (Give ordinary orange-box Ricos the flick btw - too variable out of the box - and don't go near Vandoren ZZ - too soft.)

It won't be good immediately, but after a week you should start to see some results. Anyway, give it a month practising daily with the new set-up before you try another change. If you're still not happy with the response after a month, go up (or down !) a ½-size with the reed, and take another month…

I know it's slow but it takes time educating your mouth muscles. Good luck !


EDIT: Yes, it's also possible to file your teeth — I filed one of my upper front teeth with a nailfile because it was gouging out holes in hard rubber mouthpieces. It worked. But for your lower teeth it might be possible to get a thin guard made to measure by a dental mechanic. Is your dentist reputable ? I mean, do you trust him ? If he reckons he can file your teeth successfully, you might give it a try — but get it done in several stages so you can stop if you don't like the way it's going.
 

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I would try various embouchure adjustments and if nothing works, consider getting your teeth filed. I would imagine that they don't need to file them very much to not make them sharp.
 

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Martin Frost (a clarinetist https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Frost) uses floral tape over his teeth (get the ones with no glue on them) I have been using this trick and it works great! You could use a softer reed however if you ever decide to play like 3+ hours a day you will need to use something like floral tape over your teeth
 
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