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Discussion Starter #1
So I had been tinkering with some throwaway mouthpieces, and I've been wondering: what part of the mouthpiece makes the higher notes sound full, vs tinny? The obvious answer is the baffle, but I'm not sure exactly where. I'm thinking it's just behind the tip rail, but up to how far behind (2-3mm)? I've played Links that don't have a full (more tinny) sounding notes above A2, but a Dave Guardala that had fuller notes.

My recent purchase of a new Otto Link FL has a lot of shelf baffle, but still has a nice full sound. Any refacing experts can chime in that'd be much appreciated.

Thanks!
 

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I'm also curious. All my RPCs (S/A/T) sound fatter in palm key then any other pieces I have (10mfan, Meyer, Links, Lamberson), and by a quite noticeable amount. But they don't have distinctive baffle shapes my naked eye could tell. The magic might be something about the thickness & shape of the tip of the pieces - just my wild guess.
 

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Hi guys,
“Fatness” will be different things for different players.

Someone may get a piece with very little baffle and find it to be very fat and open sounding in the palm keys and all over, because there is little baffle to impede the sound for them.
Another player will play that same piece and find that piece incredibly stuffy and not open or fat sounding whatsoever....they will find it dark and dull.
The problem is that we all feel different things when we play, and you can’t break it down by one mouthpiece model or the other, or one specific part of the baffle. All of the design elements work together.
You mention my pieces along with Lamberson and Links etc, and so many players will find many of those different models to be very fat in the palm keys. It really just depends on the player, and what they need in a mouthpiece to get what THEY consider “fat”.

I have a friend who is a great player and he has played on a Dukoff super power chamber metal for over 30 years, and he gets a really fat sound up high in the palm keys. Others will play those pieces and sound very thin and shrill and obnoxious up high. (I’m one of them). 😀

A player who likes almost no baffle so they can fill up the piece, will not find that type of design to give them fatness in the palm keys. If that player who likes almost no baffle, played pieces with more prominent baffles, they would find that the baffles don’t allow them to get the fatness that they want. They will most likely find those SPC pieces to be more very thin sounding and louder sounding, but not “fat” at all.

I think the mistake is throwing the blame at a certain model, because we are all so different and everybody gets something different out of the many designs available. What is “fat” for you, may not be “fat” for another player with the same exact mouthpiece. Also, our opinions of what is “fat”, will differ.
Someone recently told me that they hate Guardala mouthpieces because they are so bright. That’s an interesting comment because the Crescent model and the Super King model couldn’t be further from each other in terms of brightness. I don’t find the crescent or Branford models to be bright. But then again, this is what I am talking about.

Another thing to think about, is that one player looking for fat palm keys may not find a piece fat if it has some brightness up there. They are ltypically ooking for something warmer that doesn’t get brighter. That’s something to definitely take into account.
I know other players that play bright and they feel that they have a fat sound up high in the palm keys even though it’s a bright sound.

Also take into account that making fat palm keys may not be the goal of different mouthpiece makers with different models. Floor height, chamber size and shape, side walls, throat squeeze, compression, etc, all come into play along with the baffle.

The beauty of all of our journeys, is that we need to find pieces that do what we want as players, and we can all feel very different about what we feel and hear from the same models.
 

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Here's the Clift Notes version to what Mark typed above:

It's a hell of a lot more the player (ability and taste) than any specific mouthpiece.

The end.

;-)
 

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Excellent post 10mfan.
 

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Wow, I might have wrongly brought up brand names in comparisons that apparently made somebody unhappy. I apologize for that.

Let's just say I have played some number of pieces and the ones I find to have fatter palm key notes came from same brand, but I cannot locate any distinctive design in baffle/chamber whatsoever that contribute to such behavior. And I'm curious about it like OP does.

Mark, "fatter" is a comparative term, fair to say I sounded thin on all pieces no matter what. Maybe "least thin"? Maybe you couldn't care less but my go-to piece is still the 10mfan. Peace.
 

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Baffles and baffle adjustment is more about getting one specific design to voice as clear as one wants with the desired amount of edge. There is no sweet spot on the baffle that make certain notes clear. One might more accurately inquire as to what area on the baffle makes palm keys thin and/or fuzzy sounding. That would be the first 0-3 or 4mm if we are talking the average baffle. In terms of what is perceived to be full or not one gets into chamber size, baffle height/length/angle and shape to name a few. Its not a matter that can be entirely isolated. A mpc is an entire unit...every variable interacts with the other...change one and you potentially change them all.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Getting back to this thread a bit late...
At least my original intent wasn't to say whether certain mouthpiece or sounds are "bad," just that I don't see an obvious correlation with the baffle size, or sound brightness with the fullness of palm key notes. I'm not concerned how I sound on a mouthpiece relative to other players, just on the concepts behind mouthpiece design when it comes to baffles.

Baffles and baffle adjustment is more about getting one specific design to voice as clear as one wants with the desired amount of edge. There is no sweet spot on the baffle that make certain notes clear. One might more accurately inquire as to what area on the baffle makes palm keys thin and/or fuzzy sounding. That would be the first 0-3 or 4mm if we are talking the average baffle. In terms of what is perceived to be full or not one gets into chamber size, baffle height/length/angle and shape to name a few. Its not a matter that can be entirely isolated. A mpc is an entire unit...every variable interacts with the other...change one and you potentially change them all.
Appreciate this response. On another note, I see that some baffles are more scooped in the middle when looking straight into the mouthpiece from the front... is this done for a particular reason?
 

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Yes, it it is too high clarity, fullness and response are lost. If too high near the tip it can chirp. Agsin, its not a set formula for all designs but proper adjustment for any piece is critical to get the most from it.
 

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I might suggest that an important area of interest is an inch or two below the end of the shank ... that is to say, in the neck. Some time ago I bought a Heritage neck for my Mark VI tenor from Boston Sax Shop, and it made a huge, immediately noticeable difference in the "fatness" and stability of palm key notes. Which leads me to believe that good response in this area is not solely determined by the mouthpiece, but by the mouthpiece and neck in combination. I don't think there is an easy answer to this question.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks again for the response Phil.

I might suggest that an important area of interest is an inch or two below the end of the shank ... that is to say, in the neck. Some time ago I bought a Heritage neck for my Mark VI tenor from Boston Sax Shop, and it made a huge, immediately noticeable difference in the "fatness" and stability of palm key notes. Which leads me to believe that good response in this area is not solely determined by the mouthpiece, but by the mouthpiece and neck in combination. I don't think there is an easy answer to this question.
No doubt the neck has an effect, but I just wanted to keep the discussion limited to mouthpiece design.
 

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I wouldn't say that it is the baffle that makes the difference on palm keys. It has some effect, but the lay would have as much effect, if not more. My experience messing with mouthpieces is that tiny differences in the lay has a much greater effect on which notes pop out, and the amount of playing effort, than does altering the baffle. A certain facing curve can produce fat low tones, start to muffle the upper register, and choke off altissimo, all with the same baffle. Changing the baffle isn't likely to be the fix, although if it involves reworking the baffle at the tip rail it could help.

Full palm key notes come from a lay that is compatible (for each player) with that particular reed. Compatible in the sense of little effort and embouchure change, which allows a confident relaxed progression up the scale. A higher baffle can produce a similar effect, but it also affects the lower notes, sometimes to the player's satisfaction and other times not. And some high baffle pieces (the Jumbo Java comes to mind) are well known for upper register and players marvel at those who can also produce rich low tone ballads with high baffle pieces.

Full sounding palm keys depends mostly on the lay a few millimeters from the tip. Again, all based on my experience goofing with mouthpieces.

Mark
 
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