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I've heard that switching to a high baffle mouthpiece before you're not ready can ruin your embouchure. Is this true? If so, around how experienced does a player have to be before starting to use one?

Obviously, it will vary from player to player but I'm just wondering. I want to avoid ruining the little bit of embouchure that I have. :tongue7:
 

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It's not so much 'ruining' your embouchure as it is preventing a novice player from learning how to play correctly. Playing from the diaphragm, keeping the throat open and shaping the sound with the tongue are just 3 examples of what's considered 'correct' playing from conventional wisdom.

The high baffle mouthpiece can yield a powerful sound immediately but unless the player is experienced the mid and high partials of the tone will be emphasized whereas an experienced player can get a full sound, which includes a balanced share of the lower partials, the new or inexperienced player probably won't understand what's missing and have what's considered a shrill tone.

So actually there's no right or wrong when it comes to sound choices it's just that an inexperienced player may not even know what's missing.

Again, an experienced player can get a full and even a relatively dark sound from a high baffle mouthpiece, and a bright sound from a 'dark' mouthpiece.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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I've heard that switching to a high baffle mouthpiece before you're not ready can ruin your embouchure. Is this true? If so, around how experienced does a player have to be before starting to use one?

Obviously, it will vary from player to player but I'm just wondering. I want to avoid ruining the little bit of embouchure that I have. :tongue7:
two things:

1) a high baffle mouthpiece is not the same as a jazz mouthpiece

and

2) a high baffle won't ruin your embouchure.
 

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I've heard that switching to a high baffle mouthpiece before you're not ready can ruin your embouchure. Is this true? If so, around how experienced does a player have to be before starting to use one?

Obviously, it will vary from player to player but I'm just wondering. I want to avoid ruining the little bit of embouchure that I have. :tongue7:
High baffles are generally rock n roll, R&B, and funk. However, I use them for all styles (except symphonic and classical). But, that's my preference. I prefer to darken a bright piece, rather than brighten a dark piece. Except for Concert/Symphonic bands and Classical playing where I do play darker sounding pieces (using the same control I have on the high baffle pieces to darken them, on "middle of the road" mouthpieces). Because of my playing style, I've never got along well with Caravans, Raschers, or any mouthpiece already designed to be very dark in tone.

For me, I have much more freedom in shaping my sound with brighter pieces than some people. But, could be my sax upbringing too. My first "jazz" mouthpiece on Alto was a Dukoff D7. My 2nd one was a Runyon Spoiler 6* metal smoothbore. Have never really liked the darkness Meyers tend to present (though I do have one custom piece that is of similar design). I used a Drake Contemporary .085 for many years, and am now playing a Theo Wanne Mindi Abair 8. But, I've always loved David Sanborn and Candy Dulfers tone and styles. I can appreciate the dark sou ding Altos, it just isn't me. But, and here's the kicker I think, before any of that, I began learning my overtone series in a scrollshank "D" chamber Selmer C*. Fundamentals!

Similar story on Tenor, Soprano and Bari. I have no trouble playing rollovers, no baffles, and large chambers, just prefer high baffles.

These mouthpiece changes began after about 5 years of playing, and with the help and guidance of my sax playing band director, and pros I played with in a local gigging Big Band.
 

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The main thing is to not jump too high in tip opening before you're ready. You should work up to the mouthpieces that are larger than the typical student 3 or 4. And unless you think you are missing something in your tone, there's no need to change at all. You notice that I did not mention 'high baffle - that's because going from a standard mouthpiece to a 'high-baffle' piece is not a normal strategy in today's sax world. When I was a kid, sure, we jumped from a #3 to a 130/0 because that's what was hip at that time. Now you don't have to play loud and blow your guts out, although I have never changed in that department. :( That's why I'm telling you not to make that mistake.
A 'jazz' mouthpiece is by no means a high-baffle piece although they have been used. The most famous jazz mouthpiece of all time is the oldest design, an Otto Link. They are considered non-baffle, although every mouthpiece has at least a small 'baffle' area just behind the tip to make the mouthpiece play easier and have 'presence'. So if you wanted to start playing a 'jazz' mouthpiece, get yourself an Otto Link hard rubber, #4 and see how that goes. You should sound pretty much the same, maybe a little louder and more projection.
 

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I would be more concerned with tip opening. Personally I like a low baffle for all styles as I start to get a duckish sound with high baffle pieces. Everyone's different and i just sound brighter on low baffle jarge chamber mpcs so I moved to an 7* Otto Link tenor very soon after starting with a Selmer D piece in the late 70s. The Link was way, way easier to play. But every player is different and I am not suggesting to do the same thing but instead try as many pieces as possible. Good luck on your sax adventure.
 

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In a school concert band setting, the sax player that brings in a high baffle mouthpiece will usually sound brighter and louder than the rest of the saxes. So they will need to play softer to blend in. This often confines them to a small, thin sound that is unsupported with a full airstream. This can really hurt player development.
 

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A"jazz" mouthpiece won't hurt your embouchure. In fact, it may help your embouchure once you put in the time to get use to it. I.E high baffle mouthpieces, larger tip openings
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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In a school concert band setting, the sax player that brings in a high baffle mouthpiece will usually sound brighter and louder than the rest of the saxes. So they will need to play softer to blend in. This often confines them to a small, thin sound that is unsupported with a full airstream. This can really hurt player development.
I think this could be a good point, i.e. thing to use a inappropriate mouthpiece for the job could obviously not be ideal. Just as trying to use an old Conn eagle in a loud funk band might not help your development.
 

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And there was I thinking that a lot of Jazz players are switching back to close tip openings with very soft reeds, am sure I read that on here somewhere.
 

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I wouldn't worry about a high baffle unless it's the kind of 'sound' (not to be confused with volume) you want to be making. With the ready availability of microphones and PA systems, volume should be the least of your concerns. Even 'back in the day', many professionals knew the importance of 'sound' quality over sound quantity. I'd be decades ahead if I just went with my heart rather than chasing after something someone else thought I should be playing.

Having said that, if a high baffle gives you the kind of 'sound' you want then get after it NOW. You don't need anyone's approval.
 

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I think this could be a good point, i.e. thing to use a inappropriate mouthpiece for the job could obviously not be ideal. Just as trying to use an old Conn eagle in a loud funk band might not help your development.
This is actually probably a bigger problem. HS players often advance past their stock mouthpiece or try to use what works in concert band in a big band. Not as extreme as an Eagle in da Funk but more common.

It is also common in my area for them not to advance to this point. Which is sad.
 

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This is actually probably a bigger problem. HS players often advance past their stock mouthpiece or try to use what works in concert band in a big band. Not as extreme as an Eagle in da Funk but more common.

It is also common in my area for them not to advance to this point. Which is sad.
I was the opposite, with soprano and Bari. I used my "jazz" setup in concert band and show choir. Which, at the time (1992-1996) was a Runyon Spoiler 6 on soprano, and a Rico Royal Metalite M7 on Bari. I was the only Bari in a 90 piece Concert Band though! Only other basses were 1 very quiet Bass Clarinet, and 1 tuba. When I played soprano sax in that setting, I was generally featured anyway.

On Alto I was a Selmer Scrollshank "soloist style" D shaped chamber C* across the board, while I had a WS Sumner 3 on Tenor for Concert Band, and a metal RIA 6* for jazz (which I fought for years! Not from tip size, it was fairly small, but it was in need of a reface from the get go, which none of the pro sax players I played with ever caught! In recordings, I never sounded like I was fighting with it though, and I could get that cool Joe Lovano type altissimo from it, which I've had a tough time emulating sense!).
 

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I jumped into a Wanne HR Brahma 7* (.105) a few months after starting. My emboucher would get fatigued after short periods of playing, but I grew into it after a very short time. I could never go back to a Yamaha 4C or anything similar. I also have a Link 5* metal that I like which is good for jazz. But it's very subdued compared to the Wanne which I can use for jazz or rock. This is just my personal experience and I would definitely be considered a newbie to sax, although I've been a pro musician since I was a teenager (now 50). So don't use anything I say as advice.
 

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Just try one if you like. It's been stated but the bottom line is that without a lot of control and experience the likelihood of you sounding like crap is pretty high. High baffle pieces are a differen breed. They play very different from lower baffled pieces. To me it is as dramatic as changing from tenor to alto or the other way around...it requires a different sensibility and skill set. My question is why?

You didn't state what it is you want out of your sound. If you don't know there is no reason to venture. Stay off the gear merry go round and practice. Playing with toys too early will serve as little more than an expensive distraction from progress.
 

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In a school concert band setting, the sax player that brings in a high baffle mouthpiece will usually sound brighter and louder than the rest of the saxes. So they will need to play softer to blend in. This often confines them to a small, thin sound that is unsupported with a full airstream. This can really hurt player development.
100% agree. I believe it's better to have a super dark classical piece and play with really good quality air in the wind ensemble setting.
 
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