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This is going to sound crazy probably. I've brought this up before but...........Why is it that we equate the perfection of a mouthpiece with the playabilty or tone of it? We are all programmed to think that an even facing is best. A certain perfect facing curve is best. A perfectly even baffle is the best. Some unevenness and we immediately think it's not good.

What makes me bring this up is that as I think back over the last 10 years, the mouthpieces with the most unique tone and character all had something wrong or uneven about them. I had tons of trouble with them with reeds and all that but when I got them to work they were amazing and unique to my ears.

I had a Ponzol ML that was killer sounding. But there was something wrong with the rails or table and it kept having trouble with reeds. Peter Ponzol fixed it. The reed problem was gone but so was the character of tone I really like about it.

I had an Aizen alto piece that had it's moments too. Again, it was here and there and most of the time I was messing with reeds and frustrated but when a reed worked it was phenomenal. I had it refaced and it turned out the rails were a bit off. Got it back and no more reed problems. Played well but not like those times when I got it working before. It was missing a certain character to the sound again.

Someone on here mentioned getting a great character of tone from a New EB link and they mentioned that the facing was probably off. The baffle was probably a little crooked too if it was like the one I played.

This has got me to thinking. Has anyone tried messing around with imperfections in a mouthpiece? I read somewhere of a clarinet mouthpiece maker who believed in some unevenness in the rails. (I can't remember who it was) but some of his clients were pretty impressed with his results.)

Just wondering what you guys think of this subject?
 

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Re: Why to we equate perfection with great playing?

This is going to sound crazy probably. I've brought this up before but...........Why is it that we equate the perfection of a mouthpiece with the playabilty or tone of it? We are all programmed to think that an even facing is best.
Those of us who play RPCs have got over that programming of course.

This has got me to thinking. Has anyone tried messing around with imperfections in a mouthpiece? I read somewhere of a clarinet mouthpiece maker who believed in some unevenness in the rails. (I can't remember who it was) but some of his clients were pretty impressed with his results.)

Just wondering what you guys think of this subject?
Baffles I can understand, but uneven rails mean there will be no seal (possibly) when the reed is closed to the mouthpiece tip. However it's possible that with soft reeds, long lays or narrow tips then there would be a seal so I think this whole issue is very dependent on specific factors that make it impossible to generalise.

Good topic though, I'll think some more on that.
 

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I think it could have something to do with 'coloration'. This is an audiophile term that sort of describes a sonic effect of something/anything that alters the 'true sound' of the instrument, or speaker or amplifier etc.

When I read these things about the sax mpcs, quite a few times now, I think what may be happening is that the slight imperfection or uneveness in the finishing of the mouthpiece 'colors' the sound in a certain way. If you happen to like it, then it means you like that 'coloration' of the individual piece, which is probably caused by certain physical imperfections in the piece.
Then when you send it to be refaced or perfected, the process also removes that coloration that you liked before. So now, the mouthpiece is technically sealing better, more reed friendly, but that unique coloration that was there before is now gone.

On the other hand, sometimes after refacing, people like the sound, plus they get all the advantages of playing a perfected mpc, then they report very positive results from the process.

So if you really like a particular character of a certain mpc, the best bet would be to live with the imperfections. If you send it for refacing or other alterations, then be prepared to lose the unque character that you liked so much pre-moification. The result cannot really be known in advance so it is a bit of a roll of the dice thing.

Of course this is all just my own conjecture and opinion. IMHO, as I have been advised to say...
 

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the mouthpieces with the most unique tone and character all had something wrong or uneven about them. I had tons of trouble with them with reeds and all
One of the refacers on the forum, if I am not mistaken, echoed that the trouble is in finding a reed
with the right crookedness to play decently on a mpc with a crooked facing.

Hardly seems worth the effort and expense, when one can get a great mpc with an even facing
that is reed friendly.

edit: There certainly is beauty in finding a great playing reed.
 

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This has got me to thinking. Has anyone tried messing around with imperfections in a mouthpiece? I read somewhere of a clarinet mouthpiece maker who believed in some unevenness in the rails. (I can't remember who it was) but some of his clients were pretty impressed with his results.)

Just wondering what you guys think of this subject?[/QUOTE]
I was playing for a while on Mitchell Lurie crystal clarinet mouthpieces. I loved the sound but the resistance was overwhelming. I ordered several and they all had uneven facings. They improved when I evened the rails. I also had a Selmer metal alto C** that had reed problems but played well with certain reeds. The facing was uneven. I had it refaced and it was awful.
 

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When I was a student at North Texas, studying with Jim Riggs, lots of alto players were playing on Claude Lakey mouthpieces. We were looking at some and noticing that the baffle and/or chamber was often visibly asymmetrical. Riggs said that he had mentioned this to Claude, and Claude said that it was on purpose; that the asymmetry improved the sound.

I would tend to agree with Pete's concern that uneven rails or table would keep (most) reeds from sealing and would (often) impede good response.

On the other hand, some of the Vandoren metal tenor mouthpieces I've played are beautifully made and finished, and they are very easy to play, with great response in all registers. BUT there doesn't seem to be much character to to the tone.

Of course, as always, any of these discussions about the subtleties of mouthpieces, ligatures, necks, horns etc. has to be tempered by reminding ourselves that we are putting a different reed on the horn each day. Even if it's the same actual reed we played yesterday, it's further along its path of inevitable decay, so it's not exactly like it was yesterday. And the reeds we put on the horn are seldom perfectly symmetrical.
 

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On the other hand, some of the Vandoren metal tenor mouthpieces I've played are beautifully made and finished, and they are very easy to play, with great response in all registers. BUT there doesn't seem to be much character to to the tone.
I remember when Lawtons first came on the scene. And Guardalas. Both great mouthpieces. These mouthpieces had character. But do you want your mouthpiece to provide the character, or allow you to provide it?
 

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I remember when Lawtons first came on the scene. And Guardalas. Both great mouthpieces. These mouthpieces had character. But do you want your mouthpiece to provide the character, or allow you to provide it?
The two best mouthpieces I own and will never sell were extremely well used pieces to the point the plating is almost gone both inside and out. Both are extremely colorful and play better than similar mouthpieces of the same manufacturer. Maybe that is why Old Links and Guardalas are so sought after even at the high prices that 10M sells then for? B
 

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Maybe mouthpieces are like people - imperfect people tend to be more colorful than the perfect ones. Or maybe I should say it the other way around - colorful people tend to be imperfect.

But then there is the next question - which one do you want to live with and rely upon?
 

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I avoid any modified mouthpieces. If I like how it plays being stock - I keep it. Some of my mouthpieces look imperfect but I like the way they sound. Mutilated or worked on mouthpieces in my opinion should sell for less than original price was.
 

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You know, it's odd--last night as I was getting settled before our gig started, an older gentleman came up and was admiring my tenor. He knew it was a MkVI. Apparently, he was or had been a repairman. I told him who had last worked on my horn. He was a nice fellow, and gave a short description of what they did with horns in the old days--how nothing would 'wiggle' after they were done.

Well, my horn has several 'wiggle' spots, but I really like the horn, and don't worry too much about it. It doesn't have to be mechanically perfect to play just fine.

I'm much more interested in playing music than playing a horn.
 

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This issue you raise Nef has relevance beyond the realm of music... A flaw or other non conforming aspect can be a focusing element to appreciate a whole... The mole on a beautiful woman's face, a line of color in a piece of marble otherwise static in it's sameness and a squeak during a saxophone cadenza or heavy run can allow us to appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of anything we experience... Our reflection on our frailty and our temporal status as living but yet dying entities is a deep concept to consider... You are a thinking person Nef, good on you...
 

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I avoid any modified mouthpieces. If I like how it plays being stock - I keep it. Some of my mouthpieces look imperfect but I like the way they sound. Mutilated or worked on mouthpieces in my opinion should sell for less than original price was.
I would think there is a difference here between "collectability" and "playability." What you say may be true from a pure collector's viewpoint, as I understand the idea that when you buy something modified, you don't know exactly what you are getting. But many mouthpieces were and are very inconsistent in manufacture. So from a playability standpoint, this makes little sense. I had a Berg HR that I liked the sound of, but it was very hard to blow and control. I had it refaced, and it plays much better now.
 

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In the world of clarinet mouthpieces there is a school of belief from some makers of the positive aspects of uneven or assymetrical facings. There are many players who like them for exactly the reasons Neff describes. There is a feeling that it adds a little character and gives a good blowing resistance. There are some who assert that some of the legendary makers including the renowned Frank Kaspar had this design in their mouthpieces. I have had some makers tell me that they have measured many mouthpieces from legendary players and have found that there was un evenness, whether by accident or design. Sealing and finding reeds is not necessarily an issue as one learns to adjust the reed through the playing qualities in balancing each side.

While I tend to prefer even facings, I have played some that were not that played beautifully. I sometimes think that one should play the equipment that plays the way you like, ignoring what the numbers are. Often we dismiss something based on the facing dimensions rather than the playing. Sometimes the baffle, bore, etc can lend other playing characteristics that the defy the numbers.

If it plays good for you, maybe that is all that is important.
 

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Like a few members have said already, I think this goes beyond the subject of mouthpieces, saxophone or music. I have personally never really been attracted to perfection. Human nature is inherently flawed and I think it makes life more interesting (although harder). I've always associated the term "organic" when used in reference to a player's style or tone with the fact that it sounded "human" ie not perfect. I don't want to start a debate, but a lot of the great jazz saxophone players did not have a perfect technique imo and that's cool.

Re: mouthpiece facings, here's what you can read on Theo Wanne's website :
It is very important that the facing curve on both of the mouthpieces 'side rails' be parallel or even (unless made intentionally uneven for a specific purpose. I know some Refacers experimenting with this).
I'm sure our refacing community will comment on this.
 

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I would think there is a difference here between "collectability" and "playability." What you say may be true from a pure collector's viewpoint, as I understand the idea that when you buy something modified, you don't know exactly what you are getting. But many mouthpieces were and are very inconsistent in manufacture. So from a playability standpoint, this makes little sense. I had a Berg HR that I liked the sound of, but it was very hard to blow and control. I had it refaced, and it plays much better now.
I'm not a collector and I expressed my view from a buyer's perspective. If someone likes their modified mouthpiece they will keep it. If it's for sale than I don't know what's wrong with it (maybe nothing wrong) unless I'll buy it and if I don't like it I'll have to pass it on. I have not clue how many modified mouthpieces floating out there that have some issues and do not want to investigate in to each and every one. That's why I prefer to avoid buying modified mouthpieces altogether. I would rather find a stock that I like and stick with it.
 

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I think well balanced facings on mpcs just play better! You can get used to a lot of stuff though, so if your mpc works for you and you love it, it doesn't matter what kind of shape it's in! No reason to try to fix something that works for you already. I think refacing is very much worthwhile, though, because often mpcs don't play well as they are, and there are many ways of increasing the efficiency of the platform that the reed vibrates against to get it playing better! So, I think whatever choice you make - to have a piece refaced, or to stick with something you like a lot even though you can visually see that stuff isn't right - is totally fine. Whatever helps you reach your musical goals is the right choice! :)
 

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There could be potential benefits of a lopsided baffle, but the reliability of a "perfect" facing is golden. Perhaps the higher expectations associated with a hand faced piece are a cause for disappointment. When I got my link back from its refacing, I popped on a reed excitedly and began to play... it sounded the same, but I thought about how lucky I was to get that good of a reed on the first try. The next day I pulled out the horn to practice and got a different reed, which played wonderfully. Suddenly, I understood all the talk about refacing. This may say a surprising amount about me as a person, but I am thrilled with reliability, even at the possible expense of some character.
 

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I've only in the last couple years got on a basic hard rubber Meyer 6 from a basic Selmer C* and I think I'm getting my first serious case of GAS. Ordered a metal Link 6 to try. The thing is that unless you are on something as drastically closed as a C* (I love the velvet honey sound) then almost any other mouthpiece is going to make large differences in tone. I played my buddy's Tenor with a Dukoff and it was amazing. Balls to the wall sound but compared to the C* I felt like my airstream was going through a pin-hole.

Moral of the story...eff GAS. 95% comes from your playing, and not from the sound of any particular mouthpiece. Identify the music you play most and choose gear accordingly. I'm playing mostly R&B and Soul right now, so it's time for a metal Link 6 or a Dukoff. But I get by on the C* just fine if need be. The HR Meyer 6 too.
 

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I'm not a collector and I expressed my view from a buyer's perspective. If someone likes their modified mouthpiece they will keep it. If it's for sale than I don't know what's wrong with it (maybe nothing wrong) unless I'll buy it and if I don't like it I'll have to pass it on. I have not clue how many modified mouthpieces floating out there that have some issues and do not want to investigate in to each and every one. That's why I prefer to avoid buying modified mouthpieces altogether. I would rather find a stock that I like and stick with it.
I can respect where you are coming from but part of what you are saying carries the implication that there is a level of consistency among stock mouthpieces that isnt there in reality.

As for the OP statement, I dont think a perfect or an imperfect piece has character. What I do believe and experience is that a well made piece should always preform well. However, there are times when the all the elements of a piece come together and it becomes really special. This is very difficult to repeat by machine or hand. Its much like the difference we talk about in the Mark VI. Most of them are good...then there are those that pop up and are exceptional. Is it because they are imperfect or "more perfect"...its really hard to say.
 
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