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Discussion Starter #1
I have been playing for coming up to a year and I've started going to various jazz jams. I have a Selmer series III (yeah!) and am using a selmer rubber mouthpiece that came with it. What I've noticed however, is that everyone who goes to the jazz jams seems to have a bright, better and louder sound than I do :-(

This is our jazz jam:
http://soundcloud.com/user4887992

I am playing on track 14 (Misty) there is a trumpet solo and then me - please be kind I know it needs work, but my mind complaint is that I don't think my tone sounds that great and I don't know if its me or the result of the mouthpiece - does it sound a bit flat to you? Would really value your opinions as I have the opportunity to go and buy a mouthpiece in a couple of weeks but could actually could do with saving the money if its my technique I need to work on (and yep I know I need to work on soloing too!). Also everyone there has metal mouth pieces so I do feel a bit our of it :)
 

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I would do two things:

Work on your tone and try different mouthpieces. For some people a year is too soon to know what is ultimately goin to be there best mouthpiece though so be aware that you probably won't get the complete answer with a mouthpiece, you still need to develop your breath support and embouchure to develop a proper sound.

Also, don't fall into the trap of think metal = brighter, louder or better. You get good, loud, bright, mellow, versatile etc in all different materials, HR, metal or resin etc.
 

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+1 to what Pete said.

Material is not the issue. It is design. There are a lot of different designs and some lend themselves to certain styles more than others. This is not to say you have to have a "Jazz mouthpiece". The main issue is to find the piece that gets you closest to the sound you want to hear and then practice until your lips fall off. If you are a new player and you are not used to metal two things will happen. You may spend more than you need because most good metal pieces cost more. Secondly, you will throw your playing off for a while. It can be tricky to adjust to the change, especially early on.

Dont go out and spend 5 bills on a mouthpiece. Its too much and you will change your mind about sound more than once....maybe once weekly! Find what suits you quickly and get back to playing. You are treading into dangerous territory. Becoming a gearhead frequently takes a serious toll on making music.
 

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I think that metal mouthpieces do sound, feel, and respond differently than their nonmetal counterparts -- even those made with the same design. But I've listened to your clip, and I think you have something else going on. I would suggest working on adjusting your embouchure and air support first, before you start searching for a different mouthpiece to achieve the type of tone you want.

Pete and Phil both make and sell great nonmetal mouthpieces. They might end up being just what you are looking for. You don't have to play metal to get a brighter, better, and louder sound than what you're getting now. But you might want to see if you can borrow a metal piece from one of the people you play with to see if it gives you more of what you're looking for. Just keep working on your embouchure and air support in the meantime.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks guys, all great advice and Buck it is reassuring to listen to what you say after listeing to the clip. I think I need more long tone practice and like you say build up my embrouchure. I am little and have little lungs too! Hehe!
 

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I think the clips sounds pretty good for just a year. You can alter the sound a lot by changing the reed which is a lot cheaper than changing mouthpiece. Jazz players tend to go for wider tip openings but some of the old guys like Johnny Hodges or Stan Getz used pretty normal 5 tip openings.
I think if you're getting most of the notes in tune and can tell where you are in a piece, that's a good start. Tone will develop as your playing develops. But you can work on things like long notes etc as has been suggested. Check out Pete's excellent website!!!
 

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different mouthpieces will have different characteristics, strengths and weaknesses. enjoy the journey to explore more options to shape your sounds, tone and approach to your music.
and, I am always reminded that gear does not compensate for the hours needed for practice.
 

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I haven't listened to your clip, but I do think you can make a big change in your sound and also the 'mouthpiece ergonomics' by changing mouthpieces. I also played a stock Selmer mouthpiece for a while and then switched to a Selmer metal Jazz D mouthpiece, the big difference was that the metal mouthpiece was much smaller and had a much smaller chamber, this took a lot of the tubbiness out of my sound, so the sound was not big but at least it wasn't tubby, and the mouthpiece felt much more comfortable in my mouth and the horn seemed much easier to play.

I just recently switched from the Jazz D to a Berg Larsen plastic which I'd bought from a friend years ago but hardly tried, and the sound seems much bigger and better than the Jazz D, but I'm glad I had the Jazz D because of the ease of playing. Also, the biggest part of your sound is usually overlooked in these online discussions, it ain't your mouthpiece, your reed, or your horn, it is the inflections that you play, the way you attack a note, your vibrato, ESPECIALLY YOUR VIBRATO, the 'English' you put on it .... like Jim Carrey says about Tina Turner ... you gotta put a little stank on it .... !

So, I'm thinking that your first consideration should be ease of playing, and developing control, and a small diameter mouthpiece seems easier to play to me. Now, the Selmer Jazz D when I bought it was about $15.00 (I'm exaggerating) but now it's expensive. I also bought a few years ago a Jupiter alto sax which came with a small diameter plastic mouthpiece, so I think you can get a small diameter mouthpiece without spending the big bucks.

And, on the ease of play thing, I'd say unless you are playing a #1 reed, then try a softer reed just to see if it makes playing the sax easier. Ease of play should be your prime consideration so you can get some control over the mouthpiece. If you're straining to get a sound you'll never learn to control the sound I don't think.

As with all free internet advice, take my advice with a grain of salt .... it's what worked for me, but we're all different. And, I just switched up to a harder reed as my teacher said it would work better for altissimo notes ... so now I'm playing a (soft) 1.5 Vandoren reed up from the #1 Rico Select.
 

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ThelmaTheSelmer, just to answer your question in the thread title, no a metal mpc won't give you a better sound, but a different DESIGN might, whether it's metal or HR. Of course how you play is the most critcal factor, but the mpc can make a difference. Again, it is the design of mpc that will do that.

Pete and Phil both make and sell great nonmetal mouthpieces.
I don't make or sell any kind of mpc, but I have played a lot of metal and HR mpcs and it's become clear to me that the material has very little influence, if any, on the sound. I don't have any particular preference in the material, although I now use a HR mpc because I found one with all the design parameters I like.

This topic has come up multiple times on here and Thelma, I'm sure you don't (yet) know what a can 'o worms you've opened here. So I'll attempt to give you some facts that will hopefully help out before this goes spinning off into how much of an infinitesimal effect the material of a mpc might have on the sound.

Nowadays, you can find a multitude of designs in HR mpcs, including the outside shape (lower beak profile, etc). So you can get high baffle, low baffle, large tip, small tip, large chamber, small chamber, long or short facing, etc in HR or metal. You can find metal mpcs with a very dark, even 'tubby' sound, and metal mpcs with a bright, shrill sound, and everything in between. You can find HR mpcs with a very dark, even 'tubby' sound, and HR mpcs with a bright, shrill sound, and everything in between.

I'd suggest looking for something "in between" that is flexible enough for you to develop your sound. You can find something a bit brighter and louder than what you have now, but don't go too far in that direction or you'll be fighting an overly bright, thin tone and won't learn how to use your airstream to produce a variety of tones.

In any case, look to the design of the mpc, not the material.
 

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ThelmatheSelmer,

I did listen to the first 3 minutes or so of the track.

I have been playing for a looooong time and have tried to go to metal mouthpieces many times in the earlier years of my playing thinking somewhat in the way I think you are. I always went back to a HR mouthpiece. The Selmer mouthpiece sounds to me like it might be a good match for you at this stage.

I hear the beginnings of a good sound in what you are doing right now. I personally would stick with your mouthpiece a bit longer UNLESS you are not feeling comfortable playing it. Not the sound but controlling the horn.

I think someone posted earlier that in the long run we all develop our own sound. No matter what piece you play you will ultimately have the same core sound. What I WOULD DO at your stage is get the book by Sigurd Rascher called something like "exercises for high tones." not for the purpose of developing the altissimo range but to use the overtone exercises in the book. They will do more for developing your sound than anything, be it a mouthpiece or long tones. Even though long tones will also help tremendously.

Google Joe Allard online and see what there might be available for his sound techniques. He is the master that Liebman, Brecker and many others studied with in the '60s and '70s in order to develop sound and control.

Sorry if this got kind of long but I am passionate about the subject.

Mike
 

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Pete and Phil both make and sell great nonmetal mouthpieces. They might end up being just what you are looking for. You don't have to play metal to get a brighter, better, and louder sound than what you're getting now.
Thanks for the recommendation Buck, however, in line with my post above, I would not feel comfortable recommending a PPT to a (relative) beginner. I get a few enquiries from beginners (and I don't mean to be rude Thelma, playing for one year is still a beginner in the grand scheme of things).

I think people should really give their best shot in their formative years to more standard low baffle pieces, and graduate to the more expensive, specialist "boutique" mouthpieces (baffle notwithstanding) only once a sound is well developed.

That isn't to say that you can't find a great mouthpiece suitable for a beginner that will last them their entire career. As I said above, there's no harm in trying stuff out at any stage, in fact I would really encourage Thelma to do that, but just beware that you could be getting a mouthpiece which provides a shortcut to getting the sound you should be working at getting with a good solid basic embouchure.

(If on;y I'd followed that advice when I was 18!)

Re: the metal/hard rubber debate, I have always been on the side that says the material makes no difference. Having manufactured identical mouthpieces from metal and SHR (resin) and in a position to put this to the test, I still believe that is true up to a certain extent, however I now believe that there can be slightly significant differences at certain dynamic levels. I am currently doing some tests, and my gut feeling so far is that metal mouthpieces are very similar to other materials at low to medium sound levels, but when really pushed, the added brightness that normally accompanies getting louder, is a bit less accentuated. I can't yet say if this is because specific high frequencies are not so predominant, or whether they are actually in a slightly lower range.

But I digress, the outcome of those experiments are for another thread.

Back to this one:

Having listened to the track, I think you have the beginnings of a very good sound and have a real feel for the music. Work on your embouchure and breath support will turn that basically good core sound into a very lovely sound, I can tell that. I would stick with your mouthpiece, you've come along way in a year, give it another year and you should be ready to make that decision whether to stick with what you have for a bit longer or change to something else. By that time you'll really know what you need and how it will help.
 

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I had much of the same issues in the past. Try some new mouthpieces and find one that is suitably free blowing, in tune and sounds good (to you) then work on your tone. It's a half and half sort of thing...you as a player can change your tone on even the most beginner mouthpieces, and likewise a piece built to suit your needs will complement your playing style and will improve your sound a bit.

I wouldn't worry so much about what it's made of, just try a bunch with a few different strengths and brands of reeds and see what works. Make a day out of it if you can sample a bunch of them (I spent 2 hours trying out 4 mouthpieces...). Do some homework before hand and find which pieces a lot of people are playing and which you may want to avoid (some manufacturers aren't very consistent in their quality), or talk to a custom mouthpiece maker or refacer and see if they can help you pick out a piece then have it sent to them and have it tailored to your liking. It's sort of like a suit...there are good suits and bad suits, and one suit may look great on one person and awful on the other.
 

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Nice playing! Was that an alto or tenor?

I recently got myself a Rico metalite (not metal) mouthpiece for my bari for less than 30 USD and got a totally new sound out of it. I also have one for my tenor.
The sound is both stronger and brighter but it is also possible to play really soft as well. The way it is designed makes it so much easier to get that loud sound when you want it.
Just blow a little stronger (but still less than on a classical mouthpiece) and the big sound just gets going.

So if you want to try another mouthpiece without spending hundreds of dollars look for a metalite.
 

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sounds to me like your struggling a bit to put all your air through the horn. i had the same problem years ago on a yamaha 4c for tenor. im guessing your selmer mouthpiece is no bigger than a D? my feeling would be to get a decent link tone edge in around the 6 - 6* range... finding a good one may be hard though. a better idea would be to get a custom link or new vintage slant from phil-tone (the vintage slant to me has a more vocal mid and high range and projects a bit better). i dont think you could do any better than that for the price.



as for materials the difference is small. i've done the blind tests of your website pete and picked the right ones each time but the difference is tiny. its definitely incorrect to think you need a metal mouthpiece to achieve a certain sound. thats my 2 cents.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Just wanted to say a massive thanks for all these replies, I'm getting the feeling I'm going to stick with my mouthpiece which is good, because I'm very broke after buying my sax and it means I know I need to work on my tone, what I will also do is get the exercises book by Sigurd Rascher - I'm guessing its the one called top tones?
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I know what you're saying, problem is, when we all play the head sometimes you can hardly hear me cos of those other loud tenors!!
 

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I think people should really give their best shot in their formative years to more standard low baffle pieces, and graduate to the more expensive, specialist "boutique" mouthpieces (baffle notwithstanding) only once a sound is well developed.
Pete, I give you a lot of respect for this statement!

Re: the metal/hard rubber debate, I have always been on the side that says the material makes no difference. Having manufactured identical mouthpieces from metal and SHR (resin) and in a position to put this to the test, I still believe that is true up to a certain extent, however I now believe that there can be slightly significant differences at certain dynamic levels. I am currently doing some tests, and my gut feeling so far is that metal mouthpieces are very similar to other materials at low to medium sound levels, but when really pushed, the added brightness that normally accompanies getting louder, is a bit less accentuated. I can't yet say if this is because specific high frequencies are not so predominant, or whether they are actually in a slightly lower range.
There's probably a better place to ask this question and it may have been asked before, but it just came to mind as I read your post... Anyway, while the external dimensions of a mouthpiece are irrelevant to the air column inside, do you suppose they do actually effect the player's embouchure or oral cavity thus altering the perceived 'mouthpiece sound'?

I'm sure anyone can adjust to external dimensions over time, but personally I am turned off by exceptionally narrow metal mouthpieces because my embouchure feels thrown off by the size difference. Do you think the difference you are finding might be caused by the player rather than material? I suppose testing across multiple players would help answer that question.

Anyway, just a thought I had!
 
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