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Discussion Starter #1
To miss my rambling drivel go straight to the last sentence...

Four months ago I put aside my larger tip opening pieces and played smaller tip openings on the advice of my teacher and it made a huge difference for my control over intonation and dynamics. Over the last 4 months I've been practicing (including long tones) for about an hour pretty much every day and the other day I thought that just for fun I'd play about with the mouthpieces that I couldn't sell at the time that have been kicking about in a drawer unplayed all this time. One of them was a David Zagar V Series in a 7 (.100) tip opening and wow - this thing really sang. And it's not just me saying it, I liked it so much I played it that very night at my jazz improv class and everyone loved it praising my tone and my improv ideas, then at my next lesson my teacher also praised my tone and I could see he was seriously impressed (quite surprised in fact, as am I) so my chops have obviously improved over this period and now the larger tip opening feels good and I get the big, dark, spread tone I want but I can still retain sufficient control over intonation and dynamics. Happy days, I hadn;t expected this to happen so quickly!

So OK, I'm back playing a 7 tip and I'm very happy with the V Series plus I have a Morgan Jazz coming from DocFormat in exchange for another piece I no longer play which is also in a .100 so it will be interesting to compare it to the Zagar but I can't help wondering how the other two Zagar pieces compare. Also, if anyone has played one of these three Zagars (as opposed to the old models) and has any comments - pos or neg - then I'd be interested.

...has anyone played more than one of these three pieces and if so how did they compare please?
 

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I am a believer in Zagar mouthpieces (as you'll notice by reading this post) and I own lot of those: Cool School, Hot School, Silvertail, Vintage bronze and trialled also the SBB for a month approx.

The vibralloy models (that's to say the non-bronze ones) are the warmest and sweetest playing: I highly recommend those for people looking for a Stan Getz type of sound. They do not seem to pump up a lot of volume, although I heard better players than me getting very respectable volume also from those.

The bronze models are super responsive, in particular the SBB I think it's the most responsive mouthpiece I have tried along with JJ DV. They all have the volume that for me somehow the non-bronze models lack and better mid register, again in my opinion. They also look absolutely undestructible.
The bottom notes come fuller and warmer with the non-bronze models, but for all the rest I think the bronze models are better.
I kept the Vintage bronze because it's noticeably darker than the SBB and the low register is much fuller. The SBB was more responsive and, differently from the JJ DV, was also quite forgiving to my not so well developed air stream. Since I tend to play a lot in the low register, I decided to keep the other one.

I recently got a vintage Link 4**** and the tone I get is rather similar to the one of the Vintage bronze, which is my pick on my 10M and one of my favorites on my Martin tenor.

I noticed that Zagar renamed it recently as Traditional bronze (not sure there is any difference with my 2006 model) comparing it to a Link double ring. I've never tried those so I don't really know how much of a stretch that might be. But the name "traditional" I think suits well the tone you can get out of it.

I got my Vintage bronze 2006 from Hornimprovement and I highly recommend them.
I almost bought your V 2007 model when you were selling it, I am glad for you I didn't (I figured out it might have been the same as my Silvertail).
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Rispoli both for not buying my V series and for your reply ;) In fact perhaps it was a post from you 6 months ago that inspired me to buy the Zagar in the first place, I have done a little research on the Zagars since I started using it again and I noted that you were a Zagar fan!

It seems to me that his pieces are sorely under-rated and I think it's at least partially to do with the fact he's in Australia (ie he's not American or French) and partially that he doesn;t do much in the way of marketing so far as I can see. His web site isn't great and I've not seen Zagars listed in retailers so I'll check out Hornimprovement, I bought mine direct from Zagar, he seems like a really nice guy. Its a shame more of them aren't sold, the mouthpieces are very high quality. Were there problems with his older pieces that put people off?
 

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Might be those older pieces that troubled his reputation. I've never tried one of those, actually.
I don't know if they are underrated, I just know that I like the ones I have.
They are not the only ones I play and like either.

I had one Cool School sent to Ed Zentera for a small baffle addition and he was also impressed by the finish of that unit. Since I do not notice traces of hand-finsih in anyone of my mouthpieces, I think David Zagar got excellent machines that do most if not all the work (if that's possible: I don't really know), possibly like Jody Jazz or SR Technologies.

I bought the SBB from him and returned it without problems, he is great to deal with and shipping from Australia to Canada is, in my experience, faster than US to Canada. Plus, shipping was included in the price.

If you are curious about the bronze models, I think brasscane has one or two for sale.
 

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Zagar V-series Alto and SBB 7 Tenor

Just to add a few comments about David Zagar and his mouthpieces. I bought a V-series Alto piece from him 4 months ago and it's truly outstanding. The most versatile piece I've played on Alto, good for traditional lead Alto to Sanborn'esque contemporary. I can't fault it. It blows freely throughout and the response is superb. It really does "sing". I've used it on sessions and TV dates, live jazz gigs etc David supplies all his pieces with an EVO-5 Rovner ligature and the combination works very well indeed.

I also purchased an SBB 7 Tenor piece from him and it arrived this last weekend and I'm once again mightily impressed. My current set up was with a Doc Tenney Slant sig copy from Saxquest and this is of course a fantastic piece but I recorded a few tracks here at home yesterday to compare and the SBB is a vast improvement all round. It's very similar in sound quality which is great because that's the sound I want but it takes it further. The projection is excellent, the bottom end very easy and the top end clear as a bell. It is still very flexible in sound character and doesn't give up when pressed.

The 2 pieces are beautifully made and well worth the wait for the SBB (around 2 months or so)
David is always quick to respond to any emails and will answer any questions comprehensively.
I found him to be very polite and courteous and I highly recommend his work to anyone looking for a new mouthpiece. My only disappointment is that it doesn't look like he'll be making a Soprano piece any time soon.

I know there will be players that remember Zagar Hot school and Cool school pieces but I don't think David should be judged soley on their performance (which wasn't great as far as I was concerned) He has made huge advances in his design and the current pieces are IMHO excellent.

He does have a new and improved web site by the way.

Cheers,

Alex
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks Alex, that's interesting especially coming from a pro player. I entirely agree about David's friendliness and helpfulness, I got the same when I bought my V. I'd got the same impression about his hot and cool school pieces not being so well received and I still think his web site doesn't do him justice - some decent photos of each piece and a table listing the differences between and benefits of each model would be a good addition IMO.

I'd love to try an SBB and a Traditional, maybe I'll send Brasscane a PM and see what he's got but I seem to recall seeing he'd had them reworked and opened up and I think his'll be too open for me. Now, how can I get some money together...
 

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Hey Rick,

I guess you could always order an SBB from David! I personally think that trying one in an unmolested state would be preferable and David does have them in 7,8 and 9 tip openings as I'm sure you're well aware.

I'm using Vandoren ZZ 2.5's at the moment although I'm clipping a bit to get the resistance I want. I'm playing it on an SBA (49000 series) delacquered and with Noyak resonators and it's a combination that makes me very happy!!

David did send me through a full explanation of what goes into his mouthpiece methodology and it was really quite interesting but of course the end product is the proof and I believe he's made a great mouthpiece.

I hope you can get your hands on an SBB sometime soon, it seems to me that it's a piece that will just keep on getting better the longer you get to know it.

As for the web site you're right I guess there could be a bit more detailed info' regarding tip opening measurements etc.....why not suggest it to him via email?

Cheers,

Alex
 

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Sax1st - How would you characterize the SBB in terms of tone and edge? Would it be a replacement for a high baffle mpc while still providing a full sound? - Thanks
 

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Hey Tomsch,

Up until about 2 years ago I played exclusively high baffle mouthpieces on Tenor, the usual suspects Guardalas etc I then took a punt on DT's Slant Sig copy and it struck me that here was a piece that would with time provide good projection without me sounding like a great big Kazoo. My feedback to David (Zagar) was that the SBB has all the great playing characteristics of the Slant Sig but a whole heap more projection and a certain "classiness" about the sound. The resonance of the Bronze alloy might well be a main factor in this as well as of course the chamber/baffle design. The new EVO-5 Rovner ligature may also be a factor, I don't have another ligature that fits the SBB so I can't as of yet compare but I'm inclined to think that this combination is working very well so I'll leave it for a few months to get used to the set up and if it's not broken....etc

The response of the SBB is certainly very free with it seems unlimited power at the bottom end, I mean it just doesn't stop and I blow pretty hard. The top register is clear and effortless. I think it's a situation, at long last, where I can forget about the mouthpiece and just let the ideas flow knowing that whatever I go for is going to happen. It makes playing a very fluid thing which I guess is what I'm always looking for, pretty much the same thing that I experienced with David's V-Series Alto piece.

I should perhaps add here that I'm not an endorser for David's pieces but merely someone who respects what this guy is doing. I think if you hear it from the man himself you get a better sense of where he's coming from in terms of development and dedication to making a truly great mouthpiece and if I'd felt this way about the new Guardalas or RPC's or any other makers out there whose pieces I've trialed I would be saying exactly the same thing.

So your question was would this piece be a replacement for a high baffle piece....well I'm inclined to think yes and coming from a "high baffle" background I think that qualifies me to have a certain knowledge about that situation. I need to have that resistance to blow against because that's what I've been used to my whole playing career (33 years now...!!!!:cry: )
I did have a 3 month "go" with a Selmer Soloist and even though I loved the character of that piece I couldn't make it happen below D, sub tone was an impossibility for me... more my fault than the mouthpiece I'm sure.

Don't expect the bang of a Super King or any other pieces that have large step/wedge baffles but you can expect great projection whilst still retaining a warm character sound wise and great flexibility throughout the horn. I'm deeply impressed by David's work. There may well be better pieces out there but I for one am very happy with this set up and it's one I hope I'll be sticking with for many years to come.

I hope the above information is of some use to you.

Cheers,

Alex
 

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Just bought a cool school from Rispoli and I was pleasantly suprised. It is a very free blowing piece. Great intonation from top to bottom on my Kohlert tenor. As another poster said on a different thread it makes searching for that great vintage link kind of pointless. I am interested in trying some other tip openings in this line. Is the V series the closest to the cool school in the newer models?
 

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Hey Spiderjames,

I think the V-series is the comparable mouthpiece to the old Cool School model and made from pretty much the same light-weight alloy. There is no discernable baffle on the Alto model but it projects superbly. I haven't tried the Tenor model due to the above (SBB) thread but if it projects as well as the Alto model then I'd say it would be a good choice if you're looking for a Link "vibe" and a lot cheaper than the SBB.

Cheers,

Alex
 

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heres my take if it helps - i have been a pro tenor player for over 30 years.
have also played many great mouthpieces.
recently got a bronze and a sbb from dave.
sent the bronze back but kept the sbb.

on newer more dark dead horns both muthpieces lacked any color or sing to them. they sounded dead. even on my MK VII which is not all dead - only half dead it was a no go.

BUT on my good horn (early mk 6) the sbb sounded great.
its an interesting mix.
it blows a little bit like an old big bore link tonemaster or dukoff from the 40s.
you controll the overtones in your throat -- i love that.
and it does have a very pretty set of overtones that can give it color and projection. Its not brash though -- sounds a bit darker and softer than my barone hollywood i use on the same horn. The mouthpiece is actually very similar in design to a dukoff hollywood. The response is great like a one in a million old early florida link STM. I think the sbb both sounds and plays like a good early link or dukoff metal. i can play really really fast on this mouthpiece which is nice to have going on.

tomsch i think the sbb is not going to replace your high baffle piece.

the bronze on the other hand just wasn't singing at all for me.
i do wish i had tried the v
 

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I have played on a Zagar bronze mouthpiece for the last 2 years. first on a 2005 model 7 then on a 2006 model 8. i found the more recent one a lot better than the first: strong, clear sound, nice bottom end, etc but more recently felt that it was restricting my development. i found i wasn't achieving the centred sound i was after and that down low seemed to be quite stuffy. i feel the more experience i had and the more i practiced, the less happy i was with it. A few weeks a go i bought a standard otto link hr 7* refaced by mark spencer and its fantastic! clear sound all over the horn, strong harmonics and a nice centre. i still like zagars piece but am deffinately getting a lot more out of my new spencer reface.

i think the difference between these 2 pieces is deffinately the baffle. Zagar has none while the otto has a slight rollover baffle (the reface is modeled on slant sigs btw). just another experience from another player :)
 

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I am trying out an SBB 8* at the moment. I have had it for a week or so and it is a tremendous piece. It plays with more consistency than any piece that I have used. That is to say, you have to make almost no adjustments on the piece throughout the range of the horn. The quality of the piece in terms of workmanship is also unparalleled in my experience - and I have tried a number of modern pieces whose construction quality is first rate.

Whether I will actually buy it is another issue. The chamber is quite large, larger than anything I usually play, so there is an adjustment that may be more than I am willing to make. I get the same feeling when I use my STM NY 8 Link. Until I start putting more air into it, it sounds a bit dead. But with sufficient air it seems that the depths to be plumbed are endless. I suspect that is why some player like the older Links. They have the lung capacity to really get a lot out of those pieces. My impression is that if this is the type of piece that you like to use, the Zagar would be absolutely worth checking out. - I have only played -and eventually sold - one of the older Links. So I don't have have a lot of experience with those type of pieces.

I usually play a 60's Berg 110/2/M and a Brancher J29. Both pieces are brighter than the SBB and seem to project more. But I am finding that if I work at it, I can approach the sound of these pieces. But it takes work.

I emailed David Zagar and told him what my experience was with the SBB. He called a few hours later and apologized for having sent me the 8* in the first place. (We had discussed my predilections before I order the piece, and although the 8* is a .112 AND has a large chamber and little to no baffle - he figured, based on what I told him that it would probably work for me. He apologized for not taking more time in trying to ascertain what would work best.) He proceeded with an reasonable explanation of the relationship between lung capacity and tip opening. He said that the 8* was too big for my capacity and that I should NOT have to work to play his pieces. He said that the interface between the mouthpiece and the player ought to feel quite natural if the tip opening matched the lung capacity of the player. In my case I have to work too hard and can't get the brightness that I like. In the opposite case, a player with large lung capacity cannot expel enough C02 without a larger tip opening. He suggested that the 7* would provide the brightness and projection that I was fighting to get with the 8*

So he is sending me a 7* free of charge and I can send back one or the other or both. He is very generous and passionate about his work and products - a very nice person to deal with.

There has been some disparagement of him on this form, both for his initial mouthpiece offerings and his statements about metal toxins. As to the first, it is just a matter of taste. Junkdude is still playing his Cool School, last I checked, and he has access to all kinds of stuff. As for metal toxicity, I think that David is not so much speaking to the long term effects as he is to the immediate allergic effects. He told me he has seen players who have constant sores and blisters on the lips, mouth and tongue. They just live with it. Some of these people's symptoms disappered after they started using his pieces. Personally, I know people with metal allergies when it comes to jewelry. I have only had one bad reaction. I tried one of those ebay chinese Selmer Jazz (attempted) copies. It wasn't too bad so I played it for a few day. I got canker sores on my tongue. I quit using the piece and the problem cleared up very quickly.
 

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couple of good points there pth.

david zagar is a great guy, so helpfull and explained so much to me when i bought my pieces off him.

the difference for me in the swich from zagar to the refaced otto was infact the chamber size. zagars bronze pieces have quite large chambers (obviously quite large for the "super big bore") and i feel (along with my teacher) that was the reason for the wall in my sound development. i needed a slightly smaller chamber to concentrate my sound to help me develop. i am in my final year of jazz performance at monash uni, australia, so still studying. the smaller chamber has improved my sound significantly and allowed me to open up my sound a lot more. im still holding on to the zagar though. i can't bear to sell it as i feel it may hold more for me in the future once i have developed my sound more...
 

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Discussion Starter #16
That chamber size issue is a very interesting one. I guess a lot of it comes down to lung capacity and tonal concept right? Plus perhaps the bore of the horn you're using might have an impact here too.
 

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If you talk to David you will get a very detailed explanation. I have a pretty solid background in physics and math, so David's use of L/C circuit analogies and impedance mismatching works OK for me.

I do not pretend to be an expert on any of this stuff, but here are a couple of thoughts/speculations on the matter.

There are a number of factors involved. Perhaps the most important concept in this discussion is "air stream" or air velocity. I am guessing that there is an optimal air flow that is required for good sound. This air velocity needs to be, for the most part constant. The factors that seem to impact this are 1. the tip opening, 2. the volume of the chamber, and 3. the lung capacity and oral control of the air flow by the player.

If you increase the tip opening, you decrease the resistance and use more air per unit of time. Likewise if you open the chamber size you somehow reduce the resistance and expend more air more quickly? If you do both, you really use up air faster. So you need a greater lung capacity to achieve similar results with an open, large chamber piece as you would get with a smaller tip opening and/or smaller chamber. There also seems to be an optimal resistance for controlling the sound. If you have a large lung capacity you can achieve that resistance in a open large chamber piece by expelling more air per unit time. But if you have smaller lung capacity, you will not be able to achieve this resistance, which results in lack of control.

To some extent you can increase your lung capacity, although David mentioned to me that he has seen player with distended diaphragms as a result of habitually playing mouthpieces that exceeded their lung capacity. He does not seen any virtue in developing lung capacity beyond some natural limit that is unique to each body. Once that natural limit is developed, it seems that the right thing to do is to match the mouthpiece to your physiology. For me the easiest way to get a better result with his pieces is to reduce the tip opeing. That being said, I question whether I have found my natural limit in terms of lung capacity, because this 8* is beginning to sound better the more I work with it. I am using Java 3 and Rico Jazz 3 1/2 (shaved down a bit) with it. I tried softer reeds, but I don't think the result is as good.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
pth said:
If you talk to David you will get a very detailed explanation. I have a pretty solid background in physics and math, so David's use of L/C circuit analogies and impedance mismatching works OK for me.
He spent a long time on the phone with me and I'm very grateful for his time. As I understand it he explained to me that the three mpcs - V, Trad and SBB are actually the same except for the material (in the case of the V) and the degree of time spent perfecting (in the case of the trad and sbb). He also said that the more you perfect a mpc the brighter the piece tends to sound because they become easier/less resistant to play.

The above is only my highly abbreviated understanding of what he told me - warning, it could be completely wrong as I don't have that pretty solid background in physics and math that you have! :|

pth said:
I do not pretend to be an expert on any of this stuff, but here are a couple of thoughts/speculations on the matter.

There are a number of factors involved. Perhaps the most important concept in this discussion is "air stream" or air velocity. I am guessing that there is an optimal air flow that is required for good sound. This air velocity needs to be, for the most part constant. The factors that seem to impact this are 1. the tip opening, 2. the volume of the chamber, and 3. the lung capacity and oral control of the air flow by the player.

If you increase the tip opening, you decrease the resistance and use more air per unit of time. Likewise if you open the chamber size you somehow reduce the resistance and expend more air more quickly? If you do both, you really use up air faster. So you need a greater lung capacity to achieve similar results with an open, large chamber piece as you would get with a smaller tip opening and/or smaller chamber. There also seems to be an optimal resistance for controlling the sound. If you have a large lung capacity you can achieve that resistance in a open large chamber piece by expelling more air per unit time. But if you have smaller lung capacity, you will not be able to achieve this resistance, which results in lack of control.

To some extent you can increase your lung capacity, although David mentioned to me that he has seen player with distended diaphragms as a result of habitually playing mouthpieces that exceeded their lung capacity. He does not seen any virtue in developing lung capacity beyond some natural limit that is unique to each body. Once that natural limit is developed, it seems that the right thing to do is to match the mouthpiece to your physiology. For me the easiest way to get a better result with his pieces is to reduce the tip opeing. That being said, I question whether I have found my natural limit in terms of lung capacity, because this 8* is beginning to sound better the more I work with it. I am using Java 3 and Rico Jazz 3 1/2 (shaved down a bit) with it. I tried softer reeds, but I don't think the result is as good.
very interesting. I think you should add reed strength in as no. 4 (a thinner reed willl vibrate at a lesser resistance) and bore size as no. 5 (you have to fill the entire sax with air. This may well have less effect than the other 4, I'm not sure).
 

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pth,

I strongly encourage you to try a Hemke 2.5 reed on that large-tipped SBB. Most 2.5 reeds sound thin and wimpy to me but the Hemke retains a nice core sound. It allows me to get a big vibrant sound on my Morgan 9EL with very good response throughout the horn. Since you're playing such a large-tipped and large-chambered piece you'll benefit a lot from the right reed. Not sure if the Hemkes will be the trick for your SBB 8*, but they've been a great match for my Morgan 9EL.
 

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Thanks for the suggestion. I received the 7* today. I am going to have to send one of these back, unfortunately. I have adjusted to the 8* pretty well. The 7* is as David said. It gives me the sense of just "cruising". The 8* is bigger sounding though. In any case, these things are addictive. The 7* seems to be a perfect combo with my Mk VI. It is powerful, yet subtle in tone and response. I will play both of these over the next week and then decide which to keep. All I can say is that I hope other players get a chance to try these pieces. They just beg you to come back for more.

BTW, as with any piece, it takes a few hours/days to settle in. My first impression were somewhat lukewarm. But things are starting to heat up.
 
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