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Mouthpieces for Beginners

Discussion in 'Saxophones' started by pete, Nov 29, 2009.

  1. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    I have never been a mouthpiece "guy": my instructor told me to go out and buy a specific mouthpiece and that's what I used. When I started playing more jazz, I asked him what the best hard rubber jazz 'piece was and he made a recommendation, but I didn't exactly follow it :).

    For a beginner, possibly the best thing to do is get a decent quality hard rubber mouthpiece. It's somewhat variable on whether the instructor will insist on the mouthpiece make/model, as mine did, so if he doesn't, here are a couple suggestions:

    1. Stay away from metal or crystal mouthpieces. You will have difficulty controlling them and beginners shouldn't use them. (Sorry, Mr. Rousseau.)

    2. Most plastic mouthpieces are very low quality. The major exceptions are the Yamaha 4C and 5C and the reason why these are exceptions is because they are extremely well made mouthpieces that are copies of older Vandoren designs -- but they're still plastic and don't respond quite as nice as a Vandoren. Almost, tho :).

    * Possibly my favorite all-around mouthpiece has been the Selmer Soloist hard-rubber mouthpiece. This was recently re-introduced. Unfortunately, it's also close to $120 for the alto. The Selmer S80 is about $20 cheaper and is "decent enough", but a tad bright on some student horns.

    * I also fooled around with Vandoren mouthpieces for quite awhile. They are also very nice for playing just about any style of music and the V5 Classic is around $80. Not bad.

    * Also around $80 is the Meyer "classic" hard rubber mouthpiece. They're a little jazzier, but have a nice tone and are easy to control.

    * Around $60 are hard rubber mouthpieces by Bari. These used to be somewhat popular when I was in high school in the 1980's. I never played one, though.

    I don't like Runyon mouthpieces at all. There are a couple reasons: they're too jazzy and they're too gimmicky. However, I think every manufacturer can be rightly accused of being gimmicky at some time. (FWIW, I respect Mr. Runyon greatly and I even exchanged some e-mails with him before he died, but I just don't care for his mouthpieces.)

    Now, with most mouthpieces, you'll have questions about facings and tip openings and stuff. Just go for whatever's "medium".

    For what it's worth, I was a classical baritone sax player and I played baritone almost exclusively, even in lessons. I was taught by a second-generation student of Sigurd Rascher and then a first-generation student of Sigurd Rascher, so the mouthpiece I used was ... a Sigurd Rascher. Unless you're a glutton for punishment, are into playing classical music the way the German school does it or have decided to buy a 1940's vintage horn or earlier, in spite of what I've recommended, you don't want a Sigurd Rascher mouthpiece.
  2. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    When I was in high school my private teacher put me on a Selmer S80 C*

    Why, I didn't know.

    But looking back now it is fairly obvious.
    • It was widely available and good quality
    • It's fairly easy to blow and get a good tone
    • the beak is comfortable (at least back them it was) until I preferred Mr Coufs mpcs with a taller beak
    • It did not allow alot of flexibility (like a I or 8 facing) which helped one have a more stable and controlled embouchure at the beginning stages
    Now back then WWBW didn't really exist like it does today. They even had a limited amount of mpcs in comparison to today. The local stores had a much lower count of available mpcs. To me, and other players, GAS really didn't exist.

    My local store sold Couf saxophones and Leblanc (and if you asked nicely,
    Buffet) clarinets. So on saxes you either bought a Royalist II (student ) or Superba II or I pro saxophone. On Clarinets you had the Normandy (student), Noblet (intermediate) or Leblanc or Buffet pro clarinets. and Bach trumpets, etc. Can't get much GAS in that store.

    But as a student, GAS is not good as one first needs to create a stable knowledge and skills to build on. Thus the reason getting a good first mpc is essential.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2009
  3. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    "C*" is now just a facing. The mouthpiece is now called "S80".

    Hey, I had an old Selmer LT at one time, too ....
  4. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    Thanks, I made the correction. they also had the S90 (and still do) with a couple various facings.
    I also have an LT tenor, though opened up a bit for improved expressionism and dynamics that I use for jazz.
  5. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Admin and all around good guy. Staff Member Administrator

    So true for beginners. But the cool factor usually sways kids. I won't let my beginners play them in the sax quartet. They are pretty good about buying into that. (I pick fun music to play.)

    I've never liked Vandoren mouthpieces for sax or clarinet, but that's my cross to carry. On sax Otto Link, Meyer, and Hite are not expensive and very nice late bloomer starter pieces. On clarinet I like the Hite (very reasonably priced) and more expensive models. I say start at a #5 on sax and you'll probably never need to replace it.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2009
  6. Dave Dolson

    Dave Dolson Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

    I suspect I might have came off boorish when I'd lecture on that OTHER forum about how individuals react differently to the same mouthpiece, meaning that not one mouthpiece is good for everyone. I don't mean to be a bore but I think it needs to be said in every mouthpiece thread so new readers don't walk away misinformed (not that this thread has misinformed anyone).

    I agree that for beginners, one should start with a decent "medium" mouthpiece. Once the beginner advances and learns to make a sound, control the pitch and volume, and feels comfortable with that medium mouthpiece, it may be time to explore. Once a player knows what his/her mouthpiece can do, playing other mouthpieces can be a revelation. True, there are probably many here who started out with one mouthpiece/reed combo and never changed. But for others, testing new set-ups can prove to be enlightening.

    It wasn't long ago when Ed sent me a Don Sinta (Zinner) alto mouthpiece. At way over 60, I thought I pretty much had dialed in my alto set-up. But the Sinta piece took me by total surprise. It is head and shoulders above anything else I'd tried - and it remains the only piece I use on any of my altos now (from early 1920's to a Ref 54). This isn't a pitch for the Don Sinta piece - I'm only serving up an anecdote about how testing and re-testing mouthpieces can bring about a more satisfying horn experience. DAVE
  7. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    Trying to keep the thread clean for beginners. For clarinet mouthpiece discussion, please go to http://www.woodwindforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2791
  8. tictactux

    tictactux Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

    Hite Premiere (on both Sax and Clarinet) and Fobes Debut and Behn Ouverture (Clarinet only) have been ear-openers for me.

    I too have a Yamaha 4C for all my instruments, as a point of reference. But actually I like "my" student mouthpieces better.
  9. jbtsax

    jbtsax Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

    I am looking for some suggestions for reasonably priced saxophone mouthpieces for beginning students to play in their concert band class. Please leave jazz mouthpieces for another thread. Thanks.

  10. It's really hard to beat the Kessler Custom mouthpiece. $30 for the plastic ones. Hand faced and good quality. They play really well, their professional model got me to ditch my original Meyer Bros 5m. I recommend their student ones for all of my beginning kiddles
  11. Hite Premier.
  12. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    (I copied some posts over from another thread. Just wanted to try to consolidate things! Please continue.)
  13. Some mouthpieces from Vandoren and Selmer are good and not too expensive. I don't really remember models for Vandoren but something that is equivilent of an "average" one like 5RV (or 5RV Lyre) for clarinets (which also many of the best professionals use). Selmer I think I remember especially liking the S90 models. They are more expensive than Vandorens. Meyer and Otto Link can also be good and not expensive (less than Selmer).

    Some much less expensive mouthpieces are also good like Fobes Debut, Behn Overture, Hite Premiere, Yamaha 4C or 5C. I personally especially like the Hite. Eventhough these are all (with the exception of Yamaha) made from the same blanks, the Hite is much more open, but not too open to be problematic. At least my sax ones are. I've heard the Hite for clarinet is about the same opening as the Fobes so maybe I have an unusual one, I don't know.

    Most important is to try it and see how the student manage with it. Or if you mean to buy bulk then go with one of the less expensive models, IME should definitely be ok.
  14. Helen

    Helen Content Expert Saxophones Staff Member Administrator

    I've found the Rico Graftonites are a good bang for your buck as well. I've recommended them to my students for years. The bari ones are so well done, that they're actually comparable to much more expensive mouthpieces. They give my Berg a serious run for the money.
  15. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Admin and all around good guy. Staff Member Administrator

    It is and I have purchased these for my students before and have one myself. I think I paid just under $20 for one.
  16. Decent clarinetist here, play on a B45. and vandoren reg/v12 reeds 3 1/2 - 4's. I found an old yamaha YAS-23 alto and am trying to set it up to play some decent tones just for fun really. I don't have any reeds at the moment and was going to buy a decent mouthpiece as well as reeds. I obviouslly don't need a beginner mouthpiece but something well rounded and maybe similar to my b45. embouchure etc. I don't have a local shop or really anyone to ask in town, so i'm hoping someone has some experience and can lead me in a specific direction. Anyone have any recommendations on specific Vandoren mouthpieces/reeds? Would rather stick with them as I know them well. Thanks for any input.
  17. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    Because I don't know what mouthpieces Vandoren currently has for sax, I Googled. They've got a really nice chart here that compares Vandoren mouthpieces to (some models of) Selmer, Otto Link, Meyer, and a few others, for soprano, alto, tenor, and bari sax. They also have suggestions as to which style of music each mouthpiece is more suitable for. That's kinda kewl, even if it is just their opinion.

    I'm going to out on a limb a bit and suggest Meyer. I mentioned it as a recommendation, above, and it's a really nice all-around 'piece for a variety of music styles. Another reason I mention it is because I know a guy, off the top of my head, who plays a Vandoren B40 clarinet mouthpiece and has a Meyer alto mouthpiece. So, there ya go :).

    I think you're going to want some softer reeds to start off with and Vandoren reeds tend to be a bit harder, anyhow. I'd just say not to buy too many of any reed for a bit.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 11, 2016
  18. saxhound

    saxhound Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    I would second the Meyer recommendation (probably a 5M or 6M) as a good "middle of the road" piece to start out. Seems like their QC is still pretty good, and they do blend nicely when playing in a section. After starting on a Meyer many moons ago at my teacher's direction, I went through a whole lot of mouthpiece GAS on alto. Brillhart, Runyon, Ponzol, VanDoren, Dukoff, Yanagisawa, etc. Metal, hard rubber, plastic... Guess what? I'm back on a Meyer. I am playing a 7 small chamber / medium facing now (started on a 5M). I like a brighter tone and play a lot of rock'n'roll, and this piece is versatile enough for rock and also for big band work. I'm still not 100% happy with my alto sound, but I have come to realize it's because I don't put enough time in on the horn - I'm primarily a tenor and bari player, and that's where the bulk of my practice time goes.
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