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Box of Tenor Mouthpieces - a faceoff

Steve

Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
Mouthpiece shootout

So I decided to give my mouthpieces it's own mouthpiece shootout. Ok, in reality I was bored on a Saturday with nothing that I wanted to do. Two horns sitting in front of me and I found a box of my mouthpieces that lay dormant for several years.

The most difficult process of this is that in order to give a level playing field I need to use one reed.
Thus I selected a Hemke 2-1/2. I've got a good enough technique where I can compensate on a really small tip and play it well or even a really large tip. I've managed to play Selmer C's on a 2 reed and Link 8s on a 4 reed, so I think I can play about anything in between when properly motivated.

But up to my test were:

  • Keilwerth Jazz - long drop off baffle - medium throat
  • Keilwerth standard - medium throat
  • Woodwind table K5 - extra large round chamber, extra large round throat
  • Couf 5*R - large round chamber, large round throat
  • Selmer S80 C** - square chamber
  • Selmer S80 D - square chamber
  • Selmer LT - opened up by EZ for more jazz playing, small round chamber
  • Couf **** streamline - medium round chamber/throat
  • Selmer metal (slant Selmer) Jazz E - raised baffle going to the throat.
  • Selmer classical metal G - small round chamber (like the LT)
  • Selmer classical metal E - small round chamber (like the LT)

Tenor saxophones for this test:
  • Couf Superba 1 - 99 % lacquer
  • Selmer mk VII, early model, with factory gold plated neck. 99.9%

This listing is in order of my preference after the face-off !!

[1] Woodwind table K5 - this was a drawer mpc. I kept it around for no reason at all other than I like Woodwind mpcs on clarinet. But this one actually took top slot in my face-off !!

It really filled up the horn nicely and gave it the best "full" tone coming from both horns. And I mean it was quite evident in the comparison. It had a nice response at all levels of the tenors and just sang nicely with a nice colorful tone.

I think I found myself a new main mpc. Too bad it's been collecting dust for at least 10 years

[2] Couf 5*R
This was my main piece for jazz and general use for quite some time so I'm biased towards it. Great flexibility, great tone, worked great in all registers of every sax that I've played with it.

[3] Selmer S80 C** - this piece just was so smooth playing it was incredible. If it was a larger tip I'm sure it would be even better. Good dynamics though not as easily as larger tips. A great general mpc to use, great for blending or even solo work. If it had slightly more tonal color it would have beaten my trusty Couf.

[4] Selmer LT - This mpc was provided to me from Ed Z, more commonly known as EZ the mpc refacer. I always loved the LTs but wanted something more open for jazz. This mpc is it and it plays fantastically with a slight edge to the tone. It would be my top jazz only mpc when I wanted some edge to the tone. It's a very slight edge so it might go unnoticed in a general setting. Don't get me wrong this is a great mpc, just the other 3 had a little more to something than this one has.

[5] Couf ****, or 4 star, streamlined. When playing this against a vintage link for ppl they could not tell the difference. It sounds like one to me too. Which is odd because it has different internal dimensions - ie, like no large chamber. And it is more plastic than rubber as it's nice and shiny inside. This one mpc has been with me since I started playing tenor back in the 80s and is an easy mpc to play in any setting. The only problem is greater dynamics require more air pressure than larger tips.

[6] Selmer S80 D - this one has a visually noticeable larger square chamber than the C** above. I had owned two alto mpcs that came with my VII alto and another bought in 1982 and one of the two had a visually larger square chamber too. And neither were the S90. But after the C** I was hoping for more from this one. It's a nice mpc but just nice. Not anything like the C**. It plays well, sounds well, etc just not up there. Instead of #6 it should be like #9 with a gap in between.

[7] Keilwerth standard. The tables on both Keilwerths were probably as flat as a Ski Mogul. Ok, normal moguls are probably flatter. But after some work on flattening the tables the reed sealed well and the mpc played well. Well the mpc played. It is probably considered a student mpc as it played nicely but the tone was just bland and lacking any nice tone.

[8] Keilwerth Jazz. The mpc more commonly known as the Devo piece due to the stepped back like the old Devo hats of old. Anyways, the same problems as the Keilwerth standard with the table. The tone had alot of unwanted edge to it's bland tone and was uninspiring. It also seems to cause some intonation/response issues in various places of the horn. I didn't play it much at all as it simply was not enjoyable tonally.

Now you may see a lack of metal mpcs in the test. The metals simply did not like the Hemke 2-1/2 reed. The tone and response was just aweful. Slap on a longer cut reed like the vintage Selmer Soloists and they tend to sing a bit more. But the 2-1/2 Selmer was a bit too much for the G without me putting more effort into it, so I went down to a 2.

[1] Selmer metal classical E - with a 2 reed this mpc sang very nicely. Great full low notes with clear full high notes up through F#. I would put this up and around the S80 C** comparison above.

[2] Selmer slant sig Jazz E - this mpc played nicely top to bottom with a well defined "edge" to the tone. Not bad for how it plays. But I rarely opt for an edgy tone and i'm sure it will continue to sit unused for some time. I love the old Selmer emblem so it's a keeper none-the-less especially since it's a short shank Selmer.

[3] Selmer metal classical G - to be fair the 2 really wasn't good with this mpc. The lows were great. The highs I could not get to F nor F# clearly without modifying my airstream/technique. After the middle break there was a tonal problem. So I think this mpc needs to find a good reed to match with it. Plus, I haven't checked the table and rails too. It certainly has promise just probably needs to have a reed matched to it, or some corrections in it's dimensions.
 
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