Homepage

Andrew Dixon
Who am I
My CV
My on-line shop
Contact me
Mailing List

My Bands
The Nairobi Trio
Blues Brothers
Solo Act

Recordings
The Art of Sax Vol.1
The Art of Sax, Vol.2
Sax in Your Stocking
My on-line shop

Books
Quick & Easy PC1
Quick & Easy PC2
MS Office Made Easy

Sax Pages
Brand Vs Price
Tips when buying
Which sax is best
Types of Saxes
Brands of Saxes
Mouthpiece guide
Mouthpiece facings
Playing tips
Reed tips
Sax first aid
Maintenance tips
Fingering chart
Sax History
Sax Players

Sax Resources

For Soprano sax
For Alto sax
For Tenor sax
For Baritone sax

Clarinet Pages
What Clarinet to buy
Clarinet Reeds
Clarinet Fingering Chart

Photography
View Gallery

Links
Handy Links

 

 

 

 

 

 
Saxophone Mouthpiece Guide Source: Sax Shop
INTRODUCTION | STRUCTURE | BRANDS

SENSE AND NONSENSE ABOUT MOUTHPIECES
 

A player can play his / her whole life with one mouthpiece. Another has a drawer full of mouthpieces and is still not satisfied.

Before buying a mouthpiece you will have to deal with a couple of things first.

1. What kind of music do I want to use the mouthpiece for? Classic, big band, jazz or pop? One who plays a metal Dukoff in a brass ensemble, will almost certainly be at odds with the conductor or choir-master.

2. A mouthpiece has to suit you! The oral cavity, dental position, embouchure, blowing habit, etc., etc. are personal for every player. If your tutor finds that a Claude Lakey is an excellent mouthpiece for the alto, it does not automatically mean that it will suit you.

3. And, of course, you will have to like the sound of the mouthpiece. This is also very personal. If your favorite sax player produces a fantastic sound with an Otto Link 8*, this does not mean that the tone will be the same when coming from your lips.

STRUCTURE OF A MOUTHPIECE
 

Saxophone mouthiece facing charts are here>>

The chamber A large chamber means a full, round tone, a small chamber a sharp funky sound. The form of the chamber is also important. A baffle in the chamber gives the mouthpiece venom.

The tip opening The smaller a tip opening, the easier the reed will sing. For beginners and "lazy players" it is advisable to have a small tip opening. However, the problem is that high tones sound rather pinched, because the reed is nearly pushed onto the mouthpiece. More experienced players switch to larger tip openings for a broader sound. But then again, you will have to have the "embouchure" ( lip tension) to be able to play it.

The measurements are usually in thousands of an inch. For an alto 70-100 is common, for a tenor 90-120.

Otto Link numbers its tip openings from 5 (small) to 9* (very large). Meyer: from 4 to 11. Selmer uses an A to K notation.

The length of the facing The facing length affects, among other things, the blow resistance. It is easy to play staccato with a short facing, because the mouthpiece reacts more promptly.

The material Most mouthpieces are made from ebonite (vulcanized rubber). Ebonite is usually made for a more cultivated sound. Although there are also ebonite mouthpieces available to get the "better roaring" sounds.

The last decade the demand for metal mouthpieces is has become very high. Metal mouthpieces are used for more modern compositions. Metal resonates differently and gives in combination with the thickness of the mouthpiece usually more power and dynamics.

Crystal as base material has a limited demand. It is mainly used for the clarinet and the soprano because of the clear tone.

Lately wooden mouthpieces are being used again. Though nowadays they are reinforced with metal to prevent cracking. A wooden mouthpiece sounds warm and feels good.

 

MOUTHPIECE BRANDS
 

SELMER is a popular classical mouthpiece with a beautiful round tone. Every instrument suddenly sounds more pure. Especially students & brass band ensembles use them. Next to the well known S80-series we have the S90-series with a slightly smaller chamber. Rock- and jazz players usually find a Selmer to respect
View the SELMER range:
Soprano | Alto | Tenor | Baritone


VANDOREN is the other classical mouthpiece, even though this company also offers mouthpieces for big band and jazz players. The mouthpieces for the clarinet are the most famous. Specially the new models (2-Tones) are highly appreciated by clarinet players. The only metal mouthpiece is the V16 for a tenor sax. A typical jazz mouthpiece
View the VANDOREN range:
Soprano | Alto | Tenor | Baritone


MEYER is used by many big band members and not too aggressive jazz solo players. This mouthpiece combines well with other musical instruments. The ebonite-series has three different chamber- and face- designs, which gives many variation possibilities. Meyer also has a less known metal line.
View the MEYER range: Soprano | Alto | Tenor | Baritone

ROUSSEAU is specially known for its JDX-jazz series. The attack is easy and just a bit sharper then a Meyer. Next to this series Rousseau has a large line of ebonite mouthpieces (classical, neoclassical & studio-jazz) and metal jazz mouthpieces.
View the ROUSSEAU range:
Soprano | Alto | Tenor | Baritone

BARI is well known for its ebonite soprano mouthpiece. They have just released a new metal model: The Hawk II.
View the Bari range: Soprano | Alto | Tenor | Baritone

LAKEY is the sharpest ebonite mouthpiece of them all. For most players it is just "a roaring piece of iron", but this mouthpiece offers many possibilities for the person who can handle it.
View the LAKEY range:
Soprano | Alto | Tenor

OTTO LINK is actually the same factory as Meyer. Link is specially known for its gold colored metal series. It is a beautiful thick mouthpiece with good sound properties. Specially the tenor mouthpiece is used a lot in both jazz and pop. A disadvantage is that the supplied ligature is not very solid. The ebonite Otto Link is very suited for old jazz.
View the OTTO LINK range: Soprano | Alto | Tenor | Baritone

BERG LARSEN. The steel mouthpiece of this brand was very popular after the war. Nowadays the ebonite series (big band) and the bronz series (big band, clear tone) are highly appreciated. The factory is based in London and is co-owned by Babbitt, the owner of Meyer & Link. Berg Larsen offers four different chambers. 0 (small) to 3 (big)  
View the BERG LARSON range:
Soprano | Alto | Tenor | Baritone

PONZOL. Although mouthpieces of Otto Link and Meyer were made on a small scale hand crafted basis, it became after their death, manufactured goods. This gave rise to a market for more precise, hand finished mouthpieces. Peter Ponzol came with a well balanced design. The silver-brass line is the best known and available in two series: the normal chamber (bebop, rock-oriented) and the super chamber with a baffle (funk, fusion). Nowadays the Ponzol mouthpieces are factory made.
View the PENZOL range: Soprano | Alto | Tenor

JEFFREY LAWTON. This Englishman ventured on to the professional market with a beautiful designed, finished by hand, mouthpiece. Lawton offers three different chambers varying in clearness and available in ebonite, steel and bronze. Especially the bronze mouthpiece is, in spite of its price, popular.

BOBBY DUKOFF makes casted mouthpieces that are well known for their loud sound. They are available in four different chambers. The mouthpieces are badly finished, but the person who is not particular and is looking for a roaring piece of iron will certainly succeed with a Dukoff.
View the DUKOFF range: Soprano | Alto | Tenor

DAVE GUARDALA. No longer available!!!!

BRANCHER is new on the mouthpiece market. This French firm offers high-tech designed and produced metal mouthpieces for jazz and pop. There are three lines. B, J and E, varying from fusion to allround jazz. Definitely worth trying.

ROVNER has a large cut out opening, named "DEEP-V". The advantage of this metal mouthpiece is more vibration space for the reed.
View the ROVNER range: All types

ZADIAK is a Dutch crystal mouthpiece with tip openings ranging from 3 (medium) to 5 (open). It is sold a lot in the clarinet and soprano world. 

OLD MODELS. Not only did they make beautiful saxophones in America, they also made beautiful mouthpieces. Famous are the ones of Otto Link and the ebonite (sometimes white colored) of Brillhart. These mouthpieces are of the same class as the Guardalas and the Lawtons of this time. Still one has to be very careful. These old mouthpieces are frequently damaged and in the past the mouthpieces had rather small tip openings. That is why they have been often tampered with and as such, a mouthpiece could become worthless.