Thinking about getting a new Mouthpiece?
Where to turn? Let's talk.
First, a lot depends on trying to satisfy the concept or sound you hear in your head, as to what think your saxophone should sound like. The same mouthpiece and horn setup will sound different with each individual player. The reason for that is: like snowflakes, everyones oral chamber, throat, tongue, roof of mouth, size of all of the above are unique. No one will be exactly the same. That results in slight differences in tone and the overall sound. Everyone's voice is different too. It has been said to me that the saxophone is the instrument that is most like the human voice. I agree, it is more flexible in allowing more variables than brass instruments for example.
Depending on where your proficiency level is as a player, also plays a part. It can be discouraging playing a mouthpiece reed combination that requires too much physical energy or has too much resistance. It should blow easily so you can relax and enjoy playing the instrument. Many players change their setup as they evolve in their growth as a musician. I played Beechler Bellite metal mouthpieces for 20 years or more on Alto, Tenor, and Soprano and was shocked to find out how much hard rubber, like I have now, worked better for me. The change for me was needed when I added high quality brass pad resonators during my last saxophone overhaul. The metal mouthpiece became much to bright. What has been consistant for me was, I always found Rico Lavoz MS to be my reed of choice on any mouthpiece. I have tried most all brands of Rico and Vandoren, only to come back to the Lavoz. Jazz Select 2H also works well but is brighter, more high frequencies. But Eric Marienthal sounds great and uses Vandoren Reeds on the same Beechler Bellite.
As to which mouthpiece? There are so many to choose from and prices can be an issue here too. For Jazz and Swing, I would first say hard rubber, Meyer maybe, Beecher has hard rubber selections, and the SR Technologies, I am using work great for me however SR Tech., has a few of each kind, you may like a different one better. Sorry I know it can get crazy.
What I recommend is that you take your time trying out different mouthpieces on your horn. The jazz mouthpieces are usually equipped with larger tip openings so a softer reed is a better choice. When you go to a music store to try them out, assuming there is a store in your area that has them available, bring a number of presoaked reeds of the brand you are using or prefer. Try each mouthpiece with several reeds a few minutes each. Don't be too concerned about finding "The One", but more so, getting one that plays easily and produces a tone you like. Play on that one for a while and experiment with different reeds and strength variations. It is always best to have recently been playing a lot and have a strong embouchure before looking around. Also, you may not want to invest too much into a mouthpiece if you are looking to replace your saxophone first. Sometimes a mouthpiece can play differently on another saxophone.
If you have access to a store with SR Technologies mouthpieces, I would recommend trying the "Legend" for alto or "Europa" for tenor. They feel good, are quite versatile and have been very "Reed friendly" for me. They can be pricey, but I find a bit more reasonable than many brands being introduced today.
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