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An In-depth Look at Saxophone Mouthpieces

Saxophone Mouthpiece Breakdown

Saxophone Mouthpiece Diagram

Choosing a Saxophone Mouthpiece

A huge part of the overall success of a saxophone player, the correct saxophone mouthpiece is a choice made purely out of personal preference. Designed to allow musicians to play different genres, it's crucial to understand how each mouthpiece is crafted to maximize your sound. To start, you'll want to look at the two main styles:

Concert Band Saxophone Mouthpieces

Fashioned with a medium length facing curve and a medium-to-medium close tip opening, saxophonists often use a harder reed to focus their sound when using these mouthpieces. Typically made of ebonite, popular mouthpieces include the Selmer Paris S80 and S90 Series, E. Rousseau Classic and New Classic Series, and the Vandoren Optimum Series.

Jazz Band Saxophone Mouthpieces

Most often made of ebonite or metal, jazz band mouthpieces have a big tip opening, high baffle and a large chamber that offers better flexibility and a fatter tone. This style demands greater control from the musicians that are playing though, with greater emphasis placed on the embouchure and air. If you're a student looking to break into the jazz scene, it's usually best to find a mouthpiece that has a jazz sound but is more designed like a concert band mouthpiece.

Materials

For sax mouthpieces the common rule is that softer materials produce a darker sound with less projection, while harder materials just the opposite (brighter and more projection). From plastics to metal though, you have a wide range of options to choose from, allowing you to truly customize your sound.

Plastic Saxophone Mouthpieces

Most common for students, plastic mouthpieces are extremely durable and quite affordable. The only real compromise is the bright sound that can be challenging to focus.

Ebonite (Hard Rubber) Saxophone Mouthpieces

Warmer and more focused than plastic, ebonite is often used by classical and jazz musicians who don't need to worry about edge or projection.

Crystal Saxophone Mouthpieces

Preferred mainly by jazz and outdoor musicians, crystal has a strong projection and an equally bright sound. Quite fragile though, a soft, dependable pouch is definitely recommended when not in use.

Wood Saxophone Mouthpieces

Though not the most widely used choice, wood offers the warmest tone of all the materials listed here. If does produce less projection as a tradeoff, and can also be less stable than rubber or plastic.

Metal-Plated Brass Saxophone Mouthpieces

If you are leaning towards metal, most are made from plated-brass. Used in a variety of styles, the most common is gold-plating but you'll also find a mix of others that vary in tone as well.

Metal-Stainless Steel Saxophone Mouthpieces

Of all the metal mouthpieces, stainless steel has the brightest sound and the most projection.

Facing & Tip

The facing is where the mouthpiece meets the reed, and directly correlates to the opening of the tip. As a rule of thumb, the longer the facing, the smaller the tip (and the reverse for a shorter facing), which dictates a number of other factors including reed strength, focus of sound and timbre, projection and the degree of "free-blowing". For quick reference, see the chart below:

Facing Resistance Reeds
Open Tip Short High Soft
Medium Tip Medium Medium Medium
Close Tip Long Low Hard

What is a Baffle?

Simply put, the baffle is the part of the mouth piece on the opposite of the window and it dictates the "edge" or "bite" the mouthpiece displays. It's also important to note that the higher the baffle is on the mouthpiece, the brighter the sound and the more projection it will produce, while the lower the baffle, the more warm and mellow the sound will be.

Buy Saxophone Mouthpieces at Woodwind & Brasswind

Remember, when selecting a saxophone mouthpiece you should always consider the musician's skill level, age and planned use. If you're a student, a great place to start is by speaking with your music teacher, band teacher, or Woodwind & Brasswind's expert Staff Advisors.

In the end, no matter which saxophone mouthpiece you decide on, if it's with Woodwind & Brasswind you'll have complete piece of mind. Woodwind & Brasswind's 100% Satisfaction Guarantee means you have 45 days to be sure it's right for you. If it's not, just return it for a full refund.* And you don't need to worry about paying too much. The 45-Day Lowest Price Guarantee means that if you find the same saxophone mouthpiece advertised for less elsewhere, we'll make up the difference. When you buy from Woodwind & Brasswind, you can buy with complete confidence.

* All returned mouthpieces are assessed a $4.00 sterilization fee.

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