October 05, 2015
Saxophone Mouthpiece Buying Guide
A fundamental part of being a successful saxophonist is choosing the correct saxophone mouthpiece. Although it’s often a choice made purely out of personal preference, it’s important to understand how a mouthpiece is crafted to maximize sound. Designed to provide saxophonists with the freedom to play different genres, most saxophone mouthpieces fall into two main categories: concert band saxophone mouthpieces and jazz band saxophone mouthpieces. Since there’s an influx of comparable mouthpieces available on the market, the key to finding the perfect saxophone mouthpiece is in understanding the different parts and what they do.
The facing curve is the curve of the mouthpiece where the reed is located. As the reed opens and closes, it bends along this curve until it’s completely sealed, and then it opens again. This curve must be extremely precise and even in order to produce the best sound. Unfortunately, many mouthpieces don’t fall into this category. If a mouthpiece is uneven, you may notice resistance and squeaks. If you purchase an off-brand or refaced mouthpiece, you may be risking the squeaks and resistance that come with an uneven facing curve. For this reason, it’s important to purchase saxophone mouthpieces from reputable brands, such as Vandoren and Selmer Paris. Selmer Paris has a wide variety of quality saxophone mouthpieces for sale on Music & Arts, including the S80 Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece.
For saxophone mouthpieces, the materials used make a huge difference in sound. Softer materials are known to produce a darker sound with less projection, while harder materials produce a brighter sound with more projection. Plastic saxophone mouthpieces are the most commonly used by students, as they’re extremely durable and affordable. Classical and jazz musicians typically prefer ebonite or crystal saxophone mouthpieces, as the sound is warmer and more focused than plastic. Although not common, wood mouthpieces produce the warmest tones but can also be less stable. If you’re looking for the brightest sound and a lot of projection, you can’t go wrong with a stainless steel metal mouthpiece.
The Baffle & Chamber
The baffle is the part of the mouthpiece behind the tip rail and opposite the vibrating reed. While there are several different shapes, the major rule is that the higher the baffle is on the mouthpiece, the brighter the sound will be. Typically referred to as a “high baffle”, baffles that are high on the mouthpiece are favored by saxophonists who prefer a lighter and brighter sound. When it comes to baffles, it is ultimately up to the saxophonist to decide how bright or dark they’d like their instrument to sound. Similar to the baffle, the smaller the chamber of a saxophone mouthpiece is, the brighter the sound will be. If you’re interested in a darker sound, opt for a mouthpiece with a large chamber, such as the Vandoren V16 Metal Tenor Large Chamber Mouthpiece.
Buy Saxophone Mouthpieces at Music & Arts
At Music & Arts, we’re dedicated to bringing you one of the largest offerings of marching band and orchestral instruments, products, and accessories in the world. As a one-stop shop for students, parents, and educators, you’ll find saxophone mouthpieces from some of the top manufacturers, including Meyer and Jody Jazz. Remember, when selecting a saxophone mouthpiece you should take the musician’s skill level and desired sound into consideration. If your child is a student, a great place to start is by speaking with their music teacher or band instructor.
For more information about renting a saxophone, check out our Saxophone Rental Guide.
Want more info about the saxophone? Check out this video.