The Mouthpiece Pad

When it comes to saxophone accessories, there’s a huge list of different items that are available to make the saxophone sound better, work better, and last longer. It’s actually kind of fun to look through all the items that are available and to see what people and companies have come up with to make improvements.

Did you know there are accessories for the mouthpiece itself? I’m talking beyond ligatures and reeds. In this post, we’ll talk about one saxophone accessory that resolves 3 common issues.

Experiencing Pain?

Some people experience pain or discomfort in their top front teeth as they play the saxophone. In fact, the pain can become enough of an issue that some people then consider learning another instruments instead of the saxophone.

The Source of Pain

The source of this pain comes from the reed and mouthpiece. As we play, the reed vibrates to create the sound. That vibration also continues into the mouthpiece. Because we play with our teeth on top of the mouthpiece, these vibrations travel into our teeth. For some people this can cause an uncomfortable feeling or even pain.

Not Using the Teeth

If someone is experiencing this discomfort, they may consider eliminating the contact point between their top teeth and the mouthpiece. Whatever style of music we decide to play, eliminating this contact point will automatically result in an inferior tone that is diminished in quality and response. In short, the tone won’t sound as good and the saxophone will be harder to play.

A Solution

Because this is an issue that saxophone players deal with, people have come up with a solution. This solution greatly reduces the vibrations to the teeth, allowing the player to keep this essential contact point. The solution is called a mouthpiece pad. Other names include mouthpiece cushion and mouthpiece patch.

Mouthpiece Pads

The mouthpiece pad is a simple accessory to the saxophone that’s made of synthetic material. It’s placed on top of the mouthpiece where the teeth make contact. The contact point is now made with the pad rather that the mouthpiece itself.

Review +2

We’ve covered one common issue that is resolved by the mouthpiece pad. We’ll now review the first benefit and then move on to the next two.

Benefit #1

As mentioned, the mouthpiece pad reduces the amount of vibrations that travel into the teeth. This is a life-saver for some, allowing them to play with increased comfort.

Benefit #2

Because the surface of the mouthpiece can be slippery, some people have a hard time keeping their teeth in one place as they play; this can affect the consistency in the tone.

Because the pads are made of rubber, when applied, you’ll instantly have traction on top of the mouthpiece.  A mouthpiece pad can be a great benefit for someone who is unable to keep their top teeth from sliding around when playing.

Benefit #3

After playing for a long time, you may begin to wear out the top of your mouthpiece. The teeth create a groove that may be limiting to your flexibility. To avoid this, use a mouthpiece pad.

When used, all the wear and tear from playing is transferred to the pad rather than the mouthpiece. Replacement is very easy too; just stick a new pad on when the old one wears out and you’re ready to go!

The Thick Version

There are two categories of mouthpiece pads. The thicker version is usually black rubber. This version will be more effective with blocking out vibrations, but because of its thickness, it may take some time getting used to. Some people are not able to use this version at all because it may be too obtrusive to them.

The Thin Version

This version is much thinner and is usually transparent. The removal of vibrations is not as effective but the thin design is less obtrusive. However, just like the thicker version, they are both as effective in regards to traction and protecting the mouthpiece from wearing out.

The Mouthpiece Pad

So when you’re trying to decide if you should buy the thick or the thin version, consider the following: if vibration is the main issue, then you should try the thicker pad first. If vibration is not an issue, but you want the other benefits, then I would recommend the thinner version.

Have you tried either version of the mouthpiece pads? What did you think? Which version did you prefer? Let us know in the comment section below, and thanks for sharing!


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photo credit: ethnosax 01 – Between via photopin (license)

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