1 Thing You Need to Know: Mouthpieces

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When discussing equipment, whether it’s for saxophone or another hobby, it’s essential to know what will work best in order to help you succeed.

In this post, we’re going to talk about the One Thing You Need to Know about saxophone mouthpieces, in order to avoid potential pitfalls. This one thing will also help you get a better tone, faster.

In the Beginning

When beginning a new hobby, it can be difficult to know what equipment a beginner needs and what they do not.

Some professional equipment can help a beginner progress faster (the reason why it’s not always recommended is for the fact that the cost is much higher).

On the other hand, there is some equipment that will slow down the beginners’ progression because the equipment is too advanced. Here’s a personal example.

Wakeboarding

The first time I ever tried wakeboarding, I had a blast. It was a thrill to ride behind a boat and explore what I could do as a beginner.

I not only could stand for a long period, but I even started jumping (and almost cleared the wake!). I felt pretty confident that I had a knack for wakeboarding.

Fast Forward

Let’s fast forward a few months. I was invited go wake boarding again, and I excitedly accepted the invitation. This experience was a completely different story. I began confidently, which quickly disappeared.

I could stand up, but I could not stay up for very long. Every time I attempted to turn, I would catch the lip of the board and smack into the water, face first.

One time, I fell so quickly that I didn’t have time to close my eyes before I hit the water. After 3-4 times of this, I was in need of a break.

The Difference

The difference was in the equipment. In my first experience, I discovered that I was using a wakeboard for a beginner; it was very forgiving and supportive of my novice skills.

The second wakeboard was for a pro, allowing for quick turns and increased flexibility. I was not ready for that versatility, but instead, I needed something that supported my skill level.

I guess you could say the first wakeboard was like having bumpers at a bowling alley. If I didn’t have bumpers, I was going to throw gutter balls all day.

Mouthpieces

So what are mouthpieces like? Are the pro mouthpieces going to help you succeed faster, or slow that progression down?

The answer: it will slow you down. Purchasing a highly versatile mouthpiece can cause issues that you don’t want as a beginner. You could have difficulty with the following:

  • Producing a sound
  • Getting certain notes to speak
  • Intonation issues
  • Obtaining a pleasant tone

When these become an issue, it takes the fun out of learning the saxophone.

Additionally, if a beginner uses the wrong mouthpiece, they may think that they’re not cut out for learning the saxophone, when the issue was not the person, but the equipment.

The Right Mouthpiece

If a beginner uses the right mouthpiece, it will support them in their new hobby. It will be more forgiving, and supportive, allowing for success and enjoyment during the learning process. The beginner mouthpiece will help with the following:

  • Easily produce a tone
  • Certain notes will be easier to play
  • Improved intonation
  • Tone maturation will be faster

Recommendations

Generally speaking, the mouthpiece that comes with a beginner saxophone will work fine. Keep in mind that this will not be a long term solution but will be the right piece of equipment for 6-12 months.

If your saxophone came with a pro mouthpiece (or didn’t come with one at all), then I would recommend buying a Yamaha 4C for alto and tenor, and the 5C for baritone.

If you would like to see suggestions for intermediate and pro mouthpieces, you can check them out here. There are additional equipment suggestions as well.

The One Thing

Even though it’s been stated, I’ll repeat this because it’s important: the one thing you need to know about saxophone mouthpieces, as a beginner, is you need a beginner mouthpiece.

This type of mouthpiece will support you during the learning process. A more advanced mouthpiece could change the entire experience, negatively.

If you get the right mouthpiece, your entire beginner experience is more likely to succeed.

Your Equipment

What saxophone mouthpiece do you use? Have you found that some mouthpieces work better for you than others?

We would love to hear about your experiences in the comment section below. Thanks for reading and enjoy playing!


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Comments 2

  1. Hi I am an intermediate sax player. I have been playing on a Selmer Bundy but my new high school rented me a Cannonball Stone Series. I have found it to be harder to play. If I changed the mouthpiece for an intermediate one would it help even though the sax is a pro sax?

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Joseph, thanks for reaching out. The move from a Bundy to a Stone Series should be a noticeable difference, in the positive. There are a couple things that come to mind that may be the issue. Of course, this is without seeing the horn or hearing it. First, it may simply need to be adjusted (even if it is new). If your school is renting the horn, you should be able to take it a tech (from the store it is being rented) and have them run a leak light through it. You could just walk into the store and ask them to do it. Most of the time they will oblige on the spot (especially if you practice every day). If the instrument is the issue, they can tell you pretty quickly and the adjustments can be made.

      The other thought is the placement of the mouthpiece (mp). Make sure you tune the saxophone correctly. If it is not tuned correctly, it could throw off everything (response,intonation, etc.). Sometimes beginners/intermediate students will get a new saxophone and place the mp in the same spot as their old saxophone. This placement may be completely wrong for the new saxophone. Once you’re in tune, it could resolve the issue.

      Just a couple of questions for you. Are you using the same mouthpiece you used on the Bundy? If you have multiple mp, try each, to see if there is a difference. Lastly, what exactly do you mean by harder to play? Are you talking about low notes, all notes, articulation, intonation, resistance? If you would like to provide more detail I am happy to assist further. Playing a saxophone that does not respond doesn’t make for positive experiences, but hopefully these suggestions work. Let me know!

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