Equipment Recommendations Part 2

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Last week we covered recommendations for pro model saxophones. However, we didn’t cover the following items from the list we posted:

  1. Mouthpieces
  2. Reeds
  3. Ligatures Part 1
  4. Ligatures Part 2
  5. Neck Straps Part 1
  6. Neck Straps Part 2

We’ll cover these items now.

Beginner Mouthpieces

If you’re a beginner, then playing on a beginner mouthpiece is recommended. Sometimes equipment that is labeled as “beginner” is simply a cheap version of what pros use. This is not the case for mouthpieces. Beginner mouthpieces are specifically designed to help the beginner succeed. They are easier to play than a pro mouthpiece when just starting the saxophone.

I have two recommendations for beginner mouthpieces:

  1. Yamaha 4C (or 5C for bari)
  2. Any beginner mouthpiece that comes with your saxophone

Usually, the generic mouthpieces that come with the modern saxophone work well. If you think you may have a mouthpiece problem, then try out the Yamaha mouthpiece.


Intermediate level mouthpieces are an option, but I would not recommend this category. Why? Because they run around the same price as some pro model mouthpieces. In most cases, when you’re ready to step up from a beginner mouthpiece, you should go straight for the pro models. They will provide the qualities and characteristics you’re looking for.

Pro Mouthpieces

After playing for about a year, you may want to upgrade to a different mouthpiece. There are many mouthpieces available, and choosing the right one can be overwhelming. Here are some specifics to help you choose.

Non Jazz/Pop Mouthpieces

If you’re looking to play in a non-jazz/pop style, then a “classical” mouthpiece may be the right fit. We label these mouthpieces as classical, as generally, that’s the style they’re designed to play. However, if you’re not looking to play classically, but you’re looking for the following qualities and characteristics, then this category of mouthpiece may be for you.

  1. Stability of tone
  2. A focused, centered tone
  3. Ability to play softly without sub-tone

Of course we could do these things with a “jazz” mouthpiece, but classical mouthpieces are designed to help you accomplish these characteristics, with a goal of making execution as easy as possible.

As far as specific mouthpieces, there are many. So, I’m going to recommend three:

  1. Vandoren Optimum AL 3 (TL 3 for tenor and BL 3 for Baritone)
  2. Rousseau 4R
  3. Selmer S80 C*

Here’s a quick (very quick) description of each.

The Vandoren is a very popular professional mouthpiece with strength in stability of tone and timbre. Vandoren is very consistent with the quality of their mouthpieces, so it’s rare to get a bad one. This mouthpiece creates a tone that is darker than the other two mouthpieces listed here.

The Rousseau is the least expensive of the three mouthpieces, but is of high quality. In my opinion, these mouthpieces are in the middle of the other two, in relation to highs and lows in the tone, and in regards to stability.

The Selmer (often simply called a C*) is less stable than the other two mouthpieces. Saying this in a positive light- the Selmer provides more flexibility. It’s not as dark as the Vandoren either. Not that it’s overly bright, but if you’re looking for more highs (in a good way) in your tone, and a little more flexibility, then this mouthpiece may work well for you. These mouthpieces are not as consistent in manufacturing quality, so you may need to try a few.

I Might Be Crazy

Two weeks ago, I decided to write about recommendations for saxophone equipment. I must have been crazy thinking that I could have written about all this equipment in one post. Then I thought I could do this in 2 posts- wrong again! Instead we’ll finish up jazz/pop mouthpiece recommendations next time and continue down the list.

What mouthpiece do you recommend? Are you playing a beginner mouthpiece or a pro mouthpiece? Maybe you’re playing an intermediate mouthpiece. We would love to hear what you play and whether you would recommend your mouthpiece or not. You can share in the comment section. Thanks, and have fun playing!

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Comments 6

  1. Hi,
    I’m currently playing on the Selmer C*. I would recommend this mouthpiece to anyone, with easy transition between optimal notes and tone. So good, you’ll never want to use your old, previous, beginner mouthpiece.

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  2. Hi Dears

    I’ve been playing sax for 7 month ( yamaha alto yas23) . at first i used 4c mouthpiece
    but after 5 month i bought vandoren a35 ( open type) . it was very difficult for me to make a good sound but now i’m very comfortable with this a35 . it’s lovely .

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      As far as degradation, this is not usually an issue with this mouthpiece. Sometimes we can drop the mp and it will chip or crack. Sometimes this can’t be seen, but the mp will stop working properly. Another issue could occur from scrubbing the inside of the mp and scratching the chamber. Hopefully this helps!

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