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Thread: Is a resistant mouthpiece better for a beginner?

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    Default Is a resistant mouthpiece better for a beginner?

    Hi,

    I came back to the sax (alto) last year after a 15 years break. I used to play a Selmer S-80 C** and bought a Jody Jazz HR 6 last year after discovering Sax on the web.

    Let's just say that I am slow to recover both my embouchure and lung capacity. I love the tone and feel of the Jody Jazz but I have a hard time playing piano or to modulate, I feel I am wasting my air. Is it simply too free blowing for my current lung capacity?

    If so what would you recommend that would have more resistance (if I diagnosed my issue correctly) but with a tone close to the JJ.

    On the JJ I use Vandoren Java 2.5 or LaVoz Medium-Soft except when my mouth is really tired I sometime go down to LaVoz Soft... While on the C** I usually use either Java 2.5 or Vandoren (Blue Box) 3.

    I am curious of the Super Session D (or E) as I recall reading it had some resistance.

    Thank you for any advice or insight!

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    Default Re: Is a resistant mouthpiece better for a beginner?

    What you are experiencing seems to have nothing to do with your mouthpiece, but rather lung capacity and strength. One of the biggest things I had to overcome in middle school was quiet=even faster air than loud, just less of it. I started in 6th grade on a c* soloist (alto) from the music store. A resistive mouthpiece would simply cause you to have an incredibly stuffy tone. You might want to try a smaller facing on your mouthpiece. When I switched from my c* (tenor, I'm now a Freshman in highschool) to my D facing, I noticed a big difference. The tone on the D was bigger because the reed vibrated a longer distance, but because of that, it was harder to play softer. Try re-learning on your c* because it is a much more forgiving mp than the jj (tone quality and intonation wise). The jj mp is meant to be played loud and project so it is slightly harder to play softer on. Doing long tones on your legit mp will also improve tone quality on your jj and increase embouchure muscles. Breathing exercises are also important. 4 count in 4 count out, 2 count in 8 count out, 8 count in 8 count out (at around 80-90 bpm) are all great exercises. My band director also had us do this exercise where we breathed in for 4 counts and tried to completely fill our lungs. Then she would ask us to take quick sips until we had completely filled our lungs. And to build up your embouchure, use slightly harder reeds. I would recommend moving to a strength 3. And if you happen to live in the Austin area, I know a fantastic lesson teacher.

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    Default Re: Is a resistant mouthpiece better for a beginner?

    Thank you for the advice, my tone is already stuffy so I definitively don't want to make it more stuffy :P

    Right now I alternate between between the C** and the JJ so I should store the JJ for now or keep playing both?

    Thanks again!

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    Default Re: Is a resistant mouthpiece better for a beginner?

    Java reeds are not a good match for a medium close facing. La Voz Medium soft reeds are very soft. Try La Voz medium or Vandoren blue box 2-1/2. Java reeds really should be used with more open jazz style mouthpiece. A slightly harder reed will give you the resistance you are missing. La Voz medium is about as soft as you should play. When you feel you need more resistance, you could go to a Super Session D. Personally I would recommend getting the extra resistance from a firmer reed.
    Others might disagree but I would try a reed change first. It will be less costly also.

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    Default Re: Is a resistant mouthpiece better for a beginner?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffT View Post
    Thank you for the advice, my tone is already stuffy so I definitively don't want to make it more stuffy :P

    Right now I alternate between between the C** and the JJ so I should store the JJ for now or keep playing both?

    Thanks again!
    What facing is your JJ mothpiece.

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    Default Re: Is a resistant mouthpiece better for a beginner?

    Quote Originally Posted by martinm5862 View Post
    What facing is your JJ mothpiece.
    JJ HR 6M (.078 I think)

    I am surprised by your comment about Java reed and the JJ I would have thought they were a good match, the ZZ are too busy on it though.

    Edit: And thank you

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    Default Re: Is a resistant mouthpiece better for a beginner?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffT View Post
    JJ HR 6M (.078 I think)

    I am surprised by your comment about Java reed and the JJ I would have thought they were a good match, the ZZ are too busy on it though.

    Edit: And thank you
    With a JJ HR 6, the Java is OK, but a 2-1/2 will be buzzy. I would use a Java #3. Vandoren V16 2-1/2 will be slightly harder than Java 2-1/2 and will not be as buzzy. La Voz medium is about right for the JJ HR also. Medium soft is too soft for a JJ HR 6 and will sound buzzy. You have to try different reeds. What you have now are too soft.

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    Default Re: Is a resistant mouthpiece better for a beginner?

    Quote Originally Posted by martinm5862 View Post
    With a JJ HR 6, the Java is OK, but a 2-1/2 will be buzzy. I would use a Java #3. Vandoren V16 2-1/2 will be slightly harder than Java 2-1/2 and will not be as buzzy. La Voz medium is about right for the JJ HR also. Medium soft is too soft for a JJ HR 6 and will sound buzzy. You have to try different reeds. What you have now are too soft.
    Yes the Java 2 1/2 do sound buzzy but my embouchure is quite weak, (and I am breaking a very old habit of biting)... I'll get La Voz medium to try.

    That said I fully agree with you that they my current reeds are too soft as I am working on overtones and the reed keep closing on me. Call me impatient but I feel like it takes an eternity to build strength and endurance (and to break that bad biting habit!).

    Any other reeds you would suggest? I hate Vandoren blue box on the JJ, too stiff and dead.

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    Default Re: Is a resistant mouthpiece better for a beginner?

    Personally, I would take maybe a week or so entirely developed to the c*. At least an hour on that doing long tones and such should build up your embouchure. As for reeds, I've found this company that makes quite consistent good quality reeds. They're called Gonzales. They make a single file reed that you could use for either jazz or legit playing. I played them for a while in jazz band and concert band on my soloist. These reeds are also considerably cheaper than vandoren. You could order them off of wwbw.com for 16$ for a box of five. Now I'm using zz 3 1/2 on my jj dv 7.

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    Default Re: Is a resistant mouthpiece better for a beginner?

    Hi

    I've been playing a Meyer 7 on alto for years, but went to a Selmer S80 C** about 6 months ago to play classical.

    the selmer has a closer tip but I wouldn't say its easier or better for a beginner.

    It depends on what style you want to do. The selmer suits classical playing, when you need a focussed tone, the ability to play quietly, clean articulation and accurate intonation. I'd think intonation is the most important factor of all for classical playing

    the meyer is more free blowing, louder, brighter, buzzier. Good for Jazz and rock but not suitable for classical, but harder to control volume and intonation. I imagine the JJ would be simillar.

    if you want an all rounder, maybe try a yanagisawa or one of the vandoren V5's, medium tipped.

    also, there's no need to get macho over reed strengths, dont play one that is too hard in the expectation that you will 'grow into it', life is too short to bother with all that cr%p!

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    Default Re: Is a resistant mouthpiece better for a beginner?

    Jeff,
    So you played a C** back when you started and were playing, now after a 15 year break you jump to a larger tip opening and you are fighting with it.

    Don't beat yourself up, you'll get discouraged. Go back to a smaller tip opening (beginner mouthpiece if you will) and soft to moderate reed strengths of any brand.
    Work those long tones and get comfortable again. Then when your chops are back you can try that JJ again if you want to.

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    Default Re: Is a resistant mouthpiece better for a beginner?

    to summarise my thoughts from my last posting - the Selmer isn't a beginner mouthpiece, but it is a good classical mouthpiece.
    but if you want a mouthpiece with a jazz tone but easier to control get a jazz mouthpiece with a closer tip opening

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    Default Re: Is a resistant mouthpiece better for a beginner?

    Quote Originally Posted by Woodshedfred View Post
    Hi

    I've been playing a Meyer 7 on alto for years, but went to a Selmer S80 C** about 6 months ago to play classical.

    the selmer has a closer tip but I wouldn't say its easier or better for a beginner.
    I got the C** many years ago after dropping my Yamaha 4C on the floor, back then the musical school I was attending was classical only

    I would not say either that it is easier to play than the JJ except for dynamics, MUCH easier to play pianissimo! But from the beginning I wanted to learn Jazz saxophone, so the tone of the C** is not exactly my favorite, and it never was...

    Quote Originally Posted by Woodshedfred View Post
    Hi
    It depends on what style you want to do. The selmer suits classical playing, when you need a focussed tone, the ability to play quietly, clean articulation and accurate intonation. I'd think intonation is the most important factor of all for classical playing

    the meyer is more free blowing, louder, brighter, buzzier. Good for Jazz and rock but not suitable for classical, but harder to control volume and intonation. I imagine the JJ would be simillar.

    if you want an all rounder, maybe try a yanagisawa or one of the vandoren V5's, medium tipped.

    also, there's no need to get macho over reed strengths, dont play one that is too hard in the expectation that you will 'grow into it', life is too short to bother with all that cr%p!
    You are right the JJ is very similar to the Meyer, I tried a Meyer 6 when I was shopping for the JJ and the JJ had a bit more edge and was a bit more free blowing.

    Honestly (and it might be the wrong forum) I hoped not to have to buy a new mouthpiece... So the suggestion of just using harder reed to get something to push against is interesting.

    As for the reed strengths I am confused, on one hand I want to play NOW (I am past 40 so I don't want to wait a few years...) but on the other hand I understand that too soft a reed will both decrease my tone quality and further slow my embouchure strength buildup...

    Quote Originally Posted by RandyJ View Post
    Jeff,
    So you played a C** back when you started and were playing, now after a 15 year break you jump to a larger tip opening and you are fighting with it.

    Don't beat yourself up, you'll get discouraged. Go back to a smaller tip opening (beginner mouthpiece if you will) and soft to moderate reed strengths of any brand.
    Work those long tones and get comfortable again. Then when your chops are back you can try that JJ again if you want to.
    Well thanks to SOTW the chance I get discouraged are slim

    I wouldn't dare to say my intonation is better on the JJ than on the C** (I don't know actually I need to start practicing with a tuner!) but I would say that playing on the JJ I find less tiring than the C**, except that my weak lungs are showing their limits... which result with my playing mf, f or louder to my wife's dismay :P

    Actually I bought the JJ as a source of motivation, since the tone was inline my lifelong aspiration to learn to play jazz. I am realize it was a leap in term of opening but at the same time that edgy tone is a HUGE motivation. Whereas I have a hard time getting excited or motivated on the C**. It feels like the C** has less harmonics than the JJ not just less brilliance.

    So if the conclusion is that I should play with a smaller opening then I'll to consider buying another jazz piece as motivation and C** don't mix for me. I understand the old adage that "slow is fast" but in this case I see the years passing by WAY too quickly so I'm hoping for a shortcut of sort

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    Default Re: Is a resistant mouthpiece better for a beginner?

    Quote Originally Posted by Woodshedfred View Post
    to summarise my thoughts from my last posting - the Selmer isn't a beginner mouthpiece, but it is a good classical mouthpiece.
    but if you want a mouthpiece with a jazz tone but easier to control get a jazz mouthpiece with a closer tip opening
    Actually it is not as much if I want but rather if I should get one with a closer opening

    If I had too what would you recommend beside the Meyer 5 (which I'm sure is going to be recommended )

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    Default Re: Is a resistant mouthpiece better for a beginner?

    "but in this case I see the years passing by WAY too quickly so I'm hoping for a shortcut of sort"

    Jeff, you're over forty, so you know better, there are no shortcuts.

    In your replies you keep saying "jazz mouthpiece", well there ain't no such thing! And I'm sure you know that.

    For decades and decades jazz has been played on low to no chambered pieces and (in more recent decades) higher baffled pieces, in the end the sound, edge and tone will, with your work and practice, come from you.

    You know I could be back stage and someone could hand me a Caravan or a Dukoff or anything in between. Sure there are differences from the basic low/no baffled to a higher baffled piece but the mouthpiece is not going to prevent me from performing my (jazz genre) compositions on stage.

    Don't over think or put a hindrance you desire to come back and start playing and don't get on that mouthpiece merry-go-round.

    man, too much time here this, morning I got to go practice!

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    Default Re: Is a resistant mouthpiece better for a beginner?

    Hi

    sorry if I sounded like I was talking down with the 'grow into it' comment.
    I'm 37 and have been playing 20 years, I use a blue vandoren 2 for classical and a 2.5 java for jazz, - in my case I think my embouchure strength has probably grown as far its I'm going to! ( unless I give up the day job and practice 7 hrs a day ).
    That is the maximum strength I can manage and still control the tone and get clean fast articulation, but we'll all different and many can manage much harder reeds with the same result. regarding tone quality, I find my Meyer has a really fat sound with a 2.5 java,

    you could try a closer tip on a JJ if you are looking for more of multipurpose piece, but I would keep the JJ6, and use it for gigs where you want to rock out , play loud and do altissimo stuff, you'll be glad you've got a piece that allows you to do that ( I reckon!)
    Jim

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    Default Re: Is a resistant mouthpiece better for a beginner?

    Quote Originally Posted by Woodshedfred View Post
    Hi

    sorry if I sounded like I was talking down with the 'grow into it' comment.
    Don't worry I didn't felt talked down

    And I appreciate the additional info on your reed setup and 20 years old embouchure. I started playing about 25 years ago but after 4 years of classical and C** I just got really fed up and barely touched the sax afterward. (I guess my 15 years hiatus was a 20 years one after all )

    Had my then teacher taught me a tenth of what I learned this past year reading SOTW I would probably have never stopped playing

    Seeing all those "wasted years" dabbling on Guit & bass I am a bit frustrated and impatient even though deep down I know time is required for the embouchure chops etc to build back
    Last edited by JeffT; 04-21-2011 at 10:39 PM. Reason: Fixing markup

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    Default Re: Is a resistant mouthpiece better for a beginner?

    Quote Originally Posted by RandyJ View Post
    "but in this case I see the years passing by WAY too quickly so I'm hoping for a shortcut of sort"

    Jeff, you're over forty, so you know better, there are no shortcuts.
    True, instead of "shortcut" I should have said "compromise" or rather "trade of". And there ought to be some...

    Quote Originally Posted by RandyJ View Post
    In your replies you keep saying "jazz mouthpiece", well there ain't no such thing! And I'm sure you know that.
    True again,
    Brighter, with edge, is the tone I like for Jazz. If you read my previous post you'll have an idea of my antipathy for the tone of the C**... Now I know through better control I should be able to shape its "voice" more to my liking but I need "fresh air". Hence the candy/motivation of buying the JJ last year

    For various reasons during the week it is very hard to find time to due to family and work. So I am afraid the "Old proven long way to learn" won't happen until I retire :P


    Hence why I am desperate for shortcuts, ahem compromise , at the cost of maybe developing bad habit.

    I had found a good instructor but between his schedule and mine and the difficulties of finding time to practise it was not worth it for now

    Quote Originally Posted by RandyJ View Post
    Don't over think or put a hindrance you desire to come back and start playing and don't get on that mouthpiece merry-go-round.

    man, too much time here this, morning I got to go practice!
    See that is exactly my problem! With the kids and the wife sleep schedule and the time I get home I have about 15-30 min every other day during the week.
    So since I can't practise I come hear and read too much

    Are sax mute any goods or mouthpiece silencer or whatever? I have plenty of time at night according to my wife... as long as I am silent

    Thank you I really appreciate any help/advice.

    P.s. I hope my long winded response makes sense writing this on the iPhone can't see the whole thing

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    Default Re: Is a resistant mouthpiece better for a beginner?

    http://goo.gl/0iN8V

    The eSax mute should solve your problems. Its a bit pricey, but it will keep you quiet.

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    Default Re: Is a resistant mouthpiece better for a beginner?

    Thank you, yes I saw it. I am strongly considering getting one but I am wondering if it is silent enough. Have you tried it?

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