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  1. #1

    Default Quiet, beginner friendly mouthpiece?

    Okay, so I bought my very first sax (alto) at the ripe old age of 29. Just one of those ultra-cheap ones off ebay (I know, I know). After reading a couple of reviews of this level of sax, I thought I'd take the gamble. It seems to be fairly well made as far as I can tell. I'll be taking it into a shop to get a professional opinion - and some lessons, etc. (assuming the sax is good enough).

    The thing is, the cheap plastic mouthpiece that came with it is quite loud (maybe it's just in my small apartment). The tip opening seems to be approximately 0.080", which seems to be on the larger side from what I can gather. The advice I have read favour replacing the included mouthpiece with something a bit better anyway.

    Would a mouthpiece with a smaller tip opening, and/or a softer reed allow me to practice more quietly? I currently have reeds of strength 2.5.

    Is there any difference from mouthpieces made of other materials?

    I can pick up a rico royal graftonite at a local store for around the 30-40 aussie dollar mark. I would like to do things on the cheap for the time being, and that's about all that is on offer from the local retailers at that price range.

    Of course, I could save a bit of money buying online, with probably a better range, but I don't want the same crappy mouthpiece that I already have. That said, good 'ol ebay have a couple of cheap options.

    There is a "primo" branded mouthpiece, supposedly made by selmer.
    Then there is a generic "4C" mouthpiece, supposedly made from rubber.

    Main questions are;
    Is there such a thing as a relatively quiet mouthpiece/reed combination?
    Are there any mouthpieces around the $30 mark that are worth trying?


  2. #2

    Default Re: Quiet, beginner friendly mouthpiece?

    I don't think you're going to get any quieter with the rico. I have a rico graftonite and a Yamaha 4c, and the yamaha is definitely the quieter and less bright/edgy of the two.

    I don't play alto much, so I'm afraid I don't have any other comparisons for mouthpieces. Can you practice facing into, or actually inside your closet in your apartment? The hanging clothes will help absorb sound.

  3. #3
    Forum Contributor 2012 edwin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Sydney, Australia

    Default Re: Quiet, beginner friendly mouthpiece?

    It's not really the mouthpiece which is going to make a difference to how loud you are at this stage. Granted, a mouthpiece with a wider tip opening will allow you to play louder, but it's possible to play very quietly on any mouthpiece. However, in order to do that you need a degree of control which will only come with time on the horn. It took me quite a long time before I could really play quietly - can't remember exactly how long but I have a feeling it was over a year. The first 6 months at least consisted of loud honking - increasingly tuneful honking, but honking nonetheless. It was three years before I could play quietly enough that it was possible to play in a room right next to my kids' rooms at night and not wake them up (and I still find it quite hard work playing that softly for any period of time).

    Of course it's possible that the mouthpiece you have is fine, but there are lots of posts here which say that these generic cheapo mouthpieces are low quality and will hold you back. The likelihood is that you will be better off with an inexpensive name-brand mouthpiece such as the Yamaha 4C or the Graftonite - not because it will be quieter but because it will be easier to play. The generic '4C' you link to is an unknown quantity and unless someone here pipes up and says they have one and it's as good as those options you'd be better off avoiding it. I don't know anything about the Primo so can't comment.

    If you go for the Graftonite, you will have to choose a chamber and facing - they come in different sizes. Probably medium chamber is best at this stage, and probably #3 facing (#5 might be OK as well, but it's more open and the difference might be enough to make it more difficult for a beginner).

    Good luck, and have fun!

  4. #4
    Distinguished SOTW Member
    Forum Contributor 2014
    click's Avatar
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    Apr 2009

    Default Re: Quiet, beginner friendly mouthpiece?

    Selmer Goldentone is pretty quiet and cheap.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Quiet, beginner friendly mouthpiece?

    Thanks for the replies guys.

    I didn't think there would be a really quiet mouthpiece, but since I don't know, I thought I'd ask. I'll probably pick up a rico b3 from a local shop and see how much easier I find it to blow. I'm guessing that the easier it is to play, the easier it will be to play quietly. I'm sure that after some professional lessons I'll have a much better understanding of what to expect from my equipment.

    I'll not worry about the volume until someone complains. Most folk are pretty easy going around here, I just hope my lousy playing doesn't upset that balance.
    Truth be told, it's probably not as bad as I think, as the building is made from concrete so the sound bounces off the walls pretty well.

    Baby steps, as they say. I don't want to let my excitement get the better of me, so some lessons will keep me grounded (and on the right track). One thing's for sure though - come hell or high water, I'm going to learn to play the sax! I should have done this years ago. If music be the food of life, then how the hell did I make it this far without an instrument? It baffles the mind.

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