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  1. #1
    philsaxophone's Avatar
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    Default Mouthpiece - Reed combinations

    I came very late to start playing a tenor about 10 years ago when I was 50
    Like most , I suppose, I started with a narrow tip opening mouthpiece--can't remember but it was cheap and nasty--and as I got slowly better I got a vintage Brilhart Tonalin at about 80 thou ( cream in colour ) and one of those supposedy " Vintage " Otto Link ebonite--one of the new ones, again 6* so about 90 thou

    Rather than muck about and spend loads of cash on this and that mouthpiece, the choice is endless, as I improved I simply moved up in reed strength

    I now play La Voz hard or Rico Royal 4--as an aside one thing I have noticed is that going up to harder reeds has meant you get a lot better reeds straight out of the box.

    I am happy with my sound--its what I want to hear--I can play very soft and subtone easily and for the sort of music I play--mostly old standards--- I and my small audiences seem happy--in a small hall I play the Otto Link and if I want a bit more push then actually the Tonalin gives me that, even though they are supposed to play soft--its almost opposite to what I expected

    When I trawl through this site I see loads of players playing mouthpieces with tip openings way over 100 thou

    My question is this--what tonal differences would I get by making that reversal and going to a much wider tip opening and softer reeds

    PLEASE guys I dont want this to descend into a" this mouthpieces is better etc etc squable"

    Thats not the point of the question

    Its simply the difference in tonal quality that I am asking about--or is it just volume ??

    Tx

    Phil
    Selmer Super Action 80 SeriesII Jubilee Tenor
    Mauriat PMXT 66R Tenor
    Vintage Selmer Soloist Long Shank C, Phil Tone Sapphire, Jody Jazz Hard Rubber

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Mouthpiece - Reed combinations

    I think most of the people who use larger tip openings would tell you it's for the tone, or the tonal effects. I think it's just easier to growl and bend notes with a softer reed and the bigger opening helps keep the piece from closing up.
    Yamaha TS62 - Warburton LA; P. Mauriat 66R - Sakshama FL; Legeres
    Vito (Beaugnier) Baritone/HR Berg 105/1/M
    Buffet Greenline Clarinet; Yamaha 221-II Bass Clarinet

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Mouthpiece - Reed combinations

    Agree with shotgun. Can't speak too much to tenor although I once owned one - still have the mouthpiece because it worked on my C-Melody, too. But for alto, soprano, and clarinet I MUCH prefer open tips and soft reeds. I get more volume (yet can play softly if needed), a nicer tone, and better embellishments with that kind of a set-up than I do with closed-tips/hard-reeds. DAVE
    Dave

  4. #4
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mouthpiece - Reed combinations

    In my experience it is about tonal variety, ie versatility. I used to play quite small tips, then very very wide, then medium and now back to very very wide (140thou). It's a typical misconception that softness or hardness of reed is related to tip opening. It's related to a combination of various parameters including tip opening and length of facing curve.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Mouthpiece - Reed combinations

    Pete: It sure isn't a misconception for me. I have many mouthpieces and they just don't play for me unless I soften up on the more open ones, or conversely go harder for the closer ones.

    Sure, the chamber size and design, the length-of-lay and all the rest of it comes into play, but the defining factor in my experience has been the tip-opening. I can guarantee you that if the tip is a closer one, I ain't gonna like it regardless of the reed I choose. DAVE
    Dave

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Mouthpiece - Reed combinations

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Thomas View Post
    It's a typical misconception that softness or hardness of reed is related to tip opening.
    The choice is personal, isn't it? If we're playing on a given mouthpiece, the only parameter we can control is the strength of the reed. (Although some would add the ligature to the equation.) Does anyone reface his mouthpiece in order to play a particular hardness of reed? I wouldn't call it a "misconception" — it's just the most easily changed variable.
    It's related to a combination of various parameters including tip opening and length of facing curve.
    Harder reeds with longer facings? Are all the facing curves on the PPT's identical? I know they're all over the place on some brands but that's a manufacturing issue.
    Yamaha TS62 - Warburton LA; P. Mauriat 66R - Sakshama FL; Legeres
    Vito (Beaugnier) Baritone/HR Berg 105/1/M
    Buffet Greenline Clarinet; Yamaha 221-II Bass Clarinet

  7. #7
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mouthpiece - Reed combinations

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Dolson View Post
    It sure isn't a misconception for me….. I can guarantee you that if the tip is a closer one, I ain't gonna like it regardless of the reed I choose. DAVE
    Are you saying the length of lay has no effect on the strength of reed you would use? Or perhaps you are referring to more open or closer tips with the same or similar facing curve.

  8. #8
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mouthpiece - Reed combinations

    Quote Originally Posted by shotgun View Post
    The choice is personal, isn't it? If we're playing on a given mouthpiece, the only parameter we can control is the strength of the reed.
    Yes, this is absolutely true. And if you have say an Otto Link 6 and you change to an Otto Link 7, you may well want a harder reed, but changing to (say) a Berg Larsen 7 you might not.

    Quote Originally Posted by shotgun View Post
    Harder reeds with longer facings? Are all the facing curves on the PPT's identical?
    Not at all. I would use the same reed on a PPT 8* that I do on a 10* or 11. But in very many cases I believe you, Dave and philsaxophone are right in thinking wider tip - softer reed, all I'm saying is it's a misconception to apply that as a generalisation in regard to all mouthpieces. It would probably apply to all pieces with the same facing length as I said.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Mouthpiece - Reed combinations

    Pete: Like I said, the tip-opening is THE leading factor in my mouthpiece/reed choices. I have not measured any of my mouthpieces, I go by what the charts tell me - and what I feel when I play them.

    But for instance, of the three Meyer alto pieces I have (all different designations as to length-of-lay, chamber size, and tip openings), I can't see any differences with the naked eye. Yet, they each play differently.

    I think many of us put way too much faith into the numerous charts floating around . . . suffice to say, wider tip opening, softer reed. I don't really care if the maker claims it is a short lay or a medium lay or a small chamber or a medium chamber, or a .069 tip or a .070 tip (as was the result of a recent soprano re-facing I had done). They all look alike to me. I've held those three alto Meyers side-by-side and I don't see anything different in them, yet I know they are so marked differently - and they have a few thousandths of an inch difference in the tip opening.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that show me a bunch of mouthpieces and without playing them, I'll be able to tell you within a reasonable certainty that the more open ones will play better for me than the closer ones. Lay, chamber, etc. aside, it is the tip opening for me. And when I choose a wider tip opening, I will invariably need to go to a softer reed to make it play for me. So, I don't believe the claim that this issue is a misconception. DAVE
    Dave

  10. #10
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mouthpiece - Reed combinations

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Dolson View Post
    I guess what I'm trying to say is that show me a bunch of mouthpieces and without playing them, I'll be able to tell you within a reasonable certainty that the more open ones will play better for me than the closer ones. Lay, chamber, etc. aside, it is the tip opening for me. And when I choose a wider tip opening, I will invariably need to go to a softer reed to make it play for me. So, I don't believe the claim that this issue is a misconception. DAVE
    Yes, I'm not disputing your experience at all, and as I said above this can be true for many mouthpieces. I also agree with "many of us put way too much faith into the numerous charts floating around . . ."

    Without contradicting what you say, what I do know is I've seen people who play a 7* expecting to use a softer reed on a different make 8* and then being surprised when they don't need to.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Mouthpiece - Reed combinations

    Pete: I can accept that possibility (that someone would use the same reed on two different pieces). The differences between one maker's 7* and another maker's 8* could be significant . . . or not. We all know that what a mouthpiece maker puts on his/her piece to designate tip openings and other characteristics are the maker's alone and have no bearing on how some other mouthpiece may be marked. Marketing designations don't transfer well among various brands. Of course, blueprint/design standards don't seem to be followed closely either. The popular charts are probably just a WAG, in my view. Good enough to get a customer into the ballpark, but that's about it.

    As an example, the aforementioned soprano re-facing I had done by Joe Giardullo at Sopranoplanet . . . the "charts" list Selmer's J soprano pieces at .069. The actual Super Session J I sent to Joe was measured by him to be .070. And a subsequent SS-J measured the same. On a side note, I read a lot of comments about Selmer's inconsistencies, but so far with all the Selmer mouthpieces I own, none seem inconsistent nor do similar models play differently - all three of my SS-J's play the same. THAT seems pretty consistent to me. From C* to J, and the same with alto, the Selmer pieces display what one would expect as the tip opening increases.

    As another example, I have Morgan Vintage pieces for soprano . . .one being a #6 (charted at .065) and the other two being #7 (charted at .070). That five-hundreths of an inch may be the point where a piece is considered to be open while the other is - not so much. Of course, the whole idea that some pieces are more closed and some are more open is relative to what one is used to, I suppose.

    For me, the Morgan Vintage 6 and Morgan Vintage 7 need different reeds to play to maximum benefit. I use a slightly harder reed for the .065, and a slightly softer reed for the .070, even though both reeds are probably considered to be in the SOFT range. To me, the slight differences make a difference.

    I will acknowledge that in some cases, once I get to OPEN (a range of measurements, all of which would be considered open), I can often use the same reed on all of them. But when that brand and style of mouthpiece has a closer tip, I'm going a bit harder. DAVE
    Dave

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Mouthpiece - Reed combinations

    I own a lot of vintage Links with tip sizes between 4* and 12 and try to play most of them frequently. I use La Voz medium hard reeds on the smaller tip pieces and La Voz medium reeds on the bigger tip pieces. I prefer bigger tips with softer reeds because it gives me more flexibility in tone, more volume, easier altissimo and a more husky sound. Disadvantage (for me) is that the bigger tip pieces seem to be more reed sensitive and can give issues with intonation (that's also due to my limited skills and because I don't play enough).

    You can check >this< SOTW thread in case you're interested in hearing the differences in sound.

    T : Selmer SBA serial 50xxx (1952) - Otto Link Florida no USA 10* - La Voz medium
    A : Klingsor serial 016xx (early 60's) - Otto Link STM 9* - Rico Royal 2.5
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