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  1. #1

    Default Ralph Morgan Mouthpieces - Otto Link Equivalents?

    I'll qualify my remarks by stating that I do not know if any of the following information is correct. However, I have gathered from many online sources that most, if not all, of Ralph Morgan's mouthpieces are finely crafted copies of several of the most popular vintage mouthpieces of all time. Here's what I've gathered so far, and I hope you all can help me fill in the "blanks" (no pun intended).

    Morgan Jazz M - Copy of Florida Otto Link (source: ww&bw review written by a self-labeled pro customer)

    Morgan Excalibur EL - Copy of New York Otto Link (source: ww&bw review submitted by a pro musician)

    Morgan Excalibur E - ?

    Morgan Jazz L - ?

    Morgan vintage - ?

    Morgan protone - ?

    I'm more interested in the first 4 than the last 2, as I think those may be mass produced. But any info would be appreciated.

  2. #2
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    It has been discussed elsewhere on SOTW that the Protone is a hand faced Runyon 22 blank.

  3. #3

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    Thanks, Gary

    It should be fairly obvious, but the above information is for the Morgan tenor pieces--the ones I'm most interested in, though it would be interesting to hear about the alto pieces as well. Are these copies of New York Meyers, like I've heard?

    BTW I searched the archives for this info but didn't find anything that approached the Morgan's this specifically.

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    Since the Runyon 22 comes in alto and tenor i assume the Protone is based on a Runyon 22 in alto and tenor.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by garyinla
    Since the Runyon 22 comes in alto and tenor i assume the Protone is based on a Runyon 22 in alto and tenor.
    Great! Thanks for the info! Does anyone have any thoughts or info about the first four pieces on my list. Or can you at least confirm if I am correct on the first two. Thanks!

  6. #6
    Distinguished SOTW Technician hornimprovement's Avatar
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    Default Morgan

    Ralph Morgan is self-described as "one of the last old grey heads that knows about these things". While he knows the classic mouthpieces of Meyer and Link as thoroughly as anybody, I do not think that his pieces are intended to be verbatim copies, but certainly strongly influenced by them and built on the principle that what worked back then works today. I had the good fortune of visiting Ralph's shop a few years back and here's how he described it to me:The Excalibur E is essentially the Jazz M interior with a shaved down exterior,while the Excalibur EL is the Jazz L interior with a shaved down exterior. That's why the Excaliburs use a smaller ligature and have a metal ring around the shank to prevent the thinner blank from splitting.
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  7. #7

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    Thanks, Horn--interesting stuff. OK, so maybe they're not verbatim copies. Maybe they're just based on these older models. So you see where I'm coming from here are snippets from ww&bw:

    From the Tenor Excalibur Series page:

    by Jon posted, 2/19/2004 1:22:39 AM
    Musical experience: 30 years playing professionally, a lot of recording experience
    Style of music: R&B, Jazz, Rock, Pop, shows, etc.
    Home town: Seattle
    I've played a lot of different mouthpieces. Too many to mention here. The Morgan Excaliber is as good as the best of any of them. I play the 7EL on tenor; it is very "Link like" in its character. That is, like a very good Link-very flexible sound. Having talked to Ralph on the phone about this, he said it is basically a copy of the New York Link. I didn't ask him to go into too much detail about this, but it makes sense....


    From the Tenor Jazz Series page:

    by Grant "King" Koeller posted, 9/16/2005 2:56:21 PM
    Musical experience: Professional saxophonist with the Air Force Band ofthe Pacific/Asia Toyko,
    Style of music: Jazz, Big Band, Fusion, Rock, Blues,Latin Salsa,and Jazz Trio.
    Home town: Toyko, Japan,

    I bought one and now currently own two 9E'S Excaliburs. Well, I was curious about the Jazz 9M model 110" tip opening, Morgan's version of the New York Meyer and Florida Link....

  8. #8
    Distinguished SOTW Columnist / Forum Contributor 2008 Hurling Frootmig's Avatar
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    Ralph's one of the great ones when it comes to mouthpieces.

    The exterior of the C, M, and L are similar to the vintage Gregory's. My opinion is that the 3C is almost a copy of the vintage 4A20's.

    The M series mouthpieces strike me as having the internals of a vintage Meyer.

    The L series mouthpieces have a larger chamber and the baffle profile is similar to a nice vintage link with perhaps a bit more baffle near the tip.
    "We'd all play like Stan (Getz) if we could" - John Coltrane

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  9. #9

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    Interesting. Would your observations apply to both alto and tenor? In other words, would the Tenor M series be similar to the vintage Meyer Tenor and the Alto M similar to the vintage Meyer alto pieces? If so, this information does not jibe with King Koeller's impression of the Morgan M being based on a Florida Link. But I am leaning toward your conclusion since it appears that mouthpieces are your line.

    But I'm assuming the L series would be similar to a vintage Link in both alto and tenor. I guess it's hard to refute the comments of someone who actually spoke with Ralph on the phone about this. And since hornimprovement also spoke with Ralph, I guess it's safe to say that both the L and EL series--at least for tenor--follow the old Links to some extent.

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    Distinguished SOTW Member sinkdraiN's Avatar
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    The M series and standard excalibur mouthpieces are definately designed with the Meyer in mind. Those mouthpieces are as close to a link as a meyer is. I do believe that the L and EL are designed after the link, though.

    I always thought that the M stood for medium chamber and the L stood for Large chamber. I wonder though if it's no coincidence that M=meyer and L=link.

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    Distinguished SOTW Columnist / Forum Contributor 2008 Hurling Frootmig's Avatar
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    Alto and Tenor seem to have the same basic concepts.

    I'll do another comparison between my vintage Meyer tenor piece and the Morgan M I have sitting on my self. As I recall they sound about the same.
    "We'd all play like Stan (Getz) if we could" - John Coltrane

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    Distinguished SOTW Member Dr G's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swingtone
    I guess it's safe to say that both the L and EL series--at least for tenor--follow the old Links to some extent.
    Which old Links? HR, metal, ****, STM??? I throw the possibility of metal-Link-inspired HR 'pieces because Fred Lamberson's "L" model works so well - and its interior is based on a metal Link (according to his website).
    Go for The Tone,

    g



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  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr G
    Which old Links? HR, metal, ****, STM??? I throw the possibility of metal-Link-inspired HR 'pieces because Fred Lamberson's "L" model works so well - and its interior is based on a metal Link (according to his website).
    The "New York Link" is the one mentioned by the pro musician (above) who spoke to Ralph on the phone.

  14. #14

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    BTW--aren't the STM and **** both METAL Otto Link Mouthpieces.

  15. #15
    Distinguished SOTW Member Dr G's Avatar
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    Exactly! Not all metal Links are alike - and not all current production hard rubber mouthpieces that are based on Links are inspired by METAL Links. (Please re-read my previous post.)
    Go for The Tone,

    g



    "When you are doing well, don't forget to do good." - Sichan Siv.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr G
    Exactly! Not all metal Links are alike - and not all current production hard rubber mouthpieces that are based on Links are inspired by METAL Links. (Please re-read my previous post.)
    I did--the 4 choices you gave were presented equally, though two were actually a subset of another (STM and **** belonging to the subset of Otto Link metal mouthpieces).

    If you read the entire thread it should have been clear that the Links I was referring to throughout were the same ones mentioned in the ww&bw review by the pro who spoke with Ralph--"New York Links."

    I don't have anything more specific than this. And it doesn't sound like you do, either.

    It would be great to hear from members who actually know something about this.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Swingtone
    I did--the 4 choices you gave were presented equally, though two were actually a subset of another (STM and **** belonging to the subset of Otto Link metal mouthpieces).

    If you read the entire thread it should have been clear that the Links I was referring to throughout were the same ones mentioned in the ww&bw review by the pro who spoke with Ralph--"New York Links."

    I don't have anything more specific than this. And it doesn't sound like you do, either.

    It would be great to hear from members who actually know something about this.
    Dear SOTW friends,

    It is correct that NONE of the Morgan models are directly modelled on either the link for tenor, or the meyer for alto. I say this because I had spoken to ralph about eight years ago (when he still ran his own website), and he did not have anything purdy to say about these two brands and proclaimed that he would NEVER copy other makers' products intentionally.

    I was told that his pappy deserves credit for the large chambered model, and that the medium chamber was his own concoction. He told me that the medium chambered model is not popular in Japan, where they prefer the large chamber. He also told me that his large chamber is not nearly as large as the vintage otto link chamber.
    This would explain why his pieces tend to play on the brigh and sharp side (at least for link players).

    Regards, Peter

  18. #18
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    I've had quite a few conversations with Ralph Morgan about his mouthpieces over the past 5-6 years and I use Morgan pieces on all of my horns. My understanding is similar to Peter's in that Ralph Morgan is throughly grounded in the work of the great mouthpiece makers who came before him and aspects of his mouthpiece designs draw upon the likes of Meyer, Link, Lelandais, Langenus, etc -- however, Ralph's mouthpieces are his own (ie, not modern copies of Meyer or Link) and reflects his own research and thinking.

    According to my recollection, the L model is based on VERY EARLY Link. Can't remember much more than that. The Excalibur models (EL and E) have exactly the same inner design as the L and M models. That is, EL=L and E=M. However, the idea for the thin shell and metal shank band was inspired by a similar-looking mouthpiece made by A. Lelandais. Ralph told me the C model has the same amount of chamber volume as an Adolphe Sax mouthpiece. I'm not entirely sure about this....but, the C MAY be based on a very early Selmer C*. I remember Ralph telling me how the C* has gone through around 7 (if I'm remembering correctly) revisions. The early ones were excellent. Some of the concepts behind Ralph's clarinet mouthpieces were inspired by Gustave Langenus. However, a key element in the Morgan clarinet mouthpiece -- the thin beak -- came from Ralph's experiments in scrapping down the interior area of beak to arrive at a point of optimal performance and tonal quality. According to Ralph, the chamber size of his clarinet pieces is 30% larger than the clarinet mouthpieces currently on the market.

    There are a number of features in a Morgan mouthpiece that I don't see in a vintage Meyer or Link. Ralph uses a thin beak in his saxophone mouthpieces just as he does in his clarinet pieces. According to Ralph, this serves as a tonal generator. Anyone who has played on a Morgan has probably experienced how much the mouthpiece vibrates. It's my understanding that the thin beak plays a large role in how the mouthpiece vibrates. I haven't experienced it to this degree with other pieces. In fact, if one plays an early Bilger-Morgan piece (made from a Babbit blank) side-by-side with a current Morgan you'll see what a difference the thin beak makes! Another key part of a Morgan is the very pure hard rubber formula that Ralph uses. It's been my experience that this extremely high quality hard rubber makes a huge contribution to the vibrant sound and excellent projection that one gets with a Morgan. In one phone conversation Ralph went into quite a bit of detail about his formula but he asked me not to share the information with others. It's my feeling that a lot of players don't take into account the quality of the hard rubber that Ralph uses and what a difference it makes in one's sound, response, and projection.

    Well, those are the things that come to mind.

    Roger
    1936 G.H. Huller alto saxophone, Ralph Morgan 6C mouthpiece, #3 1/2 Legere Signature reeds, Theo Wanne ligature
    1969 Couesnon Monopole Bb clarinet, Walter Grabner K14 mouthpiece, #3 Legere (old) Quebec, Klassik string ligature
    Yamaha bass clarinet, Walter Grabner LB mouthpiece, #3 1/2 Legere standard tenor, Optimum ligature
    Yamaha flute, diMedici alto flute

    Visit my website and listen to my originals: http://www.rogeraldridge.com

  19. #19
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    PS,

    I just remembered a couple of additional things....

    If I recall correctly, the C may be the first mouthpiece model that Ralph made. I got absolutely great results with a 3C on my vintage Buescher alto and tenor. I was so blown away by the mouthpiece that I often studied its design to see if I could figure out how it plays like it does. Especially, in how it has such a big sound and so little baffle. I tried to get Ralph to tell me some of his "secrets" about this mouthpiece. (He wouldn't. ha ha ha ha ) Around 4 years ago Ralph modified one of his soprano pieces for me and it became a 6C. Hands down, it was the very best soprano piece I've ever played. Ralph is currently working on one of my 3C tenor pieces to turn it into a 6C. I'll let you know how it works out. My interest in the 3C appeared to touch Ralph. At one point, he told me that it's his mouthpiece of choice and that he used it to play lead alto. I'm currently using a 6L as the rollover baffle gives my sound a bit more umph and sparkle...that I need for big band playing.

    I'm not sure that the Protone is based on a Runyon 22. It would be a good idea for someone to confirm that with Ralph. My experience with Protone pieces on saxohone and clarinet is limited. I've tried them. But, I can't get passed the lesser quality of hard rubber (30% formula) used in the Protone and Vintage models. I'm so used to the quality of sound that I get with the Morgan pieces made from Ralph's high quality formula. Thus, when I try a Protone or Vintage -- even an early Bilger-Morgan -- it seems to me that something is missing from my sound. I'm trying to remember.... Doesn't the Protone saxophone piece have a horseshoe chamber? Does a 22 have that style? I might be remembering this incorrectly, but when I first saw a Protone tenor piece the chamber reminded me more of Brillhart. I didn't think of Runyon at all.

    Roger
    1936 G.H. Huller alto saxophone, Ralph Morgan 6C mouthpiece, #3 1/2 Legere Signature reeds, Theo Wanne ligature
    1969 Couesnon Monopole Bb clarinet, Walter Grabner K14 mouthpiece, #3 Legere (old) Quebec, Klassik string ligature
    Yamaha bass clarinet, Walter Grabner LB mouthpiece, #3 1/2 Legere standard tenor, Optimum ligature
    Yamaha flute, diMedici alto flute

    Visit my website and listen to my originals: http://www.rogeraldridge.com

  20. #20
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    From what I've understood, the "C" models are modeled on the Selmer AirFlow/table models with some tweaks to make them play better. (Specifically, a long roll-over baffle to replace the concave baffle on the AirFlow.) I seem to remember reading this in an old issue of Saxophone Journal, but I can't remember the issue. This would make sense since he designed them with the cooperation of David Bilger, who played a Selmer Radio Improved alto, and that he himself had a long history with the Selmer company. Bilger's pieces were very similar also to the AirFlow, but weren't made with such good hard rubber. (They were stock Babbitt blanks.)
    Current setups:
    Yamaha YSS-675, Selmer Concept, Winslow Lig,Hemke 3.5
    Keilwerth Buffet Expression Alto, Selmer Concept,Winslow Lig, Hemke 3.5
    Keilwerth SX90 tenor, customized S80 C*, Winslow lig, Hemke 3.5
    Wildcard saxophone: Buffet S1 tenor

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