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The information below is excerpted from Dr.
Burnette's dissertation, Saxophone Performance Problems:
Causes and Solutions (1985) (pp. 163-169). References are
cited in the dissertation, but are not cited here.
Comparative Mouthpiece Facings
Some manufacturers use letter names to identify
mouthpiece facings; others use primary numbers or actual tip opening
measurements in thousandths of an inch. Generally, the larger
the number, or the further into the alphabet, the larger the tip
opening will be and the more "open" is the facing. A
star (*) notation in conjunction with the facing description usually
denotes an additional .005 larger tip opening.
are sample comparative charts of mouthpiece facings:
5, 5*, 6, 6*
7, 7*, 8, 8*
9, 9*, 10, 10*
||(in 1/1000 inches)
The two charts should actually be place side by side ...
not enough room on a web page. The medium-range facings
marked above in bold are satisfactory starting points for most
Acceptable Jazz / Classical Mouthpieces
The following mouthpieces are acceptable brands from
which to choose. Due to the number of new brands appearing on the
market with increasing regularity, this list cannot be
comprehensive. The majority of the brands below have been used
with success by a large number of saxophonists over many years.
This list, some brands of which have been omitted, was compiled in a
Saxophone Shop publication, A Comparative Buyer's Guide.
|CLASSICAL / CONCERT
Selmer S-80 (one of the most popular mouthpieces produced)
Herb Couf Jazz
|CLASSICAL / JAZZ
Herb Couf Artist
Although mouthpiece selection is largely a matter of
individual preference, the selection should be based upon the style
characteristics of the music for which the mouthpiece is intended,
classical or jazz/commercial. The overall differences of the
mouthpieces above are as follows:
CLASSICAL: low baffle, medium to large chamber,
medium facing; refined tone quality, generally of moderate brilliance.
JAZZ: high baffle, small chamber, medium to wide
facing; edgy or buzzy tone quality, generally quite brilliant;
expanded dynamic capability.
The following high-performance ligatures are
acceptable brands from which to choose. (Again, the list cannot
HARRISON: Manufactured for soprano, alto, tenor
and baritone, this handmade, patented ligature secures the reed
uniformly at four contact points. It is available in gold or
BONADE: Available only for alto (?), this
ligature secures the reed by means of two lengthwise contact rails.
SUMNER: Manufactured for alto and tenor, this
solid nickel-silver ligature secures the reed by four contact
points. A powerful, controlled air column is considered a
prerequisite for this ligature.
ROVNER: This ligature is manufactured for
soprano, alto, tenor and baritone, and is available in regular (dark)
and Rovner Light models. The Light model produces a more
brilliant tone quality than the regular Rovner Ligature. Each
model is constructed of a rubberized polyester fabric which wraps
around the reed and mouthpiece, and is secured by an adjustment
screw. No metal touches the reed.
GIGLIOTTI: This plastic reverse ligature is
manufactured for clarinet; however, it has been successfully utilized
on streamlined saxophone mouthpieces.
GIOKAS: This clarinet and saxophone ligature
utilizes string to secure the reed, in combination with the
convenience of the standard screw-type ligature.
VIBA-STRINGTM: Manufactured for
clarinet, alto and metal tenor saxophone mouthpieces, this ligature
secures the reed by strings in combination with the convenience of the
standard screw-type ligature. An advantage for saxophonists
doubling on clarinet is that the clarinet reed cap (only) remains on
the ligature and contains a foam-cushioned tip which can be moistened
to maintain the reed in ready playing condition.
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