MUS 215

Saxophone Accessories

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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.

Following are sample comparative charts of mouthpiece facings:

H. COUF SELMER MEYER O. LINK
2*
3*
4*

5*
6*
C
C*
C**

D
E, F

4
5

6, 7
8, 9
3, 3*
4, 4*
5, 5*, 6, 6*

7, 7*, 8, 8*
9, 9*, 10, 10*
V. DOREN B. LARSEN
  Alto Tenor Baritone
100
101
111

77
99
70
75
80

85
90
75
80
85

90
95
85
90
95

100
105
(model numbers) (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 saxophonists.

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)
Selmer Metal
Eugene Rousseau
Larry Teal
Vandoren
JAZZ
Meyer
Berg Larsen
Otto Link
Bobby Dukoff
Guy Hawkins

Claude Lakey
Brilhart Level-Air
Wolf Tayne
Herb Couf Jazz
Strathon Adjustotone
CLASSICAL / JAZZ
Herb Couf Artist
Sumner

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.

Ligatures

The following high-performance ligatures are acceptable brands from which to choose.  (Again, the list cannot be comprehensive.)

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 silver plating.

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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