In addition to being a private violin teacher, Alecia started writing music-related articles 3 years ago and has been enjoying this experience greatly. Loves quilting and scrapbooking in her free time.
Marcus has a vast experience in digital audio and sound design. Thanks to his knowledge, he actively helps musicians with technical problems, improving their audio quality and even promoting their tracks so that thousands of listeners could enjoy some really good music.
Last updated: January 20, 2021
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Someone was playing the sax, and you were so thrilled that you wanted to try, and got yourself a sax, but immediately got stuck with the question which saxophone mouthpiece you should choose. Or are you an experienced performer who needs a new unit? If you scanned the market, you might have noticed a huge number of products and manufacturers.
Whether you want to play jazz or any other music style, you need to ensure that the mouthpiece parameters suit your needs. That is why we analyzed all the crucial aspects. In our research, we focused on the material, tip opening, facing length, dimensions, and all the other features that may affect the performance of your mouthpiece.
We wouldn’t want to brag, but we did our investigation and spent more than 66 hours studying saxophone mouthpieces. Our team used articles written by music industry experts, read a detailed analysis of products, and made sure to take care of every part that will help you pick the right unit. Check out our detailed reviews of each piece and don’t forget about the buying guide as it covers all relevant factors of choosing a mouthpiece for sax!
"With this classical saxophone mouthpiece, you will get well-balanced high-quality sound. It is a perfect pick for all musicians, from beginners to professionals, to perform at a concert hall or when marching."
Vandoren had done a lot of research before they launched the Optimum series of classical saxophone mouthpieces. The idea was to design an all-around product that will deliver well-balanced sound regardless of where you play. It can be an ideal choice for both marching and concerts.
The sax mouthpiece is compatible with reeds designed by the same company, and its performance cannot be compared with other reeds. Even if you are a beginner, you will easily get used to this unit. Professionals should also be satisfied with the sound quality.
You can choose between three facing lengths and tip openings, but the AL3 seems to be the optimal choice if you are looking for the exceptional roundness.
Selmer’s unit can be the best alto saxophone mouthpiece, but make sure that the dimensions fit your model. As long as you do that, it won’t matter which style of music you play. The product will deliver impressive sound quality and consistent performance.
Additionally, you may check the tenor saxophone mouthpiece designed by the same manufacturer. Both units’ chambers have square cross parts, and that makes them unique.
S-80C features medium-long facing, and the preferred material used by the company was hard rubber. The result is excellent durability and premium quality of the mouthpiece that you will love.
Are you looking for a premium mouthpiece for sax? If you are a professional, you can’t go wrong with Otto Link OLM-402-5S. The manufacturer made a metal mouthpiece that is incredibly durable and delivers exceptional tone quality.
Not everyone might like the design, but the most important and preferred thing is performance. That is where the manufacturer proved it and deserves user trust once again. The quality of the sound that you can produce is amazing, and it will be easy to impress the crowd as soon as you get ahold of how to play the instrument. The price may be a bit higher, but this mouthpiece will make that up by lasting for a long time.
Here is another mouthpiece for alto saxophone, but this one was designed by Yamaha. It is somewhat similar to the previous unit, although it has a bit longer facing, and shorter tip opening.
Yamaha used the same approach as Selmer and designed a tenor mouthpiece within the same series. As for this product, it is versatile and suitable for beginners and pros alike. Novice musicians shouldn’t have a problem learning to play and maintaining a clear and balanced tone. On the other hand, professionals will appreciate the capability of playing any musical style, and the sound quality.
The product could be more durable, but keep in mind that it is an affordable model.
This medium-long facing unit has an incredible response. You can play any notes that come to your mind, including the altissimo.
There is no doubt this is a premium quality mouthpiece, at least in terms of durability. The manufacturer used superb rubber materials to ensure optimal longevity and consistent performance.
If you have never played on a tip opening of this size, it may take a while to get used to it. However, the rich tones will be worth it. It is important to mention that you won’t only get a mouthpiece for saxophone, but also a cap and ligature.
What we liked:
A premium quality construction contributes to longevity
Excellent performance and rich tones
Play any notes you want, including altissimo
What could be better:
You may need a while to get used to the tip opening
When we are focusing on the S7 model, the very first thing we notice is how easy it is to blow into this mouthpiece for saxophone. The tones it delivers are bright and rich regardless of your playing style. However, you may particularly like it if you are a fan of jazz.
The manufacturer used hard rubber but added some design specifics to ensure the high quality of the tone. The mouthpiece is reasonably durable, but it may take a while until you pick the right ligature. Due to that fact, it may not be the best choice for beginners. Please note that there are six facings and three bores available to choose in this series.
More features: bright and even sound, compatible with different brands, free blowing and easy to play, handcrafted, made from high-quality composite, created for jazz, also perfect for a variety of genres.
Claude Lakey designed this sax mouthpiece with a wide tip opening and medium-long facing length. There is a variety of models with different richness and quality of tone.
The hard rubber combined with the elegant black finish makes the product both durable and attractive. It is a compact mouthpiece that can deliver clear sound. Thanks to its versatility, you can use it on multiple sax brands.
You could say that CLA613 performs best if you are playing jazz, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it for other genres. It may also be an excellent choice if you are only entering the world of saxophone music.
What we liked:
Specifically designed for alto saxophones
Compatible with different brands
Elegant and compact design
What could be better:
Sound may be too bright
Things to Consider
Are you ready to discuss factors to consider during the sax mouthpiece purchasing process? We go into details and explain why it is vital to consider your skill and preferences when picking the right unit. Our next segment focuses on crucial features you should analyze, and we end up with an FAQ section that answers some of the dilemmas you might have. By the end of the article, you will have rich knowledge of the topic, and be able to choose the perfect saxophone mouthpiece!
Picking the best saxophone mouthpiece
It is hard to get the best option, especially when you have so many amazing products on the market. For example, if you are playing alto saxophone, you will be looking for a different piece than if you play tenor sax. So, how would you decide the ideal unit for you? We hope that we will make your selection easier with the insightful information below. Take a look at the essential features that can help you make your final decision.
The sax mouthpiece must match with your skills
First, you don’t want to splash the cash on a mouthpiece for saxophone that goes beyond your skills. You don’t need the most expensive unit if you have never played before. Your choice goes beyond that.
If you are a newbie, the chances are that you may lack some improvisation skills. In that case, you should go with a narrow or moderate tip opening. On the other hand, if you are an advanced performer, you can even pick a unit like Meyer MR-402-6MM. That will give you the characteristics required to play every tone perfectly and just the way you wanted.
Have you already chosen your music style?
If you consider music style, you can find two different types of mouthpiece for sax
These have significant differences in design. If you take a look inside the piece, you will find a baffle. Jazz units have a convex baffle, which has the goal of accelerating the air when it goes inside. Thanks to that, you will receive additional buzz and edge. That can be particularly important in a large band where you need a lot of effort to be heard next to amplified instruments. Beechler Diamond Inlay Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece can be a wonderful solution in this category.
Classical mouthpieces have a concave or straight baffle. The sound is also like that – flatter and rounder, which allows you the room to play with different styles, especially if you are performing alone.
A few words about materials used to produce sax mouthpieces
These are the two most common materials used to make saxophone mouthpieces:
Hard rubber (or ebonite, which is nothing else but exceptionally hard rubber)
The jury is still out on whether the material can significantly affect the performance of a sax mouthpiece. According to experts, the sound has more to do with the design. Both metal and hard rubber (even plastic) pieces can produce quiet and loud, as well as dark and bright sounds. If you only focus on listening and don’t see the instruments, you could hardly tell which piece was playing.
That is why you can have the freedom to pick the desired material. If you want a metal mouthpiece, you can’t go wrong with Otto Link OLM-402-5S. When it comes to hard rubber pieces, you have a wide range of choices at fairly affordable rates.
The shape of the table
Did you know that sax mouthpiece has a table? You use ligature to clamp the reed onto this component. When it comes to the table shape, you can go for flat or concave. The majority seems to prefer flat tables, although concave units can also have certain advantages.
For starters, tables can be concave from side to side or front to back, although the latter ones are more popular.
The problem is that concave tables can’t handle the humidity. The table can swell, and the issues that may appear can affect your performance. However, as with most mouthpiece features, you will need to give it some trial and error to discover which unit is ideal for your preference.
If you take a look at the anatomy of a mouthpiece for saxophone, this will be the cavity in the body of the unit. It is important to be aware that the chamber’s shape and size can both determine the quality of sound. For example, bright tones often come out of compact-sized chambers. Furthermore, modern pieces primarily have these small chambers. Think about the tones and style you want to play and, accordingly to this, make your choice.
If you measure the length between the mouthpiece tip and the reed, you will get the size of the tip opening. This is one of those factors that allow you to improvise with the saxophone. The larger the tip opening, the more freedom you have in play. As for how it affects the sound, it can make it brighter if it is larger. The reason lies in favoring high partials.
Beginners should stick to narrow or average tip openings. You will be able to experiment later after you learn the basics.
If you are ready to take things to the next step, you can consider big tip openings, too. Try to find the size that fits you, and allows you to display your skills in the best possible light.
Many experts would say that your sax mouthpiece choice starts with the facing length. It describes the length of the mouthpiece just above the shank. That directly affects the vibration while you are playing.
If you go with a long facing, you will face plenty of vibration. On the other hand, short and medium facing somewhat limit the vibration.
You should know that a long facing length also requires more power to play. Although it will take more effort, you will have improved quality of the tone, which will contribute to a richer sound. If you are buying a saxophone mouthpiece for a child, perhaps you shouldn’t go for the longest facing length right away. However, if you are ready to implement your energy to play properly, you can go for as long as you want.
Cap and ligature
The cap serves to protect your mouthpiece when you are not using it. Think of it as a cover that will prevent your unit from the dust or bacteria if you place it on the table. Some units like Meyer MR-402-6MM come with an included cap. It is interesting to note that you can even buy branded caps if you want to give an elegant touch to your unit.
A ligature is a device which task is to clamp the mouthpiece to the reed. Imagine a ruler that you put at the edge of the table. The pointy part hangs off the edge, and you want to produce a vibrating effect. If you don’t want the ruler to fall, you will need to use your other hand to hold it on the table. That is what ligature does for the reed in saxophone mouthpieces.
If you browse the market for a minute or two, you will come to the following conclusion – the prices of mouthpieces greatly vary. It depends on whether you are looking for an alto saxophone mouthpiece or a unit for tenor sax, and on many other factors that also affect the cost.
You can find units like Yamaha Alto Sax Mouthpiece in a budget-friendly price segment. These products can perform well and deliver decent sound quality. Their biggest problem is often durability, but at a price under $50, you should get a good value for the money.
That is where premium units like Vandoren SM711 perform better. They may be more expensive, but they will pay that off by lasting for a long time.
Metal mouthpieces like Otto ink OLM-402-5S can also be a bit pricey, but if you are a fan of this product type, and you want consistent performance, you usually cannot go wrong with metal as the preferred material. Premium mouthpieces often cost over $100-$150, but they are worth the money.
A baffle is a part that you will find on the opposite part of the reed. Look behind the rail at the tip, and that’s where it will be. You can choose between several baffle types, including flat, step, and rollover baffles.
If you are a beginner, you want to consider the step baffle, especially if you are buying a mouthpiece for alto sax. It is a baffle that secures a clean flow of air, which ensures bright sounds. The flat baffle also allows people to hear your instrument over others, and it can be amazing for playing solos.
The first thing we need to clarify is that you shouldn’t worry about potential health issues if buying a used mouthpiece for sax. You can use warm water and gentle soap to wash and clean it, or even a toothbrush to reach all spots. Avoid hot water, but feel free to use alcohol as it can kill microbes.
Next, you should consider the performance of a used mouthpiece. It would be best if you have a way to ensure that its performance is uncompromised. That way, you will get the sound quality you were expecting.
You have two ways to go here. The first variant is to pick an all-around sax mouthpiece that will deliver a well-balanced sound regardless of the music style you are playing. Units like Vandoren SM711 can be an outstanding choice for beginners. The alternative is to go with a mouthpiece for saxophone specialized in a particular music style. Some products perform much better at playing jazz than at other genres. You should also consider whether you need alto or tenor mouthpiece. While a single unit may be enough, if the budget allows you, multiple mouthpieces will allow bigger freedom when playing.
It doesn’t take an expert to figure out that Vandoren SM711 can be an excellent choice if you are playing an alto saxophone. It is an all-around and extremely versatile unit that has a balanced sound, and won’t let you down in any situation.
Selmer S-80 is another great alto saxophone mouthpiece that gives you plenty of versatility when it comes to music styles you can play. If you are looking for a premium unit that can be a long-term investment, this can be the one.
Finally, Otto Link OLM-402-5S offers something different, but it is still a candidate for the best saxophone mouthpiece out there. The unit has metal construction, and it delivers consistent performance, which makes it a perfect choice for professionals. Don’t forget the importance of finding a unit that fits your style and skills as that is the ideal way to ensure it meets your expectations!