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Saxophone Mouthpieces with Johnny & Wayne

By March 12, 2013saxophone mouthpieces

My friend Wayne turned me on to the Dave Guardala mouthpiece I’m still using today, but unlike myself, he’s a bit of a mouthpiece junky and is always looking around for more and more different saxophone mouthpieces…

It was a real treat to meet up and hang out with an old friend and early musical inspiration of mine Wayne Kozak. Living in the same city, I would try and catch as many of Wayne’s gigs as I could (and he had many) while I was learning to play sax and trying to get some gigs myself!

In this video we try playing a few different saxophone mouthpieces and hopefully I can put together even more footage from our visit later on… so stay tuned!

45 Comments

  • Ian Soulsby says:

    Any suggestions for a 1947 Conn 10m which I’ve just got hold of but it came without a mouthpiece ? I’m totally baffled by science and the more I research online the worse it gets !

    • Johnny Johnny says:

      Ya I hear you! That’s why I went to Wayne and asked him to share a little about a few of his more recent purchases since my last mp purchase was over 20 years ago!

      If you live in a large city area you’ll have access to several mp’s from a sax shop or large music store and you’re able to go in and try out whatever they have. Whatever feels best for you is what’s best for you, simple as that.

      The basic things to consider is the amount of opening (space between reed and mp tip. If very too closed no good for producing a big tone, if too opened for your experience level gonna be very difficult to blow through. Play with something in the middle.

    • Al says:

      Hi,

      I got a Selmer Jazz Metal Mouthpiece “F” with a 3 reed on my 10m and it sounds deadly. Really made a difference for me. I found a Perfectone to work nicely too. It seems that different mouthpieces compliment different saxophones so it’s really all trial and error…

      Al

  • Bernd says:

    Thanks for sharing this. What would be interesting for me – as a beginner – is the relationship between the strength of the reed and the opening of the mouthpiece. I currently use a Yamaha 4c with Vandoren 2 1/2 on a Tenor-Sax and the tone is ok, but with a 3 I can’t get a tone out. The stronger the reed the better the tone someone told me, is this right? I want to play Jazz and pop, do I need a metal mouthpiece?

    And what I have seen in the video is that the wood is going over the end of the mouthpiece, but in other videos you show that there should be a small gap between the reed and the end of the mouthpiece?

    Thx Bernd

    • Johnny Johnny says:

      Nobody “needs” a metal mouthpiece…and I say that as someone who will only use one. There are many who get a great jazz, pop or rock sound without a metal mp.

      Your current set-up sounds about right – not too open mp with a thinner reed. To develop your sound you could move up to a slightly more open mp – 5, 6, 7… but nobody can tell you which one, you need to try them and decide. The 7 may be too much of a jump for some, not others etc.

      The theory behind the stronger the reed the better the tone is not accurate because there are way too many pro players with an awesome sound using a 2 1/2 to 3 reed! The difference here though is their mp. You shouldn’t change both on the same day or else how will you know you’ve made the right move. If you are curious to see what a stronger reed is going to do for you, get some 3’s and play em on your current mp. If your tone improves a bit great. If it simply made the whole process of blowing just a little more difficult then look at a wider mp but try it with the 2 1/2 still and if you like the wider mp you can then try the 3 reed and see if that helps further.

      When it comes to this personal mp/reed set-up, it’s just that…totally a personal thing.

      As for your last comment, no, the reed isn’t going over the mp tip, although it may appear like that in the video. The lesson I have on it as you say, i put it even with the tip and then slide it down a slight hair line if anything. This is done by pressing it right to the tip with your thumb so when you release it it may look like it’s not even.

  • Big John says:

    Very awesome video Johnny! I have been amazed at how a MP can effect the sound of the horn. This is a timely subject for me as I have been trying several different styles including HR and metal. It seems to me that it is the design of the MP more than the material that will make a profound difference. I heard a dramatic difference in this video when you changed to the Link from the other two. Anyway I have determined to buy a new Dukoff D8*, from all the research and investigating I have done this seems to be the one that might finally help me to produce the sound I desire. With its high baffle and small chamber I look forward to that edgy rock sound from my Tenor. Have you had any experience with the Dukoff MP, specifically the D chamber, I would would very much like to hear your opinion on them.

    Thanks, and keep up the fantastic work!

    Big John

    • Johnny Johnny says:

      Hey Big John! Thanks, ya, I played a Dukoff when I first started my metal mouthpiece trek a long time ago, that’s one of the older more well known names. I had either an 8 or 9 but can’t remember anything more except coming from the hard rubber ones I loved it for a year or two.

      I think Clarence Clemmons used one. You may love it for what you’re going after, and you’re right, it’s the mp that will give you the best chance at changing your all-around sound.

  • Tim56 says:

    Johnny: Great sound on all! I play Mayer 5 with 2 to 3 Fibracells and Legeres. The problem is that you can’t find a store that has many MP’S to try. The back and forth deal is a pain. Oh, how about music for (THERE OFF AND RUNNING?) LOL I do want a more open MP, but don’t know what would be the one to start on? Thanks. Tim

    • Johnny Johnny says:

      Not familiar with that tune! The Meyers are great especially for alto. The one I have is a 6, try yours with a Vandoreen ZZ reed, they’re good to go right out of the box. Personally I just prefer them to the synthetics.

      The range of mp’s out there is too big! I would suggest just getting another meyer that’s a number or 2 higher, not an exiting answer I know but a sensible and easy one!

  • James says:

    Hi Johnny. Loved the sound of both of those mouthpieces. I have a no-name mouthpiece on my used Yamaha YTS23 at present. As a beginner, I’ve been following the threads on your site here about the importance of a good mouthpiece and ligature. I went to Sakshama’s website. Prices are reasonable. I’m assuming his Florida Link is the Ottolink copy. Is his Florida G the Guarada copy? Thanks to you and Wayne. Jim (Telecaster)

    • Johnny Johnny says:

      Ya that’s right Jim. He calls it G MB and MB11 and he’s got the King Curtis one too, all the ones Dave Guardala had. So he’s just copying them but he’s doing a very good job. 400 bucks still isn’t cheap and still too much for some people but a comparable would be Theo Wanne and his are in the 600 range. These are the 2 I’d like to A B for my next mp purchase.

  • Tim56 says:

    OOPPPSS!! Parade to the post you played on you first demo here? I got my lig at sax-ccesories.com It is an internet business. Has lost of stuff and is the American dealer for the saxxas lig. Check them out. The owner calls the buyers with info for their purchase questions. Tim

  • Love this video on mouthpieces 🙂 Is a wider Mouthpiece more difficult to play? Say, for example, going from a Yamaha 4C to a 5C or 6C? Would it mean also having to get a thicker reed? I use a Yamaha 4C with a 2.5 reed. I’ve been using Rico reeds and have recently used Juno Cane reeds too and I love them both. I know there are reeds made out of synthetic materials these days, but I don’t think you can beat the sound a cane reeds produces. My fear is buying a 5C or 6C mp; only to realize that it’s not for me. I don’t want to make the mistake of developing a good tone in my playing using a 4C and start experimenting with different mp and my tone suffers because of it; that old adage of thinking I can make something better by changing it is what I want to avoid.

    • Johnny Johnny says:

      A wider, more open mp will be harder to play at first or depending on your experience. Beginners should play a more closed mp at first or else the whole process will be more difficult than it should be. No need to fear moving up one notch, with some time and persistance you will get used to the slightly more open one sooner or later. Eventually moving up to a more open mp will help your sound to get bigger and fuller too so at some point this should be done.

  • SaxoKlaus says:

    I just got me a Vandoren T6 MP. After trying it with different reeds I was not satisfied and changed it to a Otto Link 6 (metal). This is much better now but it’s still not the sound what I’m looking for…

  • Johnny Johnny says:

    The otto link is good for what it is. When I first moved “up” to one I loved it, for a while until I tried something better. They are in the $200 range. The Sacshama we talk about in the video are $400-$750 and even the Guardala copies are a few hundred. Same with the other more popular metal mouthpieces like jody jazz and theo wanne (very good) are $600-$700. These modern day mp’s are made better than otto links but you’ll have to pay for them!

  • James says:

    Right now I’m using a Meyer 6M (medium chamber) on my tenor saxophone. Reed sizes are Rico and Vandoren in 2 and 2 1/2. I have no problem using it. What are your thoughts on the Otto Link 7 (0.100″) and Otto Link 7* (0.105″) for rock/blues styles? And what is the difference in the two openings? The reason I ask is that I can buy the Otto Link7 for $215 new at Long and McQuade. The price won’t break the bank, so to speak,

  • James says:

    I reread your article. I went to the Amazon link. A new silver-plated MB11 is $199.99. A new gold-plated MB11 is $349.99. Is there any difference in them other than the plating?

    • Johnny Johnny says:

      No, the MB (Michael Brecker) models are all the same, meaning they don’t make them with different openings etc.
      This mp was actually designed for Michael Brecker by Dave Guardala. Just to clarify, Dave Guardala is in prison (or was) and isn’t in the business of making mp’s anymore. But these are being made by a company that is replicating his very successful line and these are still very good. If you go to ebay and buy an original Guardala you’re looking at nearly $1000 in some cases.
      Anyway, the gold and silver will sound the same, to my ears anyway.

  • James says:

    And if I buy through this link, does it benefit this site? I ask this because a guitar site I frequent benefits when one buys through their link.

    • Johnny Johnny says:

      Yes, we, like so many websites are signed up as an Amazon affiliate because by sending them traffic we get a small reward! Like about 5 or 6 % of the sale so it’s not much, but if you decide to buy it might as well go through the link because the cost is the same for you either way and so you are helping this site!

  • James says:

    Thanks, Johnny. I’ll definitely go through the link. I’m going to go for the silver-plated MBII.

  • Hey Johnny; I didn’t know we could benefit your website by going directly through your links to amazon. So, for example, if there’s something/anything that you have posted here on this site that links us straight to Amazon–in the posts above the member “James” is talking about the Guardala line of MPs that is mentioned here on these posts–then by clicking on those links and going straight to amazon, it benefits your website? I was going to get the book on How to improve our range on the Saxophone that you had talked about in one of your articles here on the blog.

    • Johnny Johnny says:

      Yes, that’s how Amazon gets everyone to promote them. Many websites set up an affiliation with them so when we send them a customer they in return give us a small percentage of the sale. It only works when you click on a link that is an affiliate link they recognize so in some cases yes, you will help this website by doing that.

  • James says:

    I did buy the Guardala MBII silver-plated model but not from Amazon. Amazon did not ship to Canada so I called the seller, WWBW, and they shipped it directly to me. This website did not get a percentage of the sale from the sale. However, there is a ‘Donate’ button here that one can use to help support this great site which I like to refer to as the ‘Little Big Site’ !
    On another note, I was using a Meyer 7M on my YTS23 tenor before I got the Guardala MBII. I’m finding there’s quite a difference in the amount of air it takes to blow through the Guardala. The Guardala has a big sound which I really like but it requires a lot more effort than the Meyer. I’d have to say it’s a work in progress right now.

    • Johnny Johnny says:

      Yes, more air equals more sound. This is how we get a bigger tone from our horns. Of course you’ll find it more difficult at first but it you’ll get more used to it and before you know it it will feel very natural… then try going back to your old mp and you’ll wonder how you ever felt comfortable on it!

  • What Johnny is saying is so, so true–I went to the No.6 MP with a 2.5 Vandoren reed and it proved to be a great combo. There is definitely a tone now that is far more deep and rich v.s. playing on a No.4 MP with a No.2 reed. Right now, it’s almost as if I can “feel” a tone in my Saxophone that is smooth, a tone that I couldn’t feel before-a tone that makes me think of the song “Careless Whisper”, that’s just how it feels to me anyway 🙂 I’ve since tried the No.4 a couple times, just to see how I was adjusting and, immediately, the difference was way obvious to me. It felt too small and I’m thinking exactly what Johnny said here; how did I ever play on an MP so small? While I still have a LONG way to go, it’s been an obvious sign of improvement. So like Johnny says here, adjusting to a wider MP takes time, but the more we use it, the more comfortable it will feel and the more we love it!

  • Rodney Name says:

    Does anyone know the tip opening for a Guardala MB II

  • James says:

    In my post of 16 December, I said that my Guardala MBII was a work in progress. For the past week, I’ve been able to practise daily for an hour or so with it. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m really comfortable with it and there’s no going back. I’ve been using Rico, Rico Royal, and Juno reeds in #2. Yesterday, I tried a Vandoren Java in 2 1/2 and had no problem using it. When coming down off the octave key, I tend to get an ocassional squak but I’m working on that.

  • James says:

    I bought a Vandoren Jumbo Java A45 HR for my alto at Christmas. It’s a big step up from the Selmer C*80 that I was using and overall I like the sound of it. My question, Johnny, or to anyone else out there, do you have a suggestion for an alto mouthpiece that will give that big Guardala MBII sound?

  • James says:

    Thanks. I wasn’t aware that there were Guardala mouthpieces for altos. Don’t ask me why I assumed this because I have no idea why myself. I’ve been googling and informing myself on his alto mouthpieces pieces.

  • James says:

    Ok, I’ll check out the Theo Wanne.

  • Vincent Gaglio says:

    aS A New Alto Player looking for the best that I can get within my budget of ($200.00) is that even reasonable for a good mouthpiece???? And if so, where would I start??? Vinny

    • Johnny Johnny says:

      Yes. I highly recommend 2 of them for alto…go to the blog and you will see a post called Trevor James Saxophone and 2 Mouthpieces. I play 2 different ones and you can hear the difference.

  • Vincent Gaglio says:

    thanks so much I will do so

    Vinny

  • Vincent Gaglio says:

    Thank you so much for the suggestions and I am going to go to one of the big stores in My area to check out some that they have and also going to look at Jody Jazz . they have 2 within my price range , The HR and the JET . Thank you so much for what you do for us. Vinny

  • Dazza says:

    Hey Johnny,

    Been enjoying playing along with the downloads though for the life of me I cant find them in my emails to print the tenor sheet music. Is there anyway of Searching your site for previous files received.

    Bit of a long shot I know.

    Thanks in advance

    Dazza

  • Tim56 says:

    Johnny: Just read over you comments on all of the mouthpieces in question here. You heard my Otto Link Hard rubber during our last lesson. It is a 6 or 7? It may be as old as my M-6? Large chamber. It took getting used to. More air for sure. I am putting enough through now. The tone sounds good to me. Your thoughts? Tim

  • Vincent Gaglio says:

    Sir, what do you think of the Mariyasu Shanghai alto sax mouthpiece, a guardala New crecent sound ???? Vinny

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