Rational and Irrational Thoughts

GEEK ALERT: Sax Mouthpiece Talk

Greetings folks,

As you may/may not know, I played alto for decades and reached a point about five years ago at which I started to hate everything I played on that instrument. (all my recordings are on alto.) So I switched to tenor and defaulted to the mouthpiece I had on hand at the time, a Selmer short shank, Joe Henderson special, refaced to about an E or F. Then after some cajoling from friends and a loaner, I tried and eventually switched to an off-the-shelf Otto Link 7 and lived happily with that until this day.

I’m not a believer in hunting down vintage mouthpieces and expending the $$, time, and energy required to do that.

Recently I started to wonder what it would be like to move up to a 7* and happily Frederick Wiener Music allows trials (See Fred Weiner’s strict return policy before trying this yourself), so I ordered three of what they had, Otto Link Super Tone Master NYs in a 7*. Upon receiving them, I noticed right off the bat that the baffles and rails weren’t even symmetrical on two of them, and sure enough, those two played like crap.

The third one played purdy good though, but the big surprise to me (or so I thought) was that a redesign had occurred in the Super Tone Master world, and what I was playing was clearly a large chamber mouthpiece. The sound was super airy and husky and took a lot of effort to produce (but to be fair, I was still using the #4 greenies that I use on my current small chamber Link).

I turned on the recorder and this is what came out.

Less mobility, more air, less responsive, more effort, bigger rounder notes, less edge etc. Things like the florid runs seem to work better. Altissimo not so much. Low notes good when you have plenty of air in your lungs to push them out. The number 4 reeds were definitely not helpful.

So, being generally ignorant of many things including things having to do with saxophone gear, I assumed this was all Otto Link currently offered. Also, I decided not to branch into large chamber mouthpieces, and just make do with the model I had become used to in a #7. I packed the trial pieces back up and sent them back to FW.

Since we now we have this thing called the internet, I eventually took a look here and learned that there are three Links currently available: The Super Tone Master USA (the smaller chamber which I currently play on), The Super Tone Master NY (which I got from Wiener Music), and the Super Tone Master “Millenium” Special Edition. wwandbw.com has tons of all three and a generous return policy so when I get the three NYs off my credit card, I’ll be hitting wwandbw for 3 STM USA 7*s

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