Saxophone Mouthpiece Guide
The saxophone mouthpiece is an integral part of what forms your entire sound, along with the reed and your embouchure, the saxophone itself is almost secondary at this point.
Most mouthpiece makers use a numbering system to identify the range of tip opening, a wide opening will give you a brighter sound, a narrow opening a darker sound. For the beginner though, any extreme in this opening range will make it difficult to produce any good sound though so a medium opening is the way to go while in this developing stage.
The typical range numbering chart goes from 1 to 10, with 10 having the widest tip opening. One of the best mouthpiece makers is Selmer and their system works different in that they use letters instead of numbers going from A to H being the widest.
The Selmer C series are the best choice for beginners as they are a nice medium opening. More specifically. the Selmer S80 C* is generally regarded as one of the best choices for starting out on and even taking you to the next stage.
The most important parts of the mouthpiece are:
- The Facing
- The Baffle
- The Chamber
The Facing – Look for a medium size facing.
The facing being of the most importance when talking about the tip opening as mentioned earlier. This is what dictates the distance between the reed and the tip of the mouthpiece.
The Baffle – Look for a medium size baffle.
Right behind the tip is the baffle. As your sound leaves the reed it hits this baffle area first. A high baffle will leave less space between the reed and mouthpiece, sometimes causing squeaks quite easily. A low baffle leaves more space and if too extreme can make it harder to blow.
The Chamber – Look for a smaller chamber.
This is where the sound resonates in the mouthpiece. A small chamber going right into the mouthpipe will produce a larger and brighter sound than a large chamber. When considering the walls of the chamber as well, it's only fair to say that manufacturers have many variations available when designing the chamber, many of which shouldn't concern the beginner.