July 23, 2024

Dave Liebman has an article up by Tom Alexander (with Dave Liebman) about searching for the perfect mouthpiece. On a cursory reading of this, one might take away that Links are the key to unlock your inner saxophone Budda. However, I think the point of the article is that one should pick something not to open, not too closed, not to dark and not too bright. Akin to Goldilocks and her porridge.

I think they sorta missed the point about “vintage”. Most all those guys were playing on rather new horns in that time period. Coleman Hawkins wasn’t playing on a 1910’s tenor when he was dishing out Body and Soul in 1939? Coltrane’s horn before he died was a Mark VI serial number 125571, dated 1965. Not the horn he used to record Giant Steps (whatever happened to that horn?). Most of these guys had new or new-ish horns. Not “vintage” in their day. Who’s to say that if Yamaha had been making instruments when Coltrane was alive that Coltrane wouldn’t have played one? And mouthpieces…..were there that many choices back then? I mean, nowadays we have hundreds of people and companies making and modifying mouthpieces. Back in the 1960s? I dunno, but I’d be surprised if the number was a two digit number. And earlier…..I’d be surprised if it was more than a couple.

Point is I guess, get something that is good, but not so wide open that you can park a truck in it, and not something so small that you’d have to find the opening with an electron microscope. Stick with it. Learn it. And having a good horn will help (Mark VI optional).

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