What to Consider When Upgrading Your Clarinet or Saxophone Mouthpiece
With Stuart Brownley from D’Addario
Manufacturers of Rico and Royal Reeds, and Reserve and Select Jazz reeds and mouthpieces.
If you're thinking about upgrading your saxophone or clarinet mouthpiece there are many things to consider. The stock mouthpiece your instrument probably came with is designed to make it easier for beginners to produce a good sound. It has also likely been moulded from plastic.
Select a mouthpiece that’s milled from hard rubber, not moulded from plastic
When upgrading to a quality professional mouthpiece, these are milled from a solid rod of hard rubber. This means they are much more accurately produced than moulded plastic ones. Plus, the hard rubber they're made from helps to produce a higher quality tone.
Experiment with different facings
The facing curve, or the tip opening, is the tip of your mouthpiece that curves upwards a little. Most manufacturers use letters or numbers to identify their facings. Usually the greater the number, or the further through the alphabet the letter is, the more curve the facing has.
Charts like this one from D’Addario compare the exact measurement of the tip openings of various mouthpieces. A mouthpiece with a close facing (the one that curves up the least) might feel easy to blow, with easy response and articulation. However, it can be challenging to produce a full and rich sound. An open facing might help you to produce a warmer, richer tone, but you may be tempted to bite or squeeze to achieve this.
So, which facing is right for you? Well, there's no one solution for everyone. The strength and design of reeds you select will also influence the result.
Simply put, when upgrading your mouthpiece, consider these two things.
- Select one that's milled from hard rubber, not moulded from plastic, and
- With your teacher or one of the expert staff at Fine Music, discuss which of the facings might suit you best.
Check out D’Addario’s range of Reserve and Select Jazz professional mouthpieces here.