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Jazz Sax Lessons: Choosing a Mouthpiece

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Okay, so let's choose a mouthpiece.
As you can see,
I'm playing a metal mouthpiece.
I'm sure you're used to,
your horn probably came with.
I guarantee.
If it's a new horn it came
with a mouth piece in it and
it was hard rubber or plastic a black one.
I chose a hard rubber, I'm sorry, chose
a metal mouth piece, years ago probably.
How many years ago?
Twenty five years ago -ish, I guess.
When I started playing with Chick corea.
I was playing a hard rubber Myer six,
size six actually and I was fine with it.
It felt really good.
And I got the gig with Chick Corea,
and I thought, man,
I need something a little more meaty,
a little louder,
a little edgier, a little more raucous.
And so I got this mouthpiece and
went through a lot of Changes with it,
my point is that, the mouth piece
that you choose should actually,
it's not about the sound
of the mouth piece so
much as is the comfort that you
feel with that mouth piece.
You can take ten different
saxophone players and
each one has a completely different set
up, not limited to mouthpieces, actually,
different reeds, different ligatures,
different horns, different neck straps.
And they all make a drastic difference,
yet they all sound good.
They all sound like, like themselves.
Not to get off on a tangent, but
when I listen back to myself on
recordings with my hard rubber Meyer
as opposed to this metal Beechler,
my sound isn't any different.
It's very unnoticeable.
It's noticeable to me, but it's almost,
you know, Not at all to anybody else.
And so my point is that when you find
a mouthpiece,when you're looking for
a mouthpiece find something
that is comfortable,
whether it is metal or hard rubber.
I do recommend, however,
that if you're a beginning player to
avoid a metal mouthpiece for a while.
They're they're harder to tame,
they're harder to bring in,
they're harder to play in tune and
If you're a student playing in a big band,
it's tricky.
If you're the second alto player
playing a metal mouth piece,
it's going to stick out.
I know I'm contradicting
myself a little bit
thinking that the material doesn't matter
as much does matter to a point, and
a metal mouthpiece is gonna be a little
more edgy and in a section, in a saxophone
section in your band it's gonna definitely
stick out, so be aware of that.
So, whether it's metal or
hard rubber, plastic or
whatever you want to make sure
of the tip opening, the size.
So I refer to my myer as a six.
That refers to the openness in general,
not only the tip of the chamber as well.
But generally the tip especially for
a player just starting out,
it is important the wider the tip,
the larger the number,
the more resistance you're going to have
playing, the harder it'll be to play.
But, you wanna have some
resistance when you play,
you want to have some resistance
because the whole point of playing,
when you play the air works against
the reed, that resistance is what gets
the reed to vibrate and creates your sound
so you need to have some of that pushback.
The smaller the number, obviously,
the smaller the the tip opening,
smaller the chamber and
the lighter everything feels.
That's all good, you want it to
be certainly easy to play but
again if it's too light
you're going to have a very
small squirrely sound so when I'm playing
I wanna make sure that there's combination
of open enough so
that I have that resistance,
so I can play with dynamics and
I have more flexibility.
But again, close enough so
that I can articulate easily and
just play easily in general.
Man, one thing to really watch out for,
and I see this with beginning players
a ton, where they don't realize that it
shouldn't be a lot of work when you play.
And so,
I have another lesson coming up on read.
We'll talk about that too.
But related to mouthpieces.
If your mouthpiece is too open,
it just makes it so hard to play.
And you pick up your horn and
you you know, it feels like this.
by the time you get done with the scale,
you're sweating profusely and your veins
are popping out and that's not good.
You're not I can always enjoy playing,
even if you
stay alive long enough to continue
to play longer than a couple weeks.
Anyway, the point is,
make sure that when you're playing, judge
the size of your mouthpiece by how hard or
how easy it is to play.
So how to put it in your mouth, basically
there's two things; this is important,
your teeth rest up on
the top of the mouthpiece on
this puppy because it's a metal
mouthpiece there's a plastic or
some sort of hard rubber material
up here called the tooth guard.
And you wouldn't want to put your teeth
right on the metal itself, obviously your
teeth should, well,
I've been playing this mouthpiece for
25 years so you can sort of see where my
teeth land, where would that be about,
about a third of an inch or so
away from the tip of the mouthpiece.
Like, this will be very flattering.
There you go.
Like that.
So [NOISE] yeah.
So that you've got enough of
the mouthpiece in your mouth so
that there's enough reed inside
your mouth so that it'll vibrate.
And so not too much so.
I mean, it's pretty obvious.
You know, obviously not enough
mouthpiece in your mouth will
result in having your lip
keeping the reed from vibrating,
and too much so will feel out of control,
so pretty obvious.
But, anyway what I just
showed you will do the trick.
Then with regards to your bottom lip,
you want to make sure that your bottom
teeth aren't touching the reed.
You want to roll your lip
between your teeth and the reed
and you wanna have your
bottom lip I guess split so
that your teeth feel as though it's
splitting the red part of your lip.
Not like that, and not like that either.
It's impossible to sort of see this but,
you know.
[SOUND] So, just like that.
So, and
the best way to sort of get that feeling,
or to establish, to know exactly where
you should be placing both your teeth and
your your upper teeth and
your bottom structure.
This is all called your embrasure.
Is to play some long notes.
In fact, do this with me, okay?
Let's play a G together.
So G, for you beginners,
is just no octave key.
So my thumb is just on the thumb rest,
not pressing this key down and
I'm pressing one, two, three.
One up here is, this is called
the plateau key so you skip this one.
This for the high F, so we're not gonna
be playing that you jump to that for
that particular fingering.
So most of your playing is
gonna be starting here.
So one, two, three, okay?
Play that G for me and with me.
[SOUND] So it's not just about
the beginning of the note,
it's about how your lips feel,
how your upper teeth feel and
how your bottom lip and structure feels
as you're playing through the horn.
So, Long tones.
Again, i'm gonna be talking
a lot about long tones later on.
But, that's a great way to establish
exactly where your structure should be
how do you set your basic embouchure.
Okay so if you have any questions
about brands,man there are alot of
mouthpieces out there to choose from,
alot of good ones actually too so,
again the best mouthpiece you can have
is the one your most comftorable with.
Make sure the one you end up playing
feels comftorable.And if you have any
questions about that, shoot me a video and
I'll let you know my answer.
Alright, thanks.