An important component of playing alto saxophone is a mouthpiece since it is the part you blow to produce the warm sax sound. Having the most appropriate alto saxophone mouthpiece helps you create the warm jazzy sound you want to produce when playing the instrument.
This article will identify ten of the best alto saxophone mouthpieces in the market. Moreover, we will list some of the features you should look for in an alto saxophone mouthpiece.
What Is a Saxophone Mouthpiece?
The primary function of the mouthpiece is to allow the player to blow air into the saxophone, causing the reed to vibrate. This vibration is what produces sound. The design and shape of the mouthpiece influence the tone, volume, and overall sound of the saxophone.
Parts of the Saxophone Mouthpiece:
- Tip: The very end of the mouthpiece is where the opening is located. The size of this opening, known as the “tip opening,” affects the sound and playability of the saxophone.
- Facing: The curved section of the mouthpiece where the reed sits. The length and curve of the facing can influence how the reed vibrates.
- Chamber: The internal cavity of the mouthpiece. The chamber’s size and shape can affect the sound’s tone and resonance.
- Baffle: The area inside the mouthpiece that directs the airflow from the reed. The shape and height of the baffle can influence the brightness or darkness of the tone.
- Ligature: While not a part of the mouthpiece itself, the ligature is a clamp-like device that holds the reed in place on the mouthpiece.
What Is an Alto Sax Mouthpiece Made Of?
Mouthpieces can be made from various materials, including hard rubber (often called ebonite), plastic, metal, and, less commonly, wood. Each material imparts its own tonal characteristics to the sound.
What Should You Look For in Saxophone Mouthpieces?
Choosing an alto saxophone mouthpiece is crucial for any saxophonist, whether beginner or professional. The mouthpiece plays a significant role in determining the tone, response, and ease of playing the instrument. If you have a teacher, we highly recommend consulting with them before picking out a mouthpiece, as they can provide a recommendation based on your playing style, level of playing, and budget.
Mouthpieces can be made from various materials, including hard rubber, plastic, metal, and wood. Each material has its unique sound characteristics:
- Hard Rubber: Warm and rich sound, popular for classical and jazz.
- Plastic: Brighter sound, often less expensive, good for beginners.
- Metal: Bright and edgy sound, popular for jazz, rock, and pop.
- Wood: Rare, but offer a warm and woody tone.
This refers to the gap between the reed and the mouthpiece. A larger tip opening allows for more air and requires a softer reed, producing a brighter sound. A smaller tip opening requires a harder reed and produces a darker sound.
This is the length over which the reed vibrates against the mouthpiece. A longer facing requires a softer reed, while a shorter facing requires a harder reed.
The chamber is the inside space of the mouthpiece. A larger chamber produces a warmer, rounder tone, while a smaller chamber gives a brighter, more focused sound.
The baffle is the part of the mouthpiece that directs the airflow from the reed. A higher baffle produces a brighter sound, while a lower baffle gives a darker tone.
Brand and Model
Some popular brands for alto saxophone mouthpieces include Selmer, Vandoren, Meyer, and Otto Link. Each brand and model will have its own unique characteristics.
Consider the style of music you’ll be playing. You might want a mouthpiece with a rounder, warmer sound for classical music. For jazz or pop, a brighter, edgier sound might be preferable.
Mouthpieces can range in price from very affordable to quite expensive. Determine your budget and try to find the best mouthpiece within that range.
Ensure that your mouthpiece is compatible with the reeds you intend to use. Some mouthpieces work better with certain reed strengths and brands.
Some materials, like wood, require more care and maintenance. Consider how much time you’re willing to invest in maintaining your mouthpiece.
Remember, the right mouthpiece can significantly impact your playing experience. Take your time, do your research, and choose a mouthpiece that suits your needs and preferences.
Our Recommended Alto Saxophone Mouthpieces
Following is a list of our recommended saxophone mouthpieces that meet the criteria listed above.
1. Selmer S-80 C* Mouthpiece for Alto Saxophone
The Selmer S-80 C* Mouthpiece for alto saxophones is another excellent mouthpiece that you could consider for your alto saxophones. It has a square cross-section in the chamber, making it great for a “step-up” mouthpiece. It has a tip opening of 1.70, and a facing length of 22.00. This mouthpiece also helps produce good and smooth sound quality. This alto saxophone mouthpiece works well for beginners.
2. Yamaha Alto Sax Mouthpiece 4C
The Yamaha Alto Sax Mouthpiece 4C is an ideal alto saxophone mouthpiece for beginners. However, it could also be used by intermediate and professional alto saxophone players. This mouthpiece allows users to obtain a balance easily, clear, and focused tone in any octave. Moreover, the sound produced is rich and precise. It also allows users to play the alto saxophone softly. Additionally, this 4C model creates a highly consistent quality making it an ideal gear.
3. Vandoren SM711 AL3 Optimum Series Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece
The Vandoren SM711 AL3 Optimum Series Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece has a medium long-facing feature. With its exceptional roundness, this product is the ultimate classical mouthpiece. It has a tip opening of 152 (1/100mm) and works best with Vandoren #2.5 to #4 Reeds. Saxophone players are guaranteed this mouthpiece will help them produce a vibrant and terrific sound. Moreover, this mouthpiece helps create a warm, clear, strong, and bright tone. It is noted that it is easier to play low notes. It could also help produce clear notes as high as F#.
4. Yamaha YAC1287 5C Standard Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece
The Yamaha YAC1287 5C Standard Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece provides a rich and warm tone with a great variety of colors. In addition to this, the mouthpiece has excellent flexibility and response. Also, it is a smooth piece for the alto saxophone because it is able to produce nice low rumbling saxophone sounds with deep and tumbling jazzy notes. Due to its quality, this alto saxophone is ideal for beginners.
5. Vandoren SM812M A6 Medium Chamber V16 Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece
The Vandoren SM812M A6 Medium Chamber V16 Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece is one of the most played alto saxophone mouthpiece. It has a medium long facing feature with a tip opening of 196 (1/100 mm). It is able to produce a bright and warm jazzy sound, making it perfect for beginners and professionals alike. It has a great response as well as compatibility with the ligature. This mouthpiece works best when used with Vandoren #2.5 to #4 reeds.
6. J&D Hite H117 Premiere Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece
The J&D Hite H117 Premiere Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece offers a hard rubber quality at a good price. It produces a good jazzy sound, making it an ideal component to your instrument. It is also comfortable to produce sound using such mouthpiece. Due to its features, it is ideal for those who are still beginning to play an alto saxophone. However, it also works well when used by intermediate and professional players.
7. Meyer MR-402-6MM Rubber Alto Sax Mouthpiece
The Meyer MR-402-6MM Rubber Alto Sax Mouthpiece is a rubber alto saxophone mouthpiece with a tip opening of 0.076 inches. It has an excellent and clear response which range from very low notes all the way to altissimo. Blowing through this mouthpiece is easy, allowing users to produce a rich and full tonal quality. Such product comes with a ligature and a mouthpiece cap. Due to its features, this mouthpiece would also work well as a good addition to your instrument.
8. Vandoren SM602B A45 Jumbo JAVA Mouthpiece Alto Saxophone
The Vandoren SM602B A45 Jumbo JAVA Mouthpiece Alto Saxophone is a standard mouthpiece for those who are inclined to salsa, rock, and modern music. It has a tip opening of 220 (1/100 mm) and a medium long facing feature. It is designed with a small chamber with a very high baffle and a large bore. It is able to produce a powerful, aggressive tone with excellent projection, comparable to edgy metal mouthpieces. It works best with Vandoren #2 to #3.5 reeds.
9. Selmer BE402-31 Brilhart Ebolin Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece
The Selmer BE402-31 Brilhart Ebolin Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece is made of injection-molded plastic. It can produce a full resonant tone with extraordinary carrying power. Additionally, the sound produced is smooth. The mouthpiece makes it easy to hit all the notes from the bottom to altissimo easily. Creating a vibrato is also easy to do. It is a good piece for slow tempo songs.
10. Meyer MR-402-5MM Rubber Alto Sax Mouthpiece
The Meyer MR-402-5MM Rubber Alto Sax Mouthpiece is a rubber alto saxophone mouthpiece with a tip opening of 0.071 inches. It has an excellent and clear response which range from very low notes all the way to altissimo. Blowing through this mouthpiece is easy, allowing users to produce a rich and full tonal quality. Such product comes with a ligature and a mouthpiece cap. Due to its features, this mouthpiece would work well for beginners to professionals.