When I began playing, I was never told about the different type of mouthpieces, the different materials, and how each material could affect the sound. I was just told by my director, "Go buy a C*." If, as a beginner, students were educated in how each material and type of mouthpiece affected the tone, durability, and what style each mouthpiece is used in, they might better understand why we can't use a metal mouthpiece in concert band. Here is an interesting article from http://www.pickyguide.com/musical_instrument/saxophone_mouthpieces_guide.html that will hopefully clear up the cloud of fog for beginners.
The saxophone mouthpiece is the part that produces and shapes the instrument’s sound. It is attached to the saxophone and blown by the player to produce vibrations that turn to audible sound. It holds the reed in place to keep it from fluttering, provides a chamber to modify the sound according to the desired note, and create a precise gap where the vibration of the reed can take place.
The saxophone mouthpiece is classified according to the type of pitch and note it can produce: soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone. A high pitch and note is produced by using a soprano sax mouthpiece, while a low pitch and grave note is achieved by using a baritone sax mouthpiece.
Kinds of Saxophone Mouthpieces include the following:Hard rubber saxophone mouthpiece
- A hard rubber saxophone mouthpiece is made of hard rubber, a thermosetting material that can be molded using heat.
- It is considered the best type of saxophone mouthpiece.
- It tends to dampen light-pitched sounds because of its dense property.
- It is ideal for playing classical music.
- It is more stable than the plastic model, delivering a crisp and clear tone over time.
- It is generally durable but susceptible to wear and deterioration when not maintained regularly.
Metal saxophone mouthpiece
- A metal saxophone mouthpiece is made of solid metal.
- It is less dense than the hard rubber model saxophone mouthpiece, enabling it to enhance higher tones.
- It is ideal for playing jazz music solo.
- It produces a bright and full sound that strongly projects to the audience, making it stand out in an ensemble instead of blending with it.
- It is more durable and resistant to wear and tear.
- It can be made with an unusual combination of metal and crystals.
- It is expensive and requires high maintenance.
Plastic saxophone mouthpiece
- A plastic saxophone mouthpiece is made of solid, durable plastic.
- It is thermoplastic—it can only be temporarily shaped, not molded.
- It is not as durable as the hard rubber and metal saxophone mouthpieces.
- It can warp over time, causing squeaks and tonal imbalance between registers.
- It also tends to expand and contract during temperature changes, causing intonation problems.
- It is generally inexpensive and readily available.
Choosing Saxophone Mouthpieces (Buying Tips)Quality: To ensure quality, choose an easy-to-blow saxophone mouthpiece that produces a stable sound. Before purchasing one, try a few models first to see which one plays in tune and produces the clearest tones without difficulty.
Tip opening: For beginners, choose a saxophone mouthpiece with a narrow tip opening to get an easy response and a clear tone. For experienced players, choose one with a wider tip opening that requires more control but provides greater volume and projection.