Saturday, April 9, 2011

Runyon Custom Soprano Sax Mouthpiece Review

After receiving a soprano saxophone as a gift for Christmas, I have been searching for the perfect beginner mouthpiece for it. I originally purchased a Bari soprano sax piece which played well, but gave the saxophone an "airy" tone with a Vandoren strength 2.5 reed. I decided to try a Runyon Custom, a mouthpiece that has received many positive reviews. The nice people at Runyon kindly sent me a free mouthpiece to review.

First Impressions: The Runyon Custom is a nice mouthpiece made for the soprano saxophone. It is available in four different colors: blue, amber, red, and black. I opted for the blue version in a number 5 facing. I tried to put the mouthpiece on my saxophone's neck, but it would not go on more than a centimeter or so. Even after a generous cork greasing, the most I could get the mouthpiece on was half an inch, which is not sufficient since most soprano mouthpieces need to cover up most of the cork for the saxophone to play in tune. Also, the mouthpiece was even stuck on the neck after I tried to take it off, but that is a different story. Due to this problem, the intonation was shaky. Most of the notes were so out of tune that the tuner registered them as a different note being played! The mouthpiece fitting problem also led to a gurgling lower end that I did not experience with the Bari piece. But on the flip side, the mouthpiece was very free blowing and easy to play. The "airy" tone I was getting instantly disappeared with the Custom.

Cost: $76 without spoiler, $94 with the spoiler

  • it's very open and free blowing
  • four cool color choices to give your mouthpiece a personal look
  • due to smaller mouthpiece bore, the mouthpiece would not go completely onto my sax neck
  • some gurgling on low end of saxophone due to mouthpiece being fairly close to end of neck
  • ligature was a bit out of shape and the mouthpiece cap was very loose
Rating: 2/5 stars The Runyon Custom has a lot of potential. I can see it being a great piece that's easy to play, but unfortunately, it just wasn't compatible with my saxophone. I can see this mouthpiece working great with those who have a saxophone neck that will accept this mouthpiece. The included ligature and cap are okay, but will definitely need replacing if you plan to use this mouthpiece long term.

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