Thursday, January 13, 2011

Otto Link's "Vintage" Hard Rubber Mouthpiece (Reviewed)

One sure way to sell anything in the world of saxophone is to market it as vintage. It seems like every sax player's curiosity is perked at the mention of the word, and I'm certainly no different. Otto Link's most recent hard rubber mouthpiece entry is their "Vintage" model, so they've successfully caught are attention.  Now the question is will the "Vintage" model live up to its name...

Tackling the tone first, the sound of this mouthpiece is clear, clean, and crisp. The tone has an even mix of both bright and dark sound qualities, which allows the player to coax it in either direction. The clarity and complete lack of stuffiness help the tone project, and the slight edge present in the tone furthers its carrying power. Its ability to project is paired with a uniformity of sound even when playing very loudly, which made me feel like this is one of the few traditional style hard rubber tenor mouthpieces (that I've played) that I would feel comfortable really pushing in a loud setting.

Unlike the normal Otto Link hard rubber, the "Vintage" model, is uniform in its easy to blow feeling from the bottom of the horn up through the palm keys. The normal model starts clamming up in the upper register, but the "Vintage" model happily accepts your air until you reach the altissimo register. Unfortunately, as you reach the altissimo range, the mouthpiece clams up somewhat and feels a little resistant. That is the mouthpiece's one serious flaw, which could be overcome with practice. I was able to coax a clear and solid tone out of the altissimo register, but it took some effort.

The mouthpiece's response parallels its easy to play feeling. Articulation feels fast and easy as does the feel of changing registers. As the mouthpiece feels slightly more resistant in the altissimo register, naturally, the ease of jumping to that register also suffers. Its still manageable, but simply doesn't feel as responsive as the other registers.

In truth, I love this mouthpiece, and it has everything I would want in a hard rubber mouthpiece except an altissimo register equal to the  lower, middle and upper registers.  I felt like, because of its clarity and slight edge, I easily found my sound.  I also felt comfortable on it because I like to play loudly, and it doesn't complain when I push it.  This is really a great mouthpiece and, besides the altissimo register, seems to be the near hard rubber twin to my Florida Otto Link metal tenor mouthpiece (true vintage) that I play on everyday.

As always the proof is in the pudding:

Ben plays a Otto Link "Vintage" model hard rubber mouthpiece

EDIT: For those who are interested in hearing its softer side here is the first A section of Round Midnight.

Conclusion:  The Otto Link "Vintage" model hard is a clear and crisp sounding traditional hard rubber mouthpiece that lives up to its vintage aspirations.  Its one weakness is a somewhat more resistant altissimo register.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Jody Jazz DV NY Reviewed

Some of the claims Jody Jazz makes about their DV NY mouthpiece would interest almost any saxophone player, and the fact that it's one of the few high end mouthpieces you can find in a local music store (Sam Ash) makes the mouthpiece even more interesting to those of us who insist on trying before buying.  I've recently had the chance to play one of these, so I'll be examining some of those claims Jody Jazz is making in detail.

When you look at the right side of the DV NY website you'll see a bullet point list labeled "What Does The DV NY Do?", and the first bullet claims a big and dark tone.  I found this to be true on both counts.  The sound is big and it carries well due to the full spectrum of dark and bright elements present in the sound.  The tone is generally dark, but it is accompanied by a vibrance that comes from the brighter overtones also present in the sound.  Since the mouthpiece relies mainly on its vibrance for projection rather than edge or punch, when compared to a mouthpiece with more edge the DV NY  has a less definition to the tone. Despite this the mouthpiece still has a powerful warm sound.

Another claim Jody Jazz makes is that the DV NY produces a "vintage sound" reminiscent of the 50s and 60s. The dark quality of the tone definitely put the mouthpiece puts it in the running. Though the DV NY does an excellent job at producing a vintage like sound it does lack a little of the edge which some 50s and 60s mouthpieces had and others didn't.  Your preference on edge will be a major factor in determining if the DV NY is the right fit for your vintage sound pursuits. On a side note, given the right reed I feel like the mouthpiece could even be pushed in a more contemporary direction.

Third from the top on the DV NY's website we see a section explaining the goals or aims of the mouthpiece, and the first goal is summed up as "no stuffiness and little resistance." The DV NY nails this one on the head.  It is a very free blowing mouthpiece, and even with a harder reed it responds with little resistance to your airflow. This also seems to result in easy feeling articulation, which happens to be another claim on the bulleted list. 

The final claim I'd like to examine, also from the bulleted list, is its claim to excellent altissimo, which I would agree with only to an extent.  The altissimo register of the mouthpiece is excellent in terms of its full sound and uniform continuation of the normal register's tone quality.  However, I would say it is only average in its ease of producing the altissimo register. The DV NY, like many other mouthpieces, requires focus to produce the altissimo register reliably, and I have played other mouthpieces that have felt easier and more reliable in the altissmo register. However, the DV NY does have an above average and "excellent" depth of tone in the altissimo register that other mouthpieces would have trouble competing with.

Here is a sound clip for you to hear the tone quality for yourself.  If you'd like to compare it to my normal setup which is a metal Florida Otto Link, just go to the last post.
Set up - Jody Jazz DV NY 8* tenor mouthpiece, Rico Jazz Select Filed 3S reeds

Conclusion: The Jody Jazz DV NY lives up to many of its expectations. Most importantly, it has a big and dark tone with no stuffiness and little resistance, and it provides a rounded vibrant take on the 50s and 60s era jazz saxophone sound.