This past week I had the chance to play through five of Retro Revival’s tenor mouthpieces. I currently play a “vintage” series Otto Link, which is a modern mouthpiece inspired by the 1950s vintage Tone Edge often referred to as the Slant, so I was excited to try Retro’s high end remakes of iconic Otto Link mouthpieces. First and foremost, all of the Retro Revival mouthpieces I played are very good. As you’d hope for from high end hand finished mouthpieces, each mouthpiece plays evenly from the bottom up through the altissimo register. They all have a healthy amount of resistance that facilitates a big tone and easy altissimo. Check out the comparison video to hear how they sound, and I’ll include a short write up about each of them below.
This is the darkest of the five mouthpeices and appropriately so as it’s a remake of the Otto Link Reso Chamber model from the 1940s. The tone is thick and warm with a nice core. Despite the dark tone, it has plenty of power and volume making it comfortable to play. As I already mentioned in the introduction, this mouthpiece and all of the others feel and sound consistent throughout the registers, and the altissimo feels good and sounds easily.
This mouthpiece is a remake of the Otto Link “Slant Signature” Florida era Tone Edge. It has more edge than the Tru-Res, but the sound is still lush and warm overall as well as a bit spread. It has a little less resistance than some of the other pieces and is fairly malleable in terms of sound, meaning I can easily inflect and change the timbre. Like the Tru-Res, this mouthpiece has plenty of volume (comparably more than the “vintage” series hard rubber Otto Link that I typically play).
This mouthpiece is a remake of a 1950s New York Otto Link Super Tone Master. Tone wise it really delivers. It has a warm sound with some punch. In other words, it has both the edge and darker timbre you’d hope for from a good vintage New York Super Tone Master. It has a fairly balanced resistance, just a touch on the heavier side. Like all of the other mouthpieces, the altissimo feels great pops out easily up through the stratosphere.
The Super D is also a remake of vintage Super Tone Master, specifically from the “double ring” or “double band” models from the 1950s. This piece differentiates itself from the Crescent in that it is a brighter and edgier sounding piece. It has a noticeably higher baffle, and the difference in the recording is very audible (all five of the mouthpieces sound distinct from each other). The resistance feels balanced leaning just a bit towards the heavier side. There is enough resistance so that you can really push the piece to high volumes. This mouthpiece is bright enough that I’d readily recommend it for contemporary styles of music like rock, funk, etc. While this is a very nice mouthpiece, I do feel like it gets a little bit more of a contemporary sound than some of the vintage Super Tone Masters I’ve played.
Modern-Line Bob Sheppard Signature Series
The Bob Sheppard model is an original design by Retro Revival, unlike most of their other models which are remakes. The mouthpiece is somewhat brighter and has more edge than the other two hard rubber mouthpieces, but it still has a nice thick tone. Personally, I could play it comfortably in a bebop setting or a more contemporary setting. Like all of the mouthpieces, it’s even throughout the registers including altissimo. Similar to the Tru-Slant, this piece has a little less resistance than the others, and it also has good flexibility of sound.
In terms of recreating iconic vintage sounds, Retro Revival is doing a great job, though the Super D seems to be a bit more on the contemporary side. Meanwhile, their Bob Sheppard model, is a fun and solid original contribution. Importantly, all five of the mouthpieces play very consistently from low B-flat up through the altissimo register, and they all produce some serious volume. Overall, these are some really fun to play and great sounding mouthpieces.