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.

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