soprano saxophone

My Soprano Saxophone Mouthpiece

When I began with my friend’s borrowed MK VI, I also borrowed his Selmer Soloist vintage soprano saxophone mouthpiece. At the time I didn’t know how to identify it. It just looked to me like an old Selmer with a scroll along the bottom edge. Since I was fairly comfortable with it, I thought I’d try to find something like it. I purchased a Selmer Super Session, which I thought must be the new version. It’s really not.

The Super Session is has a more narrow shape, and the sound is more focused, less open, compared to the Soloist. I played the Super Session for a few months, meanwhile researching soprano mouthpieces. Then I came upon the website of Joe Giardullo, a very knowledgeable soprano mouthpiece specialist. I struck up a conversation with him. My main concern at the time was the trouble I was having with pitch. I practiced with a tuner, and found that my pitch was seldom accurate. But it did tend to be consistently off in the same ways for specific notes.

Joe said that pitch issues are often related to mouthpiece problems, and suggested that I send my mouthpiece to him for adjustments, or alternately, purchase one of his pieces. He recommended his OS2 for me. I opted to purchase his OS2 piece, partly because sending mine off meant being left with nothing to play. And I liked the idea of having more than one piece.

Earthtones on Spotify (Soprano Sax at 1:25)

Using The SopranoPlanet OS2

A week or so later I received his OS2, and liked it immediately. It had a more open, free, and warm sound than the Super Session. The OS2 reminded me more of the Soloist I had been using originally. It looks quite a bit like that mouthpiece as well, which leads me to think that its design was based around the Soloist. I never confirmed that with Joe.

But while the OS2 was great and a welcome improvement, the pitch issues I was having remained relatively unchanged. Why? I had not been playing more than a few months, and didn’t realize it at the time, but I simply needed to do more work on my embouchure and pitch control. More about that in another post.

I stayed with my OS2 for another 7 months or so, and enjoyed the free-blowing, warm and flexible sound it gave me. Until…

The Selmer Soloist Soprano Sax Mouthpiece

max highstein music with soprano sax
Jon Clarke Plays Soprano Sax on Hondo Blaze

After I’d been using my OS2 for many months, I was visiting a friend, a fellow who had begun a jazz workshop group I was attending. He had a Soloist soprano saxophone mouthpiece that he used with his curved Yaganisawa soprano. And he was kind enough to lend me both the horn and the mouthpiece to try out for a few days. The curved horn wasn’t my cup of tea. But I had to admit that there was something about the Soloist that appealed to me, possibly as much as my OS2. The Soloist had been out of production for years, so I began looking for used ones on Ebay. I quickly found that they were going for between $250 and $500 or more. That’s a lot of cash for a piece that may or may not be right for me, and probably can’t return.

Then one day I saw a local ad on Craigslist for a bunch of pieces, including a soprano Soloist, all very cheap. The Soloist was an “E,” about the same tip opening I’d been using, and it was in great shape. I nabbed that one as quick as I could, took it home, and loved the way it played. I felt like I was the luckiest soprano player ever.

The Soloist I picked up has many of the same qualities as my OS2. But it plays just a little smaller, a little less free-blowing, and has a little less flexibility. Somehow the slight bit of restriction gives me more control, helps me play more consistently in tune. I think it gives me a little warmer, more “legit” sound. It also has a hard to define sound quality that feels just perfect for me. That’s my mouthpiece. At least until another one comes along that I prefer!

The Voice Mouthpiece

Along the way I learned that the Selmer Soloist soprano mouthpiece is the one that originally came with the Mark VI soprano. If you’re interested in a Selmer Soloist soprano mouthpiece, and can’t find one you might check out the Saxquest “The Voice.” It’s based on the Soloist.