Most professional players don’t know a lot about mouthpieces so don’t feel bad if you are confused. These are Jody’s answers to many frequently asked questions.
Jody Espina Has been a Jazz Educator and Professional Musician all of his working life. He is passionate about producing only mouthpieces that perform perfectly, for students, professionals and amateurs. That means play testing every piece before it leaves the shop and being willing to reject any mouthpiece until it meets his quality standards.
Almost all metal mouthpieces in the past and at the present time are made out of brass which can contain up to 3% lead. The lead in the brass is one of the components that give this particular brass it’s hardness or rather it’s softness which makes it have a particularly pleasing sound to musicians. Proposition 65 from the state of California requires manufacturers to label any products that have substances in them that have been found to cause Cancer or Reproductive Harm. Lead is one of these substances. JodyJazz mouthpieces are electroplated with a layer of copper, then a layer of Nickel, Silver or Rhodium, and then a layer of Gold or Silver. This electroplating ensures that the raw brass is never in contact with the player.
This is Jody Espina and yes myself and my employees have been using JodyJazz Gold or Silver Plated brass mouthpieces for many years. My first JodyJazz brass mouthpiece was made in 2001 and I have continuously been playing JodyJazz brass mouthpieces since. I played my first metal mouthpiece in 1979 on tenor sax and have always used a brass mouthpiece on tenor sax ever since then.
Yes. Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins Stan Getz, Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, John Coltrane, Michael Brecker, Tom Scott Andy Snitzer are just a few of the 1000’s and 1000’s of players who have played brass mouthpieces.
Palladium is one of the earth’s most durable elements. It is a member of a group of precious hard metals that also includes Platinum but is actually rarer and considerably more expensive than Platinum. Palladium is intrinsically harder than standard Sterling Silver, it is highly resistant to corrosion, and will not tarnish in air. Because of these properties, Palladium is increasingly used as an alternative to Silver-plating and today is widely found in everything from high-end automobiles to expensive jewelry, and now saxophone mouthpieces.
The Jody Jazz DV series mouthpieces are hand made to ensure and maintain their highest quality. Demand will not compromise our ability to ensure that every mouthpiece we produce is the best available. When you order one of our mouthpieces, you can be assured that every effort is made to ensure you are rewarded with a product worthy of your investment. That will take time, care and patience. We feel that our DV, DV CHI and DV NY series are worth the wait and we believe you will too. Thanks a lot for your patience.
Maybe. A new mouthpiece requires a new reed because your old reed has conformed to the old mouthpiece. Also a different tip opening, baffle and chamber might require a different brand or strength of reed. It is very important to keep an open mind about reeds when trying a new mouthpiece.
Reeds are a very personal thing. Our customers are using every brand of reed made. My personal favorites are Rico Jazz Select unfiled 3S or 3M and I also like LaVoz. But I can strongly recommend many other brands that work well with my mouthpiece. Again, experimentation is the best thing.
As with reeds in general, this is a personal thing. This is how I feel: “great synthetic reed is a good thing, but a great cane reed is a great thing.”Having said that, I recommend Legere’, Fibracell and Bari if you are going to use synthetic.
Dear Mr. Espina,
First let me say I’m a proud owner of Jody Jazz mouthpieces, their free blowing nature is simply the best (worth every penny)! You are truly talented with your ART!
Now for my question. I recently watched a Youtube interview, and you spoke of the common misconception that metal will always be brighter than hard rubber. The deciding factor is in the inside of the piece (ie the chamber). My question is if the inside is the determining factor (which I agree), then why don’t mouthpiece makers simply make all mouthpieces out of one material? I’m very interested to hear your knowledge of this!
Thanks so much for your time!
Thanks a lot for your email. Here is my quick short answer to your question.
Hard rubber is preferred by some for the following reasons:
- The shape and larger size in the mouth just feels better.
- Because of the larger size which opens the mouth wider the sound is different than a metal mouthpiece (more mellow)
- Material does matter regarding sound – my estimation is that it’s 15% of the sound.
Metal is preferred by some for the following reasons:
- The shape is smaller and just feels better in the mouth.
- Because of the smaller size which opens the mouth less the sound is different than hard rubber (more direct and slightly brighter)
- Material does matter regarding sound – my estimation is that it’s 15% of the sound.
We can manufacture metal with very thin rails which can enhance performance, hard rubber cannot be manufactured as thinly that’s why HR pieces are bigger.
Jody Espina – President
Send it back for a full refund* minus the shipping charge. It’s impossible to design a mouthpiece that works for everybody. We know that, so we expect some returns. We hope by giving you the best, most friendly customer service, that even if our mouthpiece is not for you, you’ll still recommend us to your friends as a great company to do business with.
*Please note our Returns & Trial Policies which will be strictly enforced. For more information visit https://jodyjazz.com/return-policy/
That’s difficult to say since we have so many different models. The simple answer is that they all play great.
The Spoiler is a patented invention. It adds volume (projection) and brightness to the mouthpiece. Spoilers consist of a wedge which creates a higher baffle giving the mouthpiece a brighter more cutting sound. Attached to the wedge is a small metal “reed” which actually vibrates when air is blown into the mouthpiece. This vibration disturbs the air stream causing more complex harmonics and creating more volume. This device slips easily in or out of the mouthpiece. It’s like having two mouthpieces in one.
Only JodyJazz Classic, and ESP models come with a spoiler. The metal reed on the ESP spoilers are 24kt Gold plated and the metal reed on the Classic spoilers are stainless steel. The spoiler is designed only for JodyJazz Classic and ESP models and will not fit other mouthpieces.
Fantastic! It’s one of the great features of the mouthpieces, because when a mouthpiece is designed properly and made well it should allow you to play all over the instrument. Having said that, there is no shortcut to altissimo. You must start with harmonics and learn how to play these notes properly. If your reed is too soft altissimo is more difficult. I recommend Sigurd Racher’s book, “Top Tones for Saxophone”, or working on altissimo.
Tip Opening Explanation or what are those numbers on the side of the mouthpiece? Those numbers represent the distance between the reed and the tip of the mouthpiece and are called the tip opening or the facing number. This number is important because it represents how far the reed has to travel to close up against the mouthpiece and then pop back. The bigger the tip opening the more the reed vibrates. All manufacturers use different numbering systems making it necessary to use a comparative facing chart showing you many brands of mouthpieces and how they match up. Typically manufacturers in the United States measure in thousandths of an inch. For example a JodyJazz 7* tenor mouthpiece measures .105. That means if you divided an inch into one thousand parts and then took one hundred and five of those parts you would have the distance between the tip of the reed and the tip of the mouthpiece for a tenor 7*. As you can imagine .001 or one, one thousandth is not very big. Link to JodyJazz Facing Charts
Which tip opening should I play?
A wider tip opening (higher numbers or letters) allows for more air to go in the mouthpiece. It takes slightly more air and embouchure strength to make the reed travel the further distance in it’s vibrations to opening and closing against the tip of the mouthpiece.
Here are some general guidelines to follow when searching for the right tip opening. If you play for less than an hour a day you are probably best off if you stick to the lower numbers. Too large a piece will be difficult too control in the lower registers, it will be difficult to play at soft volumes, you will run out of air too soon and your embouchure will tire out too soon.
If you play more than an hour a day you have more options in regards to which tip opening you can play. Larger is not necessarily better. Everyone is different in what feels comfortable. My best advice is to try several different sizes and keep an open mind about what will work best for you. It all comes down to what feel you like. Do you like to bite hard with a strong reed and blow a lot or do you like to play easy and have the sound pop out right away. Of course that’s a simplification but I think it’s one way to describe the tip opening/facing question.
Classical players prefer relatively closed tip openings (low numbers or letters) because of the dark restrained tone that they produce. Jazz players are looking for more sound and vibration out of the reed, partly having to do with the environment of having to compete with louder instruments than in a classical setting. The larger the tip opening (higher numbers or letters) you use, generally the softer the reed you use. If you have a more open tip and you need a darker sound than you can use a harder reed. In other words you can achieve the sound you want through different reed strengths.
I think that we have the best mouthpiece facing charts available so that you can compare your current mouthpiece, or you can go by these very general guidelines:
For Alto, most professionals and college students who play jazz and pop music play #6, 7, with being the most popular facing for pros. Students play #5’s through #6’s. Fourth, fifth and sixth graders should play a 5, while middle school players might try #5 or #6 and high school players might use #6, 0r 7.
For Tenor, use the same facing numbers as for Alto but add one number higher to the range and one number higher to the most popular facing. For example: The most popular facing for pros on Tenor is a 7 or 7* with the range of popular facings being from #6* to a #8*.
Remember these are very general guidelines and your private teacher is the best person to advise you, or you may submit your questions to us. Click Here and we can help guide you to the right facing. When you fill out the 6 questions, be sure to include a complete description of your current setup including mouthpiece, reed strength and brand, brand of horn, how long you’ve been playing, what kind of playing you currently, whose sound you like, and how many hours a week you play/practice.
In most cases people use the term, facing or tip opening to mean the same thing, although facing technically has another meaning. Facing, applies to the way the mouthpiece curves away from the table of the mouthpiece where the reed sits. Facing Length is the distance, measured in millimeters, from the tip of the mouthpiece to where the mouthpiece first begins to curve away from the reed.
It feels like the instrument wants to play for you. Your air goes into the mouthpiece smoothly with very little resistance. For me it’s a very personal, particular feeling that I have when a mouthpiece plays the way I like it to. It’s as if the mouthpiece accepts my air and welcomes it into the horn. When I’m working on a mouthpiece that feel is one of the main criteria. I know immediately when I blow into the mouthpiece whether or not it gives me that certain “free blowing” feeling.
A mouthpiece that has good playability means that you don’t have to fight it to play whatever you want on the saxophone or clarinet. Low notes as well as high notes come out effortlessly and in tune without adjustments from the player. Articulation and tone quality are no problem. If you are playing with the proper air support and embouchure tension, a good mouthpiece will play the entire range of the instrument without the player having to adjust; that’s playability. (Please remember, without proper air support and a good embouchure no mouthpiece will play itself. Don’t forget to Practice!)
We have an extensive dealer network throughout the world (JodyJazz Dealer Locator). We encourage you to support your favorite dealer and if they don’t have JodyJazz please ask them to carry us. We don’t have a sales force to acquire new dealers so all of our dealers have approached us after responding to customer requests. You are also welcome to buy directly from us especially when your dealer does not carry us. We have built our reputation not only on great mouthpieces but great customer service.
Advantage of harder reed
A harder reed can give the sound more support in the upper register. Altissimo notes are easier to play. If the reed is too soft, the higher notes are the first to suffer and have kind of a flat, buzzy, thin sound. When you use a harder reed there are more harmonics in the sound. The sound can have a bigger core. Harder reeds last longer than softer ones.
Disadvantage of a harder reed
If a reed is too hard for a player the results will be: Diminished endurance. The player tires out quickly.Player can’t hold notes long enough.Sound has a lot of air in it. Low notes will be more difficult to play.
Reed strength – Conclusion
As with mouthpieces the player needs to experiment to find the best combination. This is personal and will not be the same for every player, even on the same mouthpiece and tip opening. My advice is to play the hardest reed that is comfortable and that does not fatigue you too much and does not sound too airy. At the same time my advice is to play the softest reed that still gives you a good sound especially on the high notes.
Here are some of the main differences between Jazz and Classical mouthpieces. These are simplifications and generalities just for comparison purposes.
- Made to blend with flutes and clarinets therefore they won’t let you play too loud or too bright.
- Bigger chamber for dark sound.
- Small tip openings keep the sound quiet
- Made so player can get more volume and be heard over drums and compete with brass instruments.
- Smaller chamber for brighter and louder sound.
- Bigger tip openings for more harmonics in the sound, more volume and ability to bend the pitch more.
Plating is not only cosmetic but it protects you from having direct contact with the brass. Our metal JodyJazz mouthpieces are made from a solid virgin bar of brass. Then there are three layers of plating starting with Copper then Silver or Nickel and then the Gold. We use heavy Gold in 24kts. Over the long run the top layer of Gold can start to wear off. You are still protected from the raw brass by the other two layers, which will not wear off. Some people have more acidity in their saliva than other people and this high acidic level can eat away at the gold plating faster than it would wear off naturally. This will be accelerated if you drink sodas like Coca-Cola or Alcohol. For this reason we suggest after each playing session, to rinse the mouthpiece in water with a little mild dish soap and to gently dry with a soft cloth or paper towel.
The plating first starts to wear off on the table of the mouthpiece. To preserve the Gold plating do not leave moist reeds on the mouthpiece overnight.
With proper care I expect gold plating to last anywhere from two to five years and much longer for some people who are very careful and have no acidity in their hands or saliva.
The Gold Plating Warranty is 90 days from the date of purchase for normal wear and tear and One year from date of purchase for plating defects such as flaking . Proof of purchase must be provided. Second hand and ebay purchases are not warranted.
We would love to have you come and visit by appointment only. We are located in Savannah, GA. Please call for an appointment, well in advance of when you would like to visit.
Thank you very much for your interest in JodyJazz mouthpieces. Please let me explain my position in regards to music stores that have made the commitment to stock my mouthpieces. Since you have tried my pieces in that store I cannot ethically sell direct to you now. We all have to try and help independent dealers stay in business. All of the stock in a store is a huge commitment and if a customer tries things in the store and then buys them somewhere else like online or direct from the manufacturer then that store will likely go out of business or be bought by a conglomerate that will limit your options on what you can buy and what price you will pay for it. I encourage you to ask your dealer to stock any pieces that were not in stock that you wanted to try. Please explain to them that I asked you to do this and that we are trying to support them. If they refuse to stock what you would like to try then I will deal with you directly as a last resort. At least we both tried to do the right thing.
The outside shape of a mouthpiece is more important than most people think. Hard rubber mouthpieces open up the mouth more than a metal mouthpiece. This accounts for part of the sound difference between hard rubber mouthpieces and metal mouthpieces. A duckbill beak has a different feel from a standard beak. Our JodyJazz Classics have an outside shape more similar to metal mouthpieces than to hard rubber mouthpieces. Outside shape is one of the reasons why people should play test different styles of mouthpieces to find out which outer shape feels best for them.