Looking for the perfect bari sax mouthpiece?
If you’re a bari sax player, then chances are just like me, you’re looking for that perfect mouthpiece. You’re looking for a bari sax mouthpiece that will let you get that funky sound, but also be versatile enough to be able to play in a horn section or a concert band.
So I’ve been checking out some different mouthpieces lately and I want to show you what two mouthpieces from Jody Jazz sound like.
I’m going to test 2 popular bari sax mouthpieces: the Jody Jazz HR Star, and the Jody Jazz DV. I”’ play them each in three contrasting styles, so you can see how they perform. And I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the mouthpieces too.
Plus, I’ll be telling you which mouthpiece I have been in playing on my bari for the past 10 years, and why I want to change it.
A Versatile Mouthpiece
Now I love to do these mouthpiece reviews because it’s a way that I can help our thousands of Sax School students, and you too, to make better mouthpiece choices. So I reached out to Jody Espina over at Jody Jazz and asked him to send me over these mouthpieces so I could put them through their paces for you.
Well, to be honest with you, I’m a fan of mouthpieces that are versatile. And it’s something we talk about with our Sax School students. It’s so important to have a saxophone mouthpiece that is versatile enough, so that you can play in lots of different styles.
A mistake that a lot of people make is they go for a mouthpiece which pushes them too much into one specific style. If you have a versatile mouthpiece, you can still get a great funk sound, but you can also have the freedom and flexibility to be able to play in lots of different styles.
The Bari Sax Mouthpiece Test
Here’s how the test is going to work. I’m going to play through both mouthpieces in three different styles. You can hear how they perform, or at least how I sound playing through in these three contrasting styles.
We’re going to start with a classic jazz ballad. I’m going to use a tune called ‘Old Memories’, which is an original challenge song that we’re learning inside Sax School this month. That will give you an idea of how these mouthpieces play when you’re playing through a lovely, warm jazz ballad.
Next, I’m going to play a few bars from ‘The Swan’, which is a typical classical piece for saxophone. And it’ll give you an idea of how the bari sax sounds with these mouthpieces, playing over a lovely flowing classical line. This might help you if you play in a concert band, or a saxophone ensemble or a saxophone quartet.
And then to finish up, I’m going to play through a fun, original funk tune called ‘Bari Funk’. This is a high energy, in the style of Tower of Power, or maybe even something like a more contemporary blues-rock band, like Joe Bonamassa. It’s high energy, with lots of articulation, and a lot of fast, aggressive lines.
My Bari Sax Gear
I’m using the same gear for all of the tests today. My bari saxophone is a Selmer Mark VI. And I’m using a Légère Signature 2 ¼ reed.
The Test: Jody Jazz HR Star
So I’m going to get started with the HR star. Listen to what it sounds like.
I like the HR Star. This is the cheaper of the two mouthpieces. And I’ll tell you the price in a second, but it’s such a versatile mouthpiece, which is why it appeals to me.
Now, a lot of people would look at a hard rubber mouthpiece and expect it to sound softer. But, you know, you can get an aggressive, barky sound on this mouthpiece, but equally, you can get quite a lovely, smooth round sound as well.
It’s not the perfect classical mouthpiece, but it’s a brilliant all-rounder. You could easily get away with this in a concert band, or a big band, or a saxophone ensemble. And even if you were doing some work playing in an orchestra, you’re not going to raise any eyebrows from the conductor either.
So I think the HR is a great versatile mouthpiece. Also, if, if you are a beginner saxophone player, or if you’re earlier on in your saxophone playing journey, then this is a more forgiving mouthpiece. And I think it will really help you to upgrade your sound. It will open up a lot more tonal possibilities without breaking the bank.
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Summing up the HR Star
The HR star is $229 US or about £195 GBP. That’s still a fair chunk of money, but it’s not that much when you compare it to a lot of the other mouthpieces that are on the market. And obviously, it’s a whole lot less than your bari sax. It’s an affordable way to upgrade your sound.
And I think you’ll find the HR star is a huge improvement on a stock mouthpiece, even a stock Yamaha, or Yanagisawa mouthpiece, give you a lot more tone colours and a lot more interest in your sound.
The Test: Jody Jazz DV
Let’s go check out the DV. Listen to how it sounds.
Well, I have to say as much as I love the HR Star, the DV is a marvellous bari sax mouthpiece.
Straight away, when you put this mouthpiece on, it just feels so easy to blow. I’ve been playing the DV on my tenor as well, and getting into it. The DV is a very versatile mouthpiece.
And you’ll notice though, it’s not quite as round and warm on a classical piece. It’s still easy for me to get the low notes out and to get a nice, warm tone, but it’s not as welcoming a sound or as warm as the HR. Maybe that’s just the way that I play it. But for, for me, I like the fact that it’s versatile. And I’m going be using this mouthpiece all the time now, I think.
If I was just playing in an orchestra, or in a big band that did a lot of older repertoire, I probably wouldn’t turn up with the DV. But for general playing like a lot of the music we play in Sax School, where we’re looking at pop tunes, rock, smooth jazz, some classical, some big band, some funk, some Ska, then the DV is a magic choice.
Summing up the DV
Now the DV is not a cheap mouthpiece at $650 US or £525 GBP. It’s a lot of money. And it’s not the sort of thing you’re going to rush out and buy on a whim. But if your budget could stretch to the DV, then I think you’ll have a mouthpiece here that you can use forever.
They are made well so it’s going to last you four decades. And it’s going to give you loads of possibilities. Because I think the more that you play the DV, the more you can control it when you’re playing over something that’s more classical or more smooth. And the more you can get, a bigger, more aggressive sound out of it as well.
What I loved about the DV is that straight away, you get more projection, and you get a barkier sound when you push it, which is perfect if you’re doing lots of funk or rock or pop bari sax playing.
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Who are these mouthpieces for?
If you are early on in your saxophone journey, and you’re looking for a step up from your stock mouthpiece, the HR star is a brilliant choice. It’s very versatile. It’ll allow you to play in lots of different styles equally.
If you’re an advanced player and you’re looking for a mouthpiece that’s versatile enough to play in an orchestra, in a concert band, with a big band, but will also be able to give you a great bright funky sound – the HR Star is the piece for you, because it’s very versatile.
If you’ve got the budget to stretch to the DV and you do less classical playing, and more pop, blues, funk, or Ska, where you need a lot more control, but you still want something versatile, then the DV is a magic choice for you. And I think if you get the DV, you’re not going to be unhappy, because it’s an awesome mouthpiece.
Why upgrade your mouthpiece
Choosing a mouthpiece is not like a magic pill. A mouthpiece will open up lots of options to you as a player, but it’s not going magically give you the sound that you’re looking for. Because with every mouthpiece you still need to develop your embouchure, your breathing, your technique – all of these skills together.
However, if you are still playing on a stock mouthpiece, or a standard mouthpiece that came with your saxophone, then upgrading your mouthpiece can open up the possibilities for you. It can help you to get a more interesting sound. It can inspire you to play more as well, and can help you to get closer to your idea of that perfect sound.
So it’s something to consider. Remember, these mouthpieces are expensive, but that’s still a fraction of what you’ve invested into your saxophone. And a good mouthpiece will last you for decades.
So it’s good to take your time. Try lots of different mouthpieces.See what’s right for you. Hopefully, reviews like this will help you. And then make your choice. Then, make sure you invest time in that mouthpiece to get used to it. For me, it takes several weeks to get used to a new mouthpiece, and to develop the sound that’s right for me.
My current bari sax mouthpiece
Now, I promised I’d tell you what mouthpiece I have been playing on my bari sax for the last few years.
It’s a Yanagisawa metal mouthpiece. It’s a size 9. And I do love this mouthpiece. It’s great. But the reason I want to change, is that although I can get a great bright sound, I always struggle if I’m playing in a saxophone quartet or I’m playing a quiet ensemble piece, with this mouthpiece.
And that’s exactly what I was talking about today – versatility. So I want something that’s more versatile than this mouthpiece, although it’s a brilliant mouthpiece and I played the alto version of this for a long, long time.
I think of the two mouthpieces I’ve tested today, either of them is far more versatile than this mouthpiece. And for me would be a better choice.
I hope you found this bari sax mouthpiece review helpful. And if you want to dig in more with your skills on saxophone, then come and check out what we’re doing at Sax School. Get some help from the tutors, join our community, attend one of our live masterclasses that we’re doing all the time and get involved with what we’re doing. I think you’ll be surprised. There are over a thousand lessons in there, and there’s material for you whatever level you’re at, whether you’re a beginner or a seriously advanced player. You can get a 14-day trial here.