I’m going to show you my tenor sax mouthpiece comparison with 5 amazing Jody Jazz mouthpieces.
Thinking of changing your tenor sax mouthpiece? Stick around. This will be super-useful to you. The tenor sax mouthpieces I’m testing range from dark through to really bright. And I’m going put them to the Careless Whisper test!
In this video
So I’m going to be playing Careless Whisper on all of these mouthpieces, just so you can compare how they sound when I’m playing the same thing on every mouthpiece.
I’m also going to be sharing some tips with you on how to approach changing your tenor sax mouthpiece, or upgrading a mouthpiece. This is important if you’re a beginner or an intermediate player. So if you like a more commercial sound on saxophone and you’re looking for a tenor sax mouthpiece, then stick around because this video is definitely for you.
About the Test
So why am I making this video?
We’ve got thousands of students inside Sax School Online, and I see a lot of people struggle to make the right choice when they’re upgrading their mouthpiece. Because as you are developing as a saxophone player, one of the best, easiest and quickest ways that you can make a great change to your sound is by upgrading your mouthpiece. This is particularly true if you’ve got the stock mouthpiece that came with your saxophone when you first purchased it.
But it’s tricky to know which mouthpiece to go for because there are so many choices. And within all the different brands, there are also loads of different models to consider. So it’s quite an overwhelming decision. I know I’ve struggled in the past to work this out myself and I see it happen amongst my students.
So what I wanted to do today was to give you a side-by-side comparison with a bunch of mouthpieces from the one manufacturer. And so you can hear how they sound side by side, and hopefully, that will help you to find the tenor sax mouthpiece sound that appeals to you.
Now I’m a massive fan of Jody Jazz and their mouthpieces. I think Jody Espina is a cool cat. He’s done a bunch of stuff for our Sax School members. He’s super supportive. And I know all of the members that have purchased one of his mouthpieces get amazing support from his team.
And actually, I’ve been playing on his mouthpieces for the last few years, and I enjoy them. I like the consistency of them. I liked the fact that they’re all reliable mouthpieces. They work well with reeds. I know I can trust them.
I put on a tenor sax mouthpiece from Jody Jazz, and I know it’s going to do a good job for me. And that’s why I like to talk about them to my members as well. Plus I think they’ve got a good range of mouthpieces in terms of style and price. So you can find something that works for you.
So the mouthpieces I’m looking at today range from the Custom Dark at the dark end of the spectrum, right through to the SuperJet on the top end of the spectrum.
- Jody Jazz Custom Dark Size 8
- Jody Jazz HR* Size 8
- Jody Jazz Jet Size 7*
- Jody Jazz DV Size 8*
- Jody Jazz SuperJet Size 7*
Now to keep things consistent, I’m going to be using a cane reed today. I know, I know – I’ve been playing on Légère synthetic reeds for – like – the last five years!
To be honest, I had to dig through my cupboard to find a cane reed today because I always use synthetic reeds. And in fact, as well as the awesome Légère reeds, I’ve also been testing the D’Addario Venn reeds over the last few weeks. These are also pretty amazing.
However, I found that on the DV, I struggled to get each of these reeds to sound the way I liked them to sound. So I decided to go ahead and just play on a cane reed for all the mouthpieces today. So I’m using a Vandoren ZZ 2.5, and I’m going to use that same reed on all the mouthpieces.
Now just before we get started with the test, I want to issue a health warning!
If you’re changing your tenor saxophone mouthpiece, you’ve got to be patient with it. You’ve got to be prepared to take some time. Because when you change to a new mouthpiece, you’ve got to adjust with your muscles, with your concept of sound. I’ve been playing for 40 years, it takes me weeks to adjust to a new mouthpiece.
So I’ve been playing with all of these mouthpieces for the last few weeks. And also, I’m constantly testing mouthpieces for the YouTube Channel and for all of our Sax School students. So I’ve become a bit more flexible.
But if you are only playing on one mouthpiece, then be prepared to spend a few weeks adjusting to your new mouthpiece. You need to get your muscles used to it, but you also need to find the reed that’s going to match your new mouthpiece too. So it’s a long journey.
And the other thing I’d say to you, is you’ve got to be very careful about testing mouthpieces in the music shop. Definitely do it, if you’ve got the opportunity to try a tenor sax mouthpiece out in the shop. But when you do that, take a bunch of different reeds, take a bunch of different types of music to play, and spend as much time as you possibly can. Because your first impression isn’t always going to be the same as how you feel about that mouthpiece a week or a month down the track.
So you’ve got to take some time. Don’t jump at your first opinion or impression of a mouthpiece and be prepared to put the hours in, to get used to a new mouthpiece.
Playtest #1: Jody Jazz Custom Dark
The first tenor sax mouthpiece in our test is the Jody Jazz Custom Dark. I love this mouthpiece and actually, I’ve been playing it a lot for the last couple of years. It’s a versatile mouthpiece, very open, and probably on the darker end of the spectrum than what most people consider. But I love its versatility.
Have a listen to the Custom Dark.
The Custom Dark is an awesome mouthpiece because it’s very big and round inside. And for a lot of people may think, “well, it sounds a little bit too dark for me.” But here’s the thing. If you push this mouthpiece, you can get a big sound and a bright sound as well, but it’s not a very loud mouthpiece.
And for me, that’s perfect because I’m playing most of the time in my studio here, and I’m playing a whole range of styles. I might be playing classical one day, then pop the next day and funk or blues the day after. So I need something that can do all sorts of things and the Custom Dark can do that.
So you’ll see some commercial players use the Custom Dark. You’ll see people playing concert bands or in ensemble settings. Even an orchestral player could probably get away with this mouthpiece. And it makes me want to explore all the range of the saxophone as well.
The Custom Dark is one of the most expensive hard rubber mouthpieces that Jody Jazz does. It was about $395 US. It’s still not very expensive when you compare it to some of the metal mouthpieces that are on the market, and even the metal mouthpieces from Jody Jazz.
Oh, I forgot to mention for all the mouthpieces today, certainly the hard rubber ones, I’m using the Jody Jazz Power Ring ligature. This is pretty cool. It’s about a hundred dollars and it’s quite a weighty thing. It makes putting the reed on and off super easy. You literally just slide it in. But the extra weight seems to add something to the sound. I like it.
Playtest #2: Jody Jazz HR*
Let’s take things up a notch. The next mouthpiece is just an HR*. So this is a great entry-level, upgrade mouthpiece from Jody Jazz. And it’s got a slightly higher baffle inside than the Custom Dark. And that makes it a little bit brighter. Let’s see what it sounds like.
Listen to the HR*
You know, the HR* always surprises me. It’s relatively inexpensive. It’s one of the cheapest mouthpieces on the test today. And this is a great first step upgrade option if you’re looking to replace the mouthpiece that came with your tenor saxophone, with a more professional level tenor saxophone mouthpiece. It sounds great too.
It’s a bit brighter than the Custom Dark. And I think maybe the response isn’t quite the same as the Custom Dark. It’s nearly half the price of it. But the sound is brilliant and it’s got that little bit of an edginess to it, which inspires me to play in a more contemporary and bright setting.
This would be a great mouthpiece if you’re playing a variety of styles. Certainly, if you’re playing in a big band, or if you’re doing any pop band work. If you want a mouthpiece, that can do lots of different things, and isn’t crazy expensive, this is a really good choice. It makes me want to play like this!
The HR* is around about $199 US.
Playtest #3: Jody Jazz Jet
It’s time to look at the brightest of the hard rubber mouthpieces I’m testing today. This is the Jet. I’m playing a 7*.
This is quite an interesting mouthpiece. If you look inside it, it’s got a higher table and that’s what helps to make it sound brighter. Also, it’s got a smaller chamber inside.
Now, I’m no saxophone mouthpiece designer. I’m just telling you what I see when I look into these mouthpieces. But if you compare the Jet with the Custom Dark, you can see that the table is much higher inside the Jet. And that’s what makes the air go faster, and in turn makes the sound brighter.
Listen to the Jet
So that’s a much brighter sound. I don’t know if you can hear it? It’s a lot brighter and a lot louder in the studio. I like it though. And I think if you’re playing in a rock band or you want to really project over the other members of your band, then this might be a good choice.
But it’s harder to get a smooth mellow sound with this mouthpiece. It makes me want to play in a more aggressive way and to focus on those harsh bright sounds. So for playing in a funk band or playing some really energetic music in any style, rock , or even commercial – I think this would be a good choice. It makes me want to do this.
The Jet is also $199 US.
Playtest #4: Jody Jazz DV
So the first of our metal mouthpieces I’m testing is the Jody Jazz DV. Now, this is a classic tenor sax mouthpiece. Loads of people play this mouthpiece because it’s super- versatile. For example, a bunch of the superstar, legendary sax players that come and do special masterclasses for our Sax School members use this mouthpiece.
Tom Scott plays on this mouthpiece. you’ve been listening to Tom Scott your whole life, because he’s played on hundreds of the most famous pop albums ever. Also, Andy Snitzer uses it. He’s touring with Billy Joel and Paul Simon these days and he’s played with the Rolling Stones, too.
What Changes the Sound?
Now, when comparing a metal mouthpiece with a hard rubber mouthpiece, a lot of people fall into the trap of expecting that the metal mouthpiece is going to be brighter and the hard rubber mouthpiece is going to be softer.
And it’s not the case at all. It’s not the metal or the material that the mouthpiece is made from – it’s the internal shape that makes the most difference. And that’s why I think the Jet is probably almost brighter than the DV. But you’ll have to listen to see what you think.
There are some cool things are going on with the design of the DV. And again, I’m not a mouthpiece designer, but I liked the way it’s got this massive opening in the facing here. And when I’ve done sessions with Jody Espina for Sax School, he’s told me that it helps with the way the reed vibrates and responds to the mouthpiece. It must be doing something right, because this mouthpiece does play amazingly.
However, as I said, at the start, I need to use a cane reed with this mouthpiece, not a synthetic. Let’s have a listen to see what it sounds like.
I am going to use the Power Ring ligature for the DV as well. But it’s a smaller mouthpiece, so it’s got a smaller Power Ring ligature. So when you order your Power Ring ligature, you’ve got to make sure you specify which mouthpiece you need it for, so you get the right size.
Listen to the DV
So, what do you think about the sound of the DV? Can you hear it? Whether it’s brighter or darker, what do you think about it in comparison to the Jet? What I love about the DV, is it feels really sensitive to me. So if you get the reed right for it, then it feels like you can just sort of breathe into the mouthpiece, and get it to do what you want.
Now, All of our Jody Jazz mouthpieces for me are excellent for altissimo. I know a lot of you will be wondering about that. And if your saxophone is working well, they’re great for the low register too. So equally all the mouthpieces are fantastic for getting over the whole range of the saxophone.
But I find with the DV, I feel more connected to it in some way. And it also opens up my mind to be able to get lots of different sounds out of the mouthpiece, from a sort of subtle smoky jazz sort of sound, to a commercial sound. Maybe not a classical sound, but you could probably get away with it in a big band as well, provided that your band leader was okay about you turning up with a metal mouthpiece. Trust me, that’s an issue sometimes.
Now the Jody Jazz DV is the most expensive mouthpiece on test today at $595. But I have to tell you, if you get one of these, it’s going to last you your whole life, as long as you get the size right. And then find the right reed that works for you.
Playtest #5: Jody Jazz SuperJet
So the final mouthpiece in our test today is the SuperJet. Now, this is a serious-looking mouthpiece. I love the fact that it’s silver in comparison to the gold of the DV. And when you look at the DV and the SuperJet side by side, you can see that they are very different shapes internally. There’s that pronounced ridge in the table the of the SuperJet.
Now they say this is a pretty bright mouthpiece. It certainly sounds bright to me. Let’s pop it on and have a listen.
The SuperJet mouthpiece comes with a ligature. It’s more of a standard type, metal ligature. So I’m going to use that instead of the Power Ring, but still with the same reed.
Listen to the SuperJet
So, what do you think about the sound of the SuperJet? I can tell you in the studio here, it is loud! This is a loud mouthpiece.
I was talking to Fred Vigdor from our Sax School tutor team. Fred plays with the Average White Band and has been touring with them for over 20 years. He uses a SuperJet, but he’s got a massive sound and he’s playing in big venues all the time. For him, this is a perfect mouthpiece.
And I think if you’re playing in that sort of loud environment, where you need lots of projection, and you want a bit of edge to your sound so you can cut through, then this mouthpiece would be a good choice. But I would be reluctant to suggest this to less experienced players.
Now other people may disagree with me. Maybe Jody Espina would disagree with me! But I would discourage less experienced players from going for this mouthpiece because it’s harder to control. And often it can mean that you’ll get a brighter sound than what you are going for. And it can also limit your choices for the sort of sounds that you can get out of your mouthpiece.
But it’s pretty cool. And if you’re interested in really high-energy stuff, then you can get some lovely sounds out this mouthpiece. The Jody Jazz SuperJet is $395.
How to Choose the Tenor Sax Mouthpiece for You
So what’s your favourite of those tenor sax mouthpieces? There’s a whole range there from dark to bright, and I’d love to know which was your favourite. Which do you think would match the sort of playing that you do?
I think when it comes to making saxophone mouthpiece choices, it’s always better to err on the side of a dark mouthpiece rather than a brighter mouthpiece. Why? Well, it gives you the most options with your playing.
I can tell you from experience that if you do choose to go for the bright mouthpiece, it might not be the best choice. So particularly us blokes – the testosterone gets going and we think, ”Aw, man, I want to get that big, bright sound.” “I want to be the loudest saxophone in the band.” So we go and get the brightest mouthpiece that there is out there.
It makes you feel good for about three weeks. And then eventually you’ll realise that everybody’s covering their ears when you’re playing. You can’t play something quiet and it limits your choices. That’s the whole point, right?
For some people, this tenor sax mouthpiece is perfect. but if you’re not sure, if you haven’t got a clear idea of what your sound is – or if you’re playing in lots of different styles; or if you’re a less experienced player – then you’re far better off to go for a more middle-of-the-road mouthpiece. It will give you the most options with your sound.
So of the mouthpieces that we tested today, I love the DV. I also loved the HR*. But probably my favourite is the Custom Dark.
Now that’s right at the bottom end of the spectrum. To be honest with you, my perfect tenor sax mouthpiece would be somewhere between the Custom Dark and the HR*, because I liked the way the Custom Dark plays freely. But I liked the little bit of edge that you get with the HR*. So who knows – maybe down the track, we’ll have a Jody Jazz tenor sax mouthpiece option that fits in between those two.
But I would suggest that for most players, if you haven’t got the budget for the DV, then I would suggest going for either of these two mouthpieces – the Custom Dark, or the HR*. Because that’s going to give you a great step-up mouthpiece from a stock mouthpiece that might come with the saxophone. And then you can feel your way from there. As you develop your skills, you’ll be able to get a bigger variety of sounds out of your saxophone. And you’ll have the option of expressing yourself, to find out what’s right for you, without being railroaded down just one type of sound.
You can get great advice from Jody Jazz on the best mouthpiece for you with their six questions to help you choose.
I really hope that’s been helpful to you. As always, if you want to find out more about what we’re doing at Sax School, we’ve got thousands of players from all around the world, just like you, using our lessons every single day. They’re getting help from our tutor team, attending the live masterclasses that we do, getting involved with our monthly challenges, and connecting with our incredible Community.
This is all there for you and you can start today with Sax School
And if you do want to learn how to play Careless Whisper, I’ve also got a lesson for you inside our Sax School Locker. Click the links above.
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