Your saxophone mouthpiece is an integral part of what forms your entire sound. That, along with the reed and your embouchure, the Saxophone itself is almost secondary at this point.
If you’re starting out, you probably haven’t given this subject much thought, if any. Maybe you’re stuck with whatever mouthpiece came with the sax you got.
It may be one of the highly recommended ones, or it may be terrible and liable to give you problems in the future. It’s time to figure this out!
Getting a good saxophone mouthpiece will help you achieve the sounds you hear on your favorite records, and it will help you play with ease. With practice, you will be able to play your way up and down the entire register of the instrument.
Here are our recommendations for the best tenor saxophone mouthpieces that represent the best value within your budget.
They’re all hard rubber, and some of the top saxophone players in the world play on these. Any one of them could be the last saxophone mouthpiece you ever need. Let’s get started.
D’Addario Woodwinds Select Jazz Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece
This Saxophone is an excellent option for those looking for a nice jazz sound. A reliable buy, these mouthpieces are milled, not molded, from solid rubber using computer-controlled techniques. Rest assured, the quality is there.
This mouthpiece has a darker, more vintage sound and increased projection. It is perfect for a band to be mic’d up as it may not cut through a band otherwise.
You won’t find much resistance in this piece, meaning you will have good technique and embouchure, but you should be working on that anyways.
If you master this mouthpiece, you can get the vintage sound advertised and blow a little harder for a bright rockin’ sound.
The D’Addario has the same hard rubber feel as the jody Jazz mouthpiece but with different characteristics.
The D’Addario’s Select Jazz Mouthpiece has the incredible versatility needed to play all jazz styles and produce even intonations for the complete saxophone range.
- 100% precision-milled, vintage-inspired jazz mouthpiece
- Milled, not molded, from solid rod rubber, using D’Addario’s precise, computer-controlled mouthpiece making technology
- Classic sound and response, with even intonation across the entire range of the Saxophone
- Made in the USA
- Vintage-inspired design
- Classic jazz sound
- Unique rubber, milled from solid rod rubber
- If you are moving up from a small tip opening mouthpiece like the Yamaha 4C, this requires a LOT of air.
Theo Wanne DURGA Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece
The DURGA tenor has an even bigger, richer, contemporary sound. It is powerful and warm sounding simultaneously. So it can scream and play amazing ballads.
The Power Ring is a ring set at the back of the chamber that radically tapers the chamber down, giving the mouthpiece the benefits of the True Large Chamber with the power found in small chamber mouthpieces.
It is machined from blocks of solid brass—many alto players who never liked metal mouthpieces before love this mouthpiece.
The DURGA has a technically advanced design and manufacturing process. The result is a powerful mouthpiece with a huge core and breadth of sound.
No longer does the saxophonist need to have a thin sound to get huge power and projection. The DURGA is both powerful and fat-sounding simultaneously.
No other mouthpiece in history has been designed like this before; it will blow you away. It can both scream and play a soft ballad and is so much fun to play. Its huge sound makes everything before it sounds thin and/or stuffy in comparison.
- Great for Jazz, R&B, and Rock n’ Roll
- Projects a sensual tone that makes everyone want to dance
- It is so unique; it really has to be played to be understood and believed design
- Uniquely shaped long step baffle
- Crafted to the highest accuracy in the history of saxophone mouthpieces
- It delivers great sound
- It’s high quality made
Yamaha YAC 1292 Standard Series 5C Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece
If you’re starting and have never played the Saxophone before, get one of the Yamaha 5C mouthpieces.
It’s designed to be easy to play and get a sound out across the horn’s entire range.
Start with softer sax reeds like a 2 or 2.5 strength and then start to work up to harder reed strengths from there.
When you can get a good consistent sound over the range of the instrument on a number 3 reed using one of these mouthpieces, you are probably ready to upgrade to something a bit better.
- Easier to play and easier for beginning students to achieve a rich characteristic saxophone sound
- 8mm tip opening
- It provides a somewhat richer tone with a greater variety of colors than 4C and excellent flexibility and response.
- Reed fits smoothly
- Nice tone and increases velocity nicely
- Good quality
Selmer S-80 C* Mouthpiece for Tenor Saxophone
Selmer’s unit can be the best alto saxophone mouthpiece, but make sure that the dimensions fit your model. As long as you do that, it won’t matter which style of music you play.
The product will deliver impressive sound quality and consistent performance. Additionally, you may check the tenor saxophone mouthpiece designed by the same manufacturer.
Both units’ chambers have square cross parts, and that makes them unique. S-80C features medium-long facing, and the preferred material used by the company was hard rubber.
The result is excellent durability and premium quality of the mouthpiece that you will love.
- Square cross-section in the chamber
- Great for a “step up” mouthpiece
- Tip opening: 1.8
- Facing length: 24.00
- Versatile and suitable for almost any music style
- A premium mouthpiece with excellent sound quality
- Very durable and long-lasting
- It may not fit all saxophones
Vandoren SM823E T7 V16 Ebonite Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece
Vandoren makes consistently high-quality saxophone reeds and mouthpieces, and this Saxophone is the perfect place to start. It’s not terribly expensive, but it’s priced so that you get the high-quality product you are praying for.
These mouthpieces are fairly free blowing, with a larger tip opening than other mouthpieces. You should be able to get a big, direct sound without compromising your ability to play low notes.
The tone is full and vibrant but not too brassy. It is designed as a jazz reed, so it has a darker sound, but the wide tip keeps it edgy enough to play R&B, pop, rock, and more.
The Vandoren does not come with a ligature or a cap; you will have to get those separately. It also comes with a few different sizes of tip openings, which will affect the price slightly.
- A good compromise between easy sound projection and timbre
- Tip opening – 270 (1/100mm)
- Long Facing
- Works best with Vandoren #2.5-#3.5 Reeds
- This is an affordable mouthpiece with a good core sound
- Good quality
Vandoren SM721 TL3 Optimum Series Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece
The Vandoren LC01P Optimum Ligature allows you to have the freedom of expression you need while playing. It has fast and accurate tightening with pressure plates and a cap available if you need replacements.
It can produce tones in the entire range and is comfortable in achieving dynamics. It features a single screw adjustment that threads through both of the ligatures’ posts to provide even pressure on the reed.
This enables the reed to perform to your needs. It also comes with three pressure plates that are interchangeable with different timbre pressure points.
- Roundness, depth, and precision
- Tip opening – 176 (1/100mm)
- Medium Short Facing
- Works best with Vandoren #2.5-#4 Reeds
- Clean, clear tone
- It doesn’t stretch out like fabric ligatures tend to do
- Serious high school students and professionals
- Not good for beginners
Otto Link OLR-404-7S Tone Edge Rubber Tenor Sax Mouthpiece
The Otto Link Saxophone Mouthpiece has 24k gold plating to mix a great look with a rich sound. The larger bore rubber mouthpiece includes a ligature and cap to give you superb sound plus style.
This is a professional-level mouthpiece from the respected Otto Link. Bell metal mouthpieces are popular with professional touring saxophonists in pretty much every style of music from jazz to pop and classical, even R & B and rock.
They have a superb tone with a wide array of available facing sizes to elevate your sound. The Otto Link Saxophone Mouthpiece is available in the $200 range.
- This mouthpiece has been a very good choice for any jazz saxophonist for the last 50 years.
- Wonderful projection and tone quality without becoming very bright and harsh sounding
- Cap and Ligature Included
- Easy to play with a great sound
- It gives you a consistent tone
- The very warm, soft, and mellow sound
- Reed position can move
Otto Link OLM-404-NY-7S New York Metal Tenor Sax Mouthpiece
The Otto Link Metal New York Series is the epitome of husky tenor sounds that you can get from the large chambered mouthpiece. It includes the ligature and cap with the gold plated bell metal brass mouthpiece.
Otto Link has merged great looks with the deep and rich sound quality from a large-bore rubber mouthpiece that retains its superb sound and style.
They have a huge selection of facings that give you a superb tone quality, complete with projection, for total control. Otto Link is a top choice among professionals and can be used for Bb Clarinet and all types of Saxophone.
The Otto Link has been a popular choice among musicians for over 50 years to produce quality professional sounds. It is available in the low $200’s.
- Easy to blow for beginners
- Great tone, easy to use
- Great projection with a bit of edge
- A little on the expensive side
Classical Mouthpiece vs. Jazz Mouthpiece
Saxophone mouthpieces are made with different purposes and applications in mind. Many jazz players play classical and vice versa.
Young students usually start out playing classical and then venture to jazz, but still practice classical as a good technique. A lot of colleges even combine jazz and classical curricula.
There are even a few professional saxophone players that are known for playing both classical and jazz. If you plan on playing classical and jazz saxophone, it’s a good idea to have a mouthpiece for each style.
Many players who play multiple genres of music use different saxophone mouthpieces for classical and for jazz.
The ideal saxophone tones for classical and jazz are very different, and specific mouthpieces are designed with this in mind.
A fundamental part of being a successful saxophonist is choosing the correct saxophone mouthpiece. Although it’s often a choice made purely out of personal preference, it’s essential to understand how a mouthpiece is crafted to maximize sound.
It’s designed to provide saxophonists with the freedom to play different genres; most saxophone mouthpieces fall into two main categories: concert band saxophone mouthpieces and jazz band saxophone mouthpieces.
Since there’s an influx of similar mouthpieces available on the market, the key to finding the perfect saxophone mouthpiece is in understanding the different parts and what they do.
For saxophone mouthpieces, the materials used make a huge difference in sound. Softer materials produce a darker sound with less projection, while harder materials produce a brighter sound with more projection.
Plastic saxophone mouthpieces are the most commonly used by students, as they’re extremely durable and affordable.
Classical and jazz musicians typically prefer ebonite or crystal saxophone mouthpieces, as the sound is warmer and more focused than plastic.
Although not common, wood mouthpieces produce the warmest tones but can also be less stable. If you’re looking for the brightest sound and a lot of projection, you can’t go wrong with a stainless steel metal mouthpiece.
2. The Baffle & Chamber
The baffle is the part of the mouthpiece behind the tip rail and opposite the vibrating reed. While there are several different shapes, the major rule is that the higher the baffle is on the mouthpiece, the brighter the sound will be.
Typically referred to as a “high baffle,” baffles high on the mouthpiece are favored by saxophonists who prefer a lighter and brighter sound.
When it comes to baffles, it is ultimately up to the saxophonist to decide how bright or dark they’d like their instrument to sound.
Like the baffle, the smaller the chamber of a saxophone mouthpiece is, the brighter the sound will be.
The size and shape of the chamber can have an important effect on the sound. More modern mouthpieces often have a smaller chamber which can achieve a brighter tone.
The mouthpiece tip should line up with the reed tip when looking at the reed side of the mouthpiece.
The distance between the tip of the mouthpiece and the reed tip is the measurement by which most mouthpiece makers differentiate different mouthpiece “sizes”; see the tenor saxophone mouthpiece facing chart below. However, this is only one part of various elements that determine how a mouthpiece responds.
The sides of the mouthpiece along the vibrating part of the reed. The thickness of the rails has an effect on the sound. They should be symmetrical.
The part that joins onto the neck of the Saxophone. There must be an airtight seal between the inside of the shank and the neck cork.
A relatively modern innovation. Some mouthpieces have a wedge shape built up inside, which causes the airstream to flow faster, resulting in a brighter, more cutting sound. Baffles vary in size and shape.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Which Saxophone is best for rock?
Tenor is the usual Saxophone for rock, and it makes very little difference what make. You just need a good one as with any style of music. The mouthpiece is a more critical piece of kit as far as making the sound goes.
2. What is the difference between 4C and 5C mouthpieces?
Yamaha Alto Sax mouthpieces are designed to produce a well-balanced tone with all the flexibility the player requires. The 4C has a moderately narrow-sized tip opening for easy response and clear tone, and the 5C has a moderate-sized tip opening that allows for greater volume and projection and rich tone quality.
3. Which is the easiest Saxophone to play?
Generally speaking, most new saxophone students start off learning on either the alto or tenor. They are the easiest. The soprano and baritone saxophones have a few more issues that a beginner will face. Although the soprano is smaller than the others, it is very difficult to play in tune.
4. How do I choose a saxophone mouthpiece?
The larger a tip opening, the more it favors, the higher partials, thus the brighter the sound. A stiffer reed on a more close tip opening will give you a darker sound than a softer reed on a larger tip opening on the same model mouthpiece.
5. What is the tip opening on a sax mouthpiece?
The Saxophone Mouthpiece (and Clarinet Mouthpiece) Tip Size, or Tip-Opening, is the distance between the reed and mouthpiece tip.
This number is usually on the side of the mouthpiece body or the table. The smaller the tip size, the more narrow the opening; the larger the tip size, the larger the opening.
6. Should I start with tenor sax?
It’s compact and easy to handle, so perfect for younger players. Tenor sax is bigger than alto but another prevalent choice for a beginner player.
7. What is easier, Saxophoneor clarinet?
The Saxophone is simply a more comfortable instrument than clarinet overall and is more commonly used in rock music. It’s a natural choice. That being said, oboists often find clarinet easier because the embouchure is a bit firmer, which they’re used to.
Most saxophonists agree that the least important aspect of mouthpiece selection is brand. Although the various instrument brands are known for their nuanced tone qualities, the musician needs to find a mouthpiece that works best for their playing characteristics.
No two instruments, no two musicians, and not two mouthpieces are alike. Inasmuch, the best approach for mouthpiece selection recognizes what makes a good mouthpiece a good one and what makes a bad mouthpiece a bad mouthpiece.
With patience, a discerning eye, and a good grasp of their needs, the musician is well-positioned to find a mouthpiece that will work well given their preferred instrumentation and context for playing.
Decide before you start looking whether you want a bright or mellow tone and how much control you wish to have over the tone you can produce.
Don’t forget that your proficiency will impact which option is best for you.
The best advice is always patience. Saxophonists of all proficiencies need to fully consider their playing ability, playing context, and desired sound characteristics as they hunt for the next great mouthpiece.