With Strength Comes Beauty

I still haven’t figured out which tenor sax mouthpiece I will settle on. So far, I have my Guardala, which I’ve had for 21 years. LAST SUMMER, when I bought my tenor sax, I purchased a Vandoren V16. About a month or two later, I bought a Vandoren Jumbo Java. They all work depending on what reed I use. I didn’t begin playing tenor until 1991 while in the Navy. Before that, I played alto and baritone sax in high school and college. When I picked up the tenor in ’91, I didn’t even have a mouthpiece. My Master Cheif let me borrow a metal, Brilhart Level Air mouthpiece. A high school friend, Arthur Mareno, loaned the saxophone to me. It was an old Cleveland horn from around the 1960s, I think. I managed to get a decent sound from the combination, but the mouthpiece was pretty beat up. I needed something else.

A few years later, I got hold of a Berg Larsen that would give me a pretty good sound depending on the reed. It was never consistent enough for me, though. Eventually, I bought the Guardala Brecker II in 1996, and it was the most expensive purchase I’d ever made for a saxophone accessory.

What I’m Trying to Produce When I Play

The reason I bought it was because of its namesake, Michael Brecker. Micheal Brecker had one of the best tenor sax sounds ever. I wanted to have that sound. I never matched Brecker’s sound, but the mouthpiece gave me the best tenor sound I’d ever produced, and it also gave me more control over my intonation. Another bonus was the easy access it gave me to the horn’s altissimo (third) octave. By that time, I played a Yamaha tenor sax furnished by the Navy and used Vandoren green Java reeds, 2 1/2.

Lately, the difficulty of playing the Guardala is a lack of strength in my embouchure. By the time I had started using the Guardala in the Navy, my embouchure was well developed. LAST SUMMER, when I bought my tenor sax, I had not played for nearly nine years. I broke out my Guardala mouthpiece and put it on my new Allora Paris Series horn, which didn’t work for me. That is the reason I ended up buying the two Vandoren mouthpieces. Now it has been a little over a year of barely consistent practice. Now that my embouchure is more substantial, I can use the Guardala and get closer to that sound I used to get. So it doesn’t require a Yamaha Custom Tenor, though I’d like to have a Yamaha one of these days, or maybe something better. The new Selmers are beautiful. I want to play one someday.

Regaining Some Losses

My embouchure is more developed. I can now use my Guardala again, and I should get that same rich sound I got from the Yamaha Custom with some work.

I am still working with the two Vandoren mouthpieces as well. All three give me a different sound, all of which I like. But I do like the Guardala sound the best. And as my embouchure gets more substantial, the more beautiful sounds I make, and it drives me to work even harder.

My technique needs work, but I’m already on it. I need to practice more. I’m still excited about playing, and I look forward to getting better. I may even venture out in public one day soon.

One thought on “With Strength Comes Beauty

  1. It was much easier to play the Guardala when I bought the Yamaha YTS-62 III. It turns out that the horn you are using makes a difference when it comes to mouthpieces.

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