After a couple of years of trying new mouthpieces, I have come to the conclusion that the Vandoren V16 hard rubber mouthpiece is the best mouthpiece I have in my arsenal. It is the one that gives me the least resistance. I am closer to the truest tenor sound with this mouthpiece than any other no matter what reed I put on it. If the reed is too stiff, too soft, or just right, the Vandoren gives me the best sound.
Every other mouthpiece in my collection (and I do mean every one) gives me the impression that there is a leak in the saxophone if the reed is not near perfect. Personally, I don’t have the time, nor the desire to sort through reeds to find the perfect fit.
I really like the sound that the Drake mouthpiece gives me, but again, I have to have a near-perfect reed. So I cannot use this mouthpiece all the time. Perhaps if I ever found a synthetic/plastic reed, using the Drake more consistently.
The Vandoren V16 metal mouthpiece is another example of a mouthpiece that requires the right reed. Generally, the metal mouthpiece offers some resistance, even with a perfect reed. So, this one also cannot be used all the time. When I do find a reed that works well with it, it’s a great experience.
The Vandoren Java mouthpiece is simply not useful to me. I have yet to find a reed that works well with it. I have not even been able to produce a video recording to demonstrate it. I suspect that there is a reed that will work well, however, I have yet to find it. However, the Vandoren Jumbo Java is more forgiving. It plays the way it plays no matter what reed I use, just like the V16 hard rubber. It is terribly bright, and sometimes on the verge of squeaking but, it can be used in a pinch. One of these days when I say “Used in a pinch,” I will be talking about being on a gig. Until then I will keep practicing. When the time comes, I will be ready. Sometimes I feel like I’m very close.
The last mouthpiece I will mention is my Guardala. It plays the way it plays. Sometimes it seems like you have to have just the right reed, but most of the time it will work with almost anything I use with it. The reason it is not my go-to mouthpiece is I have come to like the more traditional tenor sound that the Guardala will not produce. I’m not even sure what I’m trying to say. I love the sound but I don’t want that sound when I’m playing straight-ahead jazz.
Anyway, that’s all I have to say about the mouthpieces I have. I will of course be trying some other mouthpieces. One which I am anxious to try is the Otto Link Supertone.