The Essential Guide to Finding the Best Alto Sax Mouthpiece + Reviews
If you are trying to find the mouthpiece to go well with your sax, but you are short on time, check our guide on the best alto sax mouthpieces out there. We have thoroughly examined the quality of the most popular items in this category and we found that the Yamaha Alto Sax is the model that you should be looking for. It’s especially good if you’re a beginner and want to reach those difficult notes easier. This mouthpiece provides a much fuller sound and clearer notes than other similar products. That is why most teachers recommend it. If you cannot find the Yamaha Alto Sax model for sale anywhere, try the Selmer S-80 C* S402C1 mouthpiece instead.
Highly Recommended Choices – Reviews & Comparison
Each of the following models is great for certain sax players. We have put the time and effort into researching consumer reviews, sales figures and we have read professional expertise and we are confident that you can find a good alto sax mouthpiece amongst the ones that we have chosen.
Yamaha Alto Sax
It is recommendable that when purchasing a Yamaha saxophone, the existing mouthpiece on the sax should be replaced with this model. This mouthpiece makes the instrument easier to play and it improves the tone. It gives a richer and fuller tone, with a much more precise sound.
Yamaha is known as a high-quality brand that always provides good musical equipment. Although a great alto sax mouthpiece for beginners, this model is also suitable for professional players. It’s nicely designed and compact, measuring only 3.9 x 1.8 x 1.8 inches and weighing 1.6 ounces.
It can be used on any alto sax because it has a standard hole diameter. An important aspect to note, particularly for beginners, is that it doesn’t come with a reed and you will need to purchase that separately. It’s a piece of equipment that will make your saxophone fit for playing classical music.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($25.79)
Selmer S-80 C* S402C1
An elegant mouthpiece, this one is suitable for all kinds of players, from beginners to advanced students and professionals. It’s very versatile and can work well with many types of music styles. It’s a high-quality piece that is particularly suitable for a Selmer saxophone, but it can also work with any other alto sax just as well.
The dimensions are 4.8 x 2.2 x 2.2 inches and the piece weighs 1.6 ounces. As the manufacturers say, this is a model suitable for those that want a step-up in their play. It’s easy to play with this mouthpiece and it allows you to play at a quick pace.
It comes with a cloth bag, so it’s well protected against scratches and damage, but not as much as if it were in a hardcover. Because it offers a balanced and calm tone, it helps with removing squeaking.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($152.15)
Vandoren SM711 AL3
Vandoren is known as a brand specialized in producing quality mouthpieces and reeds for clarinets and saxophones. This mouthpiece is one of its excellent models. It’s a piece that is great at allowing the saxophonist to play the musical notes required for classical pieces. Offering a rounded sound, these models surely feel like professional alto sax mouthpieces.
Although great all-around, this mouthpiece isn’t quite suitable for beginners. Learners will have a hard time using it because it works best with reeds of strengths of 2.5 to 4, which aren’t used too much when starting to play the sax.
Because it’s designed for more experienced players, it’s a model that allows great control over tone. If you also use a Vandoren Optimum ligature, you will have much more control over low and high notes and a more round sound, and you will notice that the low notes will be much easier to play.
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Yamaha YAC1287 5C
Because it’s a mouthpiece that is easy to play, it is excellent for music styles like jazz or classical. In comparison to the Yamaha’s 4C mouthpiece, this one offers more control over low notes, while struggling a bit on the high ones. This is why it is great for jazz, where lower and more pronounced notes are required.
Depending on the reed you use, you will notice that you can approach different styles with it. This one is a model suitable for beginners, however, they should know that it’s not quite the easiest to play. It requires a bit of knowledge, but it provides a better and fuller sound than other mouthpieces.
Try to get yourself a saxophone for beginners and couple it with this mouthpiece. Another important thing to know about it is that it doesn’t come with rubber pads, and players that tend to bite too much into their mouthpiece may find that unpleasant. Similar to the 4C model, this one also doesn’t come with a ligature or cap, and those should be purchased separately.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($28)
J&D Hite H117
Because J&D is a brand that has a high reputation when it comes to producing accessories for woodwind and brasswind instruments, this mouthpiece from them must be a quality one. If you are looking for an alto sax mouthpiece that is reliable in both sound producing and durability over time, this one is for you.
It offers a stylish look and a rubber body that won’t get too damaged and it will be resistant against marks that your teeth can leave on it. It represents a great choice for both beginners and intermediate players. However, it doesn’t offer the full range of sounds needed for professional use.
Some players say that they like this model more than other recommended mouthpieces for beginners. The ligature and cap are sold separately and depending on what you choose, the piece can sound different.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($24.99)
This mouthpiece can be acknowledged for its excellent response, solid construction, and good quality. It offers a tone that sounds so clear and it lets the saxophonist have more control over the notes he or she produces. Because the piece is made of rubber, you won’t have to worry about biting into it and leaving unpleasant marks.
It is thus the kind of mouthpiece that should last you for a long time. The reeds that work best with this model are between the strengths of 2.5 and 4, suggesting that it is not a mouthpiece aimed at beginners but rather at more advanced players.
People that have used it say that it gives a more jazzy feel to the sounds and the notes are fuller. The narrow tip opening, measuring 0.071 inches, means that the notes are a bit harder to reach by inexperienced players, but professionals will know how to make the most of this device.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($101.8)
Made of injected-molded plastic, this mouthpiece offers great tonal qualities and a long-lasting build. The model should make playing sax easier and that is why beginners and intermediate players will benefit the most from using it.
In terms of size, it fits all the saxophones. When discussing sound preference, on the other hand, it should be said that it’s mostly a good choice for those that enjoy playing jazz, rather than classical music.
The sound it produces is smooth and it allows the player to easily articulate a vibrato. It’s a good choice for those that enjoy slow tempo music. Tonality-wise, it sounds very full, but it requires the saxophonist to blow quite hard to achieve the difficult notes, and that can be exhausting when playing for too long.
If you use reeds of strengths of 2.5 or 3, playing it becomes a bit easier and more pleasant.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($43.17)
Designed by the well-known Eugene Rousseau, this one is part of an acclaimed line of mouthpieces. The form of this model is elegant and at the same time, it provides the balance needed for playing many music genres. When playing with this mouthpiece you will feel that there is adequate sound projection, the notes are clear and you will have a pleasant experience with it.
Due to the 0.07-inch opening, the mouthpiece allows you to have enough control over the notes you want to produce, while still offering the deep tone wanted by most people. You may have some difficulties with playing it at first but after some uses, you will start to love it.
Made of the highest quality rubber, this mouthpiece will help you achieve the mellow tone that you might be looking for. It is thus a good choice for those looking to play classical pieces of music.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($78.4)
Yearly Guide & Report
Depending on what mouthpiece you choose, the level of performance that you can obtain from your sax will be affected. Different music styles can be approached with certain types of mouthpieces.
You may want your sax to have a deeper, darker tone or a brighter one. So here is a short guide on how to choose the perfect mouthpiece for your music taste. And if you’re playing trombone too, maybe you want to have a look at our guide on how to choose a trombone mouthpiece as well.
Choose based on your experience
As is the case with many other instruments, choosing what mouthpiece to get highly depends on how well you can play the instrument. Fortunately, most mouthpieces are interchangeable, because they can fit almost any kind of alto saxophone. And even if they don’t, if the piece is too loose or too tight, you can shave or replace the cork and make them fit together.
When reading alto sax mouthpiece reviews, you will see that many professionals recommend the use of a standard mouthpiece such as the Yamaha 4C model, when you start learning to play the sax. This should be accompanied by a reed of strength 2.5. You should learn the basics of how to play long notes and how to work your mouth in the shapes and actions needed for comfortably playing the instrument before you move on to another mouthpiece.
Every mouthpiece is specially designed to accommodate certain reed strengths. Reeds of higher strengths are more difficult to play, but they offer the possibility to achieve a larger array of notes. That is why it’s important to choose the mouthpiece in accordance with the reed type you will intend to use. Clarinet reeds might work too if you wish to experiment.
More advanced saxophonists will be able to play more complex combinations of mouthpiece and reed. Those that want to achieve a deeper tone and fuller lower musical notes will want to get a mouthpiece with a bigger opening and a thicker reed.
Although you may argue that saxophones can be used in many different music styles, they are predominantly used in classic pieces and in jazz music. Usually, when starting to learn to play the instrument, people learn to play classical music. Some of them will then attempt playing jazz but will still keep exercising classical pieces so they can maintain their technique in shape.
Depending on what genre you wish to approach, you will surely need different types of mouthpieces. That is because classical mouthpieces have a more closed tip opening and they produce a more mellow sound, and pure notes. Jazz mouthpieces, on the other hand, have much bigger tip openings and larger chambers.
They are made to allow more harmonics to come into the tone and thus give the specific jazz feel and more volume. That is why, if you want to sound true to the genre you’re playing, you cannot use a classical mouthpiece for a jazz piece of music and vice-versa.
And if you want to experiment more with jazz and try new sounds, check our guide on pocket trumpets, if you prefer a portable instrument or, look for an upright piano, if you enjoy playing in your home.
Because it is often an inexpensive option, plastic is a good choice for beginners. It doesn’t last that much but it offers them the possibility to try different cheap alto sax mouthpieces. When moving on to better mouthpieces, hard rubber or metal become the alternatives.
Metal mouthpieces are harder, produce a louder sound and they offer a more harsh and powerful tone. They are often used for more modern music styles like pop, funk or fusion and any player that enjoys classical music will probably avoid them.
Hard rubber models, on the other hand, similar to plastic pieces, offer a rounder sound and are the choice for classical or ensemble music. A difference between plastic and rubber mouthpieces is that the second mentioned have a more focused tone than plastic, are more mellow and have less projection.
There are, however, models from both sides that can be played differently. Certain metal mouthpieces will still allow you to achieve a classical sound. There is another kind of material used, although seldom, and that is crystal. A crystal model is considered to be the best alto sax mouthpiece for jazz by some musicians because of the bright tone it provides.
These crystal mouthpieces are not as durable as those made from other materials so they must be handled with extra care.