Johannes Gerber Vintage Slant Tenor Mouthpiece

Today, I am reviewing a mouthpiece made by Johannes Gerber in South Africa.  I have never played a Johannes Gerber mouthpiece before but have always wanted to.  I have heard great things about his work and if you visit his site at www.jgerber.com the pictures will make you want to pull out your credit card immediately.  I have to say that I am a bit embarrassed by my amateur photos compared to the jgerber.com site.  His are a work of art and probably the best mouthpiece photographs I have ever seen.  I have used his pictures from ebay on this review so you can see how nice they are!

I first heard of Johannes Gerber years ago when I went to a fellow sax players house here in New Hampshire.  Either he was selling a mouthpiece or I was………..(I can’t remember).  This other sax player was raving about this Meyer alto mouthpiece that he had Johannes Gerber reface.  He was so excited about it that I have always remembered Johannes Gerber’s name since then.  I’ve seen his name quite often since then on the internet but haven’t had a chance to play one of his mouthpiece until now.  I was very excited that I could finally get a chance to try his work finally.

This mouthpiece is called a Gerber Vinatge Slant Signature.  Obviously, it is based off of the old Otto Link Slant Signature hard rubber mouthpieces  that everyone is going bonkers over. Here is what is written about the Gerber Slant mouthpiece on the ebay ads for it:

“For sale is a Johannes Gerber Vintage model for tenor saxophone. Johannes has worked on a great deal of vintage pieces and after hours of measuring and testing different famous pieces of the past, the Vintage was born. After much research and testing, Johannes chose a modern material which has the same characteristics of the best hard rubber of the past. Johannes then combines it with other materials, resulting in a mouthpiece matching the vintage piece’s sound, but with better projection and better wear resistance.

Each Vintage is hand finished individually by Johannes Gerber – every line is perfect, every rail, side and tip – immaculate… Like all Johannes Gerber mouthpieces, the sound is balanced very evenly, and response is instant through the whole range. The mouthpiece behaves consistent with various reeds and this makes it a dream to play.

The Vintage features a large chamber with rounded sidewalls which gives a full bodied and lush sound. The baffle is cut just right to give a full sounding high register, while maintaining excellent projection and a lively sound. The balance between darkness and projection is remarkable. Altissimo and subtones are effortless.”

Johannes Gerber Slant Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

Now to my opinion…………..I loved this mouthpiece!  When I opened up the package and saw the mouthpiece my first thought was that it looked just as pristine and perfect as the pictures on ebay.  The material it is made of looks pretty cool.  It sort of looks vintage in that it is black in some places and a sparkly brown in others.  I took a few pictures with the flash so you could see this effect.  The tip and rails look as perfect as you can get and the baffle is a nice rollover down into a medium-large chamber.  The chamber  looks to be as large as my EB link. (I don’t have a slant to compare it to but the EB is a really early one from a slant mold)

When I first played the mouthpiece I used an old reed that was on another mouthpiece and immediately was bummed because I didn’t like it at all.  It sounded dead and tubby.  The number one rule with mouthpiece testing is don’t use an old reed that has been sitting on another mouthpiece so I opened up a new box and put one on.  It was a totally different story.  Full,vibrant and powerful sound that has a nice lushness to it.  The upper register was nice and crisp but with a nice fatness and character to it.  The sound reminds me of a Bob Mintzer type of sound.  It’s dark and fat but with a nice crispness intermingled into it. The intonation on it is as about as good as it gets. Every note is right on for me on my Selmer SBA (Super Balanced Action).

In this recording I’m am messing around with “My One and Only Love”.  To be honest I have enjoyed this mouthpiece so much that it hasn’t left my horn for the last two weeks.  For those of you interested in how it compares to a real slant…………..my opinion “it is very close”.  I played both my EB (which is from a slant mold) and the Gerber Slant this morning and went back and forth repeatedly. To me the Gerber Slant was more lush down low with a smokey quality to the sound.  The EB link was more focused and clear sounding down low.  Up high the Gerber slant was a tad brighter but still very close to my EB link.  The thing I like about the Gerber mouthpiece  a lot is that the beak is lower and more comfortable than on my EB link. That makes it easier to play for me.  The .110 Gerber plays almost the same as my .105 EB link. Going back and forth with the same 2 1/2  Java reed the .105 EB link actually feels a tiny bit stiffer even though they are both 25mm facing curves.  It must be a difference in the facing curve between Brian Powell’s curve and Johannes Gerber curve I guess.

The only negative I have about this mouthpiece is how hard it is to find a ligature for it.  I have probably 40-50 ligatures and none of my hard rubber tenor mouthpiece ligatures would fit. The only one I could use was a Vandoren Optimum with it tightened all the way down. The Gerber Slant seems to be in that nebulous world of having a smaller diameter than an average HR link type mouthpiece and bigger than an alto mouthpiece. Alto ligatures too small, tenor ligatures too big. I’d be very interested in trying this with a Marc Jean or Francois Louis ligature if I can find one that fits…………

This is a great mouthpiece to try if you are looking for that older slant type of sound without paying the slant prices you see on ebay.  The jury isn’t in on whether this will replace my EB link that I am so fond of.  I have to give it more time to decide that but I am excited that I found a mouthpiece that I like so much.  Check out www.jgerber.com or search for Mr. Gerber’s ads on ebay if you are interested in trying this mouthpiece out.  Let me know what you think.  I’d love to here any comments you might have.

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Steve About Steve

Steve Neff has been playing and teaching saxophone and jazz improvisation around the New England area for the last 25 years. He is the author of many effective jazz improvisation methods as well as founding the popular jazz video lesson site Neffmusic.com.

Comments

  1. I’ve heard some bad things about Gerber….but now I’m sold on how this recording sounds. Absolutely beautiful, Steve. I FAR prefer this to your EB link and I’m pulling that credit card out. Just beautiful. Textured, thick, middle of the road sound (that can go brighter or darker on how you play it), etc….it just sounds like everything I’ve been wanting that Slants and EB links came so close to but didn’t offer…I really hope it sounds similar in my mouth. Cheers to you and Gerber!

  2. Avatar Sheridan Farrah says

    Hey Steve,
    I’m the saxophonist you mentioned in the beginning of your story. I was selling a Lamberson tenor piece you had come over to try. I’m glad you liked Gerber’s work. to this day his Meyer is still my main piece on Alto., plus I have my main pieces for Tenor which he has worked on as well. If you’re ever interested in trying out some of his other work, I have no problem letting you borrow them or whatnot. The Alto is a 6 and the Tenor pieces are 2 Sugal’s around a .110 tip opening, one’s Metal, the other is wood.

    glad you enjoyed his work, and from your sound clip, I might have to check one out for when I do more straight ahead jazz gigs, but since that hasn’t been my bag for a while, I can wait lol.

    Thanks again.

    Sheridan Farrah

  3. Yes, I remembered it was you but I didn’t want to mention your name without permission. It’s a great piece that is for sure. Thanks for the offer on the pieces. I need a break right now as I’m mouthpieced out but maybe in the future. Steve

  4. Steve, which of the three plates that come with the Vandoren Optimum ligature are you using on this clip? Is it #3 (the one with the four dots) or #1 (the one with the straight lines)? Or maybe #2, although that is less likely because it muffles the sound a little.

  5. It’s the one with the straight lines that run with the reed. I never liked the other two for some reason.

  6. Steve, great clip! I’m wondering about the physical dimensions of this piece. I have a GW Slant copy that, I believe just as the slants and EBs, has a very steep beak to the mouthpiece. I find it very cumbersome in my mouth. I much prefer the feel of my metal Link or my Morgan. How does this piece compare? Is it similar to a GW Slant type piece (which I would assume is like your EB) or is it more gradual? I’m interested in trying it, but I’d like to get a better sense of the physical dimension first.

    Thanks, Eric

  7. Eric,
    The piece is close to the beak of my EB, not quite as high. The mouthpiece is narrower and a bit smaller so when you are playing it it doesn’t feel as big as a HR link. I have a GW slant here and the GW piece is quite a bit higher and fatter. Feels a bit bigger when I play it. So the Gerber is smaller and not as steep. I’m not sure if it as low as a Morgan though as I don’t have any of those here to compare. To me the Gerber feels pretty close to my metal links. My EB link feels much bigger than my metal links so there might be your answer. Steve

  8. Hi Steve, I’ve listening to many tenor clips today and this piece really sounds like a winner. Love that sweet spot ringing like tone in the upper end. Nice depth in the lows too. How did you find the altissimo response on it?

    Thanks, TJ

  9. The altissimo is great. I really love this piece. Johann is making me two more to try. A .105 and a .100. I’m looking forward to trying them. This is one of my favorite piece right now.

  10. Thanks Steve. I ordered a 0.100 (7). If I can sound half as good as you do on it, I’ll be happy 🙂

  11. Let me know what you think when you get it. Johannes Gerber does great work.

  12. Great hr sound…like a great slant.

  13. I really want to try one of these but don’t know what opening to order. I play a RPC 115B and Lawton 8*BB on my Shadow. Both of those are high baffle pieces. Any ideas?

  14. I’d say go for a 8 or .110 like I have. Your used to those higher baffles so the lower Gerber slant baffle with the smaller tip opening will feel similar to what your used to with the .115’s.

  15. Hey Steve, are you still enjoying the piece, or did Brian’s EB Link win out in the end? I’m debating ordering one of these off ebay, and was also curious if you ended up finding a Marc Jean Lig to fit it? Thanks.

  16. I just received one of these pieces in .105 tip.

    It is the best Slant-similar piece I have played. As Steve said, it is very easy to play, with super-easy altissimo and lush low end. Nice tone. Just the right amount of resistance to push against. It is a pleasure to play. I didn’t have the luck of playing a great EB refaced by B. Powell, so I can’t compare. But The Gerber Slant will be one of my most played pieces from now on.

    Bravo Johannes Gerber!

    Thank you Steve for the review, it made me decide to try it out.

  17. I just got one of these in on a trade in a 7* and it is quite impressive. A bit more dialed in and fatter than my Morgan EL’s and as Andrea mentions the resistance is just right. My Chu generally favors metal pieces but this works really well on it.

  18. HI STEVE,
    AFTER HEARING YOUR AUDIO CLIP I PURCHASED ONE FROM MR GERBER THROUGH EBAY ABOUT A YEAR AGO. I IMMEDIATELY LOVED IT ON FIRST PLAY. HOWEVER I NEVER USED IT AT GIGS THOUGH. I KEPT USING MY 8* METAL LINK. SURPRISINGLY I HAVE JUST BEEN USING IT AGAIN IN THE PAST MONTH BOTH IN PRACTICE AND GIGS. MR GERBER’S MP’S ARE UP SERIOUSLY SPECIAL. SUPER ACCURATE BOTH SONICALLY AND INTERNATIONALLY (IS THIS A WORD) WHAT MORE DOES ONE NEED I ASK. MY PIECE IS A 7**. SMALL BODY VERSION SO I USE AN OLD SELMER FLEXI TONE LIG. TODAY ITS MY PIECE AT THIS POINT IN TIME. THE OTHER 90 OR SO TENOR PIECES ARE JUST GOING TO HAVE TO STAY IN THE DRAW FOR NOW ( I LOVE THE MORGAN’S, KLUM”S, GALE HOLLYWOOD’S, LINK’S ETC) BUT AT THIS POINT IN TIME THE GERBER IS A SERIOUS INTOXICANT. ITS SERIOUSLY TOO EASY TO PLAY. ACTUALLY HARD TO STOP PLAYING. ISN’T THAT THE WAY WE LIKE IT? SO I’M GOING TO GET ANOTHER FAT BODIED ONE IN A LARGER OPENING. I WILL LET YOU KNOW THE OUT COME. THANKS FOR THIS WONDERFUL INSPIRING LOVE OF MUSIC YOU SHARE. VERY MUCH APPRECIATED!!!

  19. That’s great Craig! It’s stories like yours that make me feel like doing this makes a difference and helps people. I can’t tell you how many thank you emails and comments I have gotten because a player has found their perfect mouthpiece. Thanks again, Steve

  20. Hi Steve. Did you try other pieces from Gerber? I’m interesting how sound is on metal pieces from Gerber.
    Regards!!!

  21. Tom, Never tried a metal Gerber. I would love to though, they look beautiful!!

  22. Hi Steve,
    I think that I loved the tone of this mpc.
    How do you compare it to Aizen LS 7* and Morgan 8*MLL ?

    Thanks,
    VaMi

  23. VaMi, It’s been a long time since I played each of these mouthpieces. I do know that I liked the Gerber Slant the most out of these 3 and kept the one I reviewed for a long time. The Gerber was easiest to play and had a beautiful rich tone. Johannes Gerber is a very gifted craftsman and the piece was perfect. The Morgan MLL had a much bigger sound as I remember. It was huge and rich. I loved the sound of the Morgan but something about the hard rubber wasn’t as appealing to me as the Gerber hard rubber. The Aizen was ok for me but not as good as the Gerber or Morgan in my memory.

  24. Appreciate your reply, Steve!

    The ones who own/ play on Gerber, what tip opening would you recommend me – 7 or 7*. I play on .100 most of the time on my Morgans (L, MLL, EL etc.) and very comfortable on Aizen LS 7*. Thanks for the help in advance!

  25. VaMi,
    Mr. Gerber does such great work I think a 7 or 7* will be great either way. I personally like a 7* because I can get a little more volume out of it than a 7 usually………

  26. Hi Steve
    In Reference to this SOTW thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Nefertiti View Post

    Hmm……….Good question. The Lamberson is much brighter. The Gerber is darker. I would consider both to be on the medium side between dark and bright but when I push the Lamberson it gets brighter. When I push the Gerber it says in that medium range and doesn’t get too much brighter. The facing curve for the Lamberson makes it resistant so it plays best with a 2 1/2 reed. The Gerber is more free blowing and a 2 1/2 plays a little soft. A Rigotti Gold 2 hard or a 3 Java plays great on it though. They both get nice volume but I think the Lamberson seems louder because of the brightness in the tone. The brightness of the Lamberson is probably related to the facing curve and it needing a softer reed than the Gerber. They both are smooth and even throughout the horn but I would say the Gerber is more smooth. It is more lush down low and the highs are more full and buttery. The Lamberson can have a bit of an edge up top unless you are careful. I’ve played my Lamberson on a bunch of loud pop and rock gigs and it cut through the mix fine………..that goes to show how bright I can get it.
    Hi Steve
    Im not sure if you are talking about the Rigotti Gold Classic or Jazz? If its the Jazz, do you mean a Rigotti Gold 2.5 Hard as well as a Java 3
    I m asking because I thought if you are playing Rigotti Gold jazz reed, that you would prefer a harder one than a 2 Hard?

    Thanks

  27. Paul,
    I don’t believe they had the Jazz reeds when I posted this. They were just Rigotti Gold. They do have Rigotti Gold Jazz now but Rigotti says these are the same exact reeds and cut as the older Rigottis. They just have the word Jazz on them now………

  28. Hi Steve — As you know through my many emails to you I’ve been on the mpc roller coaster trying different brands/makes and not having much luck finding “my sound”. After listening to your clips and reading your reviews and those on the SOTW I’m happy to say I’m off the ride. My new Johannes Gerber Vintage 7 mpc arrived the other day and blew my sox off — unbelievable. I was playing a concert mouthpiece with a small tip opening, large chamber and great sound but not right for jazz. I had concerns making such a large jump in tip size, so for me a 7 tip is paramount to Evel Knievel trying to jump the Snake River. I’m not a big fan of really bright mpc’s, imho many excellent players are losing out on the rich tone of the saxophone. Your clip is spot on, the mouthpiece is practically a work of art. A medium chamber with a smooth baffle; crisp rails no defects; crafted, moderately longer than a short HR jazz mpc, comfortable angle on the beak. I pulled it out of the package, threw a used Rico 3 utility reed on it (might as well find out if it is reed friendly) and blew — IMMEDIATE SOUND. No airy squeaky “try to adjust your embouchure” tone. Steve, I went to town on this thing. Subtones, altissimo, overtones up and down the scale — with/without the octave key. I got a rich tone in the lower register and an easy altissimo all the way up, nice transitions. The Vintage has a great push, give it some more air, it will take it — I probably would have been good with a 7* . Just enough richness/depth but still not too much to bog you down like you’re playing through a swamp, easy on the embouchure — you’re going to run out of air before the tone starts to break. Just an excellent mpc, if you’re looking for a G Albright sound I wouldn’t suggest this mpc, its more Grover Washington Jr, Bob Reynolds vibe — sound with substance, laid back old school but able to rumble if needed. Let me finish by saying customer service was unparalleled, I felt Johannes really wanted to help me find my sound, answered emails, notified me when it was shipping and provided a tracking number. I’ve heard the horror “I waited six months and I’m just now getting it” stories — that didn’t happen here. Great communication from a real craftsman. Best Regards -D

  29. D,
    That’s great to hear. I have a new Gerber Slant on my tenor now that I have been playing for the last couple of days. I love his pieces. True craftsman and really great guy! Steve

  30. Avatar Philip Moss says

    Hi Steve,
    Can you say a little more about the new Gerber Slant mouthpiece? The original one is no longer available, so I am interested in how you would compare the two.

    Thanks,
    Phil M

  31. Hi Philip,
    I’m not sure on the new Gerber Slant. Johannes did send me one to try but I didn’t like it as much as the original Slant 8 he sent me years ago. I felt like I couldn’t get the power and volume I wanted out of the new piece. I emailed him to tell him and by that point he said he had already made changes and improvements to the new Slant and would send me a new one to try that he thought I would like a lot better. I haven’t received that one as of yet. Steve

  32. Hey Steve,
    I just picked up a Gerber Vintage Slant thinking it would be a good backup for my Otto Link No USA Slant 0.105″ piece (which was opened up by Adam Niewood from a 5*). The latter was my primary piece. Guess what, the Gerber Vintage Slant outplayed my No USA Slant. They are very similar, but the Gerber is a tad more even across all registers than the No USA. Previously, I had compared the No USA Slant to a bunch of other Slant remakes and none of them came close. I think this is an amazing piece. Not sure what changes Johannes has made over time in relation to the version you reviewed many years ago, but I am totally sold on this version.

    Thanks for all of the reviews you do.

    Raghav

  33. Raghav, That is great to hear! Johannes is a true craftsman and makes great mouthpieces! They are about as perfect as you can get and so beautiful to look at. Steve

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