Ted Klum’s Versitone Acoustimax Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from Frank Klum asking if I’d be interested in trying out Ted Klum’s new Acoustimax alto saxophone mouthpiece.  As I was reading the email, I got to the bottom and was in shock when I saw that Frank lives in Hollis, New Hampshire.  Hollis is the  town right next to where I live.  I feel like I’m kind of in the middle of nowhere so when I saw that,  I couldn’t believe it.  Soon, Frank and I were talking on the phone and we set up a time for me to come over and try a bunch of mouthpieces he had on hand.  I was pretty excited.   For those of you who don’t know, Ted Klum is considered to be one of the greats as far as mouthpiece work is concerned.  I have been hearing his name for years my first mouthpiece refacer Jon Van Wie had learned the art from Ted.

Ted Klum’s Versitone Acoustimax Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece (If you click on the pic it will enlarge)

I went over the next day and Frank had 20-25 mouthpieces sitting on his dining room table.  I could barely contain myself.  I ended up trying everything he had there.  There were  3-4 Acoustimer Focustone alto mouthpieces, 4-5 Acoustimax alto mouthpieces, 4-5 Acoustimer Focustone Tenor mouthpieces and a few metal tenor pieces.  If you know me from reading this blog then you know that this was a very special moment for me.  I was in heaven!

I played the alto mouthpieces first.  I think I spent 2-3 hours going back and forth playing each one with different reeds and ligatures.   What made it so hard was that each mouthpiece was very good but they were all in different tip openings.  If you ever tried a ton of mouthpieces before, you know that you can start going bonkers after awhile.  A .070 tip mouthpiece might sound killer with a 3 reed but that same 3 reed might feel too hard for an .080 tip opening.  After a short time I had a bunch of reeds piled up and 3 or 4 ligatures getting rotated…………The one I am reviewing today is an Acoustimax “D” facing which is an .080.  The Acoustimax is made of an extremely durable composite material.   This is the description from Ted Klum’s website:

Molded and machined from a revolutionary composite material – medium chamber – clear core geometry

Ted Klum Versitone™ Acoustimax Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece, made from a revolutionary and extremely durable composite material, produces a truly great tone with unparalleled intonation, projection and resonance. At last, an alto saxophone mouthpiece combining the greatest characteristics of classic vintage mouthpieces, state of the art design along with production advancements and Ted Klum’s own ultimate facing curve geometry. Acoustimax is the outstanding choice for students and professionals of all levels.

Features:

Unsurpassed intonation sets the new market standard for alto mouthpieces
Superior response and playability from ultimate facing curve and Clear Core geometry
Extremely tough and durable; crack and chip resistant
Increased dynamic range from ppp (pianissimo) to fff (fortissimo)
Included accessories: cap, ligature, pouch, bite-pad

It was obvious from talking to Frank, that the material they are using is very special in their eyes.  At one point, he was bouncing the tip of a mouthpiece on his kitchen counter which was making me sweat a bit.  I couldn’t stand it.  “Ok,Ok I said I believe you, you can stop that now.”  As you can see from the pictures, this is about as good as a mouthpiece can look. The table , rails, tip and chamber are all perfect.  The engraving……..perfect.  I played all of them and they all played great for me.  At the end of the time I liked this .080 tip with a Java 2 1/2 reed the best and decided to do a review of it.

As far as the sound goes, these have a very pure and centered sound to them.  I played them side by side with the Acoustimer Focustone mouthpieces and these were brighter and purer in sound than the Acoustimer’s I tried.  The Acoustimer’s had a bit of a richer sound to them.  The Acoustimax seemed to have a bit more power in them in my opinion.  When I was playing them I was thinking that the sound would be a good sound for lead alto.  A pure, focused, bright lead alto sound that cuts through. The intonation on these was also great.  It was actually much better than most mouthpiece I have tried.  My middle register of my Selmer can be sharp with certain mouthpieces but this mouthpiece was right on.

Ted Klum’s Versitone Acoustimax Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

Give a listen to the soundclip below to hear for yourself what these sound like.  If you are interested in trying one of these visit Ted Klum’s website at www.tedklummouthpieces.com for more information.  They are only selling these for 235 right now which is a great deal.  Thanks again to Frank and Ted Klum for letting me try their great mouthpieces.  I could go on about the tenor mouthpieces I tried but I’ll leave that for another day……………

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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. Hi Steve,
    I’m wondering how do you like the Ted Klum Acoustimax compared to your Theo Wanne Gaia?

    because from the clip between the 6 Gaia and the D Acoustimax, I think the D actually sounds thicker and has less edge than your Gaia.

    Thanks for the great site,
    Jack

  2. I’m not sure…….I haven’t played them side by side yet. I think you’re right, the Gaia is brighter and the Ted Klum is thicker. I have a bunch of mouthpieces I have to post clips of but after that I’ll play them next to each other and compare. Steve

  3. Thanks for the quick reply Steve.

    I’m wondering what do you think of the curve? Is it resistant or is it responsive with just a tad bit of resistance?

    I’m currently playing on a Long Shank Soloist refaced and opened up to a 0.085 by Erik G, and a Rico Royal 3 or a Rico Select Jazz 3S. and If Ted’s pieces are just resistant enough I think I’ll be ordering a D, but i’m not so sure… what do you think?

  4. COMPARED TO DRAKE NY JAZZ,WHICH ONE IS MORE FREE BLOWING AND HAS LESS RESISTENCE?

  5. In my opinion the Drake NY Jazz, Acoustimax and Gaia all have a similar resistance to them. I don’t remember one being more free blowing than another. I like a little bit of resistance though. I’ve had mouthpiece that are really free blowing but then it’s harder for me to shape and manipulate the sound.

  6. There is a resistance there for me with a 2 1/2 reed. It is responsive for me but I can’t play a 3 reed on it. Aa good 2 1/2 is perfect. It’s hard to compare to my Aizen’s and Gaia because those are smaller tips so the same 2 1/2 reed feels softer and blows easier on them but that is because of the tip opening I think. The Aizen and Gaia are brighter and the tone seems not as round to me.

  7. Hi Steve,

    I’m interested in the the Acoustimer as well, and I’m wondering how does that compare to the AcoustiMax, in terms of tone and resistance.

    Thanks for the help,
    Jack

  8. Oh Steve,

    I’m wondering if you still have this piece, and if you do are you going to re-record the clip with the Ishimori reeds?

    because I’m trying to compare it with the other new Aizen pieces and i’m not sure If i’m hearing the difference between the pieces or the reeds.

    Thanks,
    Jack

  9. I can. The Woodstone reeds a bit darker and the tone seems thicker to me. I’m not sure if I have time but if I can fit it in I’ll see if I can do that.

  10. Acoustimer was darker, thicker and fatter sounding to me. It had a bit more graininess and smokiness in the sound if that makes sense. The Acoutimax has a purer cleaner sound I think.

  11. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for the help, I am really curious about the differences between the Ted Klum Alto pieces, and the Aizen MeYer style mouthpieces.

    I’m wondering what do you think is the difference between the Aizen Jazz Master, and the Acoustimer. and the NY and the AcoustiMax.

    Thanks,
    Jack

  12. They are all great mouthpieces. Just different in there own way. The Aizen Jazz Master is bright in my opinion but with a more spread fatter sound. The Klum Acoustimer. is Darker and fat sounding ( I only played a couple of these for a few minutes), the NY Jazz is brighter and more focused…. the Acoustimax is bright also but seems to have a more pure clean sound than the others. They are all great to be honest. It really comes down to your personal opinion and what you like. Steve

  13. Thanks for the help Steve,

    I can only buy one of the pieces so I can’t go order all of them and try it out, so I was hoping to get your opinion.

    I’m trying to get a Cannonball-ish vibe and tone, of course I know it’s more about the player but i want a MeYer styled piece that will do the job.

    I am thinking about the following:
    Ted Klum Acoustimer
    Ted Klum AcoustiMax
    Aizen NY
    Aizen Jazz Master
    A.Drake NY Jazz
    MouthpieceCafe NYC

    Thanks for the help,
    Jack

  14. Do any of the mouthpieces in my reviews sound closer to the sound that you like than the others? That’s a hard choice as these are all great pieces with subtle differences…………

  15. Steve, I did like the NY Jazz, for the sound, but the only problem was it didn’t sound as thick as I would of liked it.

    I did like the AcoustiMax, but it was brighter than I wanted it to be, I was hoping that the Acoustimer was going to be right but I was hoping that you had a sound clip that I could listen too.

  16. I was supposed to get an Acoustimer to try a couple of weeks ago but it didn’t end up coming. Hopefully, I can try one and put up a clip at a later date.

  17. Thanks for the help Steve,

    One more question though. which one would be your choice if you want that Cannonball vibe, but has enough projection for lead without getting an overly bright lead sound.

    so basically Cannonball’s sound but has a bit more projection but without getting any brighter.

  18. Well, with Cannonball I think of his tone as leaning to the bright side but really fat and huge sounding. The last 3 on your list have that bigger wider sound:
    Aizen Jazz Master
    A.Drake NY Jazz
    MouthpieceCafe NYC

    I haven’t played the Acoustimer long enough yet to form an opinion of it. The Acoustimax, Aizen NY and Gaia I have are on the bright side but seem to be more of a focused centered sound. Again it’s a hard call. The top 3 give a fatter warmer sound but the bottom 3 five a bit more brightness and might cut through more in a big band setting. I can’t make that decision for you. All of them would be perfectly fine and great for me if I chose to play any of them. Just pick the one you love the sound of and work with it for 6 months after you get it to get the sound you want.

  19. between acoustimax,aciustimer,and aizen NY,which one is most free blowing,and which one has most resistence?

  20. Out of those three I thought they all had about the same resistance. The Aizen SO was the most free blowing I tried . Steve

  21. Okay so I got this piece this week and i love it. I t sings throughout the whole range of the horn. I tried Vandoren JAVA greens, and Rico Royal both in 3’s and I love how the Rico’s sound on this piece. the reeds have the power of a JAVA, but a thicker sound than them.

    well back to the piece, It has a nice FAT sound. It has that MeYer vibe to it but has more to it, like theres this thing that feels like it has more character than any modern stock or refaced MeYer.

    I have tried previous NY MeYer pieces as well, such as:
    MouthpieceCafe NYC
    RPC90R
    Phil-Tone Custom MeYer
    Vandoren V16 A6M
    Ralph Morgan Jazz 6M
    Marmaduke

    And I love the Ted Klum piece more than the others, it has the sound of a Great MeYer, and great clean response, and it has great intonation through my Selmer, which is usually sharp on D2-F2. So This piece cost me $245 that’s with shipping, and the piece got to me within a week.

    Ted did something great with these pieces, affordable for the gigging pro, and plays great. it also arrived in a timely manner unlike some mouthpiece makers.

  22. Mickey Doan says:

    Bough one after listening to Steve plays this piece. Thanks Steve. It is a good mix of all my favorite vintage pieces. The core is like a meyer bros mix with a gregory model A. The high is 80% like the selmer soloist short shank which carries and make the high notes sing. It also has a unique breathy airy vibe which none of my vintage alto pieces possess, it is like a Tenor ottolink super tone master kind of breathiness. The material doesnt hold it back with the added benefit of chip resistance. I am still exploring this material. It might even be more mellow than hard rubber which is a trait i look for in alto

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