Rafael Navarro Maestra Metal Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

This is a new metal tenor saxophone mouthpiece by Rafael Navarro. There has been a lot of “buzz” going on about the Navarro line of mouthpieces over the last few months.  As of this review,  Rafael has 3 models available for the tenor saxophone.  The Maestra, the Bahia and the Bob Mintzer Bebop Special.  All are available in black hard rubber, marbled hard rubber, brass or wood. (Actually,  you have your choice of 5 different types of wood).

There are some great players that are playing the Navarro mouthpieces right now.  Just to name a few…… Bob Mintzer, Wayne Shorter, Brandon Fields, Joel Frahm, Walt Weiskopf and Bob Franceschini and Anibal Rojas as well as many others.  The one that I’m reviewing today is the darkest model, the Maestra 7*.

Rafael Navarro Maestra Metal Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

 

I spoke with Rafael on the phone after I had played the mouthpiece for about a week just to get some more information on it.  He told me that the Maestra evolved from a double ring link and a Zimberoff concept.  Rafael likes to talk to customers so he can get an idea of what they are looking for “sound-wise” from a mouthpiece.  While he is making a mouthpiece he can make adjustments to it to match the desires of the player who ordered it.  As an example, he mentioned that Brandon Fields was playing a Maestra that had a step baffle in it rather than the rollover you see here.

The mouthpiece looks beautiful.  The craftsmanship is amazing.  The tip, table, baffle,chamber and rails are as perfect as you’ll ever see.

Rafael Navarro Maestra Metal Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

 

The baffle and chamber look similar to a couple florida and double ring links I have on hand. The chamber does look to be slightly larger to my eye which might be the influence of the Zimberoff mouthpiece concept on the piece.  I’ve never played a Zimberoff but I’ve heard that they have larger chambers in them.

The mouthpiece diameter is slightly larger than a Otto Link diameter.  My  Selmer 404 ligature and Vandoren Optimum fit on the mouthpiece but it was a tight fit to get them on and off.   At first, I tried a Rigotti Gold 2 1/2 medium……. too soft.  I tried a 2 1/2 strong next which played very well for me.  I didn’t have any Rigotti Gold 3’s but I think a 3  would have worked great on it also.

 

Rafael Navarro Maestra Metal Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Maestra was very easy to play.  Many times it will take me a while to get used to a mouthpiece.  With the Maestra, I felt very comfortable within minutes.  The beak profile is similar to a metal link so it was  very comfortable.

It had a quick response and evenness throughout the range of the horn.  The low notes were full and lush sounding.  I really loved the sound of it while playing against the wall but it also filled the room when you  turned around and played into the room which I really like.  Sometimes I play a mouthpiece into a wall and it sounds killer but when I play towards an open room the core and focus of the tone get lost in the room.  This Maestra has a great core that seems to carry far in an open space.   The evenness in tone throughout the range make it very easy to play fast runs.   It has a very smooth quality  that makes the fast notes blend well together.  I had a ton of fun playing this mouthpiece!

You can judge the tone for yourself as you listen to the sound clip.  In my opinion, the Maestra leaned towards the darker side of things while still having a nice crispness and clarity in the upper register.  You can decide for yourself…………

For the star ratings on this mouthpiece, I gave it 5 stars for construction, tone, response and value.    I gave it a 4 for volume only because I’ve played other mouthpieces that are louder in volume.  (That being said, the Maestra can get very loud and full as you would expect from a mouthpiece with this type of baffle and chamber.)

Rafael Navarro Maestra Metal Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

 

I really enjoyed playing the Rafael Navarro Maestra Metal Tenor  Sax Mouthpiece. If you like the sound and look of this mouthpiece contact Rafael Navarro through his website . The photos and testimonials on his site will really make you want to buy one of these mouthpieces!  It’s a great looking website and the mouthpiece are top quality.  I’d like to thank Rafael for sending me this Maestra to review.  I’m tempted to buy one right now buy I want to wait to see how the Bahia and Bebop Special play for me first before making a decision………………

Let me know what you think in the comments below. Thanks, Steve

Rafael Navarro Maestra Metal Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

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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 30 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. Avatar Herb Schwartz says

    Wow! That’s IT! What a sound! I’d like to hear a Mintzer mouthpiece now, too.

  2. Yeah man! I play a hard rubber Bahia. It’s been a revelation for me. You sound great on the Maestra. It has a nice edge but with a full, fat bottom. This mouthpiece just makes the tenor more….tenor…..if that makes any sense.

  3. Thanks Russ. I’m looking forward to trying the Bahia someday. I agree with you on the Maestra. I had the same thought when I listened back to the clip. It makes it sound more “tenor”……….

  4. I, like many others, am interested in these pieces, but I would not take a chance on blowing $5-700 bucks on a mouthpiece with a No Trial and No Return and No Exchange policy. That’s absolutely rediculous. I’ve had correspondence with Rafy about it and while I can understand why he doesn’t want to get involved with guys trying pieces, his top end pricing and policy is a deal breaker for me, especially with so many different models and sizes to choose from. And you know that if you tried half a dozen of the the same model they’re all going to perform differently. He’s got some of the best players out there endorsing and demoing them which is certainly impressive, but when I checked out the Youtube demo vids I didn’t dig some of the sounds. Some of the one’s Anibal played sounded like they had way too much resistance. If Rafy sent me one of those for $650 I’d be pissed and I’d be stuck with a very expensive piece I couldn’t play. I have no problem paying the price for a great mouthpiece, but all the other “designer” mouthpiece guys offer a trial period. Maybe he doesn’t need the business, but his policy is definately costing him sales.

  5. Avatar Mario Fedele says

    I just got a BAHIA in metal and a Mintzer in Marble. Can’t say enough good things about these pieces. I took a chance and I got exactly what Navarro told me I would get. Money well spend. He’s got my business and my trust.
    These pieces are work of art and they play better than any piece around. The Mintzer is out of this world. What a powerful sound and remains dark with the right ammount of edge. Now, I can sell all the junk I’ve got.

  6. Avatar Jon Goforth says

    Hey there, Steve,

    First off, thank you for your hard work demonstrating all these pieces. In the end, I’m not sure how much any individual can take away as to how a given piece will work for her; “all things being equal ” is little more than an overused aphorism that with most things is never the case. But is is very interesting hearing how you sound on them. You play very well.

    Okay, about the Navarro. I just bought a Maesta prototype from a good friend, a guy who is a confirmed Link player and a virtuoso on both sax and trumpet, and way more than competent on the flute. He really liked the Navarro but felt that he didn’t want to switch from his (then) current Link Slant sig., and he needed working capital for ridiculous things like food, mortgage and gas. His reluctance to switch and his need for cash for the banalities of life proved to be an excellent opportunity for me; this Maesta is one of the very best mouthpieces I’ve ever played, in every way. I have since ordered a Mintzer based on the strengths of this piece. I am really hoping that the Mintzer will be as good. In my experience, sometimes when a maker has achieved some notoriety the general quality of his product goes down. Maybe this is why Mr. Navarro doesn’t have a trial policy; if he has customers committed to a purchase, he may feel that he can better focus his energy on each mouthpiece, rather than having produce enough pieces to satisfy the demand for trials, many of which may not lead to sales. Judging from the reactions and endorsements from some of our very esteemed colleagues (tempered by my own experience), I think that this is likely the case. Back when Francois Louis made all his mouthpieces by hand, his policy was the same. And ALL of his pieces that I played-and owned-were stellar. I’ll say this-if the Mintzer proves to be as good as the Maesta I currently own, I will be ecstatic.

    An aside-I’ve played professionally for about 38 years. On tenor, most recently I’ve been playing an early Babbitt STM refaced (expertly) by Marin Spivak to a 7*. An excellent piece. Also, I’ve been playing two early Babbitt Tone Edges, one refaced by Bob Carpenter, and the other by Brian Powell, both of which are great mouthpieces. My main tenors are a 65k VI and a 50k SBA, although I occasionally will play a 311k silver plated 10m or a 346k King Super 20. In some things, variety is the spice of life.

  7. Avatar Walter Maas says

    Dear Mr. Neff,
    I am interested in the Navarro Bob Mintzer Bebop Special model in HR. I know you have a review on yr website of a Navarro Maestra metal so of course this is not the same model.
    But maybe I can still try 🙂 I am currently on a Warburton LA 8* and I know you have a review of that one allso. It was your review that made me buy that piece 🙂
    Since you can compare the two (Meastro and Warb LA) you might have an idea about how the tip sizes of both pieces felt to you. I play very comfortably on the LA 8* and am thinking about a 9 or 9* for the Navarro Bebob Special. I saw a clip of Anibal Rochas playing a BBS 9* and he said that it felt as a smaller tip.

    However this might be a big leap for me…..that’s what I don’t know and mr. Navarro has a non return policy so that make’s the decision which tip to choose a bit hard.
    I know it is hard to advise but I wondered if you could say anything about the Maestra and the LA how they compare, if the tip size feels about the same.
    Thanks

  8. Hi Walter,
    Well……..it’s been a while since I played a LA model Warburton. The piece I played was an 8 and was one of the most free blowing pieces I had ever played as I remember. I needed harder reeds with it because it blew so freely. The Maestra was a 7*. The Maestra blows very differently than the LA. It’s not as free blowing. That’s not a bad thing at all……it’s just that I don’t think anything is as freeblowing as the LA.

    As far as tip openings, I don’t think there was a big noticeable difference for me. Even though the Maestra was a 7* it has a lower baffle profile. The LA has a higher baffle profile. The baffles make them similar in feel for me tip opening wise. I personally wouldn’t go from an 8* LA to a 9* BBS but that is just me. Whenever I go over .115 I lose some of the core to the saxophone tone that I like so much. (although Anibal sounds great on his 9*) I would think that an 8 BBS or 8* would be in the ballpark of the LA tip and feel. I haven’t seen the BBS yet so I don’t know how the baffle compares to the LA…….. That’s your call though. I think Anibal said the 9* plays like a smaller tip because Rafael’s facings are so good. His mouthpieces play great with slightly harder reeds. That being said though, the LA has the same thing going for it……..it plays better with slightly harder reeds so in the end I think the tip openings would be comparable to each other.

    You could always call Rafael and talk to him about it. I’ve had a couple hour long conversations with him and he is one of the nicest most knowledgeable mouthpiece guys I have talked to. Good Luck with decision. Steve

  9. Avatar Walter Maas says

    Thanks Steve for your feedback. I think i will go for the 8* based allso on your comments.
    Thanks again for your advice and great webstite.
    Walter

  10. Very interesting review. Did you have a chance to try any of his wood mouthpieces?
    Thanks,
    Joao

  11. Hi Joao, No I haven’t tried any of the Navarro wood mouthpieces yet. I think the next one will be the Mintzer Bebop Special mouthpiece.

  12. Hey Steve,

    What’s your comparison of Navorro pieces to similar Theo Wanne moutpieces when it comes to tone, feel, response, etc?

  13. The Navarro’s remind me more of a link size chamber. Theo’s mouthpiece all have a really big size chamber which gives them a very different sound and feel. It’s like playing a NY link chamber with different size baffles on them depending on the model. Navarro’s mouthpiece are more like Link STM type chambers with different baffles depending on the model. Of course the quality on both are far far superior than off the shelf Otto Links. There not even in the same league…….I just am talking about the link chambers because most people have played them and are familiar with them on tenor. Hope this helps.

  14. Steve, really dig all the reviews! Any word on trying the BBS yet? I’m really considering it, and would really love to hear what you think! Great site man!

  15. Hi Chris, I am supposed to get a Navarro BBS to review. I’m just waiting for Rafael to have an extra one he can send me…………glad you like the site.

  16. Avatar Atanas Atanasov says

    Maestra is better than Bahia in my opinion.Amazing subtones!

  17. Atanas,
    Yes the Maestra has beautiful subtones! There is always a tradeoff when making mouthpieces I think. The Bahia is brighter and a bit louder but that added baffles makes the subtones less lush than the Maestra I think. Then again, if you need the extra boost of volume and brightness the Bahia is a great mouthpiece and the subtones on it are still quite nice……..

  18. Hi all,

    I’m interested on the tenor mouthpiece but don’t know which ligature would fit! please advise what kind of ligature would fit the tenor Navarro 7* hard rubber mouthpiece?

    Thank you all so much.

    Tuan

  19. Tuan, I think I say right on the beginning of the sound clip what ligature I am using on the mouthpiece. These Navarro hard rubber tenor mouthpieces are about the same size as hard rubber Otto Links. Any ligature that would fit a link would fit one of these. Steve

  20. Hi,
    I agree with you. It’s a fantastic mouthpiece. I tried with Rigotti Reed #3, Vandoren Java (Green color) #3 e 2 1/2 and Vandoren Optimun Ligature.

    I used to play with a Dukoff Power Chamber from 80’s or Otto Link Florida (original #9) before I tried Maestra mouthpiece.

    Maestra is fantastic. It’s very easy to play.

  21. Avatar Bryan Chung says

    Hi,
    That sounds absolutly beautiful. I’m Curious, does a Selmer M404 ligature fit on this mouthpiece? I understand that the diameter of these mouthpeices are bigger than most metal peices.

  22. Bryan,
    I don’t have that piece anymore as I was just borrowing it from Rafael for the review and had to send it back so I can’t say for sure. Steve

  23. Hi Sir and thanks for your amazing job. I have a marble maestra can you please tell us some difference with the metal version in blowing, volume, Tone and other stuff you can share.
    And please an opinion as above between the metal maestra and the metal Bahia thank you !

  24. Hi Peter, You would have to read the reviews and listen to the sound clips to hear the difference. It’s been so long since I reviewed them that it is hard for me to remember the differences. I know the Bahia is quite a bit brighter than the Maestra but that is about it. I don’t remember the difference between the HR Maestra and the metal one. Steve

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