Vigilante NYII Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

Today, I am reviewing a mouthpiece made by Jennifer Price at Vigilante Mouthpieces.  There are 10 models to choose from on the Vigilante website.  Today, I am reviewing the New York II which is the 4th brightest mouthpiece that they make.  (I also have a Detroit Rock to review next which is their brightest mouthpiece.)

Vigilante NYII Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The two mouthpieces I have today are considered “high baffled” saxophone mouthpieces.  This means that the area after the tip of the mouthpiece is raised and forms what looks like a ledge inside of the mouthpiece.  This baffle has the effect of making the tone brighter and louder.  My first two tenor sax mouthpieces were high baffle mouthpieces.  A Brilhart Level-Aire and a Sugal JB mouthpiece.  I played those mouthpiece for about 8 years while gigging in different bands around Boston in the 80′s and 90′s.  Matter of fact, I don’t think I even tried a tenor mouthpiece without a high baffle for the first 20 years of playing the tenor……….I didn’t even know what a baffle was…………

The mouthpiece looks great. The tip rail looks even and it has a straight baffle that angles down into another slightly scooped baffle that drops down into the medium chamber. The sidewalls are straight while next to the baffle and flare out when they meet the circular medium chamber. The side rails are thicker than I have seen on other similar mouthpieces like Guardala’s and Ponzol’s and flare out a little bit wider than my Java reed at the tip.  There are some machine marks or file marks inside of the mouthpiece that look to be from the hand finishing.  It has some nice floral engraving on the outside of the mouthpiece as well as the name NYII and what looks like a few dates and maybe initials on it…………..

Vigilante NYII Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

I don’t see any numbers revealing the tip opening on this mouthpiece but it feels like a .115 to me.  It comes with a generic metal ligature and I used  Vandoren Java 2 1/2 reeds on it which were perfect for this mouthpiece.

Vigilante NYII Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

As expected, the tone of the NYII was definitely on the brighter and louder side of the spectrum.  A mouthpiece like this would be right at home in any of the loud modern band situations facing most sax players today.  The extra volume and highs in the sound can really help a sax player to cut through the mix when having to battle with guitars, keyboards, drums and bass (who all seem to have volume knobs that seem to never have a limit)

Vigilante NYII Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

Although the tone is brighter and more powerful, I still found it to have a nice core and thickness to it.  The intonation was good and the tone was even throughout the range of the horn.  That evenness is important to me as I feel like I can play faster when it is present.  The tone is in that same ballpark as Michael Brecker’s tone in my opinion.  I’m not saying you can buy this mouthpiece and immediately sound like Brecker but I think it could help you in that direction……..

The low end takes some adjustment to play softly.  I could do it easily using sub-tone but with full air it was a little harder to play with finesse. That can happen sometimes with high baffle mouthpiece and is a trade off for the volume and brightness.  This can be overcome with practice, time and familiarity though……….

One thing that I did find annoying with this mouthpiece is that my reed would stop playing every time I put my sax down for a while.  I tried 3 new Java reeds on it and all played great when I first put them on the mouthpiece as long as I kept playing.  If I put my sax down for 10 minutes to do something else, when I came back it wouldn’t play.  The reed wouldn’t get suction.  Usually when this happens, my guess is that the table is not flat and that maybe moisture is getting under the reed and then warping it when it sits idle and starts drying.  I’m not a mouthpiece refacer so I don’t know all that is going on but that would be my guess.  Whatever is causing it, it can be very inconvenient and a pain to deal with…..(nothing worse than picking up your sax to play that big solo and it won’t play or starts squeaking……)  Most mouthpiece makers have been happy to look at and fix these “warping reed tables” when I have brought up this issue to them…………..Regardless of this issue, this mouthpiece plays very well.  I would just think about asking the maker or another mouthpiece refacer to look at the table issue to see if it can be remedied………

UPDATE:  I heard from Jennifer Price about 5 months after this review was posted.  This is what she had to say about the reed warpage issue I experienced:

“In answer to your GUESSING about the flatness of the table on both USED Vigilante NYII and Detroit Rock Tenor pieces.

I can tell you absolutely that I’m using a Starrett Granite Surface Plate which is AA grade. This means Flatness and repeatability are the two key specifications that define a surface plate’s accuracy. Federal specification GGG-P-463c lays out the specification for each grade of surface plate. I’m using a
Laboratory grade AA: (40 + diagonal [in inches] of surface plate squared/25) x 0.000001 in.

This is surface is used in machine shops for accuracy. I use this surface when I face my Vigilante pieces for the same. All pieces are also tested to make sure they seal and play to the same standard which I’ve always been accounted for working with DG. This is not a GUESS this is a fact.

As a retail buyer and working with saxophonist for the past 30 years I’ve had many discussions about reeds and their inaccuracy. Reeds are as we know made of cane, unlike brass, cane is unstable. We’ve all had boxes of reeds which die quickly or don’t play right as cane is not accurate. So now of course I’m guessing you had a bad batch of reeds when you played my pieces.”

I want to thank Jennifer for weighing in and giving her opinion on the matter.  I also talked to a mouthpiece refacer who did say that it could also be a bad batch of reeds, cane or just a really dry winter working environment that was causing the reed problems I was experiencing…………….  The refacer also said that since the mouthpieces were used it could be possible that some wear or damage could also account for the issue.      Hopefully, I can get a chance to review these pieces again with other reeds in the future to put this matter to rest.

Vigilante NYII Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

Take a listen to the sound clip below.   If you are interested in the Vigilante NYII saxophone mouthpiece contact Jennifer at Vigilante Mouthpiece.  Next to be reviewed is a Detroit Rock model that is the brightest and loudest model………………..Hold on to your seats………..

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

Vigilante NYII Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

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. Don, Those are the green box. I’m not a fan of the red box Java’s for some reason. They never have played well for me. I play on a SBA tenor. (Selmer Super Balanced Action from around 1949 I believe)

  2. Don Jacobsen says:

    Hey Steve

    Awesome site… Thanks for so many great mouthpiece reviews. Couple of questions – in this clip you are using vandoren java 2.5. Is that the green (unfiled) box or red (filed) box? Also I assume you’re playing on a mk6… Just curious what horn your playing… Thanks again!

    Don

  3. Hi Jennifer, Thanks so much for responding to this post. I appreciate it and am glad you got a chance to. It sounds like your mouthpieces have flat tables. I thought maybe they were concave as many mouthpieces are. Concave is not necessarily bad but I have found some mouthpieces with concave table that the reeds warped on quite often so I thought this might be the case also. I appreciate you clearing that up. I have the utmost respect for what you do and how hard you work. I’ll add some of your statements to my review so the readers see them and have a balanced perspective. I hope I get a chance to review these pieces again so I can replace these reviews with less of my “guessing” and more positive findings on the reed issue. Thanks Again, Steve

  4. Steve, first let me start off by saying I think you are a fine musician.

    My hand crafted pieces have been purchased by 3 of 4 Tower of Power Saxophonists. I am currently working on a 4th T.O.P saxophonist to create a Vigilante Hollywood Studio mouthpiece. There are many others who have purchased my pieces whom are very well respected in our small industry and Im very proud of my accomplishments of the past few years Hand Making mouthpieces again.

    In answer to your GUESSING about the flatness of the table on both USED Vigilante NYII and Detroit Rock Tenor pieces.

    I can tell you absolutely that Im using a Starrett Granite Surface Plate which is AA grade. This means Flatness and repeatability are the two key specifications that define a surface plate’s accuracy. Federal specification GGG-P-463c lays out the specification for each grade of surface plate. Im using a
    Laboratory grade AA: (40 + diagonal [in inches] of surface plate squared/25) x 0.000001 in.

    This is surface is used in machine shops for accuracy. I use this surface when I face my Vigilante pieces for the same. All pieces are also tested to make sure they seal and play to the same standard which I’ve always been accounted for working with DG. This is not a GUESS this is a fact.

    As a retail buyer and working with saxophonist for the past 30 years I’ve had many discussions about reeds and their inaccuracy. Reeds are as we know made of cane, unlike brass, cane is unstable. We’ve all had boxes of reeds which die quickly or don’t play right as cane is not accurate. So now of course I’m guessing you had a bad batch of reeds when you played my pieces.

    I would have answered this sooner but I’ve been too busy trying to get it all done, running my store Music Music, teaching 70+ private lessons per week, making mouthpieces and caring for my Mom who’s paralyzed. It’s now 6am and I’ve not yet been to sleep, however I feel the need to address this issue with you and the Saxophone Crew! Musically, Jennifer Price 805.527.1800

  5. Thanks Eddie. I hear what you are saying about the reeds. It’s strange as I have had this problem with a couple of other mouthpieces also but no problems at all with my favorite mouthpieces that I own and play. Not sure why one mouthpiece would pose a problem and another not in the same room with the same brand of reeds. Weird………….

  6. Steve I play the Vigalante Hollywood and the NYII. My reed of choice is a gonzalez 2.25 or a 2 1/2. I have played many reeds like Java, Rico jazz select and LaVoz. I live in a home that is dry and my reeds need to be soaked a bit. I had an issue with my Rico jazz selects not seating right on the table but it was the reeds. I used my reed geek and noticed I was taking off more of the reed on one side. My ligatures were oleg now they are Silverstein ligatures. I highly recommend the Gonzales and the Fiberreed naturals if your into synthetic reeds. I been playing Vigilante for two years now.

  7. Gilberto Perez says:

    Ok, will be nice to hear Jennifer comments about this issue, she is very friendly person… thanks.

  8. Gilberto, The test is to try getting suction on the mouthpiece when and if you notice a difference in the sound or response. I’ve heard from the owner of the mouthpieces that Jennifer Price is 100% certain that the tables are flat as she spends a lot of time making them that way so this might be just an issue of a bad batch of reeds mixed with the dryness of my house perhaps……….don’t know……..

  9. Gilberto, I used a generic metal ligature that came with the Vigilante mouthpiece. I sent the mouthpiece back to the owner already so I can’t test it with different ligatures now………….

  10. Gilberto Perez says:

    What ligature are You using?… I did buy this mpc used with the original ligature plus a Rovner Dark lig, so I decided to use the Rovner and today I was intrigue if the Rovner lig are really sitting the reed on the table, cause I could see some accumulation of moisture or debris on the tables and its sides; so I cleaned, put the original Ligature and tight it hard on the reed close to the begining of the heel… I’ve playing thru the morning and let the instrument rest 15, 30 and 60 minutes and the reed keeps playing ok, but if this is the solution maybe I should use a harder reed cause actual #3 sound quite brilliant… so what is your actual ligature on the test?… Will you check it back with another ligatures?… please Steve, let me know your thinking, love your reviews man… Thanks!.

  11. Gilberto Perez says:

    by muddy, I do refer to sound color… I do not if I explain enough…

  12. Gilberto Perez says:

    Well Steve, now you mentioned it, I became aware that I´ve been changing pretty fast my normal cane reeds on this mpc, which is no usual to me and the reason is that I did realize that they become muddy after some used and now I began to think maybe is the same issue you mentioned here… I have been using some Plasticover and no problem… I will be testing this in the next days and will be back to you… sorry for my limited English.

  13. Gilberto, Do you have any problems with the reeds on your NYII? I’m curious…….maybe these two pieces are isolated instances……….Thanks

  14. Gilberto Perez says:

    I buy an used Vigilante New York I Tenor mpc a few of months ago and I really love how it sounds, It makes me feel like there is plenty of room to growth on my sound with this mpc, I also found the altissimo quite easy to play and keep strong sound even I am not a Pro or experimented player but I also found that your comments on the low register is accurate. I will pay attention to the reeds problem and the table issue. Would be nice to know what are the difference between the model I and II. And Steve, thanks You so much for share all your reviews and knowledge.

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