AM Mouthpieces “The Aras” Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece Review

Today, I am reviewing a new tenor saxophone mouthpiece made by Arnold Montgomery of AM Mouthpieces. It is “The Aras” model and has an 8 tip opening.  I hadn’t heard of Arnold Montgomery before but he emailed me asking if I would be willing to review his “The Aras” mouthpiece.  He hinted that there was something unique about it that he was getting “patented” so I was very interested to see what this unique feature would be…………

AM Mouthpieces “The Aras” Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

Here is the description of “The Aras” from the AM Mouthpieces Website:

The Aras ( or eagle) is the result of many years of acoustic research and development. The Aras is a 100% handmade saxophone mouthpiece.  The Aras features a medium high baffle  with a slight rollover that leads into a medium large bullet chamber for a tone that  produces what I’ve classified as a “Warm Crunch.” The Aras has a semi-bright tone with great  control, amazing projection and an unrivaled balance of tonal color. Due to our Patent Pending utility The “Resonance Chamber,” The Aras provides Great lows, a thick mid range and altissimo that is extremely easy to produce while still maintaining a fat rich core. The “Resonance Chamber” Allows the reed to vibrate on a four rail system as opposed to your standard two that are found on all other mouthpieces. This greatly increases the harmonics and lower frequencies of the horn.  The Aras has a thicker, heavier body than standard metal mouthpieces. This improves projection, sustainability, and durability. The overall feel of the mouthpiece provides a more efficient bite similar to a hard rubber mouthpiece allowing  for better ergonomics and a more comfortable feel thereby greatly improving  ease of playability. 

AM Mouthpieces “The Aras” Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

You’ve already probably noticed what is unique about the Aras mouthpiece pictured above.  It has a big opening in the middle of the table!  Although I have seen and played mouthpieces with extended windows before, I have never seen one with this type of design before.

When I took the mouthpiece out of it’s packaging, the first thing I noticed was that the Aras had a hefty weight to it. It felt heavier and more substantial than many other metal mouthpieces I have reviewed through out the years.  As you look at the window of the table below you can see how thick the metal of the table is.

The Aras has  a pretty high scooped baffle in it that is  reminiscent of some Berg Larsen baffles I have seen.  The side rails look even but flare out a bit as they approach the tip rail.  When you put a reed on the Aras the side rails near the tip flare out past the sides of the reed.  This is fine though because the rails are wide enough that the reed still lands on the side rails and tip when playing. The sidewalls are straight.

AM Mouthpieces “The Aras” Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

My first thought as I looked at the small opening to the chamber of the Aras was that this was going to be an incredibly bright sounding mouthpiece.  The chamber is usually the area of the mouthpiece right after the baffle and before the bore (which slides on the cork). What is deceptive about the Aras, is that although the opening to the chamber is much smaller than a typical Otto Link type chamber opening, the bore looks to be a similar size as an Otto Link.  Now if you take into account the square opening in the table that is further increasing the chambers size, you end up with an even bigger chamber. I’m actually very curious as to what the actual size of this chamber comes out to be if measured and compared to other mouthpieces??

AM Mouthpieces “The Aras” Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

I was worried at first that the Aras would have trouble sealing and getting suction with reeds because of the added window on the table. I did have some trouble with some old reeds I tried to use at first but that is pretty common as those reeds already molded and warped to fit another mouthpiece table in the past.  I tried some new reeds on the Aras and they worked great though.  They got a seal when applying the suction test and held a seal the whole time I was playing on that reed. That’s a good sign that Arnold Montgomery knows what he is doing………

In general, on this mouthpiece my Rigotti Gold 2 1/2’s felt to soft and free blowing.  I felt most comfortable with Rigotti Gold 3 Light, 3 Medium or with Rico Select Jazz 3 Soft Unfiled reeds.

One thing that I have to mention for the review is that the Aras was particularly difficult to match a ligature to.  I have a box with maybe 30-40 ligatures in it and found than the diameter of the Aras is big enough that Otto Link size ligatures will not fit on it but bigger ligatures for alto were too big for the Aras. I did find a few in my box that fit well though. This Rovner below fit well but I added a Vandoren pressure plate to it years ago when experimenting and it fit even better with the plate.  I also found that the Claude Lakey Compass ligature,a Rovner Eddie Daniels and a Saxxas Ligature for metal tenor mouthpieces fit the Aras well. The last 3 tended to move when adjusting the mouthpiece so I went with my homemade modified Rovner.

AM Mouthpieces “The Aras” Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The tone of the Aras was bright but very fat sounding to my ears. Not thin at all in my opinion.  From the first note of the clip the first word that comes to mind is “FAT”.  The tone was easy to bend and manipulate and I found the piece to be expressive.  I found that the mouthpiece played more “sweetly”  with a fatter lower lip embouchure.  I think that fatter cushion on the reed makes the brightness less edgy.  If you want more edge you can just make your lower lip a bit flatter and you have more edge. At 1:10 in the recording I lessen my air and fatten my lip a tad and the tone mellows out nicely……..

The mouthpiece was indeed very freeblowing in my opinion.  I played it for about an hour before recording the sound clip.   Although I felt pretty comfortable on the Aras, the resistance is very different than playing many of the Otto Links that I have been playing.  I found that I didn’t need to use as much air to push the piece into overdrive and I had to get use to the lesser resistance to shape the sound.   I found that although I was blowing with say a 6 air stream, the sound was at 10 already.  If I pushed harder it would then go to 12…….. I will say that as I played it I did get used to this different resistance pretty quickly though.  (I wouldn’t suggest playing this mouthpiece against a wall without ear protection for too long though……….)

I do think “the Aras” would be a great R&B and loud pop band mouthpiece.  Although it leans heavily to the brighter side of life, the fattness of the tone balances out the brights nicely.  I do think you could get a nice Brecker like tone out of the Aras for those of you seeking a Brecker type sound.  This mouthpiece would cut through the mix of a live situation very well I think.

If you like the sound of the clip below and the mouthpiece catches your interest then please contact Arnold Montgomery and give it a try. You can contact Mr. Montgomery at his website at AMmouthpieces.com. Tell him Steve sent you………….

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

AM Mouthpieces “The Aras” 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 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. Thank you so much Steve for giving the mouthpiece a try.

  2. Xavier Jordan says:

    thanks for the review! This piece sounds great!

  3. I’ve had a few people email me and ask how this piece compares to a Guardala. The first difference is that the Aras has a much different profile than a Guardala. It has a greater diameter and feels closer to a HR mouthpiece profile than a Guardala. The beak slope is higher and the width of the piece is bigger. It’s heavier than a Guardala also. As far as sound, the main difference for me is in the fatness of the sound. Guardala’s are very powerful and focused sounding mouthpieces. The Aras has an equal amount of power and similar brightness but the tone is much fatter and more spread than a Guardala. I always had trouble playing a Guardala on a cocktail duo or jazz set. It just felt too bright for that kind of playing for me. The Ara’s fatness I think makes it more useable on those kinds of gigs because I believe the big tone balances some of the edge and brightness. Those are the differences I notice. Hope this helps, Steve

  4. If anyone is wondering a perfect ligature fit for this mouthpiece would be a clarinet Rovner.

  5. Yes, the Rovner Eddie Daniels ligature that I have that fits well is a clarinet ligature also………..The ligature I used was a Rovner 3ML I believe which is for a metal Bari Sax mouthpiece.

  6. Arya Boustani says:

    Thanks Steve,
    For those who come from classic jazz mouthpiece sound and they like the idea of trying modern pieces but they are thrown off with the piercing sound of some bright pieces like Dukoff D or Guardala or Berg 0 or 1 pieces, I think this is a very good example of pleasing both crowds. It has the edge and cut through character on a Rigotti Gold but perhaps it can be a bit more mellowed down with the reeds like Hemke or even Select Jazz. A bit more edgy version of Warburton LA that you reviewed in 2011. Warburon LA also has more open window and lots of fatness and reed resonation but I guess dividing the window into two parts in the Aras gives that extra vibration without reducing the definition. Very smart idea in my opinion. I think Warburton LA sounds fat but a bit more mellow and a bit more spread compared to the Aras.

  7. Arya Boustani says:

    Just an after thought that I resembled the role of the narrow band of metal on the window as the focus of the force on the reed to create the stationary point like the role of bridge on a string instrument. If that’s the case, creating that focus of the force would result in less dissipation of the vibration energy. Not sure if it makes sense 🙂

  8. steven roosblad says:

    this mouthpiece has a nice fat sound.
    Very good for smooth jazz.

    steven

  9. Yes, I agree Steven. I think it would be great for smooth jazz. Reminds me of a Kirk Whalum kind of sound…………

  10. I agree about this review. I love the Aras.
    I’m using the Aras #8 in Japan. I acknowledged a great debt to Arnold Montgomery. I think the combination of Rovner Clarinet ligature is good, but Silverstein Clarinet ligature is better than it. I tried Silverstein silver and gold. The silver one sounds very sharp and loud. The gold one sounds warm and not too loud in any tones. And I used Legere Signature #2 3/4 with Rovner, but Silverstein allows so that I can use Legere Signature #3.
    I switched my ligature from Rovner to Silverstein gold.
    The only problem with the Aras is that my tenor sax vibrate too much. I’ll change a saxophone neck from Yamaha G1 to Yamaha C1 or E1 sterling-silver.

  11. I think the Aras is close to the sound of Michael Brecker in the 1970s that had been using the customized Otto link previous to damage to his throat. Of course, the Aras can allow that you sound like 1990s Michel Brecker by your control

  12. David Bynoe says:

    Hey Steve love what you’ve done with the review of the listed mouth pieces. I’ve been playing for about 10 years and felt it’s time to step up my game. I’m retired and on a tight budget and like the mouth piece Aras. But I can’t justify spending that kind of money right now but wanted to ask would the hard rubber mouth piece “Luna” be a good buy?.? Or should I just wait and save like hell?.

  13. David Bynoe says:

    I love what you have done to help me pick up my game. I have been playing for about ten years now and I’m looking for a new mouth piece. My question is I’m on a tight budget and want to know is the Luna a good buy for a hard rubber mouth piece vs the metal version of the Avars.??

  14. Hi David,
    I haven’t played the HR Luna so I can’t peak about it. If you like the Aras though, the Luna is a totally different sound and design. Steve

  15. i have a KATANA hard rubber mpc .it’s really great. powerful !!!!! free blowing and also big fat sound.

  16. Hi Freddy,
    Is it the one with the square cut in the table or no? I know I saw some new mouthpiece being made on facebook by Arnold without the cutout in the table……….

  17. Toshiki Hayashi says:

    I tried Rovner Classic and Silverstein Works Cryo4 Gold ligatures for the Aras. I think Silverstein Works Cryo4 Gold Ligature is the best ligature for me. Using Silverstein, reed is vibration very much. But I’ll try Ultimate Ligature Francois Louis Saxophone Ligatures someday. Because I seem that Keyon Carter use it.

    Silverstein Works Cryo4 Gold Ligature is:
    http://www.wwbw.com/Silverstein-Works-Cryo4-Gold-Ligature-J11588-i3787810.wwbw

  18. Will you be reviewing the Luna and the Katana mouthpieces??

  19. Ermel, Maybe, I have a ton of mouthpieces on my desk to review right now and I’m not taking any new ones until I get these done. Steve

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