Ken Okutsu Traditional II Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece Review

Today, I am reviewing my second hard rubber tenor saxophone mouthpiece from Ken Okutsu in Japan. It is the Traditional II model and has a 7 tip opening which is .104. ( I call it a 7* tip in the recordings below because .104 is close to the traditional 7* size).  I hadn’t heard of Ken Okutsu before but he emailed me asking if I would be willing to try his mouthpieces.   I of course said “Sure!”  I already reviewed my first Okutsu mouthpiece a few months ago which was a great high baffle model. (High Baffle Model Review)

Ken Okutsu Traditional II Tenor Mouthpiece

Here is the description and features from the Okutsu website:

Features

  • Traditional II model has long rollover baffle which is higher than traditional model.
  • The brighter sound and more versatility.
  • Round inner side walls and large round chamber. It makes alive and fat modern sound.
  • All mouthpieces are crafted by CNC machinery for incredible accuracy and finished by hand carefully.
  • Concave table. It makes the tone full and rich. The practical life span of reeds is lengthened.
  • Material is the highest quality ebonite (hard rubber).

Ken Okutsu Traditional II Tenor Mouthpiece

The Okutsu mouthpieces are hard rubber and come in a protective plastic case.  Within the case they are wrapped in a black velvet bag.  I received 3 tenor mouthpieces and one alto mouthpiece from Mr. Okutsu.  The tenor mouthpieces are the Traditional model, the Traditional II model and the High Baffle model.  I kind of like how simplistic and straight forward the model names are.   The Traditional model looks to the darkest, then the Traditional II looks to have a slightly higher rollover baffle.  Finally, the High Baffle model has the highest  baffle as the name implies.

The mouthpieces look good to my eye.  The hard rubber is shiny and without any imperfections. The gold engraving is neat and clean.  The rails, tip rail, table and baffle look very well crafted and even.

Ken Okutsu Traditional II Tenor Mouthpiece

The Traditional II model was very reed friendly to me.  I had no trouble trying different reeds on it and all the reeds passed the suction test when first put on and then later after playing awhile.  The Okutsu mouthpieces have a concave table which many player’s and mouthpiece manufactures have preferred over the years.  In recent years,  it seems like I am getting a lot of mouthpiece with flat tables instead of concave.  Now that I’m writing this review, I am curious  as to what the differences are  between the two table in regard to playability, response and sound……….In the Okutsu bullet points above, the Concave table is listed as making the tone full and rich and increasing the life of reeds………….Interesting!

 

Ken Okutsu Traditional II Tenor Mouthpiece

I thought the Ken Okutsu Traditional II tenor mouthpiece played great.  Mr Okutsu did a great job in creating a mouthpiece that has a bit of that high baffle edge and brightness mixed with a tone that can be used for more laid back straight ahead playing.

The Okutsu Traditional II model had a nice focused core to the sound.  I would say the tone was in the middle of the dark to bright.  If you blew hard it got brighter, if you laid back it got darker. The tone was smooth and consistent from note to note throughout the range of the horn.

The intonation was great and I felt comfortable playing the Tradition bII from the first try.  I feel like the tone of these mouthpieces has a vibrant brassy kind of ring to it which I really liked in the higher register and the altissimo notes.

Ken Okutsu Traditional II Tenor Mouthpiece

The Ken Okutsu Traditional II Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece was great to play.  This  Okutsu mouthpiece is a good choice for players who want the best of both worlds.  It’s not as bright as the Okutsu High Baffle mouthpiece I reviewed earlier but it has plenty of guts and power when you blow hard.   Lay back just a bit and it gets more Linkish sounding to my ears.

If you like the sound of the clip below and the mouthpiece catches your interest then please contact Ken Okutsu and give it a try. You can contact Mr. Okutsu at his website at Okutsumouthpieces.com. Tell him Steve sent you………….Great work Mr. Okutsu!!

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

Ken Okutsu Traditional II Tenor 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. Hi Steve,
    very nice! Could You give a short comment how the Traditional and Traditional II would compare to e.g. the Navarro BeBop Special, the Morgan Fry HR and the 10MFan Robusto?

  2. Hi Walt,
    These are all top-notch mouthpiece you are asking about so obviously it’s hard to say one is better than another. (When mouthpieces are this good it’s sort of like asking who the best sax player was? Coltrane, Brecker, Mobley, Parker,Desmond, etc…….Impossible to answer…….) The Traditional II is in the ballpark sound wise of a Freddie Gregory Mark IV I would say. The Traditional is like a Freddie Gregory Mark II sound wise. (I’m just saying that for comparison not to say they are equal or play the same.) As far as the pieces you asked about. I think the Navarro Bebop Special is perhaps in between the Trad and TradII tone wise. Maybe closer to the Traditional I think. the Navarro has a dryer sound with a different resistance to it. I don’t remember much about the Morgan Fry HR so I won’t comment on that one. The Robusto I think is in the same category as the Traditional II but it has a fatter sound I think and the high notes and altissimo has a rounder smoother sound on the Robusto in my opinion. They are all very good though. Then if you consider the Benjamin Allen pieces you have another choice also……….. Too many piece, not enough time……….

  3. Warren says:

    Mmmmm reverb ;-<

  4. Westcoast Sax says:

    Sounds great Steve! I am ordering one! It doesn’t have that hollow tone like a lot of the other pieces on the market.

  5. Hi Steve,
    Thanks a lot for this article! I definitely love the sound of this mouthpiece. Is it recommended for non professional saxophone players? I mean, I have been practicing for 12 years but as a passion, I play with a Otto Link Tone Edge 5* ebonite but the sound isn’t bright and jazzy enough… After some years with the same mouthpiece, it’s time to level up..
    Do you think going to this mouthpiece is a good idea or it will be hard to master?
    Thanks for your feedback!

  6. Mathieu,
    I think this would be a great mouthpiece for you to try. The one element I can’t speak on is the tip opening. If you are playing a 5* for 12 years jumping to a 7* might be a rough change for you. Although, I have had students switch from 5* to 7* before with no problems and others who had a hard time. It’s really up to the person. Do you find that the 5* ever closes up on you when you try to play loud or up high? If so, an increase in tip size might be a good thing. You will have to use a softer reed probably on a 7*. The other option is you could choose a piece like a 6* so it isn’t as radical a change. Or you could just stay with the 5* on the Okutsu piece. I would say if the piece closes up on you to move up. If it doesn’t and you are super comfortable on it, stay with that tip opening. Good Luck, Steve

  7. Cornelius Campbell says:

    What’s up, Steve? I’m a proud owner of the Traditional Okutsu tenor piece in a size 7*. Im thinking of ordering the Traditional II. Would you prefer the Traditional II in an 8( half a size larger to accommodate the higher baffle)? Thanks again for a very informative & ADDICTIVE website! Is there a chance you might do a review of the new piece ” The Bridge” mouthpiece offered by Saxquest?

  8. Cornelius,
    i have a Traditional and the Traditional II both in 7* and I feel very comfortable on both. I don’t feel a need to get an 8 for the Traditional II at all.

    I actually have the Saxquest “Bridge” and “Core” mouthpiece here now waiting to be reviewed. Steve

  9. Hi
    I have listened to lots of your clips and i come back to this as just a beautiful sound (I think the Saxscape The Core is my second favorite, but i find the Trad II fatter but both have rich harmonics). Realizing that reeds, lig and above all the player can change the equation pretty dramatically, would you say these would be two good pieces to try for someone looking for rich harmonics but not too spread a sound and some sparkle/brightness when pushed so as not to get too dark? Hope that question makes sense.
    Thanks for your site. It’s a great source of ideas and point of reference.

  10. Bruce,
    Yes, I think these would be two great pieces to try for that. The Okutsu pieces are great. I have actually had a number of people offer to buy the Traditional II based off of the sound clip but I am keeping it because it is pretty special. One of these days I have to weed through all these pieces and decide which one I am going to play………

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