RS Berkeley Chris Potter Legends Series Tenor Sax Mouthpiece

Today, I am reviewing another RS Berkeley Legends Series tenor saxophone mouthpiece that was sent to me by Les Silver at RS Berkeley.  RS Berkeley has come up with the revolutionary idea of trying to find mouthpieces that were played and loved by jazz legends (deceased and still living)………and then copying them exactly so that we could try an exact replica of the mouthpiece that one of our musical idols played or in this case………still play.  It’s an exciting concept (yet very scary because if we play the exact mouthpiece our hero played and still sound like crap ……….well,  let’s just say it’s a wake up call……..)

This new Legends Series mouthpiece was made for one of the living legends on tenor sax today. Chris Potter!! Chris is one of the best tenor sax players on the scene today and I have been a big fan of his for the last 14 years or so.  I was really looking forward to trying this mouthpiece!

RS Berkeley Chris Potter Legends Series Tenor Sax Mouthpiece

The exciting thing about this project is that it sounds like Chris Potter brought his favorite tenor mouthpiece to RS Berkeley to have it copied exactly!  What’s even cooler is that Chris Potter is still alive!  So you know that he must have played it the copies afterwards and approved of them. From the quotes below, it sounds like he liked it even better than the original mouthpiece!

Here is  a quote from Chris Potter, a snippet from the RS Berkeley website and a quote from Les Silver on the Chris Potter Legends Series mouthpiece and it’s development:

“I was very pleased the first time I played this mouthpiece and was amazed to find it’s even a little better than the vintage piece it was based on for the sound I’m trying to get. It has a good, clear response in all registers and most importantly, it offers me the flexibility of tone color that thus far I had only been able to find in older mouthpieces. I hope you enjoy playing it as much as I do.” – Chris Potter

Material: Metal, Natural

Tip Opening: .105″

Legends Series mouthpieces are officially licensed mouthpiece reproductions modeled after the originals used by the world’s most iconic musicians. The creation of the Legends Series line begins with and features 3D scanning and post processing services by Konica Minolta’s 3D Scanning Labs, state of the art laboratory. Konica Minolta technicians capture highly precise scan data, capturing the unique characteristics of each original piece, thus matching the exact geometry of the original. Once the scan process is completed, the scan data is paired with highly specialized software to clean, align and create high quality CAD models. From an archival standpoint, Konica Minolta’s 3D scan models of the mouthpieces are exact representations of the original. The formal production process begins once the CAD models arrive in the RS Berkeley shop, where molds are then crafted. Master mouthpiece maker and designer, Jack Onque oversees every element of the process, from design to hand finishing to ensure the highest possible quality and accuracy of each authentic reproduction. Our new revolutionary process allows the reed to seat better on the lay portion of the mouthpiece, providing an air tight bond that enables improved vibration on the rails and tip opening. The process also frees up the chamber, delivering uniformed resonance and maximum projection.

Legends Series mouthpieces are designed and crafted in the United States.

“Here is exactly what happened with Chris. We made him 8 mouthpieces for him to try. He came over to our warehouse in Berkeley Heights, NJ. last August. We put the 8 mouthpieces on a table, and just let Chris try the mouthpieces and see what he thinks. He took each mouthpiece out, put his reed on and played each one. The only thing Chris cared about  was how did they sound. The almost impossible happened. Chris loved all 8 mouthpieces. A perfect score. How could this happen. Maybe I was dreaming.  Chris picked out two of them, and asked if he could take  two of the mouthpieces and play them that night with Pat Metheny.  When Chris came on stage I saw he was using the mouthpiece we made for him.  After the concert, I went back stage to speak to  Chris. Chris said to me “The mouthpiece you made for me sounds better then the original” -Les Silver

RS Berkeley Chris Potter Legends Series Tenor Sax Mouthpiece

The Chris Potter model tenor sax mouthpiece comes in a .105 tip opening.  That is the only tip opening offered for it. It is brass with some type of textured finish to it.  I’m not sure what they call it but when I hold it in my hand the texture of it  reminds me of holding a piece of chalk.  One downside to this finish is that it seems to darken and stain quite easily from saliva.

The 3D scanning and creation process used to make this mouthpiece copies every single detail of the original mouthpiece.  I noticed a slight indentation in the beak of the mouthpiece and thought maybe someone had played it for a while before I got it.  I later found out that that indentation was on Chris Potter’s original mouthpiece and so came through in the copies also…….seems like a strange touch but it is an exact copy so……….

The Chris Potter mouthpiece has nice even side rails and a thin tip rail.   It has a rollover baffle that slides down into what I would consider a Florida Link size chamber.  The side rails are scooped out and the chamber is smooth with no imperfections or edges.  The side of the mouthpiece is engraved with “Chris Potter” in cursive engraving.

RS Berkeley does not reveal what mouthpiece is being duplicated in their advertising but this Chris Potter mouthpiece looks very similar to many Florida Otto Links I have.  That would be my guess………..

RS Berkeley Chris Potter Legends Series Tenor Sax Mouthpiece

The Chris Potter Legends series mouthpiece played very well with most reeds I tried on it.  I gravitated to a Rico Select Jazz 3S Unfiled reed but I also played it with Rigotti Gold 3 Light and 3 Mediums and it played great with those also.  Although the mouthpiece played well from the beginning,  I did notice that there was more resistance in this mouthpiece than in my other Otto Links that have been refaced.  The facing curve feels much longer than most of my other mouthpieces also.  I had no problems with reeds or getting suction using the suction test though.

RS Berkeley Chris Potter Legends Series Tenor Sax Mouthpiece

In this case,  the resistance I sensed and felt was a great resistance.  To me, it’s like the analogy of waving your hands around in the air as opposed to waving them around when under water.  There is resistance under water.  You are pushing against something and you see immediate results.  You feel the force and consistency of the water and you can easily create movement and waves within that element.  Playing with a healthy resistance is similar to that in my mind. The sound can be more easily manipulated and shaped. With the Chris Potter Legends mouthpiece I felt like I could use my air more effectively and efficiently to shape the tone and soundI was producing.

RS Berkeley Chris Potter Legends Series Tenor Sax Mouthpiece

The RS Berkeley Chris Potter plays great!  It is similar in sound concept to a some of the great Florida Links I have owned and played.  That being being said,  I consider this mouthpiece to lean to the darker side of the tone spectrum. One of the things I loved about playing this mouthpiece was that it didn’t get much brighter or edgier when I blew harder.   The tone is round, full and rich sounding. The upper end of the horn has a beautiful round tone that doesn’t thin out in my opinion and the low end is rich and fat sounding.  I think the longer facing curve also allows me to take in more mouthpiece and get a much bigger sound as I experiment with it.

The other element I hear in the sound is what I would describe has a “hollowness”.   I’m not sure how to describe that word or quality but I did a review of a double ring Otto Link in the past that I thought also had that quality in it’s tone.  Someone in the comments of that review commented on how they loved the hollow sound that double ring link had and that word sounded like a good description.

RS Berkeley Chris Potter Legends Series Tenor Sax Mouthpiece

The RS Berkeley Chris Potter Legends series tenor saxophone mouthpiece was great to play. If you like the sound of the clip below and the mouthpiece catches your interest then give it a try. You can contact Les Silver at his website at rsberkeley.com or purchase a Chris Potter Legends Series mouthpiece at TenorMadness.com Tell them Steve sent you………….Great work Les and everyone at RS Berkeley!!…….(next you should do Michael Brecker’s Guardala mouthpiece!!)

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

RS Berkeley Chris Potter Legends Series Tenor Sax Mouthpiece

PS.  For those interested Chris Potter is also playing the RSBerkeley mouthpiece in this performance and video from NYU. (Make sure you listen to Body  & Soul at the end also……)

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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. Andy Berry says:

    Hi Steve,

    I really like the review. From speaking to my local RS Berkeley dealer in the UK, I can tell you that it is based on a Florida Link. I love the sound that you get from it. To me it sounds like early Redman (as you can tell from with a direct comparison to his version of Tears in Heaven) but it sounds a bit cleaner in the Altissimo register to me (although that may just be to do with your playing vs his). Great review, looking forward to the next. 🙂

  2. Thanks Andy! I love early Redman on that link……….

  3. Joel Frahm says:

    Man, you really sound great on this piece, Steve. Super warm, and nice character too. I’ll have to check them out.

  4. Detroit Dave says:

    I’m holding out for the Joel Frahm model!

  5. Paul Harper says:

    Steve,
    You sound really great on this piece – warm, round, fat, just beautiful. And it felt like you didn’t want to stop playing! A good sign. I’m gonna have to check these out.
    Thanks for the review!

  6. Thanks Paul! Yeah, I had fun playing this. Very cool mouthpiece to try……..

  7. Thanks Joel! I appreciate you stopping by. Now I’m just hoping someday they can sell Chris Potter’s technique also…………Steve

  8. Mike Hutchings says:

    Hi Steve, Just listened to all your recent tenor mouthpiece reviews and you sound bloody awesome on all of them! I’m now going to lie down in a darkened room!!
    Thanks for all the Newsletters, Best Wishes to you and family, Mike.

  9. John Whalen says:

    Hi Steve, any comment on volume aspect of this piece? Sounds quite warm – maybe too quiet for swing band setting you think? (My Link STM is not quite loud enough for big band it is but pretty close). Love the sound of this piece.

  10. Courtney Nero says:

    Steve, how does the Chris Potter Legends mouthpiece compare against the Phil-Tone/Wanne Tribute in sound, feel, resistance, etc. especially since both are based on a Fl Link?

  11. Courtney,
    I would say the Potter piece is more resistant and the Tribute is more freeblowing. I think I could get edgier on the Potter piece and the Tribute was more smooth sounding if that makes sense. I think the chambers are very similar as they are both from Florida Links but the facing curves feel very different when playing to me. If I still had a Tribute and could play it side by side with the Potter piece I could give more details I think but I don’t unfortunately………

  12. Courtney Nero says:

    Forgot to ask before…did the Potter mpc come with a ligature? If not, which lig did you find that fit the mpc well?

  13. Courtney,
    Mine didn’t come with a ligature. I just used a silver Selmer 404 ligature I believe. I think I say on the beginning of the mouthpiece clip. Steve

  14. Hi Steve when I hear Chris Potter play (heard him live a few times) to me he sounds very bright most of the time. In your review you mentioned that this piece leans to the darker spectrum of Link sounds ? Just wondering since this is a Chris Potter Legacy piece so I would think it would be at least leaning to the brighter side (not saying we can sound like him :-). Can you compare it to a Robusto metal or Andy Sheppard Autograph?
    Second thing I am wondering is how the mouthpiece projects ? Will it have enough power to be played in for example a big band setting ? Also on forums people say that Chris playes (or played) a Link 9 compared to this piece which is a 7* . I’m wondering why this would then have Chris’ name linked to it..? Any idea?

  15. Hi Walter,
    I agree on Chris sounding brighter in many recordings I have of him but I also have recordings where he sounds more neutral sounding to my ear. He sounds much brighter to me on the later clips where he is playing the new VI he picked up with a Link mouthpiece.For me, the Legends series piece was more neutral or darker than many of my links. Those have a bit more brightness and bite when pushed and I felt like this piece kept the same core sound to it even when pushed hard. It didn’t want to get edgy or much brighter for me. I feel like it projects fine and I could get a typical Otto Link type volume out of it. I have no idea about the rumors of Chris playing a Link 9 but from what I understand he gave this specific mouthpiece to RS Berkeley to copy and then even played the copies afterwards to see how they turned out. I heard that he was very happy with the results………

  16. Walter Maas says:

    Hi Steve
    Would it be possible to describe how this piece compares to the Phil-Tone Mosaic which you also reviewed ? Which one would you or do you prefer?

  17. Walter,
    The Mosaic was one of my favorites but at the time I reviewed it I couldn’t afford to buy one so I didn’t. I think the Berkeley CP piece as a very classic dark vintage link sound with focus. The Mosaic seemed brighter to me but also fatter and more spread sounding from what I remember. I didn’t play them side by side so it is hard to compare them more than that from memory. I still have the Chris Potter piece………..

  18. Great playing! Can I ask you what fjngering you use for the top C at the end? PS I have your approach note books and they are great!!

  19. Shirish,
    The last C was fingered 1 and 3 of the left hand and 2 of the right hand with the octave key pressed. Steve

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