Ken Okutsu Focus Core Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece Review

Today, I am reviewing my second hard rubber alto saxophone mouthpiece from Ken Okutsu in Japan. It is the Focus Core model and has a 6 tip opening which is .075. (In the sound clip below I mistakenly say it is a Focus Tone but that was a mistake on my part…….sorry Ted Klum…….)   I already reviewed four Ken Okutsu tenor mouthpieces which were all excellent so I have been very curious to review these alto mouthpieces also.

Four New Ken Okutsu Alto Saxophone Mouthpieces

Here is the description and features from the Okutsu website:

Features

  • Long rollover baffle, and almost straight inner side walls and extra small chamber.
  • Bright and clear, contemporary sound.
  • The extra small chamber makes very focused tone.
  • 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 Focus Core Alto Saxophone 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 four alto saxophone mouthpieces from Mr. Okutsu.  The alto mouthpieces are the Traditional model, the Traditional II model, the Focus Core model and the High Baffle model.  I kind of like how simplistic and straight forward the model names are.   The Traditional model looks to be the darkest of the four, then the Traditional II looks to have a slightly higher rollover baffle.  The Focus Core has an even higher baffle and the chamber is much smaller. Finally, the High Baffle model has the highest baffle as the name implies although the chamber is bigger than than the Focus Core model.

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. (Although you can see a scratch on the table in the picture below, I do not think the mouthpiece was shipped this way…….my wife decided to clean up my office one day when I was gone and put a bunch of my mouthpiece in a desk drawer.  This was one of the casualties I believe…….)

Ken Okutsu Focus Core Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Focus Core model looks to have a very small chamber on it.   The baffle is much higher than the Traditional II  and Traditional models.  The baffle is long and is still pretty high even when it gets to the chamber opening.  This makes the floor of the chamber much higher than on the Traditional and Traditional II which  I believe is what gives this mouthpiece that “focused core” sound that the name describes. As I look at the mouthpiece from the bore side the chamber opening looks even smaller than a Selmer Soloist which has one of the smaller chamber openings out there.

 

Ken Okutsu Focus Core Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

I thought the Ken Okutsu Focus Core alto sax mouthpiece played great with a Rigotti Gold 3 Light reed. I found that it had a little more resistance than the Traditional and Traditional II but I believe that is from the smaller chamber opening. I think the smaller chamber opening squeezes the air stream down into a tight core and gives this mouthpiece more volume, brightness and core sound because of it. Due to the smaller chamber opening there is an added resistance as your air fights to get through the chamber I think.  I don’t think this is a bad thing though since this mouthpiece takes plenty of air and gets super loud.  It just feels like you are blowing against something a little more substantial than the Traditional model or Traditional II model.

Ken Okutsu Focus Core Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Ken Okutsu Focus Core Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece was great to play.  This is a great mouthpiece for players who want a brighter focused tone that can cut through the mix.  There is loads of power in this mouthpiece.  I kept the sound clip a bit tame because I didn’t want to peak the  recording levels but this piece can really be powerful and knock down some walls if played full force! This is a great mouthpiece for those who want to go in that Sanborn direction but still be able to ease out of that sound when needed.

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 Focus Core Alto Sax 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.

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