Mouthpiece Cafe House Blend II Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece Review

Today, I am reviewing another saxophone mouthpiece made by Brian Powell and Erik Greiffenhagen over at Mouthpiece Cafe.  If you have visited my site before you probably know that I hold Brian and Erik in pretty high regard.  They have both done tons of sax mouthpiece refacing jobs for me over the years with great results.  I have reviewed and tried many examples of their mouthpieces over the years and they are always top notch.

Actually, when I am on Ebay looking for my next sax mouthpiece purchase, I always perk up when I see a Florida Link mouthpiece that was refaced by Brian Powell or Erik Greiffenhagen.   Many players are looking for original Florida Otto Links but after playing a few that I ended up having to have refaced myself, I now would rather just buy one that has already been checked over, optimized and plays great right out of the box………my point being, that I trust the work that these two guys do.

Mouthpiece Cafe House Blend II Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

This Mouthpiece Cafe House Blend II was sent to me by an adult Skype student that asked me if I wanted to try it out.  He sent me this House Blend II as well as a beautiful Rafael Navarro Silver Bebop Special that I hope to review soon also.

The House Blend II is a 7 tip opening which is a little small for me as I usually play a 7*-8 but this mouthpiece didn’t feel small at all for me. Actually, it feels like I am playing a 7*.   I actually wondered if maybe they forgot to put the star on the 7.  I ended up making two clips of this one. One with a Rigotti Gold 3 medium reed and the other with a Rigotti Gold 3 1/2 medium reed.

Usually if I am trying a mouthpiece out and more than one size reed works great on it then I will do a sound clip of each just to hear what they sound like and see which reed I like better.   It’s interesting because sometimes the reed I like playing more isn’t the one I like the sound clip of the best.

Mouthpiece Cafe House Blend II Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The House Blend II tenor mouthpiece looks great as I would expect from Brian and Erik’s work. This is a used mouthpiece so you can see some marks on the table from use.  The tip, table, rails and baffle look smooth and even.  The inside side rails are scooped out as they lead into the chamber.  The baffle looks pretty high to my eyes. The baffle heads aways from the tip at an angle and then the curve increases as it heads down into the chamber at a steeper pitch.  I would say the House Blend II has a large chamber similar in size to a hard rubber Otto Link.

Mouthpiece Cafe House Blend II Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

Here’s a description of the House Blend model tenor saxophone mouthpiece from the Mouthpiece Cafe website:

This unique mouthpiece was modeled after Erik’s own hand-made creation. It is unlike any other on the market and is exclusively made by Mouthpiece Cafe. It features a large chamber with a longer baffle and we think the tone will absolutely blow your mind.

The House Blend is designed to have the perfect balance of brightness and edge while maintaining the rich, full body sound you desire. This piece is extremely versatile and is great for most venues including jazz, R&B,Blues and even Rock.  This is a player’s mouthpiece for sure!

HB vs HB2

HB-the design concept for the original House Blend was to make a mouthpiece that had the basic tonal characteristics of a Slant Signature Link but with more power and dynamic range. Easily played ppp to fff, lush subtone or full bore. Sort of like a Link on steroids.

The HB2 has an even longer more aggressive baffle than the original HB, that combines the best combination of a shelf style mouthpiece and a long roll over baffle. Still easily controllable and able to be played with a wide dynamic flexibility.

We are currently offer this in the following tip openings: 6*(.095), 7*(.105), 8(.110)

Mouthpiece Cafe House Blend II Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

I have attached two sound clip demonstrations of the House Blend II.  One is with a Rigotti Gold 3 Medium reed and then for kicks I added one with a harder reed, a Rigotti Gold 3 1/2 Medium reed. Both reeds played great with the House Blend II mouthpiece.

For me, the House Blend is truly a blend between a classic Otto Link type sound and a high baffle mouthpiece.  It’s one of those mouthpieces that straddles the line right in the middle.  Great for straight ahead playing but can get more kick and power for other genres of music when needed.

It was great for subtoning (I love the subtone at 1:32 of the 3 medium clip).  I also got almost a classical vibe to it (at 2:00 of the 3 medium clip where I go into my version of an improvised classical tune……..a little corny but I think it sounds good.)

The Rigotti Gold 3 1/2 Medium clip wasn’t as spread but I thought the tone sounded a bit more substantial and thick.  It sounded a bit darker in my opinion.

Overall, I loved the buttery smoothness of the House Blend II. It seems like a very versatile mouthpiece and is on my list of tenor mouthpieces to suggest to high school and college students that have to play in a variety of styles and genres.

Although I felt like I could get a respectable volume from the 7,  I would be interested in trying this mouthpiece out in a 7* or 8 just for kicks.  I love the focus and pure tone of the 7 but would like to see if the 7* or 8 would keep the same focus and purity while allowing more air for volume.  If I was playing in a loud band with electric instruments like many of us do I would opt for the slightly larger tip I think but that is just me.   This one has a beautiful and gorgeous sound in my opinion.

If you are interested in trying a Mouthpiece Cafe House Blend II out you can contact Brian and Erik through the Mouthpiece Cafe Website .  Tell him Steve sent you………….Great work guys!!

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

Mouthpiece Cafe House Blend II Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Rigotti Gold 3 Medium Reed

Mouthpiece Cafe House Blend II Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Rigotti Gold 3 1/2 Medium Reed

Disclosure: I have not received any compensation or products for writing this review. I am borrowing this mouthpiece from a fellow saxophone player who was kind enough to let me borrow it. Regardless, I only review mouthpieces and other saxophone related products that I enjoy and believe will be a good choice for other saxophone players to try also.    Steve Neff
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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 Steve for another great review. I have been enjoying my Mouthpiece Cafe House Blend II for while. I am amazed by its response and range of power and colors it offers while remaining extremely flexible and easy to play.

    On your SBA, the way you play it, it sounds amazing. Thanks for inspiring us.

  2. I have an original HB tenor and agree that the craftsmanship is top-notch. If I’m not mistaken, these pieces are not hard rubber, but a resin blend of some kind, which might explain the relatively low price for a boutique quality mouthpiece. This doesn’t seem to get mentioned much, if true. I find it on the bright side and louder than your “average” hard rubber Link.

  3. Steve, I’ve been so curious about this piece! I’m currently playing a Saxquest “The Core” on tenor and it’s a great mouthpiece, but sometimes I want a piece with some more focus and projection. I’ve been thinking about the HB II and/or the Okutsu Traditional II. I know they’re both great pieces but how would you describe the differences?

    Thanks for providing such a great resource for all of us!

    btw, I’m currently playing a Mouthpiece Guys NYC 7 on alto and love it!

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