Rafael Navarro Bebop Special Silver Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece Review

Today I am reviewing another great mouthpiece by Rafael Navarro.  This is a metal silver plated Bebop Special model.  I have reviewed most of Rafael Navarro’s tenor models in the past but I’m always excited when I can try a new one!   The Navarro Bebop Special hard rubber model is the mouthpiece that Bob Mintzer plays and I didn’t even know there was a metal version of the Bebop Special until now.   I have a Skype student I see once a week that bought it and played it for a lesson.  I asked what his new mouthpiece was and when he said it was a Navarro Bebop Special I assumed he was making a mistake and it was some other model as I had never heard of a metal BBS mouthpiece.  He was correct and it is indeed a Navarro Bebop Special model metal mouthpiece.

Rafael Navarro Bebop Special Silver Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

My student was nice enough to lend me this mouthpiece for this review for which I am very thankful.  As with all Navarro mouthpieces, the craftsmanship is excellent.  The silver plating on the mouthpiece was so perfect and reflective that I found it a bit hard to take pictures of. (I kept seeing myself in the reflections on the mouthpiece taking the picture……..)

The body of the mouthpiece has ridges in it that are reminiscent of a few Freddie Gregory metal mouthpieces I have owned over the years.  I’m not sure if the ridges serve a purpose in any way sonically but they look kind of cool. (Although a pain to clean when you have to get gook out them for the picture………..)

Like all Navarro mouthpieces,  The table, rails, tip and baffle are about as perfect as you will ever see.  This is a used mouthpiece so there is a little bit of wear on the table but the rest of the mouthpiece looks perfect.

Rafael Navarro Bebop Special Silver Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Navarro Bebop Special tenor mouthpiece is a 7* tip opening which is a .105.  It is about the same outer dimension size as an Otto Link metal mouthpiece.  The bore and chamber of the BBS (Bebop Special)was also similar in size to a metal Otto Link.

Rafael Navarro Bebop Special Silver Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

 

I tried a bunch of reeds on the Bebop Special but found the Rigotti Gold 3 Light to be the best for me. A Selmer 404 silver ligature fit perfect so I used one of those also.   The baffle has a flat part near the tip that descends toward the chamber in a straight angle.  It hits a semi-circle shaped edge and then descends at a greater angle into the chamber.

Rafael Navarro Bebop Special Silver Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

As I first looked at the Bebop Special, I found myself thinking that it would probably lean to the brighter side because of that first stage of the baffle.  I was surprised when playing it when I found that it was a lot darker than I thought it would be.  When I pushed it,  the tone became brighter but sort of leveled off at a midrange point if that makes sense.  Many times, I talk about mouthpieces being dark or bright or right in the middle.  The Navarro Bebop Special metal mouthpiece sounded really dark when played quietly.  It was lush and full and robust………but pretty dark.  When I pushed it, however,  it would kind of creep up to that middle point between dark and bright for me.  It wouldn’t go full blown bright like many pieces do but seemed to stay at that halfway point between dark and bright.

Now, that being said, on the day I recorded this, I was really in love with this mouthpiece.  I probably played for 4-5 hours and I was coming up with all sorts of creative ideas. I was really digging the sound, which is what inspires my creativity.  I was going back and forth between the two sides of my brain, “I have to buy this” and “You have enough mouthpiece already!”  The fact was that I was intrigued by this mouthpiece.   It has what I would consider a very unique sound to it……….

Although it doesn’t get overly bright it is plenty powerful in a midrange kind of way.  The low end is full, textured and full of character.  The high end and altissimo is round and fat but not overly bright also.  The evenness between notes was very good and inspired me to play fast as the notes blended together so smoothly and evenly. The only thing that slowed me down was how good the held out notes sounded……….

Rafael Navarro Bebop Special Silver Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Rafael Navarro Bebop Special Metal Tenor Mouthpiece was a complete joy 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 Rafael on his website.  Thanks again to my Skype student who let me try this…….he knows who he is……… (If you ever want to sell it let me know…………)

If you order one from Rafael, tell him Steve sent you………….

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

Rafael Navarro Bebop Special Silver Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

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. Tony Aguirre says:

    Wow! that’s a killer sound!..Love Navarro’s stuff. I say buy it. One of your best sounding clips.

  2. The Navarro bebop sounds great Steve! You captured a wide variety of tones, good sub tone when ballad playing, a nice edge when pushed for funky things. Would you say it’s a good all rounder type of mouthpiece? Like a Link but with a more contemporary character?

  3. Doug Wilcox says:

    I’m going to agree with Tony — Wow. You really knocked this one out of the park Steve.

  4. Filippo Puglisi-Alibrandi says:

    Steve, thank YOU for trying it and sharing with all of us its remarkable sound. I love this piece but I have to realize that it will take me years before I can play it good enough to even get close to you, so keep it! just send me one one of you Florida double ring LOL. What do you think the main difference are between the HR and the metal BBS? it seems that they have a completely different baffle…

  5. wish I could afford this piece.

  6. Joel Frahm says:

    Man, I’m going to have to check one of these out. You sound fantastic on this piece- like you’re truly having fun playing it, too. That’s something you can’t fake! Great clip.

  7. John Harris says:

    Steve,
    Sounds friggin AWESOME! An “all arounder.”
    I hear late Dex with the sound of this piece. Realizing you, most likely spent significant time listening, studying, & emulating him, ( as all disciplined sax players do), I don’t hear that in your playing which is so good that is meant as a compliment.
    I’m happy w/ my Barone Hollywood 7*. I don’t suffer from what I call the diseases of ” mouthpieceITIS & reedITIS in that I played on a HR Lakey alto piece for 27 YEARS! Yep I hail from Los Ang, & he made it, & tweaked it 4 times 4 me.
    Enough rambling for now…..Thanks Steve

  8. Jerry Pritchard says:

    This sounds like a near perfect mouthpiece for you, Steve. Lots of variety, ability to play at loud and soft dynamics, altissimo, even color in register change, and seems to let you play freely and with lots of speed.

  9. I’ve not felt compelled to comment on here before Steve but this time I have to echo previous comments. This does really sound fantastic for you. The quality of your tone across the range is awesome. Those high note – wow. I really like my Link and i get some nice ‘Getz’ sound comments (wish I could play like him too) but I have never been totally satisfied with my sound up at the top – might have to have a look at these. Thanks

  10. Hello! Amazing sound. Maybe you find your mouthpiece.

  11. Dmitri V. says:

    Awesome clip as ever, Steve ! I believe the sound, when it’s so good, make ideas pop up effortlessly. So try to keep this one, you sound terrific on it.

  12. You sound great and relaxed! Would you choose the same tipopening (7*) if you buy it?
    Rafael is a great mouthpiece maker.

  13. Yes, I really liked the 7* and it felt comfortable for me.

  14. Filippo, Yes, I was surprised the baffles were different between the HR version and the metal. I found the metal to be much darker than the HR version I reviewed before. It’s hard to compare more than that without having both side by side to play but I remember the HR being brighter. Steve

  15. Paul, Yes, I would say that. It did lean to the darker side in my opinion so I’m not sure how the darker tone would carry in a live situation but I would love to test it out in that environment and see. Steve

  16. Just buy it! Rafael makes simply the best products and is also one of the nicest human beings too! BTW, thank you for all your helpful reviews!

  17. Anthony Ferro says:

    Sensational. Blissful. Thanks. Always a great pleasure!

  18. Mike Hutchings says:

    Hi Steve, I tried a couple of these a while back, although they were Rhodium plated, not silver. As an ex toolmaker I thought that the finish was a bit suspect, but if you liked this ‘piece try a Morgan Fry Super Vintage 7*,also Rhodium plated. It knocks spots off the Navarro, as good as that is. As you may remember I’ve been searching for the perfect mouthpiece for years now, and have at last found it. Best Wishes, Mike.

  19. Tom Cohen says:

    Outstanding sound! In my mind, close to perfect tenor tone.

  20. Good News! The owner of this mouthpiece bought another one so that he could sell this one to me. (He’s actually trading it to me for lessons………) I am very happy to own it now!

    He actually bought a 7** and sent both to me to try which made my decision even harder as they both played great. I ended up going with this 7* I reviewed. The 7** was just as reed friendly but I felt I could get a bit more volume and power out of it. I thought the 7* was a tiny bit darker and perhaps more focused which is what I loved about it………Steve

  21. awesome, no dought, that’s Your mpc for all time!!

    Dexter

  22. John Anderson says:

    Dang! I agree with the others here – there’s something special about this one, and your playing shows that you were excited about it. Thanks for your site, Steve – what a great resource.

  23. Thanks John. I played on it for about 3 hours today. Loving it! Perfect blend of dark with bright while still being really fat sounding.

  24. John Anderson says:

    Steve – based on your clip and a few other glowing reviews, I ordered one of these. Got it yesterday and spent a couple of hours playing it last night. Wow! I can confirm that this is a pleasure to play, and capable of a pretty wide tonal range. When pushed it’s quite powerful with considerable edge, but capable of beautiful dark roundness as well.
    It felt agile and responsive, with just the right amount of resistance.
    I have a larger chamber piece with less baffle that I have been using for jazz gigs, and a high baffle smaller chamber piece for rock and funk gigs, and I was hoping this might fit right in the middle – first impressions are exactly that.
    Can’t wait to get out this weekend and gig with it.

  25. John, very good to hear. I’m curious how it does on the gig for you. I’ve played many “inbetween” mouthpieces that sounded great at home but on the gig didn’t pass the test. It’s a rare one indeed that can do it all on a gig going from jazz to crankin’ loud pop music. Let me know what you think afterwards……….Thanks, Steve

  26. The clip sounds absolutely great.

    In February 2016 I went to an interesting “mouthpiece masterclass” that Rafael did here in England. One thing he said (and I noted down as it was surprising) is that the design of the BBS in metal is actually NOT the same as the BBS ebonite, but the same as his Bop Boy ebonite model. I think that started out as a mistake, but he has stuck with it.

    Whatever it is called it looks and sounds superb.

    Rhys

  27. Rhys, That is interesting. I know it doesn’t play like the HR BBS I reviewed from how I remember it. The resistance and tone were very different. I have a HR Bop Boy also and it is different than that one also in my opinion. I think there is a metal Bop Boy out there also so I wonder what the difference is……..??

  28. John Anderson says:

    Steve – It’s been awhile, but here is a follow up opinion for you. I’ve been using this mouthpiece for 90 percent of my gigs since getting it back in February. The “in between” qualities of the Bebop Special are just about right for me, I think. I play straight ahead jazz mostly, with some forays into pop and adult contemporary. I sub occasionally with an R & B and Soul band, and for that I will still use a higher baffle piece such as my old Dukoff D7. I used the Bebop Special for one of those gigs and while it worked fine, I thought it was a little on the dark side – I had to work pretty hard to cut through the din. Having said that, for everything else I do it’s just the ticket – capable of being dark and lush for ballads, but with a nice brilliance and focus ready to be tapped if I need it.
    I have a late model Mark IV and an SML Gold Medal tenor as my main horns – I like this piece particularly well with the SML for some reason. I also keep a couple of ligatures in the case – a Theo Wanne Enlightened, and a standard Rovner. Both work well, with the Rovner darkening the sound a bit if I’m playing in a venue that needs it. I suspect I sound the more or less the same on either lig from an audience perspective, but as a player I notice a difference – enough to have a little fun messing with the setup.
    Rafael’s pieces aren’t cheap, but so far I’m very happy with this one.
    Cheers!

  29. cornelius campbell says:

    Im mainly use hard rubber pieces but , there’s “sumptn” about the sound of this piece. After reading your comments about the resistance level being different than the HR piece…what is its resistance level? Please describe it because most metal pieces are too free blowing for me.

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