Theo Wanne Gaia 2 Soprano Saxophone Mouthpiece Review

Today, I am reviewing another great mouthpiece made by Theo Wanne at TheoWanne.com.    Theo Wanne was one of the first mouthpiece makers to reach out to me and ask if I would be willing to do some reviews of his mouthpieces years ago.  I had heard his name for years as the guy to go to for mouthpiece work and when he started his own line of mouthpieces I had to try them out!   I have reviewed many of his mouthpiece on the site and if you do a search for “Theo Wanne”  you will find them.  Theo Wanne’s mouthpieces are innovative and some of the best playing mouthpieces on the market today.

This review is on the Gaia 2 soprano mouthpiece.  The first run Gaia has been my main soprano mouthpiece for the last 7 years (along with the Gerber LC which I also play quite a lot…….they both have different qualities I love……..please don’t ask me to choose as I can’t………)

Theo Wanne Gaia 2 Soprano Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Gaia 2 looks similar to my first run Gaia but the body looks a bit fatter to my eye.  Looking at the baffle profile from the side the Gaia 2 looks to have a lower rollover baffle than the original Gaia. The chamber looks a little larger but I am not 100% sure about that. It does look that way to my eye though.  I would say it has a medium rollover baffle and a large chamber. In fact,  the Gaia is one of the few soprano mouthpieces out there with a true large chamber.

The workmanship is everything you would expect from a Theo Wanne mouthpiece. Tip, rails, table, baffle and chamber all look great!  It has a built in bite pad on it.  I think this is a good feature, although,  I always use a bite pad over the bite plate anyways as I don’t want to have to replace it later. The window on the Gaia 1 and 2 is quite a bit bigger than the windows of most other soprano mouthpieces I have played to date.

Theo Wanne Gaia 2 Soprano Saxophone Mouthpiece

Here’s a description from Theo Wanne’s website on the Gaia 2 soprano mouthpiece:

“The GAIA 2 Soprano has revolutionized the soprano world. It has modern projection, but also a full rich, fat, and robust sound never before heard from a soprano mouthpiece. The GAIA 2 has been further updated with far more core and body to sound, while maintaining the big warm traditional sound the GAIA is known for!

The GAIA2 still uses a True Large Chamber, like most vintage soprano mouthpieces made in the first half of last century. However, those mouthpieces combined a large chamber with a low baffle and floor configuration, which made good classical mouthpieces, but never really worked for contemporary playing.  The GAIA2’s unique design opens up a whole new world for the soprano saxophone.  It maintains the ‘vintage’ beauty of sound, but adds depth and versatility never before possible.

Like all Theo Wanne™ mouthpieces, they are manufactured with accuracy higher than any other mouthpiece, vintage or new, and uses the highest quality materials in its construction.  The GAIA2 is truly revolutionary in bringing the vintage sound up to date both in design and construction.

For decades musician’s asked Theo for the perfect large chamber soprano mouthpiece.   He modified vintage Buescher and Slant Otto Link (among other) vintage mouthpieces.  Each of these had wonderful characteristics, but none were the ‘whole package.’ So Theo designed the GAIA 2.  The feedback has been overwhelming relief from many players who finally found the mouthpiece giving them the sound they always desired.”

 

Theo Wanne Gaia 2 Soprano Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Gaia 2 seems to have a different facing curve on it than the first generation Gaia. I suck at measuring facing curves  so I am judging this on the fact that my original Gaia loves Vandoren Java 3 1/2 reeds.  I don’t think I have ever put a Java 3 1/2 on that didn’t work for me.

I tried a few Vandoren Java 3 1/2 reeds on the Gaia 2 and they just felt too hard.  It preferred a Java 3. Since the tip opening is a 7 like my original Gaia I am assuming the difference has to do with the facing curve.  I’d be curious to hear from Theo on whether I am correct or not………..

As anticipated from the baffle profile,  the Gaia 2 has a darker and fatter sound than the first run Gaia.  Although I loved the ease of play with the first run Gaia and how easy the upper register was for me (easiest upper register of any soprano sax mouthpiece I have tried……) at times, the original Gaia seemed a bit too bright and brash to me.  A little bit too edgy if you know what I mean……..

I’m not sure if I was the only one to feel this way but the Gaia 2 seems to be the answer to this. The extra bit of fatness and darkness takes that bit of brightness and edge away from the tone that sometimes bothered me.

Theo Wanne Gaia 2 Soprano Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Gaia 2 is smooth and even throughout the range of the soprano sax.  At first it sounded a bit duller and less responsive than my original Gaia but I think that is just because I am so used to the Gaia 1.  After playing the Gaia 2 for about an hour it really opened up and I felt at home with it.

When I use the word dark, I am not saying this is a super dark mouthpiece but just darker than the Gaia 1 as I compare them.  I would describe the tone as alive and full.  It has a medium bright sound but also fat and smooth sounding.  It does have a singing quality on certain notes that I love.

Theo Wanne Gaia 2 Soprano Saxophone Mouthpiece

I have only played the Gaia 2 for about an hour today but I plan on playing it more tomorrow to see if I want to upgrade from the Gaia 1.   (My Gaia 1 has been my go to mouthpiece for years now and I feel a bit sentimental about it.)

The one thing the Gaia 1 has over the Gaia 2 in my opinion is that it has more volume, brightness and edge when you push it.  I think the Gaia 2 out performs it on beauty of tone though………..

The intonation on the Theo Wanne Gaia 2 was excellent and it was very even up and down the range of the horn.

Theo Wanne Gaia 2 Soprano Saxophone Mouthpiece

If you like the sound of the Gaia 2 soprano sax mouthpiece, you can order one from Theo on his website at www.theowanne.com.   Tell him Steve sent you………….Great work Theo!!   Can’t wait for the Gaia 3…………….

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

Theo Wanne Gaia 2 Soprano Saxophone Mouthpiece

Disclosure: I received the mouthpiece mentioned above with two other mouthpieces in the hope that I would try them and perhaps review them on my blog. I will be allowed to keep one of the three mouthpieces received. Regardless, I only review mouthpieces that I enjoy playing and believe will be good for other saxophone players to try also.    Steve
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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. I’ve had a few people ask how I recorded this already.

    I’m basically about 3-4 feet from the mic with the bell of the soprano pointed at the mic. At times maybe a little off center from the mic but basically pointed in it’s general direction………

  2. I just spent an hour going back and forth between the Gaia 2 and my original Gaia. The resistance of the original Gaia with the 3 1/2 Java reed is similar to what I get with the Gaia 2 with the Java 3 reed.

    The original Gaia is much brighter in comparison to the Gaia 2. It is really evident when you play them side by side. After playing the Gaia 2 for the last day going back to the original Gaia is much brighter…………

  3. I have been playing with Gaia 6 myself and I consider it perhaps slightly too bright and I would like to have some more good resistance, too. It is very easy piece to play. I have been mostly interested to try Gerber Solo LC 0.060 piece but now this new Gaia 2 seems also interesting. Can you compare the resistance and the darkness of Gerber and Gaia 2?

    Pete

  4. Hey Steve, I own 2 of the original Gaia’s 7’s for soprano. One of mine is brighter than the other but the over all sound is very similar. Listening to you play both the 1 and the 2,
    I can hear that the 1 is a little brighter, but I think it has a little more “personality” to it.
    I really like the Gaia and the only challenge for me is that the beak is a little narrow and
    I seem to struggle with narrow beaks as I can tend to bite a little. I use a thick patch on the
    mouthpiece which does darken the sound but also helps me with the beak.
    Great mouthpieces no matter what and worthy to be auditioned by anyone.

  5. Hi Steve
    Have you considered doing a sample with the mike mid-way over the soprano at about 2/3 feet distance? The trouble with miking on the bell is that it can sound quite thin and nasal, whereas I know you actually make a great sound with really good balance.
    My issue with the Gaia 1 soprano was that it was rather thin sounding generally, but it’s difficult to tell if the Gaia 2 improves this aspect when you mike it on the bell.

  6. Dave, I can try that. The problem I have had with recording that way is the notes further down the horn sound so different than the rest of the horn. If I put the mic in front of the E key then the D, Low C,B and Bb sound far away and tubby sounding in comparison to the rest of the notes. That has been my experience in the past anyways. Steve

  7. I understand. I usually record with the mike pointing at the F/G midway point of the horn, actually a bit closer than I said, maybe 12″ to 18″ to minimize room sound and I find it pretty even. It would be very kind of you to do a recording like this, but I realize you have much to do! (Congrats on the site in general BTW).

  8. Heath Watts says:

    Hi Steve,
    Did you lose any of your altissimo range going from the Gaia 1 to 2? I hope you’re doing well.
    Thanks,
    Heath

  9. Heath, Sorry, I don’t play altissimo on the soprano and only rarely on the alto. I love how it sounds on the tenor but because I think I am so accustomed to the tenor range it just sounds so high and irritating to me on soprano. I didn’t try to test that out so I can’t answer your question. Steve

  10. Heath Watts says:

    Thanks for replying, Steve. The Gaia is an altissimo machine on the soprano; using a good reed I can usually play two octaves above palm key F. I hope that they kept that characteristic in the Gaia2. Best, Heath

  11. Holy Crap! Two octaves above palm F! I hope you don’t have a dog. I think that is close to their range of hearing……….

  12. I am hoping to do a side by side comparison of the old Gaia with the new in the future also………

  13. Heath Watts says:

    Playing that high is not something that I can practice for a long time without wearing earplugs. I’ll stay tuned for your next review.

    Have you considered reviewing Joe Giardullo’s Metropolitan soprano mouthpiece? I’ve been look at them and listening to some sound samples. It seems like an interesting mouthpiece.

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