Comparison of the Theo Wanne Gaia and the Gaia 2 Soprano Sax Mouthpieces

I did a review a few weeks back of the new Theo Wanne Gaia 2 soprano sax mouthpiece and have had a few people ask if I could make a comparison between the original Gaia mouthpiece and the Gaia 2 soprano mouthpiece. I have been playing the original Gaia for about seven years now and it has been one of my favorite soprano mouthpiece for volume and ease of play (I have also been playing the Gerber LC soprano mouthpiece for when I want a sweeter and warmer sound on the soprano sax). That being said, the Gaia 2 has me questioning my loyalty to my original Gaia ……  So, this comparison is as much for me as it is for those of you that have asked me for it.

First up is the original Gaia soprano mouthpiece.  For the sake of this review and comparison I am calling it the Gaia 1.  My favorite reed on this mouthpiece has been a Vandoren Java 3 1/2 soprano reed.  I have been using those for years and have been pretty happy with them on the Gaia 1.

For this comparison, I am making two clips of each mouthpiece and playing similar ideas.  One clip is with a Vandoren 3 1/2 reed and the other is with a Vandoren 3 reed.  This comparison is a bit skewed because even though both mouthpieces are 7 tip openings, the Gaia 1 feels most comfortable with the 3 1/2 reed while the Gaia 2 feels most comfortable with the 3 sized reed.  I decided that even though the Gaia 1 feels too soft with the 3 reed and the Gaia 2 feels too hard with the 3 1/2, that I would include those sound clips in this comparison also so that you could hear how the differences in reed strength effect the sound on both mouthpieces.

In the past, I have recorded my soprano clips with the mic pointed straight at the bell but many times that can sound overly bright and edgy when recording soprano so this time I recorded with the bell of the sax off center and a couple of feet away from the mic.  I think the recording is much better.

Feel free to listen to the clips below and please let me know what you think in the comments.  I have my own thoughts and observations but would love to hear what others think.   Thanks,   Steve

Theo Wanne Gaia Soprano Saxophone Mouthpiece

Theo Wanne Gaia  Soprano Saxophone Mouthpiece -Java 3 1/2 Reed(preferred reed)

Theo Wanne Gaia  Soprano Saxophone Mouthpiece-Java 3 Reed (feels too soft)

Theo Wanne Gaia 2 Soprano Saxophone Mouthpiece

Theo Wanne Gaia 2 Soprano Saxophone Mouthpiece-Java 3 1/2 Reed (feels too hard)

Theo Wanne Gaia 2 Soprano Saxophone Mouthpiece-Java 3 Reed (preferred reed)

To be honest, I woke up this morning and was going to send the Gaia 2 back as I have been happy with the original Gaia for the last 7 years.  At the last minute,  I decided to record them side by side.  Although the original Gaia is easy to play and has loads of power,  many times I find it a bit edgy and bright in the upper register.  The Gaia 2 seems warmer and fatter sounding to me.  It gives up a bit of the power of the original Gaia but now that I listen to the clip it sound much more pleasant and warm to me.  At this point, I am leaning towards keeping the Gaia 2 and replacing my Gaia 1.   What do you think?

The main comparison to make is the Gaia 1 3 1/2 reed compared to the Gaia 2 3 reed.  Those are the clips I am most comfortable on with both mouthpieces.   Thanks,   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. Mark Gomez says:

    I agree with you Steve. The original is a little brighter compared to the Gaia2. I say keep the Gaia 2 and say goodbye to the original. More color with Gaia and that’s what I prefer. Great job with comparisons! 🙂

  2. Heath Watts says:

    Hi Steve,
    I like the way you sound on both of them, but I agree about the edginess in your sound on the Gaia vs. the Gaia2. I tried a Gaia2 for a few hours during the last couple of days, but decided to send it back. The Gaia2 has a nice sound and the same range as the Gaia1, but I did not like the darkness of the piece. Both are easy to play and respond very well; however, I prefer to have more overtone sounds than the Gaia2 was providing. They are both great mouthpieces, and because the Gaia1 is no longer made, I’d recommend the Gaia2 to anyone who has not bought a Gaia1 previously. You and I play different setups and different types of music, so that could cause a difference in our perception about mouthpieces’ response. I play a size 11 with a Hemke 2 reed. Thanks for your review and the comparisons.
    Heath

  3. Heath, Holy Cow! A size 11!! Yeah, that is like a totally different mouthpiece than a 7. That’s huge! Thanks for your input………Steve

  4. Hi Steve,

    I am using Gaia 1 (and preferred the 1 over 2) mine is #8. It has more projection, focus and very free blowing for me. And both still in a concept of “Haunted” sound on soprano. Legere Signature #3 suit me the best on Gaia 1 size 8 too. However, I use the metal Durga for soprano #8 more recently.

    From my opinion, I preferred your sound on Gaia 1 over 2 too.

    Many thanks,
    BirDz

  5. Gerry Smith says:

    From the recordings I definitely prefer the Gaia 2.

  6. Rob Payne says:

    They both sound good to me. I agree the Gaia 1 is a bit brighter. For my own taste I like the sound of the Gaia 2 a bit more, it sounds a bit more pleasant to me but that’s just a matter of personal taste. I’ve got several soprano mouthpieces that I’m trying out. I have a classic Morgan which I’m working with now. It plays every bit as easy as the Gaia 2 I have and for a fraction of the price. I also have Missing Link which has a very sweet sound ala Zoot Sims. I also have Ted Klum which is similar to the Morgan. In fact I like them all and will probably keep them all. I’m spending a lot of time on each, been playing the Morgan for about three months now and will spend many months on each. I may never decide which is better, they all play great with a nice sound and good intonation. After dropping one of my favorite tenor mouthpieces and chipping the tip rail I’ve decided that having several really good mouthpieces is not a bad thing at all. An interesting and embarrassing aside is when I put new batteries in my chromatic tuner (I use it to spot check preferring to develop my ear in other ways) I forgot to reset it to A440 and all of a sudden when checking myself with it my intonation had gone all to hell and I couldn’t figure out why until I noticed my tuner wasn’t set to A440. Panic attack! Even my flute’s intonation had mysteriously gone out the window, WTF! No woodwind plays perfectly in tune, my middle E on the saxophone usually tends to be a little sharp which I compensate for. One thing I practice for intonation on the sax is I do major triads starting with D Major beginning on middle D with a medium volume and play up the arpeggio increasing my volume with the loudest on the upper D. I find by listening carefully with my eyes closed I can tell when I’m in tune or not. I do this exercise up to F Major. Trust your ear but make sure your tuner is set to A440! Once I get to the highest note of the triad I open my eyes and look at the tuner (with practice I find I’m almost always good with the intonation) just to check myself and internalize that pitch so that I don’t need the tuner. This has always served me well. I can tell you though that by not having the tuner set to A440 it sure threw a monkey wrench in my confidence. It was like all of a sudden I couldn’t play any more. At any rate why not keep both? They both sound great and you never know what can happen like dropping one and chipping it. You’ll be glad you have another great mpc on hand.

  7. That’s funny Rob. I did that once but it only lasted about half an hour. I went to tune up with my tuner and was really flat. What the heck! I have never been that flat. I had to push in so far it was ridiculous. I was totally confused as I knew I was wicked sharp. Finally, I looked at the tuner and the number on it was 444. Somehow I had pushed the calibration button without knowing………..

  8. Gerry Smith says:

    I did that once in a sax quartet rehearsal – it was very embarrassing! It’s encouraging to hear you’ve done it too!

  9. Aad Overeem says:

    Hey Steve, both mouthpieces sound very good, a very slight difference in overtones, to my ears the Gaia 2 sounds a little bit warmer. But I prefer your sound with the Gerber LC! (Sounds more like a Slant Sig Link HR to me) By the way what soprano did you play?
    Did you ever try a Buescher series II or a Martin Handcraft? To my ears IMHO the Martin has the most beautiful sound. Thanks for your great and interesting reviews. All the best, Aad Overeem

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