Retro Revival “Super D” Florida Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece Review

Today, I am reviewing another new Retro Revival “Super D” model tenor saxophone mouthpiece made by Joel Peskin (iReedMan) and Bob Sheppard. This is the silver “Super D” Florida model.  Yesterday, I reviewed the darker New York model mouthpiece which is gold plated and played great.

Joel and Bob have started a company called Retro Revival in which they produce exact copies of great vintage saxophone mouthpieces from the past.   When Joel started the company they started with two sax mouthpieces.  The New Yorker alto sax mouthpiece which is an exact copy of a New York Meyer Bros mouthpiece (that I reviewed last year) and the other was a metal tenor mouthpiece called the “Super D”,which is advertized as a replica of a great double ring Otto Link tenor mouthpiece.

If you take a look at the Retro Revival site today you can see that they have been busy in the last year. There are now seven mouthpiece models listed including a Slant Link replica called the “Tru-Slant”, a Selmer Soloist short shank replica for tenor and soprano sax called the “Shorty” and a 1950’2 Duckbill Berg Larsen replica called the “UK Special. (Looks like I have some more mouthpieces to review in the future!)

Retro Revival “Super D” Florida Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

For any of you that peruse Ebay regularly, you probably know that finding an original Otto Link Double Ring tenor sax mouthpiece in good condition can be a costly endeavor.  These saxophone mouthpieces can cost in the ballpark of 1200-2500 dollars depending on what condition it is in.  I think we would all be thankful if someone came up with a less costly alternative where we could get a mouthpiece of the same quality and playability for quite a bit less money.  The aim of these Retro Revival mouthpieces is just that!

Retro Revival “Super D” Florida Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

Joel was kind enough to send me two 7*  Retro Revival “Super D” tenor mouthpieces to review.  One is the NY (New York) model which I reviewed yesterday which is gold plated.  The other is the FL (Florida) model which I will review today and is silver plated.  The New York is the darker sounding model and the Florida is the brighter sounding model.    The mouthpieces came in a strong cardboard cylinder to protect them while shipping.  A Rico “H” ligature and mouthpiece cap were included for both mouthpieces.

Upon inspection, the “Super D” Florida tenor mouthpiece is stunning to look at.  The design is very similar to a metal Otto Link with a ridge on top that has “Retro Revival” engraved on it.  The “Super D” model also comes with the “double rings” around the shank just like the original Otto Link “Double Ring” Super Tone Masters did.  The table, rails and tip look beautiful. The baffle proceeds from the tip at a higher angle and then about a 1/2 an inch in rolls over into a sharper angle that declines into the large chamber where it terminates at the rear of the chamber smooth and evenly.

There are some marks or small indentations on the outside edges on both sides of the baffle that you can see in the pictures. They look like little dots that line up from side to side. I was wondering if they were a way to measure the baffle area during production so it is exact to measurements.  I didn’t see them on the New York model.

The baffle of the “Super D” Florida model is indeed higher than the New York model. If you compare the first 1/2 inch of baffle to the New York pictures you can see how the angle of the baffle is higher than the New York. To my eye, the Florida baffle looks a little shorter in length than the New York model however.

The inner side rails are scooped out as they head towards the chamber and then look to flare out more when they enter the chamber. These are faced by master mouthpiece craftsman Eric Falcon so I expect nothing less than perfection as far as the facing curve, baffle and chamber are concerned.

One of my favorite mouthpieces in my collection is an Otto Link “Double Ring” Super Tone Master that Brian Powell had refaced before I acquired it.  I did a review of that mouthpiece a few years ago if you want to check it out.  Otto Link Double Ring Review    Since I really love how that mouthpiece plays and sounds for me,  I was very interested in trying these Retro revival replicas as well.

Retro Revival “Super D” Florida Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

Here’s a quote from the  Retro Revival website about the “Super D” New York tenor saxophone mouthpiece:

“Our “Super D” Tenor Sax model is a stunning replica of an early 1950’s Otto Link “Double Band ” Super Tone Master, once played by Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Johnny Griffin, Dex, Michael Brecker and many others back in the day. This rare gem had a short production run, Otto Link changed to a higher baffle profile from the previous tubby “Tone Master” to produce the so called “Double Ring” model. This newer design produced the classic modern “Link” sound, characterized by a brighter top end and faster response, but still maintaining a rich mid and low range due to it’s slightly deeper chamber. 

Of all the “Link” models, we feel the “Double Ring” vintage has the superior tonal characteristics of all the Otto Link metals. From our own collection we chose untouched examples to replicate and produce the elusive missing “Link” we’ve all searched for. 

 The “Super D”, is brilliant, full bodied and packs a punch. It screams in the altissimo, plays the softest sub-tones with ease and articulates fast at any dynamic. Very flexible, this mouthpiece lends itself to any stylistic approach. Every aspect of our “Super D” has been meticulously duplicated from our own perfectly mint Florida as well as the darker New York original “Double Ring”. Available with tip openings from a 6* to 8*, the Florida and New York “Super Retro” have the same chamber design, the only difference being the baffle profile. The lower baffle New York version is gold plated, very balanced, centered with plenty of projection. The Florida version is Rhodium plated with a higher baffle for players wanting a bit more zing. We believe the tonal characteristics and response of both these classic designs will impress any serious player.  

 Finding an original “Double Ring” is almost impossible. On occasion you may spot one on eBay from $1,200.00 to $2,000.00, and most often compromised by inferior refacing’s and very small tip openings. Using advanced CAD technology, it is now possible to duplicate a rare gem like the “Double Ring”. Replicating a 60 year old mouthpiece is a painstaking process of love and appreciation for the quality of the past. Retro Revival is extremely fortunate that master mouthpiece craftsman Eric Falcon has agreed to help us in our quest. His skill, experience and knowledge as an accomplished saxophonist himself, and a true connoisseur of vintage mouthpiece design, is the determining factor in our “Retro Revival” replica concept. 

With caring precision, the process of replication starts with hand drawings, precisely measuring every parameter, translating these numbers into computer code to produce 3D images, then CNC milled in one piece from the highest quality bar brass. Eric then hand faces, assembles the bite plates, and most importantly play tests every mouthpiece before polishing. 

 At Retro Revival, our cumulative life experience as top professionals in the LA studio’s and concert stages around the globe has informed our passion for great equipment. Having practical insight into the variables and complexities of mouthpiece set ups has been a constant learning process. Even from a young age, searching, comparing and experimenting with mouthpieces, reeds and ligatures, trying to emulate the beautiful sounds of our hero’s on the records, this fascination with personal sound production and approach still continues. Informed by the demands of the gig and always paying close attention to great players with beautiful tone, Retro Revival is a natural extension to our musical path’s. There is a good reason why the greatest Legends of jazz and contemporary music played Links, Meyers, Bergs, etc. 

It is our intention to earn your trust by offering the real deal. No hype, exaggerated claims and cliche sales gimmickry. Our intended goal is to offer affordable vintage replica mouthpieces that we would actually use and love to play !  To our highest standards, we are committed to play testing every mouthpiece, and with great pride, we are confident that sax players from every age and level of experience will feel and hear the special qualities of our “Super D” Tenor, the “New Yorker” Alto, and other classic Retro Revival replica’s soon to come.”

Retro Revival “Super D” Florida Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

I have had the two Retro Revival “Super D” mouthpieces for about 4 weeks now and had a chance to do a lot of playing on both of them.  I mentioned in my review of the “Super D” New York model that I perceived a “hallow” quality in the sound that I really loved.  The Florida model “Super D” has much less of this “hallow” quality if any in my opinion.  It sounds to me like it has a more solid compact core to the sound with more highs and brilliance to the tone.  Whereas the New York model did indeed remind me of my double ring Otto Link as far as sound the Florida model is very different.  Much more like a Link on “steroids” in my opinion.

I used two Ishimori  Woodstone 3 reeds on the sound clips below.  The first clip is with a softer reed and the second clip is with a harder reed. My personal preference was the softer reed as I can’t have a lot of back pressure in my head due to medical reasons but I wanted to include a clip with the slightly harder reed because some of you prefer the sound of a harder reed.

In my opinion, the Florida “Super D” is brighter and has more of a compact core than the New York “Super D” model.  I could get much more volume out of the Florida but when I laid back the tone reverts back to a classic Otto Link type of tone.  However, if you really blow it can sound almost Guardala “like” in it’s brightness and power.

The intonation was great and I especially like the fatness of the palm keys and altissimo.  The low notes were big, fat and solid in my opinion. With the slightly harder reed I felt like the low notes lost some of their fat juiciness and became a bit dryer sounding to my ears.

Retro Revival “Super D” Florida Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

When played with more air this Florida model mouthpiece can get brighter and sounds right at home in the altissimo and when playing “bluesy” or “R&B” type lines.  The tone can be easily manipulated and molded by the player.  In general, I have not been a fan of playing metal Otto Link tenor mouthpieces on GB gigs up here in the Northeast.  GB stands for “General Business” and usually means the night will be ending with some kind of really loud dance music.  When I have tried to play Links on these types of gigs in the past, I am usually fine for the first set or two but by the last set I am toast.  I can’t hear myself at all and am usually blowing my brains out to try to hear what I am playing over the band.  For that reason, I haven’t taken an unmodified Link to one of these gigs in many many years.

All this being said, the Retro Revival “Super D” Florida mouthpiece has enough power and zing that I would not hesitate trying it on one of these gigs again.  Yes, they are based off of that “classic”Link design but I think that hefty rollover baffle in the first half inch of the mouthpiece give enough “Umph” to get you heard in those louder situations.  I would have no reservations about bringing this “Super D” Florida model out to a loud gig.  On the sound clip I was playing at a modest volume but the Florida “Super D” can be turned up another 25-30% from the loudest I played on these clips.  Even at the modest volume I was playing I was peaking the recording levels at times!

Retro Revival “Super D” Florida Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

I stated in my review of the New York model that the Florida model reminded me quite a bit of  my Jon Van Wie modified Otto Link that I love so much.  That’s the mouthpiece I had been playing on all the GB gigs I had been playing on years ago because I felt like it gave me the power and “highs” in the sound to cut through a loud band mix.  I would consider the Retro Revival Florida model to be in a similar category as that mouthpiece but I think it has a rounder perhaps fuller tone than my JVW Link.   There has been many times on a jazz set where I have felt like my JVW Link was just a little too bright and thin in the palm keys for that set.   I think this Florida model “Super D” mouthpiece is the perfect compromise for that situation as the tone is bright but also is fat, full and round sounding.  It has lots of power and brightness with a focused core to the sound. The New York model can get loud and brighter also but the Florida just gives you more of those two qualities. Which one to choose is really up to you and how dark or bright you want to be……….You can check out the Retro Revival New York review to compare these two great mouthpieces to each other.

Retro Revival “Super D” Florida Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Retro Revival “Super D” Florida tenor saxophone mouthpiece is a great playing mouthpiece!  In my opinion, it is one of the best Otto Link type tenor mouthpieces I have played over all these years.  If you read this review, listen to the clips and decide the “Super D” Florida tenor mouthpiece is worth a try, you can purchase one on the Retro Revival website.

Congratulations to Joel Peskin, Bob Sheppard and Eric Falcon for making an excellent well crafted mouthpiece reminiscent of a great vintage Otto Link Double Ring tone master tenor saxophone mouthpiece!  Great Job!

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you get a Retro Revival “Super D” Florida tenor saxophone mouthpiece be sure to come back and let us know what you think below……..Thanks!!

 

Retro Revival “Super D” Florida Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Softer Woodstone 3 Reed

 

Retro Revival “Super D” Florida Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Harder Woodstone 3 Reed

Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation or products at the time this review was written. I borrowed this mouthpiece from Joel at Retro Revival who was kind enough to let me try it for a few days. After the review was finished, I decided to buy the “Super D” Florida model. Joel was kind enough to let me but it at a discounted rate. 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. Wow! Super bright mouthpiece. I love the sound. Would to get one eventually.

  2. Neff, what do you think about this piece compared to the Philtone Tribute Link?

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