Did someone say Sanborn?…….D&S A2 Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece Review

The other day I reviewed three tenor saxophone mouthpieces made by Donghee Cho in Seoul, South Korea.  They were the Model 1, the Brecker II and the Brecker III tenor sax mouthpiece models.  You can read how I was contacted by Donghee and asked to review his sax mouthpieces on any one of those reviews.

Today, I am reviewing one of his alto saxophone mouthpieces.  This is the A2 model alto sax mouthpiece.  It has “AII” etched on the side of it along with “D&S” and “Donghee”.  It is an 8 tip opening.  I’m not sure what the  measurements of an 8 are but I feel most comfortable around .080 and this mouthpiece feels like it is close to that tip opening.

D&S A2 Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

If you want some information on Donghee Cho and D&S Sax mouthpieces, here is a quote from Donghee after I asked him his background and how long he has been making mouthpieces:

“I was always interested in the mechanics of the saxophone rather than playing the instrument. I did my major in Saxophone performance, but was always more intrigued on the fixing side of things.  I have been repairing saxophones for 12 years and thanks to the many customers, have built quite a reputation for myself in Korea as a repairman. I’ve always been handy, and loved fixing things. The same applied for saxophones. 
As for mouthpieces, I’ve been refacing and making mouthpieces for almost 10 years now. The thing that got me started was when I found out that there were many unplayable mouthpieces out there (and a lot of discrepancy between the same make and model) and wanted to contribute to the saxophone society by making the best effort to craft a better mouthpiece to play. Since then I’ve researched the facings, rails, bores, etc of many difference mouthpieces around the world and tried to apply my philosophy into handcrafting my own mouthpieces; that a good mouthpiece is a one that plays freely.”-Donghee

D&S A2 Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

I have to admit,  I have had these mouthpieces sitting on my shelf since June.  The reason I haven’t done a review sooner is that after doing some research, I realized that I couldn’t find D&S Saxophone Mouthpieces on the internet, they don’t have a website and they didn’t have a Facebook page.  All I had was an email address and phone number.   Since that time, Donghee now has a Facebook page although it is very minimal with just a bad picture of a list of his mouthpiece models on it.  I don’t see any prices so I don’t even know how much these go for either.

Even though I don’t think D&S is optimally setup for modern internet consumers I thought it best to go ahead with the reviews.  If they get more of a web presence in the future at least you would have heard of them and have some knowledge of Donghee Cho and his products.

D&S A2 Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

Donghee sent me five mouthpieces in a couple of different shipments.  I have three metal tenor mouthpieces and two metal alto sax mouthpieces.  The mouthpieces have high baffles in general.  The mouthpiece I am reviewing today is the AII alto mouthpiece and has an 8 tip opening.

The rails, tip and baffle all look great to the eye.  The tip matches my Rigotti reeds nicely.  It has a high baffle  that looks to have a very slight rollover and then continues down in a straight line to the drop off edge into the chamber.  I would say the chamber is medium-small in size.  The sidewalls are straight but are scooped out inside the chamber area.

These saxophone mouthpieces all come in a plastic tube with a silver mouthpiece cap and ligature.  I used the silver metal alto ligature that came with it. It fit perfectly and went on smoothly.

D&S A2 Alto Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

I used a Rigotti Gold 2 1/2 Strong reed on the sample recording below which worked great with this 8 tip opening.  The mouthpiece has a powerful bright core sound to it with edge when played at full throttle.  I found it to be about as “Sanborn” as you can get with a mouthpiece.  If you ever listen to Dave Sanborn, he has a very unique sound.  Super bright and focused with a good amount of edge and grit to the tone.  That is also a good description of the A2 tone.  Along with that description, it is also really powerful!  I recorded with the gain way down on the mic and still was clipping the mic volume out.  I ended up having to turn the mic all the way down and then turn the gain to -30 to be able to record without clipping. I think that is a record for me……

The high baffle tends to make my middle E and surrounding notes a bit sharper on my Selmer Reference 54 alto saxophone but that is normal for a high baffle mouthpiece on this horn.  I just had to bring those notes down a little bit when held.

I am not a big altissimo player on the alto sax as I have issues with my hearing where notes that high distort and tend to irritate me but I felt I should go up there a bit for the sake of this mouthpiece.  I played along with Dave Sanborn’s  “Straight to the Heart” a couple of times before making this clip so you might recognize some of the “Sanborn” type licks in my sound clip.  I was a crazy “Sanborn” nut in high school in the 80’s and had most of that solo memorized back then.  I can’t help but go in that direction when I play an alto sax mouthpiece like this.

I don’t play much  straight ahead lines on this clip until the last few seconds of the clip.  You can hear how it gets a little more tame when I back off but the tone still has a brightness and pop to it even at lower volumes.

D&S A2 Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

I’ve provided two samples of the same clip below.  One is a clip with added reverb and the other is a dry clip in a moderate sized room.  I think it’s important to add the reverb clip just so people can get a sense of what the sound is like with a little bit of that added affect since the added reverb tends to soften the brightness and edge a little bit.

D&S A2 Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

If you liked the D&S A2 alto saxophone mouthpiece reviewed here you can contact Donghee to order one by email at cdh9841@naver.com.  By phone at +82-2-522-9841 or by his Facebook page.  Thanks to Donghee Cho for creating these and letting me try them out.  Now I’m going to go back to listening to some more Dave Sanborn……”Oh Yeah!!”…………

 

D&S A2 Alto Sax Mouthpiece-Reverb Added

 

D&S A2 Alto Sax Mouthpiece-Dry Recording

Disclosure: I received the sample mouthpiece mentioned above for free in the hope that I would try it and perhaps review it on my blog. 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. Nelson Lewis says:

    Ha!! I’ve been listening to all sanborn for the last 4 days for some reason.

    You just needed Marcus Miller thumping in the background!

    I like the second clip best without the reverb but it definitely has a nice overall sound. Not quite as bright as sanborn but pretty awesome. I’d play on it with my alto for sure

    Great clip Steve

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