10mFan “The Classic” Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece Review

Mark Sepinuck, 10mFan as he is known in the saxophone world, came out with a line of tenor saxophone mouthpieces five years ago that have been very popular with saxophone players.  Mark, created a very detailed three category system of tenor saxophone mouthpieces and he designed (with the help of Eric Falcon) what he considered to be the best tenor sax mouthpieces in each of those three categories.  Mark offers four hard rubber mouthpieces that cover these three categories whether you’re playing warm ballads, funk music or straight ahead jazz. These models are the Merlot, the Robusto, the Black Widow and now the Classic which I am reviewing today.

10mFan Classic Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

Here’s the description of the Classic in Mark’s own words from SOTW (Sax on the Web):

I made my mouthpieces to play better for me than the vintage mouthpieces in the different categories I have them in.  I am well aware that many people who play vintage pieces want something that feels and sound  familiar to them. As a player always wanting more than what the vintage pieces could do for me, I made my Merlot, Robusto, and Black Widow hard rubber pieces.

There are loads of guys out there who love the vintage feel and blow who have asked me to make something that’s right in that classic zone BUT with LOTS OF POWER AND BODY available— and more focus than my other pieces….so now I have.

The 10MFAN “Classic” plays with a powerful warm, full, OPEN sound– and is super even blowing top to bottom. I don’t consider it “dark”…its warm and it can let loose. For me, my main objective has been to make a piece that has a vintage focused feel, but also records incredibly well. Fullness with tons of power, fatness, depth, richness, core, etc…  This new piece projects incredibly well.

This will satisfy all of you players who love the classic large chamber hard rubber vintage tenor pieces, especially in the Link vein, but want more clarity and power than those without sacrificing originality and uniqueness.  It’s got a larger round chamber and undercut sidewalls. There are lots of Link copies out there, so I didn’t feel we needed another.

*** WHAT I FELT WAS NECESSARY, WAS MAKING A PIECE THAT HAD THE GOOD STUFF THAT THOSE VINTAGE MOUTHPIECES OFFER, PLUS MORE STUFF THAT THOSE PIECES DIDN’T OFFER! ***

This will give players the openness and power they want, but unlike anything they have had with the vintage pieces.  An opportunity to have a piece that is more Link-like, but not dull, stuffy, or boring.  Powerful, open, and focused with a warm and incredible sound. More power than the original Resos, Slants, and Early Babbitt hard rubber pieces. We have really done it right here. ” 

10mFan Classic Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

Mark was nice enough to send me a sample 10mFan “The Classic” tenor mouthpiece in a 7** tip opening to try out.  I was excited to try this mouthpiece after reading Mark’s description above because I really love great Otto Links and this was reported to be a sax mouthpiece more along those lines.

From above, the 10mFan “The Classic” saxophone mouthpiece looks very similar to the rest of the other 10mFan hard rubber sax mouthpieces I have already reviewed.  It has the signature three white lines on the shank which I think is a great marketing idea.  You can spot these three lines from pretty far away and know what mouthpiece brand a player is using.

The mouthpiece has “The Classic” engraved in white on the top as well as 10mFan in cursive engraving.  When you look at the table side of the mouthpiece the table is flat and smooth and the rails and tip look even and perfect as all of Eric Falcon’s work does.

The baffle and chamber is where you see the difference between the Classic and the other 10mFan mouthpieces. The Classic has a more traditional rollover baffle. After the baffle’s rollover, it angles straight down towards the back of the chamber.  The chamber really doesn’t have a flat bottom to it because the baffle is traveling at an angle though it.  The sidewalls are really scooped out also.  I don’t think I have seen another mouthpiece with sidewalls as scooped out as this one.

The beak height is a little bit higher than the other 10mFan hard rubber sax mouthpieces.  I was a bit concerned about this as I really love the beak heights on the Robusto, Black Widow and Boss models that I have tried.  The Classic did feel a little higher to me at first but I found that after a few days of playing it,  I got used to it and didn’t notice it anymore.

I asked Mark why he went with a slightly higher beak and he said that he felt like a lower beak would brighten up the tone too much. A slightly higher beak would help keep the tone warmer.  I found this to be an interesting concept that I hadn’t thought of before.  (On a side note: I do remember really digging a piece and sending it to Brian Powell to have the beak taken down so I would feel more comfortable.  Interestingly enough, I remember thinking the piece was brighter when I got it back even though nothing else on it had been touched………Interesting…….)

10mFan Classic Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The scooped side walls and the long baffle slope extending into the Classic’s chamber makes the chamber of the Classic more oval shaped as you look in from the tip side of the mouthpiece.  When looking in from the bore side,  the chamber looks round to the eye but you really can’t see how the sloping baffle affects the chamber shape from that side.

As I look at the Classic in comparison to my Early Babbitt hard rubber Link (made from the mold of the Otto Link Slant), the first half inch of rollover baffle looks very similar to the EB.  They both have a similar height in the beginning of the baffle and they rollover at a similar spot.  After that, they differ in that the baffle of the Classic looks to be a bit higher in it’s angle of slope into the chamber. The sidewalls of the Classic look and feel as if they are much more scooped out than my EB Link also.

10mFan Classic Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

I played the Classic for about three weeks and used it while practicing, jammin’ to tunes and on Skype lessons all month.  Testing different reeds on the Classic was interesting also.  I found that the Rigotti Gold reeds I usually use tended to be a lot brighter on the classic than some other reed brands.  I tried a LaVoz medium, Gonzalez 2 1/2 and a Rico Select Jazz 3S which were all much darker and warmer than the Rigotti Gold reeds in my opinion.

The 10mFan “The Classic”  was incredibly reed friendly for me also.   I don’t know how Eric Falcon does it but the Classic seems to work with almost every reed I put on it.  Usually when I try a mouthpiece,  I have no trouble finding the best reed strength and settling in.  On the Classic mouthpiece,  I had more trouble doing this because every reed played really well on it.   One day I played a bunch of Rigotti Gold reeds trying to figure out what strength to use and I seriously played a 2 1/2 Strong, 3 Light, 3 Medium, 3 Strong and a 3 1/2 Light.  They all played great for me and I couldn’t figure out which one was the best. For the sound clip below, I ended up going with a Lavoz medium reed because I liked how warm and lush it was on the Classic mouthpiece.  I found the Rigotti Gold reeds to lean to the brighter edgier side for me and I found the darker warmer tone of the Lavoz to be more compelling and beautiful to me.

10mFan Classic Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The sample recording below is almost 6 minutes long.   I apologize for that as I usually try to keep the clips under 3 minutes in general.  I was having such a good time playing the Classic mouthpiece that I totally lost track of time.  When I came back to my senses, I played the clip and realized I had been playing for 22 minutes!   I had to trim this sucker down!  What you hear on this clip are what I decided to keep because I feel like it shows a good range of characteristics of the 10mFan The Classic mouthpiece.

I start the clip with “The Man With the Horn” which to me is an amazing tune that highlights the low end of the tenor.  I love the subtone and lush warmth of the Classic on this tune.

At the :55-1:36 and the 2:32-3:05 mark I demonstrate some faster jazz lines and slurred lines to show how smooth, buttery and even the range of the horn is.

At the 1:36 mark I demonstrate some subtone falls which I seem to always do when I am playing a warmer lush tenor mouthpiece.  I just love the way these sound on a mouthpiece like this.

At 1:40 I go into a more full tone “Someday My Prince Will Come” which I think demonstrates how focused the tone can be but still remain warm. Of special note for me is the 2:12-2:23 mark where I play a high B and High D in the melody of “Someday My Prince Will Come”.  These notes stuck out to me because usually they pop out as brighter and edgier than the rest of the melody when I play this tune.  On the Classic,  they come out full, warm and round in my opinion.   They don’t stick out but are the same timber as the rest of the horn in my opinion. I really dug how these notes sounded!

At the 3:06-5:21 mark I go into Stella By Starlight.   It seems like overkill to keep over two minutes of soloing on Stella in a mouthpiece clip but I really dug this solo because I found myself playing unique lines I don’t usually play.  I was kind of going for a Rich Perry kind of laid back vibe on it.  I know this can be attributed to many things but I played this mouthpiece for about 3 weeks and I experienced many moments like this.  I felt like the ease of playing and the beautiful tone brought me to different places in my improvisations.  The day before I recorded this clip, I spent about 3 hours playing in my garage and it was one of the  most enjoyable practice sessions I have had in a very long time.  I just felt like the creative juices were flowing and the sound and playability of the mouthpiece was just stoking those creative juices even more.   It’s a great feeling to have!

Lastly, at the 5:22 mark I going into a small bit of a funkier more full tone bluesy line with altissimo.  I didn’t do much of this on the demo but thought it would be good to add this little part in to hear what it sounds like for me.

10mFan Classic Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

In my opinion, the 10mFan “The Classic” is a great tenor mouthpiece for those of you looking for a more “classic” mouthpiece along the lines of a vintage hard rubber Otto Link.  Although I use the Vintage Link as a comparison,  I think the “Classic” has it’s own thing going on.  I find it to have a focus to it that I don’t find in many darker and warmer Links I have tried.  Usually,  these vintage hard rubber Link mouthpieces play with a very “spread” tone for me.  The 10mFan classic is much more focused in my opinion.

As an example of what I mean by this, when I play a spread toned mouthpiece into a big room I hear a big wash of sound coming back to my ears.  When I turn towards a wall and play into it the sound dramatically changes because it is immediately more focused as it bounces back to my ears. With a focused mouthpiece, I can play into a room and I don’t hear as much of that “wash” of sound.  It sounds more focused and distinct as it comes back to my ears.  When I turn to the wall I hear a much smaller difference in sound.   It’s slightly more focused but is basically the same sound I heard in the room.   That for me is the big difference between focused and spread saxophone tones.

I have played Early Babbitt hard rubber tenor mouthpieces with more focus than the more spread Otto Links but in general those EB Links are a lot brighter also.  The 10mFan “The Classic” is unique in that it keeps the warmth and depth of tone while also adding a focus and center to the tone.

I think Mark Sepinuck and Eric Falcon at 10mFan did a great job with the Classic tenor saxophone mouthpiece.  Mark is great with his descriptions of his mouthpieces and I feel like he has come out with another “gem” of a mouthpiece.  Well done guys! If you are interested in the Classic tenor saxophone mouthpiece you can find out more information at 10mfan.com.    Mark is a great guy and he can answer any questions you might have about his mouthpieces…….

 

10mFan Classic Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

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. it sounded very dark and the subtones were very nice, this might be the best one they have, that being said do ottos still rulle in the subtone area or did this MP pull off a better tone

  2. Looks like you found your holy Grail. 🙂
    It seems to be a great complement to my already fantastic Robusto…

  3. Really nice Hank Mobley kind of sound Steve. How would it stack up for those really loud gigs?

  4. Wow Phil. Thanks! That’s like the biggest compliment I have ever gotten on a clip as I absolutely love Hank Mobley’s sound. That made my day!

    As far as loud band, it gets plenty of volume when pushed but the question is if you have some sort of monitor to hear yourself and if the tone would cut through that loud mix. I will say that playing this piece with Rigotti reeds was totally different for me. It was much brighter and louder with that reed cut. Depending on the band and type of music I might try the Rigotti reeds with a gig like that. With the volume of many bands nowadays even Hank Mobley would probably have a hard time. I prefer to get the tone I want and then use a monitor for myself. Hope this helps, Steve

  5. Philipe, I dug this piece as much as any Otto Link I have subtoned on. It’s beautiful sounding!

  6. Was just settling in to bed to do a little reading before sleep time when I read/heard this and had to run downstairs to scrounge up some LaVoz reeds to try on my Classic 7. I could only find a med soft, but it sure did darken it up just as you say. Ordered some medium strength ones today. I’ve been using it with 2H RSJ (just a little dull for me) or mostly Rigotti 2.5H or 3S, (on the brighter side, moreso than Rigottis’ slight tendency to be bright in comparison with other reeds on different pieces, just as you had observed). Really liking the versatility and warmth with focus, but wondering if there was a way to back off the edge of the focus just a bit; the LaVoz looks like it will give the piece that added dimension.

    Thanks so much for not just your impressions of the pieces you review, but also for the valuable insights regarding reed selection and the process of getting to know the piece.

  7. Hi guys!
    Steve, thank you for the wonderful review of my newest mouthpiece.
    I have been the only mouthpiece maker talking about the incredible importance of reed selection for years and years and there is nothing more important. It’s all on my website.
    My pieces are incredibly versatile, so simple reed changes will make a big difference, and truly allow you to customize and dial in the feel, response, and warmth or brightness you desire. . If you find a Rigottis too bright, you literally have every opportunity to make my mouthpieces different shades of warmer with any other reed brand. Select jazz will be warmer than that and if you want warmer than those, try Lavoz or Rico Royals. If you want the warmest, go with the Vandoren blue box.
    So much opportunity to dial in what you want for yourself, if you do your due diligence with reeds.

    With my four hard rubber tenor mouthpiece models and all of the reeds out there, there is something for every single player who loves hard rubber pieces here. You can dial-in what you want for yourself.
    I am very honored that Doug Lawrence who is the lead tenor player for the Count Basie Orchestra and Sam Skelton, Jeff Rupert, Jay Thomas, and others are really enjoying this mouthpiece already.

    Again, thank you so much Steve for your wonderful review.

    My webmaster hasn’t put this piece up on the website yet, but you can contact me through my email to place an order for the time being.

    My direct email is: connsaxman@comcast.net

  8. sound great steve, Ksaxman.com

  9. Johannes Awondatu says:

    I like the love sound of that mouthpieces but I suffer brachial neuritis for about 3 months, so I could not play sax anymore. Doc said need 6 to one year to recover.
    But hearing that sound made me a little happy but with one day I would like to have this mouthpiece,
    Please pray for me as I have 10 tenors of Selmer Mark VI Yamaha and Yanagisawa and Paul Murriat.
    Anyway, I enjoyed your playing.

  10. Love the sound of all the 10mFan mouthpieces, what do you think are the differences between the robusto and the new classic?

  11. Hi Andrew
    Thank you so much!!!

    The differences are these:
    The Robusto is a fat, spread, open, full and punchy sound that can be warm or have some nice edge. The Classic is a focused and pure sound that is warm and even throughout the ranges. The sound stays in front of you with The Classic and the Robusto you can hear it from ear to ear The Robusto will let loose up high and the Classic stays warm. The beautiful thing is, The Classic while retaining a beautiful warmth, has loads of power and incredible altissimo.
    I hope that helps.

    You can always contact me with any further questions.

    All the best, Mark

  12. Arya Boustani says:

    Hi Mark, would someone be able to get a bit more of Robusto feel (a bit more spread i.e. more edge (even more than Robusto) and fatness and a bit less mid-range with a different reed on The Classic? or it has to be imbedded in the design? If it is in the design, is there any design that is sort of in between Robusto and The Classic. I personally like to give a bit more weight toward the edgier / exciting / wild, etc. character but without sounding too bright and thin especially on top. I know that reed choice makes a difference but I thought I pick your brain whether a combination of one of your designs and a particular reed would lead toward this tonal concept (a bit more focus than Robusto or a bit more edge and spread than The Classic). Do you think you may do a brass version in future?

  13. Hi,
    Send me an email with any questions and I am happy to help.
    Im at: connsaxman@comcast.net

    Thank you.

  14. Arya Boustani says:

    Thanks Mark. I’ll contact you shortly. Just listened to Steve’s Robusto clip as well, and the other Blues, Funk examples he pointed at. I think it covers quite a wide range. I’ll make comment in Steve’s Robusto page and if you don’t mind to comment there, that would be also helpful for others. Thanks again.

  15. Arya Boustani says:

    Hi Steve, I was just listening to Warburton J series Eric Falcon’s era tenor sax mouthpiece review that you made. Sounded kinda close to this one. Perhaps a bit more focus / projection on Warburton J. Hmm now I’m torn. A nice envelope of a focused tone goes a long way to convey melodic emotions to the listener.

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