RPC 110B Red Letter Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece Review

Today, I am reviewing a RPC 110B tenor saxophone mouthpiece made by Ron Coelho, at RPC mouthpieces.   I used to own one of these 110B tenor sax mouthpieces back in the mid 2000’s before I started this website and remember gigging on it for about 6-8 months at the time.  I was playing a lot of jazz, funk and pop gigs at the time and the RPC 110B was killin’ from what I remember.  I always had fond memories of that mouthpiece and I was hoping I could find another like it to review someday.  As soon as I saw this on the internet a few months ago, I scooped it up.  This RPC 110B is one of Ron’s older models with the red lettering (the latest models have blue lettering).

RPC 110B Red Letter Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

This RPC 110B is a used mouthpiece but is in really great shape.  The body has very few marks on it and the tip, rails and baffle look great also.  Here are some words from the RPC website on Ron’s process of making these RPC mouthpieces:

Each mouthpiece is machined from round stock , Ultem , and Hard rubber also from hard rubber raw castings, it is then left on a rack to season or equalize, for at least a week so the material will relax and come to equilibrium after being machined. Then it is sculpted with hand tools to the correct shape inside and out. Now the real work of turning it into something truly musical begins.

  • Reeds are carefully chosen to begin the playing and fine tuning.
  • Rico Jazz Select, 2 medium, 2 hard, or 3 soft, filed.
  • Each mouthpiece is played and fine tuned for the following characteristics. 
  • RESISTANCE POINT: Hugely important, there is good resistance and bad resistance. Good resistance gives something to push against and becomes familiar to the embouchure, this leads to good intonation and evenness of scale, without struggling to adjust different ranges of the horn. Bad resistance makes the horn stuffy and tires the embouchure….Not good. 
  • Also essential to a great mouthpiece, the ratio of overtones to fundamental is blended, by making very subtle adjustments to the facing curve. 
  • Together with an easy flowing resistance the mouthpiece now has a rich palette of tone colors.
  • These designs have been fine tuned with feedback from professional saxophone players all over the world and have evolved over 10 years of mouthpiece making. 
  • Each mouthpiece is played and fine tuned evaluating the musicality of the mouthpiece. 
  • FINALLY when the mouthpiece becomes just pure fun to play it is ready. 

RPC 110B Red Letter Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

I have to say that I think Ron Coelho is the master at creating baffles.  The baffle in the RPC 110B looks to be made of an epoxy or some other substance that hardens as you work on it. The material is gray against the black hard rubber but blends nicely.  Ron does a great job of molding and shaping the baffle to look smooth and perfect.  I have seen some pretty scary looking epoxy baffles made by some other mouthpiece makers but Ron’s look like he is an artist and knows what he is doing.  More importantly than how they look, the RPC mouthpieces I have played with these baffles also played great!  I get the impression that Ron must play these mouthpieces as he is working on the baffles to get them exactly how he wants them to sound.

RPC 110B Red Letter Rollover Baffle Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The baffle ends where it meets a bullet chamber.  It is called a bullet chamber when there is a carved out shape to the baffle where it meets the chamber that looks like a bullet.  In general, a bullet chamber is not as bright and edgy as a baffle with a straight edge.  I would say the 110B has a medium sized chamber when I compare how the chamber looks to the size of some of my Otto Links that have large chambers.

The RPC 110B played great with the first Rigotti Gold 2 1/2 medium reed I put on it.  A Rigotti 2 1/2 strong reed also played well but I ended up choosing the medium reed for the clips below.  I also tried a 2 1/2 light Rigotti that felt too soft and a 3 light Rigotti that felt too hard for my tastes on the 110B.

RPC 110B Red Letter Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

I have to admit that this 110B really surprised me. I thought it would be a lot brighter than it is from looking at the baffle before I played it.  The baffle gives it some nice power when pushed but the tone isn’t overly bright and edgy.  I found the tone to sound almost like the mids were boosted in an EQ.  It has lows and highs to the sound but the mids are the prevalent range of the tone.  That was my impression as I played it and listened back to the clips.

(If I remember correctly, the 110B I had years ago I sold when I got an original  Guardala Studio mouthpiece.  The Guardala was much louder and brighter and at the time, I thought that would be the mouthpiece for me.  I sold the RPC 110B with no regrets.  Of course, a couple weeks later, I started feeling like the Guardala was way too bright for my tastes which made me regret selling that 110B. Oh well……I sold that Guardala soon afterwards…….)

The 110B had a nice resistance to it to blow against.  The tone was nice and even throughout the range of the sax. The high notes and altissimo notes still kept a thick beefy round tone to them without thinning out or getting edgy which I really liked!

RPC 110B Red Letter Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

Strangely enough, while playing the RPC 110B mouthpiece, there was something about it that reminded me of a classical sax mouthpiece.  I think it was that round mid boosted sound that was very even throughout the range.  The low notes just popped out easily and were full and warm.  The altissimo was also easy to get and I felt it was equally as warm sounding even when playing louder.  I didn’t find the tone to be thin at all which is amazing.  On many high baffle pieces, I find the palm keys to sound thin, edgy and  irritating to my ears.  The 100B sounded full and round to me.

The intonation was great and I actually found the middle E to be more in tune than many other mouthpieces I have played on. The octaves were very close to perfectly in tune.

I did find the altissimo to be much easier with this mouthpiece than many others I have played.  The notes just seemed a lot easier to reach and playing lines up in that range sounded killer!

RPC 110B Red Letter Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

On the clip below,  I tried to show a variety of different elements that the mouthpiece has.  As is my habit lately, I have added an additional clip with reverb as well.  I feel this is important because sometimes listener’s get fooled by a “dry” recording of a sax mouthpiece.  They think it is too bright, or thin or maybe even dead sounding but that is only because it is recorded in a “dry” recording environment which is what you are supposed to do for the best recording.  Trust me, a mouthpiece that is a little bright in a dry setting can be unbelievable in a big room with a natural reverb or through a mic with a little bit of added reverb. Honestly, as a gigging musician my choice of mouthpieces have always been the ones who have that brightness and punch that comes alive when on a gig.   That’s my preference anyways………

RPC 110B Red Letter Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

I have to admit that I feel a bit out of shape playing wise.  The last review I made on this site was the end of August and two days after that I started having medical issues because a VP shunt I have in my head started malfunctioning.  I had to have surgery on that in October and between that and some other family medical issues, I have barely played over the last four months.  It feels good to pick up my tenor after all this time and start playing again that is for sure.

As usual, Ron Coelho has done a great job with this 110B tenor saxophone mouthpiece.  It plays just as well as the 110B I used to have over 10 years ago.  I have also tried one of his 115B tenor mouthpieces that I made a clip of years ago (115B mouthpiece clip) that also  played great!

If you are curious about RPC mouthpieces, check out the RPC website for more information on them.  Ron is a great guy to talk to if you have any questions and his phone number and email are on the site.  I suggest calling him and talking to him about what you are looking for in a mouthpiece so he can fine tune a mouthpiece just for your needs.  If you try one, be sure to come back here and tell us what you think in the comments below.    Steve

RPC 110B Red Letter Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Rigotti Gold 2 1/2 Medium-Reverb

RPC 110B Red Letter Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Rigotti Gold 2 1/2 Medium-Dry Recording

Disclosure: I purchased the RPC 110B tenor saxophone mouthpiece reviewed above used on the internet so I could 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. Avatar John Zangrando says

    Sounds great Steve, mouthpiece looks and sounds great. People should definitely call Ron. He makes one hell of a bari piece as well. I think he’s an excellent craftsman and he is a saxophone player.

  2. baffle looks a little crooked, rails and tip look nice, sounds good though,, great test “lic” you did

  3. Avatar Larry Weintraub says

    Steve: For someone who hasn’t played since August you sound great!! The RPC 110 sounds great too. The reverb add some je nois cei pai (sp?) but actually the dry recording sounds fine too. I think the reverb gives the sound more room if that makes sense.
    So what is the difference between this Red one and the current Blue ones?

    Thanks,
    Larry W

  4. Philipe, The pattern of the epoxy baffle does look crooked but I can’t see any crookedness in the baffle at all. It is very even and symmetrical. Steve

  5. Larry, I have heard people say that the red letter ones are better but those are usually people who are selling a red letter one so you know how that is. I’m not sure if there is any difference. You would have to ask Ron about that. Steve

  6. Avatar Jerrold Pritchard says

    What a great sound, Steve! You must have been practicing a lot in your mind the last four months and stored up some ideas and pent-up energy. This mouthpiece has such a consistent sound from bottom to top F. The altissimo sounded a bit thinner and forced. In general, I loved the sound of this mouthpiece, especially with the reverb where you sounded like the hottest player ever. With this mouthpiece you could stand up to Lockjaw or Brecker or anyone.

    So glad the operation turned out OK and you are back to playing again. Hang in there, man, you have had a rough time, but you have more resiliency than anyone I know of.

  7. Great for any lost amount of time. You should make a recording. I loved both pieces. Great great!!! Most wonderful tone. Excellent mouthpieces. Thank you Steve.I pray your fluid reduces and you dont need any more procedures. Bless you and family.

  8. Hey Steve, The mouthpiece sounds AWESOME. Can see why you scooped it up after all those years. The tone was very consistent throughout the entire range loved the altissimo. I’m so glad they were able to correct your shunt and good to see you back online. Last we talked you were feeling pretty bad and headed for the MRI so I didn’t touch base. Happy New Year!!!

    Nelson

  9. Thanks Nelson. Feeling back to my normal self again. Hope it continues for a while. Feels great to play again! Hope you’re doing well and playing a lot! Steve

  10. Steve, even if you have not played for four months, you always play great as ever!
    After reading this “shunt malfunctioning” thing, I thought back to that writing that sometimes I read “Funny as a brain tumor” and that, not thinking, was autobographic, I had always avoided for superstition and I read the whole story.
    Sincerely, not so much to say, I felt very pained for your odyssey, during which you had great courage
    I’m glad you got out of it.
    I give you my sincere wishes and I wish you to always keep your current happy life, happy with your beautiful family, including dog Tucker (I hope it was young in 2009!).
    With great affection,
    Giuseppe.

  11. Steve … thanks so much for the review of my Red logo tenor mpc …
    That mpc goes back to early part of 2000, that’s when I made the
    transition to the Blue logo , same model mpc .

    People often ask what the difference is, basically it is just a day on
    the calendar , mid-2000, I went to buy the red paint-stick I was using for the
    logo , this particular store stocked every color available from that company.
    I stared at the shelf in awe of all the different colors, decided I liked the blue
    better than red, it was a bit more subtle , and that was that …

    Needless to say I am grateful for your kind words and gorgeous playing . I do play
    each mpc and fine tune , it’s a process I refer to as “not good enough,not good
    enough ” … on and on, I usually play each mpc on 3 different days .

    From the beginning I was influenced by my endeavors as a woodwind
    doubler , only thing I have played professonally is Baritone
    lots of big bands , and R&B horn sections over the years .

    So starting in 1998, I decided to make a sax mpc that would satisfy
    highly skilled players , session players , soft to loud , even scale,
    beauty of the sound, but then , as I like to say “When it’s time
    to get loud , it’s time to get loud ! ” , but still reatin the musical qualities .

    To address an item in the review, no big deal as the saying goes.
    My baffles look good because they are cut with a CNC milling machine.
    Very much NOT high tech , I use high quality bench top machines from
    the early 90’s and computer aided design software equally ancient , it
    all runs on DOS , but very effective. The epoxy material is added before the
    machining begins, as the raw casting I get from JJ Babbitt does not have
    enough material to accommodate the high baffle …

    I was an IBM Field engineer for 15 years up to 1997 , so I know how to
    get computers to do things .. ;o)

    For the last 5 years I have been fine tuning my skills to make a mpc
    starting from round stock . Currently making all sizes except Soprano …

    5 years ago I started researching many different high quality plastics
    readily available in round stock , also hard rubber , have settled
    on high quality hard rubber rod , and Ultem rod, The Ultem is amazing , it is
    a fair amount harder than hard rubber , but plays just a bit warmer !
    very rich core . It is also very durable , higher chance it will survive
    being dropped , and can withstand heat up to 340 degrees F .
    Primarily I use it because my customers tell me they love the
    sound and the way it plays.

    Will get one of the new models for you to review when I can …

    Thanks Again
    Ron Coelho

  12. Bought a 120B (blue letter) from Ron many years ago. I have tried several other brands over the years just to compare. Still with the RPC 120B. Nothing so far can touch it for tone, volume (when needed) and versatility. Also have Ron’s older (blue letter) alto 90HB. Likewise, no other alto piece comes close to it for the music that I play and enjoy. Just good to have two m/p’s that respond so well. Thanks Ron!

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