JX Custom JXFL 8 Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece Review

Today, I am reviewing the JX Custom JXFL 8 tenor saxophone mouthpiece that is said to be similar in design to a Francois Louis solid silver 8 tenor saxophone mouthpiece like Bob Berg used to play.    This is made by Jianxing Li in Guangzhou, China.

A number of months ago, I was contacted and asked if I would consider reviewing the saxophone mouthpieces in the photo below for Mr. Li.  They look like an impressive set of saxophone mouthpieces and I couldn’t resist at least trying them out.

  • On the bottom you have the JXFL tenor sax mouthpiece which is made as a replica of a Francois Louis tenor saxophone mouthpiece similar to what Bob Berg might have played on.
  • The second piece from the bottom is similar to a Guardala Studio tenor saxophone mouthpiece and is called the JXDG.
  • The third mouthpiece from the bottom is fashioned after a double ring Otto Link tenor saxophone mouthpiece.
  • The fourth mouthpiece from the bottom is the JXRO alto sax mouthpiece that is similar in concept to the Miami Dukoff mouthpiece Dave Sanborn used to play that I already reviewed.
  • At the top of the photo is a JXKM soprano saxophone mouthpiece that is designed to be similar in style to the Miami Dukoff 8 soprano sax mouthpiece that Kenny G plays. Here is the review of the JXKM mouthpiece.

JX Custom Line of Mouthpieces (from top to bottom: JXKM similar yo Kenny G’s Dukoff Soprano Mouthpiece, JXRO-similar to Dave Sanborn’s Dukoff Alto Mouthpiece, JXDR-similar to a Double Ring Florida Link, JXDG-Similar to a Guardala Studio Model, JXFL-Similar to Bob Berg’s Francois Louis Mouthpiece

The descriptions of the designs of these saxophone mouthpieces were given to me by Zhu Haiming who sent them to me to try out.  I want to make that clear in case any of you disagree with how they are described or represented in this review.

I am told that Mr. Li bought quite a few original examples of each saxophone mouthpiece to study before he made his own line of sax mouthpieces but could only find one Francois Louis solid silver tenor sax mouthpiece that he bought and studied in preparation for making the JX Custom JXFL 8 tenor saxophone mouthpiece.

All of the JX Custom mouthpieces are made of stainless steel.  I feel sorry for Mr. Li if he works on these by himself as I have heard that working with stainless steel can be incredibly brutal on the hands. The good news is that stainless steel is incredibly durable and resistant to corrosion.

JX Custom JXFL 8 Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The JX Custom JXFL 8 tenor saxophone mouthpiece looks nice to the eye. I looked up some pictures of some original Francois Louis solid silver tenor sax mouthpieces and they look quite similar in design to this JXFL tenor sax mouthpiece from the outside.  The body shape, which is quite unique, is almost identical to the eye. The only difference I can see easily is that the Francois Louis bite plate is square and goes all the way across the beak of the mouthpiece.  The bite plate of the JXFL mouthpiece is smaller and centered in the center of the beak.

On the inside of the mouthpiece, the baffle looks very similar to the pictures of the Francois Louis mouthpiece baffles on the internet.  Both mouthpieces have a bullet chamber that has a unique lake in the bottom of the chamber (I have not seen this before with any other mouthpieces I have reviewed).

I did find one picture of a chamber of a Francois Louis tenor mouthpiece that had scooped side walls where the lake in the chamber is.  The JXFL mouthpiece does not have scooped sidewalls in that area but straight sidewalls.  I’m not sure if all Francois Louis mouthpieces have these scooped sidewalls in the chamber or not but if they do then the JXFL might be different in this regard.

The facing of 8 is stamped on the bottom rear of the shank and is equal to a .115 inch tip opening.  This is a little more open than I am used to as I usually play a .105-.110 tip opening on the tenor saxophone but the .115 tip opening felt quite comfortable to me. In fact, I didn’t know until writing this that the tip was at .115.  I’ve been playing it for the last few days and thought it was at .110 as it felt so comfortable to me.

JX Custom JXFL 8 Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The JX Custom JXFL 8 tenor saxophone mouthpiece rails and tip look thin, even and precise.  The width of the mouthpiece tip and rails are exactly the width of Rigotti Gold reeds up near the tip.  The table is also the same width as the reeds at the rear of the table.   The mouthpiece tip rail flares out a little more on the sides than the tip shape of my Rigotti Gold tenor sax reeds but the tip is symmetrical and it is easy to center the reed with the tip.  All the reeds played well and never lost suction when testing with the suction test during my trials.

The side walls are straight and look like they angle inward slightly as they head towards the small/medium chamber.  The chamber size is questionable because even though the opening looks small/medium sized, there is that big lake at the bottom of the chamber that increases the chamber size. The opening is actually after the lake and then it opens up to the bore of the mouthpiece.  (There is a picture of the chamber further down in this review.)

JX Custom JXFL 8 Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The inside of the bore of the mouthpiece looks smooth to the eye and it fits on my neck cork easily. The JXFL tenor saxophone mouthpiece is about a quarter inch longer than a typical metal Otto Link tenor mouthpiece.

The mouthpiece came with a nice silver ligature that slides on the grooves on the sides of the mouthpiece just like on a Francois Louis mouthpiece.   The ligature has a plate on it that is slightly curved and looks to make full contact with the reed.  It tightens down with one big screw on the bottom of the ligature. I found that when the screw is all the way tightened, the ligature felt too tight on the reed. If I loosened the ligature just a tad, it seemed like the reed was freed up a little bit to respond more freely.

JX Custom JXFL 8 Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The JX Custom JXFL 8 tenor saxophone mouthpiece has what I would call a medium height rollover baffle that ends with the bullet chamber as you can see in the photos.  You can see some scratches and what look like brush marks on the baffle where it was worked on.  The baffle has a slight texture but feels smooth to the touch.  The rollover baffle looks very even to the eye as I look at it from front to back.

JX Custom JXFL 8 Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

I’ve provided two samples of the same clip below.  One is a sound clip which is dry (no reverb or effects added) and the other has some reverb added to the recording.  I think it’s important to add the reverb clip just so people can get a sense of what the sound is like with some reverb since the added reverb tends to soften the edge and fatten the tone a bit.

I have to admit that I dig the reverb clip more than the dry clip just because it reminds me of Bob Berg and his later recording with reverb on them.  (I’m listening to some Bob Berg even as I write this…….) Bob Berg had a huge impact on me shortly after my college years when I started playing the tenor sax.  Unfortunately, Bob passed away in 2002 because of an auto accident

JX Custom JXFL 8 Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The tone of the JX Custom JXFL 8 tenor saxophone mouthpiece is definitely on the brighter side of the tenor sax tone spectrum but it has a thickness and body to the tone that gives it some nice character. It feels like the tone has a thickness in the middle range that evens out the brights in the sound to my ears. Maybe it is all in my head but there is a quality to the sound that reminds me of Bob Berg’s sound when I listen back to the sound clip.

The intonation on the JXFL tenor mouthpiece was very good.  I was thrown for a loop a few times while playing “My One and Only Love” on the sound clip because every time I played a middle E I was expecting it to be sharp and adjusting but the JXFL seemed to play that note much closer in tune than I am used to. The altissimo notes seemed closer in tune than I am used to also and were really easy to pop out.

JX Custom JXFL 8 Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The JXFL 8 tenor mouthpiece had loads of power to it.  If most mouthpieces I play go to 10 on the volume scale, the JXFL mouthpiece seems like it goes to like 14.  With my normal 80% air it felt like it was wailin’!  If I pushed it with more air, it would go into overdrive.  I understand why Bob Berg might have liked this type of mouthpiece so much.   Check out a few videos on Youtube of Bob Berg and chances are you will see him wailin’ beyond belief pretty quickly.

The JXFL is an interesting mouthpiece.  It almost seems like the medium baffle gives some brights and power to the sound and then that bullet chamber with the lake in the bottom fattens up that sound.  After that,  the sound is squeezed through that medium/small opening into the bore which gives it a nice focus.

As I listen back to the clip, I think it is mostly the notes from high G and up that remind me the most of Mr. Berg. They to have a metallic brassy hollow quality to my ear. It’s a very unique sound in my opinion.

As a side note, I notice I had to be careful to support the low register.  A couple of times at the end of a phrase I would jump to a low note and it wouldn’t speak because I was running out of air and I wasn’t supporting the note like I should have been.  Usually with other mouthpieces the note still comes out and I can fake it.  With the JXFL mouthpiece, it felt like it went on strike as if telling me that if I didn’t support it like I should then it wasn’t gonna do it’s part.

JX Custom JXFL 8 Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The JX Custom JXFL 8 tenor saxophone mouthpiece is a great example of a well crafted medium baffle, small/medium chambered tenor saxophone mouthpiece with a unique sound and skill set.  If you have been on the search for a tenor sax mouthpiece that will give you a bright and powerful “Bob Berg” type sound this is a great tenor sax mouthpiece to consider.  The last solid silver Francois Louis mouthpiece I saw on the internet was for sale for 4,440.00 USD which is above most of our price ranges I think.  It’s cool to have an alternative out there at a more reasonable price point.

Thanks to Jianxing Li and Zhu Haiming for working together to get me these saxophone mouthpieces to review.  If you are interested in the JX Custom JXFL 8 tenor saxophone mouthpiece you can email Mr. Li at jxmouthpieces@163.com (I tested the email to make sure it works).  At the writing of this review, JX Mouthpieces do not have a website but I am told they are working on one.

Special thanks also to Bob Berg who died too early but left us an incredible legacy of music to enjoy and learn from.  RIP Bob Berg!

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you get a JX Custom JXFL 8 tenor saxophone mouthpiece be sure to come back and let us know what you think below………Thanks!!

JX Custom JXFL 8 Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Added Reverb

JX Custom JXFL 8 Tenor Saxophone 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. Hi Steve,

    great and insightful review like always! “A couple of times at the end of a phrase I would jump to a low note and it wouldn’t speak because I was running out of air …” – Well, I believe that’s why Francois always had a little ring at the end of the chamber to compress the air. (I still own one of his silver soprano pieces) But nice 1980ies vibe anyway… 😉

  2. Avatar Graham Snell says

    This sounds great Steve.

  3. Avatar John Zangrando says

    Nice Steve, it’s not real wide but it’s not all edge. It definitely has a core. Contemporary for sure but not a glass cutter. Very interesting.

  4. Sounds cool. Definite Bob Berg vibe. Speaking of Berg, it looks a bit like a Berg with the bullet chamber and sounds like the darker Bergs. Nice review. Wondering where his price range will be?

  5. Russ, You can email them and ask. The email is on the bottom of the review. Steve

  6. Thanks Graham!

  7. Great. Beautiful tone. Thanks.

  8. Thanks Antonino.

  9. Avatar Tom DePalma says

    Wow Steve… sounds great. Then again, you always do!! Big fan of Bob Berg and you really captured his tone. Great review as always. Thanks!

  10. Avatar paul fessenden says

    Sounds great Steve. Thanks for all you do for all the sax players out there. I really like the sound of that mouthpiece. I can just hear my wife now. “You want to buy another mouthpiece?”

  11. Very nice review as always Steve! I wonder what about the other two jx mouthpieces the Ottolink replica and the Guardala studio. Will you make a review about them later? Also I sent an email about the JXFL to mr Jianxing Li for the price and shippment costs but no response 🙁

  12. Vasilis, Yes, I am planning to review those. I will email Jianxing Li also just to make sure his email works. Maybe they got overwhelmed with emails and orders after the review………..

  13. Emailed them Monday got no response

  14. Phil, I’m not sure what is going on with them. Sorry they aren’t responding faster. Steve

  15. Emailed them a month ago, and again a week ago and still got no response.

  16. I have two other mouthpiece by them to review, the Guardala and Florida Link models but I am not really motivated to do the reviews if they are not responding to emails by interested potential customers. I did get an email back that the person who sent me the mouthpieces had eye surgery and could not look at a computer screen or tv for the last month so maybe that is part of the issue here. No idea. Sorry to get you guys excited about a mouthpiece that seems impossible to get right now……….

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