Theo Wanne Gaia 7* Tenor Mouthpiece

This is a new Theo Wanne mouthpiece called the Gaia.  He advertises this on being close to a Florida Link type of sound.  I have to say that out of the Theo Wanne pieces I have played so far this is my favorite. The higher baffle Wanne mouthpieces were too bright for what I like and the Parvati was too dark and lacked the power and edge I like in a mouthpiece.

This Gaia mouthpiece is perfect for me. It has a  nice fat lush tone to it but with a nice balance of highs and lows in the sound. The sound is different than other pieces I have tried. It’s hard to explain, it’s just fat and round sounding to me.  I played this for a week straight and was so close to getting it but I can’t afford it at this time so I had to send it back.  I am really hoping to get one of these at a later date……As usual, the workmanship on this piece is as perfect as you can get.  It has a medium rollover baffle that opens up at the bottom into a pretty large chamber. It felt like the baffle gave the piece a real nice focus and kick to it and then the large chamber helped to fatten up the core sound. I used a Vandoren Java 3 on this piece and every reed I tried on it played very good. I did notice a huge difference in the sound when I moved the ligature around on the mouthpiece. When I moved it towards the tip of the mouthpiece it seemed to give the sound more of a focused core. When I moved it back towards the end of the piece it seemed to get a bigger more spread sound to it. I sent this piece back today.  I will  really miss this one.   Listen………

Steve About Steve

Steve Neff has been playing and teaching saxophone and jazz improvisation around the New England area for the last 30 years. He is the author of many effective jazz improvisation methods as well as founding the popular jazz video lesson site


  1. Sounds real nice…. but the dilemma will always be “Is it really worth $750?” I see you decided no (at least for the time being). Thanks for posting these, Steve.

    • That’s true but I was so close. If things weren’t so tight right now I would have gone for it. It really is a great playing piece. I wish I could have spent more time with it.

  2. Did you like the tipopening? Most of the time you prefer 110mm(size 8).

    Keep swinging!


    • I did like the 7* tip. I had an 8 also and I went back and forth with them. I felt like the 8 was just a bit bigger than I like. Lately, I’ve been digging 7* more because they seem to have more of that compact core to the sound . 8’s are good for me when the baffle is higher at the tip I think. I did go back and forth a lot though. If I order one later I will probably order a 7* and an 8 to make sure I pick the one that is the best for me.

  3. Avatar Ray Dickaty says

    Wow….That sounds amazing. All the notes, even played at speed are very distinct and solid.
    Very even all over the horn..
    A warm sound with a great balance of fundamentals, mids and highs.
    Also that must be one of the longest clips you have posted which suggests to me you really could not stop playing his mpce..!!

  4. Steve, indeed, you sound great on this piece. I bit the bullet and got one myself. I love it! After playing on a Florida early Babbitt Link 8 for 30 years, it’s going to take a bit of getting used to. Your description of it is the same as mine. Not too “baffley” and not too dark. Just right!

  5. Hello Steve,

    Theo just made the Gaia in rubber and wood.
    I haven’t played it yet. I hope you have a clip of them in the future.

    Keep swinging!


  6. Great!. In Holland the saxshops only have the metal Gaia for sale!
    I am interested in your opinion because i also play a SBA tenor.

  7. I am thinking of ordering the Gaia in wood, how do you feel it compares to the metal version?

    • I’m putting up a clip of the wood Gaia right now. It’s a bit more of a textured sound. Not as clean sounding as the metal Gaia. The one I have is a .110. I really want to try a .105 wood and HR Gaia as my favorite of the metals was the .105.

  8. This is my second favourite piece you play on tenor…..great but i think the Barone super New York has more “character”

  9. Weary of mouthpiece trials (and the attendant shipping fees) but buoyed in part by Steve’s review, I tried and recently purchased a Wanne GAIA 7* metal for my tenor. This mouthpiece really is a dream to play: crystal clear (playing Vandoren Java and Red Box #3s), great intonation, not too big, not too small. I had been playing a Wanne/Pillinger tenor mpc , modeled on the Slant Sig for a few years and managed to damage it last year. The GAIA helps me produce that same depth in my tone. The GAIA has an edge to it for me, one that I don’t recall getting out of the GAIA HR. Nonetheless, I find it on the brighter side of the dark spectrum….or the darker side of the bright spectrum (your choice). I haven’t messed with changing the ligature placement yet. I’ve never played a “real” vintage Link so I can’t say how much it compares to one of those. The price is definitely a stretch (on the level of those vintage pieces, even), but for me it was worth it to be genuinely satisfied with a mpc — rather than “settling” for one that’s “almost there” — and to be able to declare my mouthpiece searching is over.

  10. Avatar Courtney M. Nero says

    I recently purchased Theo Wanne’s GAIA 7* metal tenor mouthpiece. After several mouthpiece trials, I decided to give Theo Wanne’s mouthpieces a try again. I had played a metal DATTA 7* mouthpiece in a local store; I found the DATTA too bright but was really struck by the clean, clear sound that the mouthpiece produced. I’ve been playing on a Wanne/Pillinger hard rubber mouthpiece that was modeled on the Slant Sig. I was attracted to the Wanne/Pillinger based on the tone and the little buzz/edge I had in the sound. Last year I managed to damage that mouthpiece with a pretty decent crack in the table from the bottom of the window and I sought to replace it.

    For background, I’m a jazz head but I was looking for a little more projection and edge based on two factors. First, much of my playing these days is in the horn section of a church band that plays contemporary gospel music, and our horn section is competing against a pit of amplified rhythm instruments. Second, many of the tenor players whose sound that I enjoy, in my estimation, have brighter sounds…not “Michael Brecker bright,” but bright in comparison with other straight ahead tenors, including Charlie Rouse, Harold Land, Dexter Gordon (that “Dexter thing” that some write about), and Ralph Moore. I ordered the GAIA, BRAHMA, and AMMA, all metal and 7*. I quickly found that I was drawn to the GAIA and the BRAHMA. I knew from the first play test that the AMMA 7* was brighter than I wanted.

    Frankly, I liked the GAIA more but I play tested to see whether I liked the BRAHMA 7* metal enough, since the GAIA is about twice the price of the BRAHMA. In the end, I really enjoyed the GAIA for the character and body/depth of the sound, the projection, and the tone for me seemed to be just right….call it the brighter side of the dark spectrum or the darker side of the bright spectrum. In conversation with Theo’s company representatives, the GAIA, BRAHMA, and AMMA sit very close to one another on the comparison chart of brightness/darkness.

    The GAIA ligature also was a selling point for me. I preferred having the lig attached to the mouthpiece rather than dealing with Theo’s “enlightened” lig on the BRAHMA. I have not adjusted the ligature forward or backward on the table or tried different pressure plates, but I’ll likely get that in the coming weeks. Otherwise, the construction of the mouthpiece is very elegant. Theo puts together a very nice package. The supporting rods for the GAIA’s ligature seem to be thick enough to be durable over the long term. The mouthpiece came with a case and an additional pressure plate. I also ordered a Francois Louis “smart cap”; as others have noted, the mouthpiece cap that Theo provides with the mouthpiece (reed replacer cap) is not designed for use when a reed is on the mouthpiece (e.g. protection for between sets).

    I’ve never played a vintage Link before so I can’t cosign those comparisons, but there was just an edge and clarity to my tone with the GAIA that I really wanted. I’m very happy with the purchase.

  11. Steve,

    What are your thoughts regarding the GAIA metal vs the
    Phil Barone Super New York tenor mouthpiece? (reviewed in Sept of 2011)


    • The Gaia and SNY have a similar fatness to the tone. I would say the SNY is a bit brighter and the Gaia has a more velvety quality to the sound. Very smooth. I would say that the SNY seems to be louder because of the extra edge when I push it hard. The Gaia gets louder but doesn’t get as bright. The Gaia is fat and velvety with a tad of edge. The SNY is brighter but also very rich sounding which balances the highs so it doesn’t sound overly bright. Hope this helps.

  12. I have a Gaia 10 tip tenor, it plays insane, very nice, work of art. I also have the Durga same tip, what a screamer!

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