This is a new alto mouthpiece by Aaron Drake at Drake Ceramic Mouthpieces. He has been generous enough to send two alto pieces to me to try. These are called “Double Ring” Jazz pieces. One has a .075 tip and one has a .080 tip. These mouthpiece are very unique in that they are made of ceramic. I was a bit skeptical when I first heard of these pieces but I have to say that Aaron has done a great job with these mouthpieces. The first thing I noticed when playing these is that they seem to vibrate a lot more than a metal or hard rubber mouthpiece. When I played one for the first time I really felt the vibrations of the sound in my upper teeth. I had to put an extra tooth patch on just to get it to feel normal to me. Now just so you know, I consider this a very good thing.
I love to feel the sound when I’m playing and I have played so many pieces that are just dead and lifeless. I’m thinking that the feeling that I’m getting is from the ceramic material vibrating more freely. After playing it for awhile you don’t even notice it.
The two things that I was worried about with a ceramic were 1.) dropping it and having it shatter and 2.) putting it on a tight cork and having it crack. Aaron seemed to have addressed these 2 things by 1.)offering a lifetime guarantee on the piece(which is good if you are clumsy like me) as well as 2.) putting a metal tube inside the bore to stop it from cracking. The one thing that I didn’t like about the pieces was the fact that it was so hard to find a ligature for them. I have a box of about 50 ligs and went through all of them to find one that was a good fit. The one I used was a Rovner ligature. The thing that was strange is that my Optimum ligature and a Francois Louis ligature seemed to fit nicely but they would not stay on. I would tighten them nice and tight and then play and then when I went to touch the lig it would just slide off the piece. I never had that happen before. I was wondering if it was because the material was vibrating so much or maybe the angle was a bit different? I’m not sure. Anyways, the rovner worked fine.
As far as sound you can listen to the clips below…….The piece gave me a nice round sound with a nice crisp sparkle to it when pushed. It didn’t really feel bright to me as some pieces do because it still was fat sounding to me. One thing I have to say is that for me the piece just played right out of the box. I didn’t even feel like I had to get used to it. Some pieces i have to play and play to get used to them, with this one I just felt at home immediately.
This sound clip is of the .075 piece which is labeled a 5. The .080(6) was comfortable also but I just felt more at home on the 5. The first clip is a slower blues kind of thing and the 2nd clip is me just ramblin’ on random fast stuff. Let me know what you think and if you are interested check out Drake Mouthpieces above. These are great piece for the price of 160.00 dollars. Listen………
Clip 1 (Slow and Bluesy)
Clip 2 (Faster)