Drake Vintage Resin Contemporary Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

I’m starting to get overwhelmed by how many great mouthpieces are out there today.  This morning  I received a box from Aaron Drake at Drake Mouthpieces.   I couldn’t open it fast enough.  Inside were 3 brand new vintage resin alto saxophone mouthpieces for me to try.  I’ve been wanting to try these for months now and I was very excited.  The first one I played was this one.  It is the contemporary model and has a 6 tip opening (.080).  It has a high long baffle in it  that scoops into the chamber sort of like a Berg or RPC mouthpiece would.  There’s no edges on the decline of the baffle into the chamber.  The high baffle gives this mouthpiece a brighter, punchier sound that is great for modern playing…………………..

Drake Contemporary Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

  • Appearance:

The tip and rails of this mouthpiece are perfect. The tip curve matches my Vandoren Java reeds perfectly. The baffle is high and long as you can see in the pictures and is completely even.  The chamber has a smooth horse shoe shape to it that reminds me of some hard rubber Berg Larsen’s and RPC’s  I have played.  I’m not sure what size the chamber is?  It looks to be the same size as a medium Meyer.  The difference is that the baffle extends into the chamber and then slopes down into it.  The mouthpiece as  a nice copper band around the shank end and the engravings on it are neat and nice to look at.

  • Tone:

You can make your own decision from listening to the clip,  but I would place this mouthpieces tone in the brighter end of the spectrum.  It’s not as bright as some other alto mouthpieces I have tried but it’s getting close.  I like the fact that you can back off  of it with your air and it mellows out a bit.  This has a great tone for that modern Sanborn type sound that so many alto players love.  I play a few jazz lines on it also and it sounds great with those also…….just a little brighter to me.  When listening to the clip try to imagine a little bit of reverb and effects on the sound.  I recorded it with no effects to taint the sound but if I were playing this live on a gig I would be sure to have the soundman put some nice effects on this to sweeten it up even more.

  • Intonation:

Intonation was great with this mouthpiece and within normal limits.  My Selmer Reference alto saxophone has a tendency to go sharper on middle D,Eb and E when I play high baffled mouthpieces and it was sharper on those notes.  That’s not a big deal though as I am used to bringing those notes down in pitch anyways.

  • Control:

This was a very easy mouthpiece to play and control. It is very even sounding up and down the horn.  The altissimo notes were much easier on this mouthpiece because of the higher baffle.

  • Volume:

Powerful!  I could feel it when I blew in it. Even at  a medium air flow it was LOUD!  When I pushed it, it was even louder!  I could push as much air as I wanted through this piece.  I actually had to take a step back from the microphone because it was recording so “hot”.

Great job Aaron Drake!  If you are curious about trying Aaron’s mouthpiece you can visit his website at www.DrakeMouthpieces.com for more information.

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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 30 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. Hey you sound great on this mpc! I was wondering do normal alto ligatures fit that piece? Would the FL Ultimate ligature fit on that?

  2. I Don’t have it here anymore. I think I used a Vandoren Optimum on it but I can’t remember 100%. I don’t think it was small. You might want to email Aaron Drake and ask him.

  3. Hi Steve,
    Congrats on the blog, it’s really interesting and useful!
    Do you know how does this mouthpiece compare to a Vandoren Jumbo Java?
    Which is “brighter”, “harsher”, “huskier”, “edgier” -whatever?
    Thanks a lot, best regards.

  4. I’m not sure. I haven’t played a Jumbo Java in like 14+ years I think. I don’t remember anything about it. Sorry I couldn’t help more.

  5. Just to contribute something: I finally could compare a Drake Contemporary 7 with a Jumbo Java A45, both around 0.085″. The Contemporary has a more open, more agressive, buzzier and brighter sound, with tons of harsh power. But it’s also easier to control, and responds better, “as it should be”, in every register. It roars like a wild tiger and obeys like a well trained dog. The Jumbo Java is a bit darker, rounder -keeping in mind that both are very bright mouthpieces. Also, there’s a big difference regarding beak design: the Contemporary has a lower profile, thinner beak. If you prefer the traditional, thicker design, go for the Jumbo Java. Thanks again for all the useful info, best regards.

  6. Steve I just bought the alto contemporary piece. And the altissimo is really hard on this piece. I currently use Beechler bellite and diamond sometimes and the altissimo is a breeze on those. What do you think?

  7. Alex, Not sure. I don’t remember having any particular issues with the Drake piece when I tried it. I believe the Beechler is a smaller chamber so maybe you are really used to that smaller chamber. Sometimes going to a larger chamber is a bit of adjustment. Sorry I couldn’t help more. How do you like the tone of the Drake compared to the Beechler in general?

  8. Avatar Roberto Jimenez says

    I m actually playing a 7 tip opening Drake Contemporary alto sax piece. I love it! my set up with it is a fibracell #4 reed and I can play it at any volume and register at ease. What a great Mouthpiece!

  9. Hi Steve,

    As always you sound great. I am considering buying this piece from Aaron but am a bit cautious on the tip size. You are playing 6 here while Aaron is recommending 7 to me. I am new to the alto world, but on tenor I usually play pieces between 6* and 7* with 3 soft reeds (either Hemke’s or Rico JS). Do you think it would be hard to play size 7 with, for example, Rigotti 2.5 on alto? The only alto mouthpiece I own is Phil Tone’s solstice 0.76 tip with which I use RJZ 3S reeds. Just bought my alto few months ago, but have been playing tenor for ~11 years. Not a pro, just an engineer who enjoys playing… Thanks!

  10. This Drake Contemporary mouthpiece has a pretty high baffle so I think a 7 is a safe bet for this one. The high baffle balances out the bigger tip opening so it doesn’t seem as big usually. Steve

  11. Thanks Steve! 7 is on the way….

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