Sugal Super Gonz Copper Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

This is a very cherished mouthpiece for me.  It was made by Gary Sugal in the early 90’s and is called the Super Gonz I.  To give you a little background on this mouthpiece…………I started playing tenor around 1986.  At that time, I was playing a Couf Superba 1 tenor with the only mouthpiece I could find.  It was a Brilhart Level Air mouthpiece.  To sum up my experience, I hated my sound with a passion. It was just plain gross.  Bright and blatty sounding.  Even thinking about it now gives me shivers.  My goal at that time was to sound just like Michael Brecker but no matter how much I practiced or how hard I worked on it my sound was lame to my ears. In ’90 I took lessons with Jerry Bergonzi and he sold me a mouthpiece that was a Gary Sugal prototype.  I believe it was called the JB model.   It was a high baffled mouthpiece that I instantly loved.  It had kind of a Dukoff/Guardala vibe to it.  It had a very focused bright sound to it.

Sugal Super Gonz Copper Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

Soon after getting that Sugal JB mouthpiece I found myself really loving my sound.   After that time,  I switched to the tenor saxophone fulltime and put my alto sax in the closet.  I played the JB for a few years but then one day while practicing in my garage I dropped it!  It landed right on it’s tip and dented it in badly.  I called Gary and he said I could come down and pick out a new mouthpiece.  This was around ’93.  I went down to Providence and tried probably 10 different mouthpieces.  I don’t remember what the models were but he had a bunch of different models to try.  The minute I played the Copper Super Gonz 1 I knew that that was the one I wanted.  I loved it.  It had a huge fat sound.  Much fatter than the JB model.  It was also warm and lush down low where as the JB model was loud and crass down there.  The low notes were hard to get on the JB.   The Super Gonz was totally different.  The low notes were warm and beautiful sounding.  The high notes were round and big.   The great thing about the Super Gonz was that when I really pushed it hard I could morph into that Brecker type of sound (which I had to do on many gigs) .

I played that Super Gonz for 7 years from 1993-about 2000.  In 2000, I became frustrated with it because I was having a harder and harder time playing loud.  The plating was wearing off and the tip and rails were looking pretty rough.  When I played loudly I was  over blowing way too much and creating all sorts of back pressure in my head. (I had brain surgery a few times and this back pressure was not a good feeling)

Anyways, I put the mouthpiece away and started my search for a new mouthpiece.  Along the way I met Dave Jary on the internet and through our discussions he said he could fix the Super Gonz up to be as good as new.  I took him up on his offer.  It took forever for him to do it but when I got it back it played better than ever.  It turned out, that even though I always thought it was a 7* (.105)(because that is what it was marked), Dave measured the tip at .096.  That is quite a big difference.  That was probably why I had so hard of a time getting enough air through it and was overblowing. He refaced it to .105 and cleaned up the facing, tip and curve.  It now plays great!

To my ears, the Super Gonz 1 has a very unique sound to it.  Out of all the mouthpieces I have tried the only one that comes close to it was the SS Ponzol M2 that I owned (but that is nowhere as warm and smooth sounding as the SG 1 although it does have that fat/bright sound to it when you push it).  What makes this piece unique for me is that although it can be bright it is also incredibly fat sounding to my ears.  The tone is fat and dense sounding.  Like there is a lot packed into the sound.  This was and still is my favorite mouthpiece to sub-tone on. The notes just have a certain quality to them that I love. Rich!

What is also great about this mouthpiece is the way you can really push it into overdrive and get a nice funky Brecker type sound from it.  It’s not over the top bright or loud but is still pleasant sounding to my ears and can pull off that type of sound.   I can’t tell you the number of gigs I did playing a standard jazz solo and then ripping into  a crazy funk sound on the next tune.

With all this being said,  I will say that finding a great Sugal mouthpiece like this Super Gonz is very hard. I have tried probably about 20 Sugals since 2000.  Some were OK but most were just awful for me  ( I did have a Super Gonz II that was a killer mouthpiece also).  Many of them had rails and tips that were way too thick.  Many had rails that were uneven and tip rails that were crooked and uneven.  Some had bite plates that were lopsided and baffles that were all gouged.  Many of them were just a complete mess.  I had a friend send me 10 to put sound clips up of and I couldn’t find a good one in the whole bunch.  I had to send them back to him and say sorry.  So, if you like the sound of this piece all I’m saying is make sure you can try out the mouthpiece first before you buy it.  That’s my opinion.  Let me know what you think.  Enjoy!

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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. Steve, You need to try out one of the mouthpiece guy’s new mouthpieces from mouthpiece cafe called the primo. I think im deffinitely going to try one out after seeing jay thomas’s review of it on youtube. I want to try either one of those or a drake son of slant and maybe drakes signature studio also haha

  2. Great sound! What reed and lig are you using with that?

  3. That was a Java 2 1/2. I’m glad you liked it. Thanks

  4. hey steve love the clip.
    are you going to try a Warburton Custom Link any time soon?
    Thanks,
    Jack

  5. I’m not sure. I asked them about it but haven’t heard anything since. I hope so.

  6. I like the “Sugal sound”, especially the “I´s” the II are to bright. After listening to this clip I had to find the clips where you play a Jon Van Wie Otto link 8. I think this two are the my favorites on your site.

    – Super Gonz and Kirk Whalum models: What is the difference?

    I just switched from Guardala MBII to a “Sugal Kirk Whalum I”. The KW felles more flexible and versatile and the high notes are fatter.

  7. I’m not sure what the differences are. I tried about 6 KW pieces and I hated every one of them. Maybe I just got bad examples of them. The rails were huge, the tip’s were all crooked, the bite plates were lopsided. I much prefer the Super Gonz I’s I’ve played. Steve

  8. Steve..If your selling the Sugal for $120.00…i’ll take it. Paypal?

  9. I might be but I already have two people waiting in line for it if I do. Sorry.

  10. Hello . Has anyone tried the Sugal alto pieces ? I was thinking about buying one but can’t seem to find much info on them. I was told to get the super classic 11 for all the pop music I play. Does anyone know anything about them ?

  11. Never tried any Sugal alto pieces. Sorry.

  12. Avatar Paul Baylis says

    These remain great pieces,still love mine and its never let me down on all kinds of gig.
    PB

  13. Avatar Roy Carter says

    I have a Sugal copper Super Gonz..and it played great for about 16 years..now for some reason..I can’t get any volume ..I like to get back to playing again..now I am using the Ponzol..it woks nice but it isn;t as good as my old Sugal..I have a super classic on my alto..and it’s nice..for R&B,and rock gig’s..
    How are the Drake mouthpieces??

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