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!