Today, I am reviewing a mouthpiece made by Johannes Gerber in South Africa. I have never played a Johannes Gerber mouthpiece before but have always wanted to. I have heard great things about his work and if you visit his site at www.jgerber.com the pictures will make you want to pull out your credit card immediately. I have to say that I am a bit embarrassed by my amateur photos compared to the jgerber.com site. His are a work of art and probably the best mouthpiece photographs I have ever seen. I have used his pictures from ebay on this review so you can see how nice they are!
I first heard of Johannes Gerber years ago when I went to a fellow sax players house here in New Hampshire. Either he was selling a mouthpiece or I was………..(I can’t remember). This other sax player was raving about this Meyer alto mouthpiece that he had Johannes Gerber reface. He was so excited about it that I have always remembered Johannes Gerber’s name since then. I’ve seen his name quite often since then on the internet but haven’t had a chance to play one of his mouthpiece until now. I was very excited that I could finally get a chance to try his work finally.
This mouthpiece is called a Gerber Vinatge Slant Signature. Obviously, it is based off of the old Otto Link Slant Signature hard rubber mouthpieces that everyone is going bonkers over. Here is what is written about the Gerber Slant mouthpiece on the ebay ads for it:
“For sale is a Johannes Gerber Vintage model for tenor saxophone. Johannes has worked on a great deal of vintage pieces and after hours of measuring and testing different famous pieces of the past, the Vintage was born. After much research and testing, Johannes chose a modern material which has the same characteristics of the best hard rubber of the past. Johannes then combines it with other materials, resulting in a mouthpiece matching the vintage piece’s sound, but with better projection and better wear resistance.
Each Vintage is hand finished individually by Johannes Gerber – every line is perfect, every rail, side and tip – immaculate… Like all Johannes Gerber mouthpieces, the sound is balanced very evenly, and response is instant through the whole range. The mouthpiece behaves consistent with various reeds and this makes it a dream to play.
The Vintage features a large chamber with rounded sidewalls which gives a full bodied and lush sound. The baffle is cut just right to give a full sounding high register, while maintaining excellent projection and a lively sound. The balance between darkness and projection is remarkable. Altissimo and subtones are effortless.”
Johannes Gerber Slant Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece
Now to my opinion…………..I loved this mouthpiece! When I opened up the package and saw the mouthpiece my first thought was that it looked just as pristine and perfect as the pictures on ebay. The material it is made of looks pretty cool. It sort of looks vintage in that it is black in some places and a sparkly brown in others. I took a few pictures with the flash so you could see this effect. The tip and rails look as perfect as you can get and the baffle is a nice rollover down into a medium-large chamber. The chamber looks to be as large as my EB link. (I don’t have a slant to compare it to but the EB is a really early one from a slant mold)
When I first played the mouthpiece I used an old reed that was on another mouthpiece and immediately was bummed because I didn’t like it at all. It sounded dead and tubby. The number one rule with mouthpiece testing is don’t use an old reed that has been sitting on another mouthpiece so I opened up a new box and put one on. It was a totally different story. Full,vibrant and powerful sound that has a nice lushness to it. The upper register was nice and crisp but with a nice fatness and character to it. The sound reminds me of a Bob Mintzer type of sound. It’s dark and fat but with a nice crispness intermingled into it. The intonation on it is as about as good as it gets. Every note is right on for me on my Selmer SBA (Super Balanced Action).
In this recording I’m am messing around with “My One and Only Love”. To be honest I have enjoyed this mouthpiece so much that it hasn’t left my horn for the last two weeks. For those of you interested in how it compares to a real slant…………..my opinion “it is very close”. I played both my EB (which is from a slant mold) and the Gerber Slant this morning and went back and forth repeatedly. To me the Gerber Slant was more lush down low with a smokey quality to the sound. The EB link was more focused and clear sounding down low. Up high the Gerber slant was a tad brighter but still very close to my EB link. The thing I like about the Gerber mouthpiece a lot is that the beak is lower and more comfortable than on my EB link. That makes it easier to play for me. The .110 Gerber plays almost the same as my .105 EB link. Going back and forth with the same 2 1/2 Java reed the .105 EB link actually feels a tiny bit stiffer even though they are both 25mm facing curves. It must be a difference in the facing curve between Brian Powell’s curve and Johannes Gerber curve I guess.
The only negative I have about this mouthpiece is how hard it is to find a ligature for it. I have probably 40-50 ligatures and none of my hard rubber tenor mouthpiece ligatures would fit. The only one I could use was a Vandoren Optimum with it tightened all the way down. The Gerber Slant seems to be in that nebulous world of having a smaller diameter than an average HR link type mouthpiece and bigger than an alto mouthpiece. Alto ligatures too small, tenor ligatures too big. I’d be very interested in trying this with a Marc Jean or Francois Louis ligature if I can find one that fits…………
This is a great mouthpiece to try if you are looking for that older slant type of sound without paying the slant prices you see on ebay. The jury isn’t in on whether this will replace my EB link that I am so fond of. I have to give it more time to decide that but I am excited that I found a mouthpiece that I like so much. Check out www.jgerber.com or search for Mr. Gerber’s ads on ebay if you are interested in trying this mouthpiece out. Let me know what you think. I’d love to here any comments you might have.