A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from Frank Klum asking if I’d be interested in trying out Ted Klum’s new Acoustimax alto saxophone mouthpiece. As I was reading the email, I got to the bottom and was in shock when I saw that Frank lives in Hollis, New Hampshire. Hollis is the town right next to where I live. I feel like I’m kind of in the middle of nowhere so when I saw that, I couldn’t believe it. Soon, Frank and I were talking on the phone and we set up a time for me to come over and try a bunch of mouthpieces he had on hand. I was pretty excited. For those of you who don’t know, Ted Klum is considered to be one of the greats as far as mouthpiece work is concerned. I have been hearing his name for years my first mouthpiece refacer Jon Van Wie had learned the art from Ted.
Ted Klum’s Versitone Acoustimax Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece (If you click on the pic it will enlarge)
I went over the next day and Frank had 20-25 mouthpieces sitting on his dining room table. I could barely contain myself. I ended up trying everything he had there. There were 3-4 Acoustimer Focustone alto mouthpieces, 4-5 Acoustimax alto mouthpieces, 4-5 Acoustimer Focustone Tenor mouthpieces and a few metal tenor pieces. If you know me from reading this blog then you know that this was a very special moment for me. I was in heaven!
I played the alto mouthpieces first. I think I spent 2-3 hours going back and forth playing each one with different reeds and ligatures. What made it so hard was that each mouthpiece was very good but they were all in different tip openings. If you ever tried a ton of mouthpieces before, you know that you can start going bonkers after awhile. A .070 tip mouthpiece might sound killer with a 3 reed but that same 3 reed might feel too hard for an .080 tip opening. After a short time I had a bunch of reeds piled up and 3 or 4 ligatures getting rotated…………The one I am reviewing today is an Acoustimax “D” facing which is an .080. The Acoustimax is made of an extremely durable composite material. This is the description from Ted Klum’s website:
Molded and machined from a revolutionary composite material – medium chamber – clear core geometry
Ted Klum Versitone™ Acoustimax Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece, made from a revolutionary and extremely durable composite material, produces a truly great tone with unparalleled intonation, projection and resonance. At last, an alto saxophone mouthpiece combining the greatest characteristics of classic vintage mouthpieces, state of the art design along with production advancements and Ted Klum’s own ultimate facing curve geometry. Acoustimax is the outstanding choice for students and professionals of all levels.
Unsurpassed intonation sets the new market standard for alto mouthpieces
Superior response and playability from ultimate facing curve and Clear Core geometry
Extremely tough and durable; crack and chip resistant
Increased dynamic range from ppp (pianissimo) to fff (fortissimo)
Included accessories: cap, ligature, pouch, bite-pad
It was obvious from talking to Frank, that the material they are using is very special in their eyes. At one point, he was bouncing the tip of a mouthpiece on his kitchen counter which was making me sweat a bit. I couldn’t stand it. “Ok,Ok I said I believe you, you can stop that now.” As you can see from the pictures, this is about as good as a mouthpiece can look. The table , rails, tip and chamber are all perfect. The engraving……..perfect. I played all of them and they all played great for me. At the end of the time I liked this .080 tip with a Java 2 1/2 reed the best and decided to do a review of it.
As far as the sound goes, these have a very pure and centered sound to them. I played them side by side with the Acoustimer Focustone mouthpieces and these were brighter and purer in sound than the Acoustimer’s I tried. The Acoustimer’s had a bit of a richer sound to them. The Acoustimax seemed to have a bit more power in them in my opinion. When I was playing them I was thinking that the sound would be a good sound for lead alto. A pure, focused, bright lead alto sound that cuts through. The intonation on these was also great. It was actually much better than most mouthpiece I have tried. My middle register of my Selmer can be sharp with certain mouthpieces but this mouthpiece was right on.
Ted Klum’s Versitone Acoustimax Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece
Give a listen to the soundclip below to hear for yourself what these sound like. If you are interested in trying one of these visit Ted Klum’s website at www.tedklummouthpieces.com for more information. They are only selling these for 235 right now which is a great deal. Thanks again to Frank and Ted Klum for letting me try their great mouthpieces. I could go on about the tenor mouthpieces I tried but I’ll leave that for another day……………