SAXZ David Sanborn Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

This is a SaxZ “David Sanborn” metal alto saxophone mouthpiece.  SaxZ is a company in Japan which is run by Mitsu Watanabe.

SaxZ David Sanborn Model Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

Man, I wish I had this mouthpiece when I was a kid.  When I was in junior high school, one of the first alto players I listened to was David Sanborn.  I remember going to the library and getting the album “Voyeur”.  That was the first time I listened to Dave Sanborn.  It blew my mind because his sound was so different than the alto players I had listened to until then.   I remember trying to play along with him and copy his sound.  I spent many hours each day trying to get down his licks and sound.   I did get many of his licks down but his sound was always very elusive for me.  I knew nothing about mouthpieces back then and had no idea that there were different kinds.  I didn’t know that you could sound different by choosing another mouthpiece.  I actually remember going through a stage where I was playing a Caravan mouthpiece for classical auditions and I was still trying to get that Sanborn sound out of it.  That was rough! (this Caravan had one of the darkest tones) The reason I would have loved this mouthpiece is that it propels you into the neighborhood of  that raw Sanborn sound without too much effort.

I feel like the “Sanborn” sound is more of an extreme sound tone wise.  It is very raw,bright,edgy and tough sounding.  It’s right in your face.  What Michael Brecker did for the tenor sound,  Sanborn did for the alto sound.  It’s not a middle of the road type of sound.  If you are going for  that type of sound you have to be bold and unapologetic about it.  You have to play with confidence!

Here are some words about the mouthpiece from SaxZ:

“From SAXZ and Mitsui Watanabe in Japan are the *NEW* David Sanborn alto sax mouthpieces. These are replicas of the mouthpiece David has been playing for years and is available in metal, sterling silver, and hard rubber/resin!

This superb metal mouthpiece incorporates the most up-to-date technology while maintaining the traditional high-baffle style. Performance versatility is built into every aspect of this excellent mouthpiece.” 

The mouthpiece does indeed look to be a replica of a metal Dukoff mouthpiece.  As you can see in the pictures, there is a slight blemish on the baffle.  I’m not sure if it came from the factory this way.  The baffle is high and even and angles down into a medium small chamber.  The high baffle and smallish chamber are what speed up the air and give a brighter more powerful sound to the tone.

SaxZ David Sanborn Model Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

Personally, I don’t play with this type of alto sound.  I haven’t played too much of this style since high school when I started getting into Phil Woods and Cannonball Adderley.   Recording the clip below did take me back though.  You can check out the clip and if you like that sound and style then you should give this mouthpiece a try.  I have to warn you that this clip is a bit louder and brighter than others I have done.

Let me know what you think in the comments below. Thanks, Steve

SaxZ David Sanborn Model Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

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


  1. Wow! Did you lip it / shape the sound? Or was it totally the mouthpiece? Sanborn’s original Dukoff is actually just a stock piece. No refacing. But you sounded very close to him on this one. Man…

    I love the 2nd note. Did it come out just like that?

    • It’s pretty close in tone to that. Of course, I’m playing that way stylistically. If you listen to a ton of Sanborn it comes out when you play. I’m not doing anything special to get that sound though. Just closing my eyes and trying to play like I think Sanborn might.

  2. There is a small blemish on the baffle of this factory prototype … as Steve notes in his review. I did not find that it impacted the sound quality, but SAXZ has already agreed to replace the piece once Steve is done with his review.

    By the way – THANKS to Steve for reviewing the several mouthpieces I sent his way!!

  3. Hi steve I’m trying to get the sanborn sound without any success my sound it’s still very dark are there any saxophone excercises to get the sanborn smooth jazz sound


    • The thing I tell my students is to play along with Sanborn. If you want to play like him and sound like him then you should put on his songs,crank the volume and play along with him. The first step is figuring out the melodies and licks. The 2nd part is then try to copy his sound and style. It might take months and years but the more you do it the closer you will get.

      Another trick to getting that brighter sound is to put a baffle in your mouthpiece. You can use stuff called Blue Tak that is found in most stores to hang posters up. Take a small ball of it and put it in the mouthpiece and try to copy the baffle of a Dukoff like Sanborn played. It’s not too hard. I’ll try to put up a video on youtub on how to do it if you need more help. Steve

  4. Hi Steve, thanks for the review. I see that they sell three models (resin, metal, silver). Have you tried the resin one? who does it differ from the metal one, or how do you think it should differ? I am asking because in general I prefer hardrubber to metal mouthpieces….


    • I haven’t tried the resin one. I didn’t even know they had one. I would like to try it. I can’t speak on how it would differ because I haven’t tried it. Some people say the material doesn’t matter but I have noticed differences in similar mouthpieces made out of different material. Usually, the resin or hard rubber is a bit darker and softer around the edges of the tone in my opinion. I’ll have to try one to know for sure. Sorry I couldn’t be more help. Steve

  5. I imagined that you hadn’t tested the resin one, but this answer based on your experience with other mouthpieces is exactly what I was hoping for. Thanks.

  6. Dear Steve and customer, I will send David Sanborn Model HR to you in USA, try it for your customer in the world! Let me know your address and other info to us. Thank you so much. All the best, Mitsu Watanabe / Saxz Inc.

  7. It was amazing. I enjoyed playing the Saxz David Sanborn Metal. It has a huge sound and is very easy to play!! I would like to try sterling silver mouthpiece. Thank you so much.

  8. Hi. I justa want to know if there is a difference between the metal and the sterling silver david sanborn mouthpiece. Of Course i mean in terms of sound.
    Thanks a lot!!!

    • Sorry. I don’t know. I haven’t played the sterling silver version. The brass mouthpiece I tried was very good though. As is the hard rubber version I have. Let me know if you try the sterling silver one.

  9. Ok. Thanks anyway. I will try the metal one first.

  10. Avatar Anderson Kerigma (Brazil) says

    Hi, Steve!

    This metal version of SaxZ looks very much like a Saxworks model, doesn’t it? I don’t know about the difference in the metal alloy. Saxworks were made in stainless steel, which resonated quite differently from the traditional silverite Dukoff models, with a way much clearer tone, rather the raw, husky, bluesy silverite sound, IMO. However, the SaxZ you tested seems to resonate more like a silverite Dukoff, although they made it with another metal alloy, I guess…

  11. Is this easier to play than a Dukoff? I tried a Dukoff years ago and I was chirping really badly on it. I’ve switched to a different emboucher since then. I now use the lip-out method.

    • Oh yeah. Dukoffs can be horrible! These SaxZ pieces are very good. I’ve played 3 of them and they were all great.

  12. Avatar Charlie Parchem says

    I recently purchased a SAXZ #8 from Brian Stevenson from SAX-CCESSORIES.. My MP is stamped #432. If you are looking to incorporate (not copy) the Sanborn sound into your playing this does the trick. For me this is as close to the Holy Grail MP as I am going to get. The sound I hear in my head is finally starting to come out of my horn. An added bonus is its very easy to play. I find it to be a bit more picky with reeds than my old Jody Jazz DV7 but I am having success with the Rigotti Gold reed which I knew nothing about until I listened to the Steve Neff clip. The finish work on my MP does not look quite as nice as the one pictured on Steve’s web site. I have some minor scratches on the table(these are not from me as I use a leather ligature.) but obviously not effecting the sound production. In the future when I am more adjusted to this MP I plan to post sound clips. I am an amateur Sax hack for sure but more tone examples of this MP from different players would probably be a great help to those who are interested in it.

  13. Hi Charlie, We do not recommend leather ligature. Best is Ring type Going Sonic ligature or original Harrison. Good luck.

  14. Hi Steve. Well, this is the mouthpiece I want to buy. Period. But I have one question: which ligature did you use on it? The standard Dukoff ligature? If not, do you know if it fits? What other ligatures, other than the saxz ligature, can fit it?

    Kind regards,

    Rui Faria

    • Yeah, I had to use a smaller metal lig I found in my drawer. I believe it is for soprano. I haven’t played a Dukoff on alto in a long long time but I think those ligs are smaller also so they might fit………not sure. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help. Let me know how you make out with the SaxZ piece. Steve

  15. Avatar Charlie Parchem says

    Use a Rico H soprano. Great fit and great sound. It’s a Harrison replica. I bough mine on the advice of this forum.

  16. Avatar Charlie Parchem says

    I got mine at WWBW.COM

  17. Thanks very much, Steve and Charlie, for your replies. Yes, Steve, I will let you know as I get it, as I know it will be awesome!

    Thanks again,

    Rui Faria

  18. Avatar jeroen goedhart says


    i havent played or tried the saxz mouthpiece. Currently I am playing a zhen ghao 8* alto mouthpiece and struggled too with a dull sound.
    Before i played on a few Meyer mouthpieces.
    What i have noticed though is that not only the mouthpiece does a huge difference on how the sound is beeing built but also the choice of reeds.
    Before i always used vandoren V16 reeds and my teacher adviced me to try fibracell reeds which suited my playing style better.
    The sound became more focussed and a tad sharper.
    I have also tried other reeds such as Rigotti Gold, vandoren java, Rico ( all sorts ). One thing was clear to me. The fibracell reeds are the most sharp sounding reeds i have yet tried. Besides that they last longer. Perhaps its a good fit with the Saxz mouthpiece which sounds to te a killer mp.
    At least you can try this aproach. It cheaper than buying a new mouthpiece.
    Hope this helps

    cheers Jeroen

  19. Avatar David Millman says

    Thanks for the review, Steve.
    I ordered this MP directly from since they were having a special that included a free ligature. It has been two weeks now without receiving anything from them. I have tried to email, but have heard nothing back. Has anyone ordered directly from them? If so, what was your experience?
    I am wondering if I should cancel my paypal order.

    • Hi David, I’ve never ordered from SaxZ so I don’t know what their turnaround time on orders is. It seems strange that they aren’t responding to your emails. I got the ones I reviewed from Sax-ccessories. Good Luck. I hope you can get this resolved. Steve

  20. Avatar Charlie Parchem says

    In the past I had emailed then with a few questions and also never got a response. I was wondering if it was a language barrier

  21. Avatar David Millman says

    I did finally contact them through Paypal. They explained that the mouthpiece was on its way. I received it a couple of weeks ago. It is well made and really does help get that edgy Sanbornesqe sound. I am not sure why they did not answer my emails but they did come through in the end with an excellent product.

  22. There might be some misunderstand. I have also ordered directly from their website. I also wrote emails to them. Fortunately, Mr. Watanabe replied my emails in person. He also answered me a lot of questions.
    I know he is a very busy guy. Right now, his colleague is responsible for selling and replying emails. Maybe that’s the reason.
    I will tell Mr. Watanabe about the delay in replying.

    I have tried several metal mouthpieces. They all are great mpcs. However, SaxZ gives me the best fuzzy tone. David Sanborn likes to blow fuzzy sound. I think this is a special sax effect. SaxZ gives me thick, huge, centralized fuzzy tone in all register. Other mouthpieces may produce good fuzzy sound in one note but bad on another, or only produce thin, feminized fuzzy tone. Some metal mouthpieces only give me soft fuzzy sound which is far from David’s sound. SaxZ is easy to control, too. I think that’s the main different between SaxZ and other metal mouthpieces.

  23. As promised( but very late ) here is an example of me playing the SAXZ David Sanborn #8. I call myself the Sax Hack because that is really what I am. I do not play professionally and play mostly in my basement. I am far from a pro but you get the idea of the sonic possibilities of this MP. This is Pat Metheny’s ballad Always and Forever. I am plying over the changes I inputted into Band In The Box Real band. It really generates some nice backing tracks

  24. Ok here I am pushing it a bit. Pretty versatile MP.

  25. Avatar Bryan Chatham says

    i’ve played a dukoff D7 chamber with rovner lig on my julius kielweth SX 90R and tried to get the “sanborn” sound, played 30yrs + ,semi pro in 80s, now playing for fun, i would like to now if SAX Z is easier to control,as i some times go sharp in upper register over B and C sharp,i like the sound i’m getting but it’s hard work to control! . can you add any clarity on this MP over Dukoff!

    • Bryan, I do think the SaxZ mouthpieces are far superior to your average Dukoff piece. I’ve played tons of Dukoffs that were awful. A few that were pretty good. That being said, I can’t say if it will help your intonation at all. It has the same high baffle and concept as the Dukoff so if that is throwing off your high register it probably still will. The intonation might be more related to your horn and neck. Or might be more intensified by the higher baffle smaller chamber mouthpiece.

  26. Hi Steve,

    Greeting from SG~
    After listening your demo of D.S model metal 8, I made up my mind to get one and see how it works better than my current mpt( Jumbo Java A55). Later on I purchased one via Saxz website and started to wait. However it’s been 7 weeks since order was sent…so far I got 2 emails from Saxz that said sorry about delay of shipping and when I email them back, they just stopped responding……I am wondering if its possible to get their response from here as I saw the posts of Saxz above.


    • Hi Jeff,
      Not sure how often they check here. I hope you get your mouthpiece soon. Did they give you an estimate when you bought it? Sometimes mouthpiece makers don’t have any on hand and have to make them after they get the order. Steve

  27. Avatar Charlie Parchem says

    For those of you looking to purchase this MP I highly recommend Brian Stevenson from SAX-CCESSORIES. I too had communication issues working directly with the factory. Brian let me know exactly when he would get the MP and ship it to me. I am not trying to put down Mitsu but from this side of the pond it seems easier to work with Brian.

  28. I can say that it is worth the wait. My order took 7 weeks to arrive and they also apologised for the delay, however the mouthpiece is ridiculously good. Pretty sure that it is made of silverite PLUS another added metal judging by the sound but regardless it plays very well.

  29. Hi Steve,

    Jeff here again. Still not received my mouthpiece yet. Tried to contact them and ask for the track number of the express delivery they used, but they never provided…in the email, they only replied “we are checking, we will contact you again.”

    Just feeling passion is buring out. Is it acceptable?

    • Hi Jeff,
      I can’t believe you haven’t received it by now. Sometimes it does take a while for a handmade mouthpiece and I have waited up to 6 months in the past for different makers to get me a mouthpiece (I’ve heard Freddie Gregory can take over a year…….) That being said, there should always be communication. The fact that they are not responding is not good. I would try emailing them again and even calling if you can find a phone number. I hope you get this resolved and it has a good ending. Steve

  30. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for your gesture so much, I just hope more than anything to receive my mouthpiece as soon as possible, my patience and passion are draining away becasue they just stop responsing. Hope it would be more efficient to communicate with them via your side.

    I did have a number of customer service phone from the paypal recepit, +81 8051853155. Actually I have tried dailing them, but never get answered…sadly. Hope they improve their custome service in the future.

    Thanks for your kind help and time again.

  31. Avatar Charlie Parchem says

    Jeffinsg did you ever receive the MP?

  32. Avatar Odd-Arne says

    Anyone know what size opening David uses?

    Anyone tried both the metal and sterling silver and can explain the differences in tone? How about the rubber one? Will it help me not stick out too much in a big band while not having a different type mouthpiece?

  33. Ok, hearing your soundbyte makes me want one of these mouthpieces now! Myself, I’d probably go with the hard rubber one…never thought I’d switch because I’d been doing metal since 9th grade, but fell back in love with them in about the past decade. I’m very intrigued by that “Going Sonic” ligature. I’d like to to try that out for sure on my existing setups (alto, tenor, soprano) and see how it responds on all three instruments.

  34. Hi Odd-Arne,

    Dave is using number 10 opening size. I will send sterling silver mouthpiece to Steve for reviews.

  35. Lisa,

    Thank you so much for your interest. SAXZ OFFICIAL WEBSITE
    I will send some mouthpieces to Steve for his reviews. Thanks, Steve!

    • Mitsu,
      I would love to try some more SaxZ mouthpieces. Let me know before you send anything as my address has changed from the last time you sent some pieces out. Thanks, Steve

  36. Avatar Wil Greenstreet says

    Hey Steve,
    Do you want to sell that mouthpiece?

  37. Hello! Steve you sound great! I recently purchased a SAXZ Sanborn mouthpiece. It is amazing. I also wished I had it back in my high school days. I’m a die hard Sanborn fan since the first time I heard him play “the dream” on the radio back in the early 90’s. I finally got the sound I wanted. It’s a very easy mouthpiece to play indeed. What ligature do you recommend? I’m currently using a Olegature ligature made by Oleg Products. I know Sanborn uses a cheap brand ligature if I’m not mistaken.

    Here’s a clip of me playing “The Dream” it’s a very simple song so I tried my best to KISS it. ( keep it simple stupid) type feel.

    • Hi Charlie,
      Sounds great! You definitely have that Sanborn vibe down. Very cool. I believe I just used a generic metal ligature on my SaxZ. It is one I use for soprano sax mouthpieces and some Barone tenor mouthpieces but it fits the SaxZ well. Keep up the great playing! Steve

  38. Avatar Charlie Duran says

    Thanks Steve. I got a Rico H ligature y’all were talking about and it made a huge difference. The SAXZ mouthpiece really sings and has a nice buzz to it. Awesome website by the way. I’ll be purchasing your books. Thanks!

  39. tiene mucha personalidad esta boquilla. sounds great!

  40. Dear Steve
    I am looking for an H ligature for my Bobby Dukoff, I would appreciate if you could help in finding one for my alto.
    Thanking you in advance.


  1. […] mouthpiece.  SaxZ is a company in Japan which is run by Mitsu Watanabe.  I have reviewed a metal SAXZ Dave Sanborn model in the past and was curious to try the hard rubber model.   This mouthpiece has an 8 tip […]

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