SaxZ Dave Sanborn Hard Rubber Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

This is a SaxZ “Dave Sanborn” hard rubber alto saxophone 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 opening.

SaxZ Dave Sanborn Hard Rubber 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.

SaxZ Dave Sanborn Hard Rubber Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

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.” 

SaxZ Dave Sanborn Hard Rubber Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

The mouthpiece does indeed look to be a replica of a metal Dukoff mouthpiece.   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.  In comparison to the metal Dave Sanborn model I reviewed this seems to be a bit darker ,warmer and rounder sounding to me.  I’m listening to the clips side by side as I write this, and it sounds to me like the metal Dave Sanborn is quite a bit brighter and more “metallic” sounding.   For the sake of comparison I have also posted the metal mouthpieces sound clip below so you can hear them side by side.

Now,  there has been countless discussions on the effects of different materials on the saxophone sound.  Many people say that different mouthpiece materials have an effect on the tone.  Others argue that the material has no effect on the tone what-so-ever.  This review is a great example of two mouthpiece with the same tip opening and design that have different sounds and tones.   Whether this is from the material used, reeds used, or subtle differences in the design of the mouthpieces is up for debate.

SaxZ Dave Sanborn Hard Rubber Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

I really enjoyed playing these two mouthpieces.  If you are a fan of Dave Sanborn and would like to get a mouthpiece that will help you towards that sound concept I think these are great choices to consider.

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

SaxZ Dave Sanborn Hard Rubber Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

SaxZ David Sanborn Metal 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. Hi Steve, If you have time please answer a basic question
    for me.
    When choosing a mpc,what can I expect from going from a small tip opening to a
    larger one? I have read in your mpc reviews about trying different sizes.
    Are larger tips for more experienced players?
    Thanks for your time,

    • Hi Les,
      I don’t know what exact measurements you are writing about but in general when you go up in tip size you need to use a softer reed. For example on a .090 tenor mouthpiece I would use a 3 1/2. On a .110-.105 I would use a 3. On a .15-.115 a 2 1/2 etc…………In general the smaller tips have a sweeter more focused sound. The larger tips can play louder because you can put more air through them. Usually when I go up in tip size I get more of a “hollow” sound in the tone. A bit more spread sounding than a smaller tip. Of course, all of this is also connected to the baffle height of each mouthpiece. I prefer .100-.105 in link type mouthpieces and .110-.115 in higher baffle pieces. Usually, the smaller tips are better for inexperienced players. They have an easier time with intonation and can build up the air support needed for a larger tip later. I have heard many inexperienced players who try to play larger tips and they struggle with intonation and being able to get enough air through the horn. It’s best to work your way up to a larger tip in my opinion.. Let me know if you have more questions? All of comments above also apply to alto and soprano mouthpieces as well (the tip sizes are different though.)

  2. Which did you prefer Steve…..the metal or the hr?

    • I liked both. The HR seems to be more adaptable to other playing situations in my opinion. The metal is closer to the Sanborn sound. More bright and metallic than the HR.

  3. Steve – what is the trill you used at 2:00 on the HR and 1:41 on the metal?

  4. What’s the difference between metal and STERLING SILVER mouthpiece?

    • Sorry Liu, I haven’t tried the sterling silver so I don’t know what the differences would be in sound and the way it plays.

  5. Avatar Bryan Chatham says

    HI Steve , I’m interested in sax z “Sanborn” metal mp, I use a Dukoff D7 alto mp and Rovnor lig and try to get the “sanborn” Sound I’ve played on and off for 30 yrs and tend to go a little sharp in top register Csharp and up onto palm keys, it’s workable and I like the sound,but it,s hard work to lip down on top notes,I would appreciate your thoughts on sax Z metal and is it more controlable than Dukoff that I play!

    • 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.

  6. Avatar says

    I love the sound of the saxz metal. I miss my dukoff mouthpiece was retired after 18 years the mouthpiece was damaged during a private lesson i give for free to kids. My grandmother bought it for me in high school. Wish these mouth pieces werent so expensive. I would buy one for sure. I will not charge to replace what was damaged does not sit right with me. Keeping this on my wishlist. I hear only good about this mouth piece.WOW

  7. Is it easy to play? How is it compared to the Theo Wanne’s Durga? Same easy playing?

  8. Lyeung, it’s a lot easier to control than a Theo Wanne Durga yes. I have a Durga and I would almost always have trouble controlling the altissimo range and the low registers. I wouldn’t compare them as same ease of playing. 2 very different mouthpieces. I feel like the SAXZ Sanborn piece is easier to control and let’s me focus more on my technique rather than just focusing on my embouchure. I’m not saying it’s better but for my embouchure, the SAXZ Sanborn piece definitely fits me more.

  9. What do you think has a higher baffle the Ken Okutsu mouthpiece or the rubber Dave Sanborn mouthpiece.

    • Marty, Are you asking about the Ken Okutsu Vincent Herring mouthpiece or a different mouthpiece. The SaxZ has a higher step baffle than the Herring mouthpiece. The Herring has a rollover baffle that is pretty high but not as high as the shelf of the SaxZ mouthpiece. Steve

  10. Hey Steve, I was wondering if you could help me out. I absolutely LOVE the sound of the metal saxz mp. However, after asking several people’s opinion, I have received negative feedback on the sound. Additionally, my private teacher really wants me to get a rounder, warmer, darker mouthpiece. I feel as though it is too big of a risk to spend the 500 dollars to buy a mouthpiece only I think sounds good. Also, if you have time can you recommend a mouthpiece to me you think has an extremely bright but also fat and round sound. Thanks!

    • Marty, I would suggest the Phil-Tone Rift or the 10mFan Showboat. Both of those pieces are brighter but they also have a fat sound to them. I have both in my collection and am at the moment playing the Showboat. I can do the Sanborn thing or straight ahead jazz. I think both of these pieces are great! It sounds like you don’t want to go warm or dark but your teacher does. Maybe one of these can help you meet somewhere in the middle. Good Luck, Steve

  11. Hey Steve, what do you think sounds best for soloing and lead playing between the Phil-Tone Rift, 10mFan Showboat, or Saxz metal. Thanks

    P.S I love your reviews

    • All 3 are good but the SaxZ has a very specific sound in my mind. Pretty bright and edgy. I’m not sure it would be the best for lead playing in jazz band but then again Eric Marienthal plays lead with a pretty bright and edgy sound. The Rift and Showboat are in a similar ballpark tone wise but I would say the Showboat is a little fatter sounding. In my mind the SaxZ is great if you want that to be your signature sound. I like to be able to cover multiple genres with my sound so I prefer something more like the Rift or Showboat. I still have the HR SaxZ piece that I reviewed here though and like to pull it out when I want to go in that Sanborn sound direction more………

  12. It seems to me that the HR is more dark but sounds best of the metal on the altissimo.

  13. I play alto looking for a mouthpiece where I can play split tones metal or rubber?? thx for any help

    • I would go with one of these metal alto sax mouthpiece with a high baffle. It’s really a lot easier to do split tones on these. Steve

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