Saxquest “The Core” Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece Review

Today, I am reviewing the new “The Core” hard rubber tenor saxophone mouthpiece from Saxquest. Mark Overton over at Saxquest came out with two new hard rubber tenor sax mouthpieces a few months ago called “The Bridge” (hand faced by Eric Falcon) and “The Core” (hand faced by James Bunte).

Mark said that the purpose  behind making these two mouthpieces was to try to recapture the sound and playability of the 60’s era “Blue Note” tenor sound.

Saxquest “The Core” Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

Here’s a quote from Mark Overton at Saxquest about “the Core” tenor sax mouthpiece that I found interesting:

“The Core is a piece that embodies the very best characteristics of an Early Babbitt (I’m sure you recognized the baffle configuration with the characteristic “thumb print” pattern). But also utilizes the chamber configuration of a great Calrsbad vintage hard rubber Brilhart. This mouthpiece is actually manufacture at Babbitt using a specially designed core mandrel exclusive to this mouthpiece. It is then hand faced by James Bunte. (I think he’s one of our current “unknown” master mouthpiece facing experts.)  The piece has a unique easy blowing character to it and is perhaps slightly darker in overall sonics when compared to The Bridge. But it also projects and allows for an incredible flexibility regarding tone shaping and expression.”

“These two pieces (The Bridge and the Core) are definitely different but represent, to the best of my ability, a similar sound concept, that ultimately depends on the player. I’ve seen people respond differently over the years to both versions of a great vintage Otto Link. Some gravitate towards a Florida vintage slant and other gravitate towards the early Babbitt concept. “The Bridge” and “The Core” were designed to give players both modern and consistent opportunities to experience both concepts at a price that won’t break the bank.-Mark Overton

Saxquest “The Core” Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Saxquest Core and Bridge mouthpieces came together and upon inspection looked very similar to my eyes. To be honest, it is hard for me to pinpoint the differences between them.  They both have medium rollover baffles. The “Core” baffle does look slightly higher to my eye although they are so similar that it is hard to tell.  The chamber size looks almost identical to me, although I would be curious if one is slightly larger or smaller than the other.

The side rails  are scooped out heading into the chamber and the tip and side rails are thin and even.

The two mouthpieces were very reed friendly and the shape of the tip matched the reeds perfectly.

Saxquest “The Core” Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

I used the same D’Addario Select Jazz Unfiled 3S reed on the Core that I used on the Bridge review (I call it a Rico in the audio clip out of habit but they are made by D’Addario now according to the new box the reeds come in).  Rigotti Gold reeds also played well on the Core mouthpiece, but I felt like the D’Addario reeds had a richer sound to my ear which I really liked.

I found the sound of the Core to be in the same ball park as a rich and thick sounding vintage Otto Link mouthpiece.  I find it interesting that the Core is modeled after the vintage hard rubber EB (Early Babbitt) Otto Links as my experience with many EB Links has been that they are really bright in many cases so that was what I was expecting from the Core.  I didn’t find the Core very bright at all however which makes me wonder if the main difference is this fact pulled from the Mark Overton quote above “(The Core) also utilizes the chamber configuration of a great Carlsbad vintage hard rubber Brilhart”  I don’t know what the differences between the EB Link chambers and a Carlsbad Brilhart chamber are but I would be interested to know………..)

Saxquest “The Core” Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

In comparison to the Bridge which I just reviewed also, the Core is a bit darker and to my ear a little more spread sounding.  I could get some nice volume out of it and as I pushed it louder it did get a little bit brighter but it still held on to that rich character of tone.

The Core,  seemed to have more “character”  in the tone to me than the Bridge.   It’s tone seemed more grainy, textured and complex than the Bridge although the trade off is that the Bridge had that tight focus and purity to the sound I thought.   I think the extra richness and character in the Core sound made me feel like I was pushing a thicker tone when playing louder which I really liked.

The intonation on the Core was great and the tone was very even throughout the range of the horn as you can hear in the clip at the bottom of the page.

As I listen back to the Core and Bridge review clips I realize that I am playing at a medium volume for most of the clips.  I’ve been having a few health issues that make it harder to blow harder over the last 6 month but I think it would be good to do another clip in the future (on a good day) on both mouthpieces at more of a wailin’ volume……….(I’ll let you know…………)

Saxquest “The Core” Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

A couple of observations about the clip:  For the first 1:50 of the clip I get caught up in a repeated phrase that I thought was cool and had trouble letting go of because I liked it so much. I usually try to show more variety so I apologize for going so long with one idea, I just liked the groove……….At the 1:51-1:58 mark I use slightly more air as I was pretty laid back up to this point and I think you can hear how the tone fills up and thickens even more which I love. At 2:10-2:15 I am just playing some slow jazz lines but what sticks out to me are the low notes at that section.  I love how full and rich they sound.  Even though they pass by quickly I love how thick they are!

The Core tenor saxophone mouthpiece is another great affordable option for those looking for a vintage hard rubber sound without the vintage hard rubber price tag.  I really appreciate how Mark Overton, James Bunte and the guys at Saxquest have worked hard to not just give us some alternatives to the vintage mouthpieces but also tried to put their own spin on these mouthpieces to make them unique.

If you read this review, listen to the clip and want to try the Saxquest “The Core” tenor saxophone mouthpiece you can contact Saxquest at this link.   Great job Mark Overton, James Bunte, Zac Minor, Ben Reece and everyone else at Saxquest!


Saxquest “The Core” Tenor 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. Avatar Ian Nevins says

    Yeah Steve, I bought one of these a few months back. For me The Core just has a little something special about it. I’m hearing that in your recording as well.

  2. Thank you for your review Steve!
    I ordered “TheCore” about 2 or 3 month ago as a 7* but the tip opening I received is a bit larger, about 0.112. I really do love this mouthpiece.
    I tried Rigotti Gold reeds, Hemke, Rigotti Barré (they do sound really good with this mouthpiece, very unique… Unfortunatly Rigotti stopped producing them)
    For the last four weeks I also use D’Addario Select Jazz Unfiled 2H. These work great.

  3. Hi Steve,
    Thanks for the review. I’m curious why you didn’t mention the TM 42 from a few years ago, also faced by Mr. Bunte, since Brilhart is also mentioned as an inspiration for The Core. But with no metal shank ring. I wonder how the chamber differs from a regular Babbit Link. Anyway, it sounds great when you and Ian Nevins play it.

    • David,
      I just didn’t think about the TM 42. I had just reviewed the Bridge so that was fresh on my mind and I had received them together to review. I still have my TM 42. Mine is a bit darker than the Core or Bridge. I’ll have to play them side to side to give a more detailed opinion. Steve

  4. Avatar Cornelius Campbell says

    Hey Steve you sound great as usual! Would you consider the chamber to be a large or med/large chamber on the Core piece?

  5. Avatar W. Eugene Renn says

    Great sound on your ‘Core’ demo. I play a Buescher Aristocrat (1944) tenor with an Otto Link 6* (NY). (Still gigin’ at 88). What mouthpiece would you recommend for a “Lester Young” ballad sound ? I would appreciate your thoughts.

  6. Avatar Dave Parasz says

    Hi Steve,
    The white plastic mouthpiece described in the above article reminds me of an alto piece my sax teacher kindly lent me when I first got a school loaner horn, and he must have thought the old vintage piece would be an improvement on the one that came with the horn. While practicing in my bedroom one evening, I took a break and carefully laid the sax on my bed. When I returned only a few minutes later, my mom’s poodle was up on the bed happily crunching away at my teacher’s mouthpiece. Imagine my horror! He must have thought it was a bone, so I can attest to that piece’s brittleness.

  7. Avatar Paul Harper says

    Well, I just ordered one of these based on the fact that you sound so nice and also comfortable playing this mpc. Love the sound you are getting. Thanks for this review!

  8. Great tone as always! And I find it awkwardly fun to play this recording at the same time with your other recording using “The Bridge”… maybe you’re in similar mood on these 2 recordings, that when played together it sounded kind of coherent.

    • Hi Ricanna,
      Yes, I recorded those two clips one after the other so I had the same ideas floating around in my head………..

  9. Avatar Parker Loops says

    Hello Steve, that really is a great sounding mouthpiece. Thank you for this great website.
    I love this Drake Bergonzi mouthpiece clip too. Do you still own both, and if so, which do you prefer. Thanks again, Parker Loops

    • Parker, I still have a Saxquest Core. The Drake Bergonzi I was just borrowing from Drake for the review. I was thinking of selling the Core a few months ago when someone asked to buy it and then I played it and realized again how great it is so decided to keep it. Steve

  10. Avatar Pareker Loops says

    Hi Steve, I purchased myself a Saxquest “The Core” 9* I like it better than my Bergonzi 10*
    Your site helps make sales for these great mouthpiece makers. Thanks again!

Speak Your Mind