Monster Berg Larsen .170 Tip Opening Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece Review

Yes,  you read that right!  A .170 tip opening!! That’s a 14 tip opening!  To give you a little bit of a backstory, I received this email the other day from a fan of my site:

“Hi Steve,
I have a favor to ask of you, if you can fit it in to your schedule. I’ve been playing for MANY years  and have been through the mp numbers as my music/bands have changed…… Bergs, etc.. I’m now using a Lawton 10 *B and love it. I purchased a bronze Berg 185/2 a few years ago (for kicks) and got to like it a lot (for what it can do). It’s been worked on a little by a couple of people and I think it’s tip is now closer to a 170. But it’s still a monster and a lung exerciser. My problem is this. My hearing is lost… used aids for years and now have one cochlear implant – have it for 5 months. It has made my life whole again, BUT I don’t recognize my sound anymore. LOTS of “treble”. Once in a while I go through my mp drawer and have a ball – not easy when you also have to get a good matching reed (as you know). I’m mainly using the synthetics and very happy with them. However, ANY reed I use on the big Berg gets bent in and actually plays better/easier. (I play with a LOOSE embouchure).  Back to my request… Can you try out my Berg and tell me where it fits in the sound spectrum? I’m NOT trying to sell it. So far, with my present hearing, it seems to have a thin loud sound in an open area, but solid and full against a wall. Sub tone is easy, as well as up to D5. It fits right in with Gato’s Europa sound (I think).”

At first, I responded that I couldn’t do a review of this saxophone mouthpiece.  I have too much on my plate and besides that,  who the heck plays a .170 tip opening sax mouthpiece?  That is just crazy!   After sending out the email, I gave it some further thought and realized that I was a bit curious what a mouthpiece that open would actually play like so I decided I would like to try it………..

Monster Berg Larsen .170 Tip Opening Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

When I received the Bronze Berg Larsen sax mouthpiece, I immediately opened the package to examine the mouthpiece.  I must admit that I didn’t 100% believe the person who sent it knew what they were talking about.  A .170 tip opening mouthpiece?……does that even exist?  Apparently so, I opened the package and looked at the mouthpiece, it was a bronze Berg Larsen tenor saxophone mouthpiece with the numbers 185 over 2 SMS inscribed on the shank.  That means it was a .185 tip opening !  WHAT?  Are you kidding me?  That’s like a 15* tip opening!   If I play a .120 I get winded!  Who the heck plays a .185?  I have never even heard of such a thing!

The owner of the mouthpiece let me know that this mouthpiece was worked on by a few people and now measured around .170.  (I believe Dave Jary put the nice looking baffle in it and Keith Bradbury did some work on it as well)  I was still skeptical of this even though the tip opening looked huge,  I put a few feeler gauges under the tip just to get a ballpark figure.  I put a .125 gauge plus a .024 plus a .014 plus a .010 and it was pretty close to the tip of the mouthpiece.  Add those numbers together and you get .173.  That is close enough for me………


Monster Berg Larsen .170 Tip Opening Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

I put a brand new 2 1/2 Vandoren Java reed on this mouthpiece and honestly thought there was no way it would seal and get suction on this tip opening.  As you look at the mouthpiece from the side, the facing curve looks pretty extreme to my eye.   I thought there was no way a reed would conform to that extreme of a curve!  I did the suction test and the reed immediately stuck to the curve of the facing for a second.  Wow!   I was impressed!  I blew on the mouthpiece alone and it blew easily and produced a nice buzz, also surprising to me.

When I first played the mouthpiece, it was during a Skype lesson with a student.  I played a little bit and immediately started to feel a bit dizzy and winded.  The amount of air I usually used to play for about 30 seconds seemed to last for about 8 seconds and was gone.  The student did say he thought it sounded pretty good though……….

Monster Berg Larsen .170 Tip Opening Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

After the lesson, I played for another 20 minutes just trying to get used to this mouthpiece.  It took more air than I was used to and I was trying to get used to that.   At first, the tone seemed really spread and kind of lost in the room but as I played it, it seemed like it came into focus more for me.

I also noticed that the intonation was much more flexible that I was used to. As I played with my normal embouchure pressure the sax was in tune but the more I played,  my embouchure got tired and I started to go flat.  I kept trying to fight against this but the more I did the more tired my embouchure got.  I really didn’t feel like I was biting or adding more pressure with my embouchure but in retrospect I think I was subconsciously adding pressure so the reed was  easier to play for me.

Monster Berg Larsen .170 Tip Opening Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

I was actually surprised by how easy the .170 Berg Larsen mouthpiece was to play.  I didn’t think it would play with the 2 1/2 reed at all and that I would need a 1 or 1 1/2 size reed to play this monster tip opening.  If nothing else, I was prepared to spend a few minutes tonight sanding down my Java 2 1/2 reed so that I could play it on this clip.  I was surprised when that wasn’t needed…….  The Java 2 1/2 played pretty well on it!

Monster Berg Larsen .170 Tip Opening Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

As I listen back to the sound clip, the tone of this mouthpiece has the characteristic hollowness of a big tip opening mouthpiece to my ears.  The tone has an airiness to it and is quite spread to my ears.  None of these are bad things but just descriptions of what I hear in the tone.  I go into a little bit of “Pink Panther” at the :46 mark just because I have heard that Plas Johnson played a .150 tip opening Berg Larsen and he played on Pink Panther so…..

The tone sounds very mid-range to me. That means that the middle part of the range of audible frequencies is boosted more than the lows or highs are.  That’s how I perceive it anyways.

At 1:53,  you can hear how the mouthpiece sounds playing soft.  Although it sounds lush and spread,  you can hear a lot of air in the sound because of the huge tip opening…….I actually say “Wow” afterwards as I feel a bit winded and lightheaded…….

At the 2:17 mark I go into a louder R&B type of sound and the volume really kicks up a notch.  I am in no way playing at 100% either.  I would say I am playing at like 70%.   This mouthpiece has plenty of volume if you have the air to put into it but I will say that I think the larger tip opening makes the tone more spread and hollow to my ears than a more closed tip tenor mouthpiece.

At 2:57,  I am”buzzing” my lips because they feel so tired. At the end of the clip, I actually feel like I have to sit down as I feel so dizzy!   I don’t usually leave these thoughts in the clips but I thought it was important for this review as I am playing a MONSTER tip opening Berg Larsen!

Monster Berg Larsen .170 Tip Opening Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

At this point in the review, I usually point you to a maker who makes this mouthpiece,  but I have no idea who makes a .170 tip opening mouthpiece these days.  This mouthpiece actually has “Kenny Long” engraved on the side.   I have no idea who that is but I am wondering if this is a special order mouthpiece that was made for Mr. Long at some point. (I tried doing a google search for “Kenny Long” but doing that search gives you mostly Kenny G long note clips)

You don’t see or hear too many of these mouthpieces so I am happy I could take some pictures and record a sound clip.  I’m still most comfortable with my .105-.115 tip opening tenor mouthpieces but this piece was fun to try that is for sure.  Thanks to Don for letting me borrow this mouthpiece to try. It was quite the workout for me………Let me know what you think in the comments below.    Thanks,   Steve

 

Monster Berg Larsen .170 Tip Opening Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

Disclosure: I borrowed the mouthpiece mentioned above from a fan of my site in the hope that I would try it and perhaps review it on my blog. I am returning it immediately after this review. Regardless, I only review mouthpieces that I enjoy playing and believe will be good for other saxophone players to try also. Steve
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 Neffmusic.com.

Comments

  1. Avatar Graham Snell says

    Sounds great to me Steve, big and fat and not too spread to my ears

  2. Avatar Mike Wilkens says

    Glad you sat down before you had to post photos of the stitches you had to get to close the gash on your forehead from the fall you took (hitting the coffee table in the process) when you passed out cold from playing this beast! Hahaha

    It sounds pretty good, but it should come with a Surgeon Generals warning label!

    Thanks for posting.

  3. Avatar Jazz Is All says

    Great sound Steve, but why kill yourself when you can sound the same on a more commonly sized Berg?

  4. I think it sounds really good! Lots of frequency spread and lush sounding.

  5. Hi Steve…
    Welcome to the “wide open spaces”… lol.
    I have been playing a Geoff Lawton-made .155 for quite a while… and I think it’s my easiest blowing mouthpiece…
    Was sitting in a drawer (like we all have) gathering dust… Rico continued making me #1 PlastiCovers after they stopped carrying that for Public Sale (but, had to buy a Gross of boxes)… and when they did I stopped playing it…
    Last week, I tried a Legere Signature #2… plays like a dream…
    As far as Colour… anything I want… from Gato to Getz.. and everything between.
    I’m from the “wide open spaces” PLUS soft reed school… don’t think I cudda played THAT Berg (Use same Legere on my 60’s 130/0 offset M).
    If you’d like to hear the .155, listen to Europa, Chelsea Bridge and Poor Butterfly.
    They all are the .155 with a #1 PlastiCover @ https://www.reverbnation.com/patzicari

    Really enjoy your reviews and insight on the different mouthpieces.

    Pat

  6. Almost forgot… opening was measured by Arnie Brilhart at Rico…

  7. Avatar Jeffrey D Todd says

    Dude, sounds fantastic! To think that it might be necessary to play an extreme opening to get the sound you really want… Yikes! Honestly, I think that’s about the best sound I’ve ever heard you get. Sorry…

  8. Avatar Joel Frahm says

    I’ll tell you-

    Physical fatigue aside, that’s a damn good sounding piece. I’m surprised at how natural it sounds. I had to chuckle a bit at the in-between lip buzzing and breath-catching. I’d be in the same boat! Still, super fat!!

  9. Avatar David Thomasson says

    Very classic Berg sound. BTW, Ernie Watts plays on an Otto Link that is a .160 opening and no added baffle!

    • David, Ernie Watts playing a .160 Link blows my mind also. I usually think I can hear when players are using a huge tip but I never suspected that from listening to Ernie over the years……..

  10. Avatar PAT ZICARI says

    Thanks, Steve…

  11. Avatar Egil Furre says

    It sounds very nice, almost not as a Berg Larsen… But how is it attacking the reed with the tongue? Ain’t you risking harming the tongue?
    ————————-
    (By the way: Ernie Watts got a small wedge in his .160′ Link 13. At first he made it himself and glued it with superglue. Some years ago he had Phil Barone to make a permanent wedge.)

    • Egil, The tonguing wasn’t as crisp and immediate as a smaller facing like a .105 that is for sure. It wasn’t bad though. I mean I could work with it…….I would want to play a staccato classical etude on it that is for sure!

      That’s interesting to hear about Ernie Watts. I always wondered if he had any kind of baffle or wedge in that Link of his……..People are always pointing at players and saying “Look how bright and loud they can get on a Link!” but we never know what is actually inside that Link. I have a few Links with wedges and baffles and if someone saw me play they would be amazed at how loud and bright I was with a Link also……….

  12. Avatar PAUL DION says

    GREAT SOUND STEVE. BAD LUCK IT TAKES SO MUCH ENERGY. HURCULES WOULD GO FOR THIS ONE I RECKON

  13. In this video Ernie Watts talks about his Link 13 and the wedge inside:
    https://youtu.be/5vYrytqhtic?t=10m10s

    —–
    I have a plan making a Link 13, just have to fine a cheap 8* first that I can use as a blank :-).

  14. Man that sounds great! Gonna have to get an oxygen tank in your room man lol.

  15. Guess you’ll change your name to ‘Broken Jaw Steve’ after this.
    A friend told me who has hearing loss is that he is quite happy with a Swiss make of hearing aid. Hope the fella that has the hearing problem reads this and perhaps follow it up.

    Best,
    Bob

    P.S.
    Quite an amazing Forum you have here.

    • Bob, If you can find out the make of that hearing aid let us know. I might need it myself someday. I’m already deaf in one ear and have some hearing loss in the other but if it gets worse I will be in trouble that is for sure……..Thanks, Steve

  16. Avatar PAT ZICARI says

    Did someone say HEARING AID???
    In the market for one, myself… always interested in what other musicians have/use…
    Please keep me in THAT loop too…

  17. Avatar Don Gutheil says

    To Pat and the others with hearing problems. This is Don, the owner of that fun Berg, BTW… MOJO says he measured it at .182.
    The problem with hearing aids with musicians is that they all have a “safety” feature that cuts out, or at least severely reduces, any loud hit type sounds. So when I played with regular hearing aids, my sound, and all sounds around me STOPPED…..even hitting a note softly in my studio killed it (even on my flute). I wrote, talked and pleaded with the aid manufacturer – but it seems they have to do it that way. I have a musician friend that takes OUT his aids at a gig.
    Now enter the cochlear implant. No feedback, no cutting out, hearing the high frequencies that I haven’t heard in years, etc. has opened up a new world. Right now I have one side implant and the other with the old regular aid. I’m getting my second implant in 2 weeks. The downside to the implant is that some hearing nerve cells are permanently damaged from the operation. It’s not TOO big a deal because the implanted electrodes make up for it. BUT, 2 batteries a day are required, and if I would ever run out of batteries, I would be totally lost. Still a small price to pay to hear again now.
    Hearing loss can sneak up on you and it’s what you DON”T notice that’s important to your sound…. the frequency spectrum. Lessons for today…. Save your hearing….. if you have loss, be prepared for it to degenerate further. You may have to “graduate” from a simple, lower powered (and cost) set to higher ones later. Hopefully, you won’t ever have to get the implant stage as I did…… BTW…. $10,000 EACH, not including the surgery. Also BTW… my hearing loss was NOT from music (I’m pretty sure), but a time when I was reloading and firing guns WITHOUT hearing protection. Also helped along by using the old dental turbine handpieces in the Navy.
    Back to playing my monster Berg….

    • Thanks Don. I have been a bit conflicted about playing with loud bands because I am deaf in one ear and have some hearing loss in the other from music. I’m afraid if I keep playing in these loud bands that I will lose what hearing I have left which is my greatest fear. I have an expensive custom ear plug for the hearing ear but it is still a drag to use it. I feel like it takes all the joy out of the gig. I spend hundreds of hours playing mouthpieces and working on my sound and then I play gigs where I wear an ear plug and can’t hear my sound accurately any ways. A bit frustrating! Thanks for sharing your info. Steve

      • Avatar Don Gutheil says

        Hi Steve,

        I think every sax player in the world (I may be stretching it) has that problem of hearing themselves. It’s the nature of the beast (sax). Compound that with guitar amps next to you that are taking up the saxes “sound room”.

        How many times have you taken a great mp to a gig, only to find out you can’t hear it because it may not project enough to penetrate the guitars/drums to get back to you? It’s not fair to the mp.. I played for many years with my own little Anchor monitor directly behind me so I could hear what I was doing. Guys have used bell reflectors and other devices also. It’s funny, because the guitar players just look at you and think/say “I can hear you perfectly – what’s wrong with you?”.

        I think you need to find out WHY your hearing is bad in one ear. It may not be fair to blame it on music. Music MAY aggravate it further, but it may also be “getting older” – a problem that OTHER people have.. LOL

        If I had/have a choice, I would not have anything block what I hear. I want to hear EVERYTHING. Dare I say, even at the expense of making my hearing worse? Of course, that doesn’t mean throwing all caution to the wind. Stand behind the PA speakers… ask the damn guitar players to get their amps out of your space…. get the drummer to put a sound screen in front of him. OK, alright …. wear some decibel reducing ear plugs. They don’t have to be expensive, but it’s nice to have them only reduce the frequencies that you don’t want to hear.

        BTW… When I play in my home studio, my backing tracks are at a FULL volume. I use a strong PA with big speakers….. not to blow my ears out, but to give me the sound and feel of a REAL band behind me. If not, my sax is louder/overpowering and the band/togetherness is not there. I’ll let you know when I’m 90 (in 10 years) if this made my hearing worse.

        Thanks again for your checking out my monster Berg.

  18. Sounds killer… Way solid…

  19. Avatar Giuseppe says

    Very nice, but … how long can you play? Few minutes? With the risk of having physical damage and recourse to the doctor … Or to a saxophonist specialized in the correct setting to play … you get used to playing …
    I think that if a saxophonist is good he plays well with any opening, without exaggerating!
    Coltrane and Gordon n. 5, 0.80 tip opening! Stan Getz, “The sound”, 0.75 and 0.85!

  20. Avatar Giuseppe says

    Anyway, for those who have problems with guitarists, they invented the microphone!

    • Avatar Don Gutheil says

      I’m talking about standing next to a guitarist – or rather in front of their amp. There’s something about it’s sound waves that cover the natural sound of a sax. I know I’m loud, but put me between 2 amps and I’m dead. However, I sure do appreciate the advances in today’s PAs, monitors, mics. So I’m back in the picture. You’re right.

      I’m also the one that plays that big Berg 185/2 mp. It’s truly amazing what the different reeds will do to and for it. I use a softer (and it get’s bent in a skosh after a while) synthetic reed and there’s now no problem in playing it for a while (and I’m almost 80). But put on a stiffer reed and THEN it’s a lung exerciser.

      I have no argument with those that use(d) mini (LOL) openings. However, it’s all about the character, pressure, maneuverability and style of the sound that turns us on. Part of my early sax life was Getz and I love his sound too.

  21. Avatar PAT ZICARI says

    Don Guthell…
    Am with you….
    Been player the larger opening mouthpieces since the late 60’s…
    1st real one was a LevelAir 9*… then Berg 130/0 offset M…
    Until a year ago, was playing a Custom Lawton 12*+ (.155) with a RicoPlasticover #1… but, Rico stopped making them for me and decided to “calm down”… lol
    Went to a 9* Merlot with a #2 Legere Signature…
    The users of “mini” openings will NEVER understand us… or the true versatility of the “larger opening-soft reed” setup…

    • Avatar Don Gutheil says

      Hi Pat,

      I sent a message to your site. Too bad we’re on opposite sides of the country. As they say out here about the people leaving CA…. “Will the last person out of CA please turn off the light?”

  22. Avatar Giuseppe says

    I would not like to be an unpleasant person who criticizes everything and everyone, excuse me.
    You’re right in saying that you want to hear what you’re playing, for me it’s the most important thing, I agree with you; however, I, to achieve this result, put the volume of my amplifier down and do not play with noisy bands!
    Also, I tried to practice playing with wax plugs in the ears to protect the eardrums, and this also improves the projection and the sound, because, feeling softer, you try to play louder; even when you take them off; and this strengthens the sound. In fact, the sax is filled with condensation! However, doing this, you take the pleasure of playing, because you do not hear your sound well.
    I have a small inguinal hernia, and a small muscle of the eardrum that, even if I listen to my own sound, after playing, starts to vibrate and throb, it has spasms, and I am afraid that my hearing will be damaged … and this would be a shame for a musician, even if not a professional. For now, for my age, audiometric examination is very good.
    So, while as a young man I used larger embouchures, now, as an elder, 69 years, I realized that the narrowest MPCs, if well used, still give a good sound, centered or blown, and perhaps a better projection, with less effort! I have the impression that an improvement has resulted from an initial need. But this applies to me; I realize that a professional has different needs
    At the beginning it was an escape, a need that, then, even if I no longer needed it, it became a discovery and a choice of style of sound.
    I do not make it a question of war between proponents of the narrow or wide tip openings, each one sounds like he prefers and finds it better: what bothers me is that the MPCs producers market is oriented only to satisfy those who use medium wide embouchures; for profit reasons it does not try to make MPCs with lower openings, as few would sell; according to them: maybe, learning to know them, some musicians would choose them!
    Thanks if you have had the patience to read my problems!

    • Avatar Don Gutheil says

      Hi Giuseppe,

      I understand where you’re coming from and really agree with you. However, we all are different in ages, physical conditions, music types, etc. – and so I/we agree to respectfully agree.

      I recorded about 55+ years ago, using a small tip Brillhart that I still can’t figure out how it came across so “big”. I just drifted into the bigger tips because that’s what I understood the “big boys” (mainly RR) were using. From what I see nowadays, it seems that the mp maker guys are settling in the .115 range. Maybe I’ll settle down to this “small tip” (LOL) when I get into my 90’s.

  23. Avatar Giuseppe says

    Dear Pat Zicari, you write:
    “… The users of” mini “openings will NEVER understand us … or the true versatility of the” larger opening-soft reed “setup …”.
    I could, if it was a fight, instead of music, write:
    “The users of “big” openings will NEVER understand us … or the true versatility of the “little opening- hard reed setup … “.
    I could write you: “Coltrane 5 opening and 4 and 5 reed; Gordon 0.80 tip opening and 3 Rico reed!”.
    But, fortunately, music is born to unite and not to fight!
    Good music to all, brothers!

  24. Avatar Giuseppe says

    First of all, I precise that, in my report of 10.35, where, I mistakenly write:
    “… However, doing this, you take the pleasure of playing, because you do not hear the sound well …”
    I wanted to write :
    “… However, by doing this, you lose the pleasure of playing, because you do not hear the sound well”.
    I totally agree with you, in fact my reply was for Pat’s comment, but I am very happy that you answered me and I totally agree with your answer! If I want, I can use my 80s MPCs, Ottolink metal 0.95, Dukoff 100 but, to control the sound, I lose concentration in punctuation.
    On the other hand my saxophone teacher (I am non-professional, I’m advanced level 2, I did another job), which uses Vandoren 8 on the tenor, if he tries to use my MPC 0.81, he can not play that about half the extension of the instrument, because he suffocates the sound for the small tip opening … He rests his teeth, I use the double lip embouchure … The volume of the sound is almost the same.
    As you say, each of us has a different conformation and what’s good for one may not be good for each other …
    Why discuss for this?
    I remember a record where Trane plays with Sonny Rollins (maybe Rollins used Ottolink 9 at the time) and Trane’s sound seems more powerful and wide … but both are important saxophonists!
    Sorry my English, I often do not understand well some comments and I could respond inappropriately!
    An information: what does LOL means? Perhaps: “Little Openings Lovers”?
    My friend, I wish you to settle down to this “small tip” (LOL) when you get into your 150’s!
    A hug from Italy.
    P.S.
    Some of you has met a very good New York saxophonist called Larry Dinwiddie, unfortunately died in the 90s, who, in the 70s, was in Rome (together with Karl Potter, percussionist and Marvin Boogalo Smith, drummer), until the years 80 and who was one of my first teachers as well as a great friend? (I hope not to go out topic!).

  25. Avatar PAT ZICARI says

    Giuseppe…
    Of course, this is not a fight… but just a difference of opinion about tip openings and reed strength… we each can achieve the sound we want… just in a different way…

    We DO, however, agree on the mouthpiece manufacturers…
    Playing an opening greater than .120 also has its problems…
    I’ve had to have some “modern” manufacturers Custom-make my .125 pieces… seems like the .115 (sometimes .120) is what is considered big enough (that’s why I like 10mFan mouthpieces… sizes 6-10*)

    AND they all seem to be on the High-Baffle wagon… which to me, just adds a buzziness to the sound… admittedly, it IS louder but they all sound the same…

    And, FYI… if you were serious (don’t know for sure)… lol=Laugh Out Loud… lol

    I’ll sign this with my full first name…
    Pasquale… 🙂

  26. Avatar Giuseppe says

    Dear Pat(squale),
    What a pleasant surprise!
    Welcome home! 🙂
    Which italian town are you from as a family?
    I see many Italian names among the musicians who write on Steve’s website.
    Even an acquaintance of mine, of the seventies, has moved to NY, Pat(rizia) Scascitelli, pianist … Very good pianist!
    No, I was not joking, I was serious, I thought LoL meant Little Openings Lovers, really! How could I know the idiomatic language, or slang, that is used in America, if I live in Italy? Also to understand that MPC meant mouthpiece, I took a while!
    Best wishes.
    Joseph.
    🙂

  27. Avatar PAT ZICARI says

    Hello again… Joseph/Giuseppe
    My Father was from Catania, Sicily…
    I’m First Generation American on my Father’s Side… My Mother was born in New York State, of White Russian (Lithuanian) Decent…
    SOOOO… and I only say this once (it’s soooo bad)… I one of the only people you will meet, who has Russian Hands and Roman Fingers… mmmmmm
    And lol, and abbreviations like it, have been around since Morse Code… around the world… where it was faster to use abbreviations to convey words…
    But, don’t feel like you are uneducated.. I know because I am a Ham Radio Operator and use the abbreviations…
    Pat

  28. Avatar Giuseppe says

    Ciao Pasquà!
    Exceptional … from Catania dad and mother of Russian origin! From these beautiful fusion of musical cultures of people from all over the world, jazz was born!
    There is a good movie that I saw, “Ragtime”, by Milos Forman, a film director of Czechoslovak origin but then moved to America from which he took the citizenship (the same one he did “One flew over the cuckoo’s nest”, in italian “Qualcuno volò sul nido del cuculo”), which tells these stories of the first ones who moved to America from all over the world and who made the beautiful Nation that is now! There is also the story of a Russian who becomes one of the first film directors of the time … If you have not seen this movie, “Ragtime”, I recommend it, it’s very nice!
    Best wishes to you, dad and mom!
    Giuseppe.
    (I hope that the good Steve do not consider me out topic!).

  29. Avatar John Laughter says

    The 170 sounds real good!

  30. Plas used rico plastic cover 2 baritone sax reeds on his Berg. I would have to look it up , I think .163” .I would have to look it up. I adjusted his pieces a few times.

    • Thanks John. That’s good to know! Appreciate the tip. I had to send the piece back to the owner but maybe he can try out a baritone sax reed on it. Steve

  31. Avatar jeff giacomelli says

    That’s a monster…surprising it has as much buzz as it does. Could easily go to a 2 reed on that opening. The extra baffle likely compensates quite a bit.

    • Avatar Don Gutheil says

      To Everybody……

      I’m the owner of that Berg. Mojo measured it at one time to be .182 (as I recall). This mp will NOT play worth a twit with anything 2-1/2 or over. A # 2 (and a responsive one a that) is the maximum. I had enclosed 2 reeds that I thought were perfect for that mp., but I think they were wrapped in the bottom of the box and probably unseen. Both were used. One was a #2 Legere and the other a #2 Plasticover.

      Either one made playing that mp a breeze, but still used a lot of wind. It has power and edge. I was glad to have Steve try it out for me and didn’t want to bug him more by asking him to let me send it back to him just to use those reeds. FYI…. It’s the mp. that I’m using on my you tube version demo. You Tube Don Gutheil, smooth version of Harlem Nocturne. (The “rough” version is with my main squeeze – Lawton 10B*).

      • Hi Don, I did see those reeds in the box but I’m not a fan of using someone else’s used reeds so I passed on those. I did order some 2 reeds since then in case I ever try a mouthpiece that open again. Thanks again for letting me try it. Steve

  32. Avatar PAT ZICARI says

    Don..
    Funny you should mention Lawton…
    I blow a .155 (Started as a 10 STAR B before Geoff and I experimented with it)…
    Didn’t know the measurement until a few years later, when Arnie Brilhart @ Rico measured it for me…
    Rico USED to make me PlastiCover # 1’s… but, stopped around 5 years ago…
    Have been searching for a reed since then… MAY have found it…
    Repaired the “tooth groove” on the Lawton and a Berg 130/0 offset M…
    Got out a reed that I had NEVER tried… pretty much a match made in heaven… a Forestone Hinoki… XS strength…
    Now we’ll see how long it lasts… our mouthpieces are not very “reed friendly” as far as longevity…
    Legere’s just didn’t resonate for me… and PlactiCovers (1 1/2) were a bit stiff…
    MAY try a PlactiCover Baritone sax reed… a 1 1/2 might do the trick…
    Didn’t know if you’d tried a Hinoki yet… so just another 2 cents from someone… 🙂

  33. Avatar Michael W Phipps says

    Hello Steve! I see I am very late here, but hope you see this. Finally you just showed me the mouthpiece with the sound I seek! I realize there are many variables; saxophone make, neck mods and material and embochure. Here’s the catch, I get a “head buzz” and sometimes get winded blowing an 8* so this would greatly limit practice times which I NEED. Now I am wondering, what could be the next best way to turn?

    • Haha! Well, I wouldn’t commit to this path before trying to play one of these super open tip openings! It certainly is an experience but it is only for a select few to be able to pull it off I am afraid….. Steve

  34. Michael Phipps…

    The “trick” is the facing LENGTH…

    When my .155 Lawton was being made, as Geoff opened it up from the original 10*… besides opening the tip he lengthened the facing…

    With the longer facing, the .155 plays as easily as my Custom Beechler 7*(+) or 10mFan 9* Merlot (with 28mm facing).
    I keep going back to my Lawton… but, always searching…. 🙂

    • Avatar Don Gutheil says

      Hi Pat, You may want to try breaking in/wearing it out/etc. a Plasticover reed. They do soften and even bend sooner or later.
      Any advice on who and if I should try lengthening the curve on my bronze “Big Bergtha”?
      BTW… it’s closer to 175+, not 170.
      Also…. been using a Wanne Datta lately. … very “modern” sound (not full like my 10B* Lawton), easy blowing and LOVES the altissimo and reed friendly.

      • Pat , too open for anyone that doubles or follows the teaching of Joe Allard. That open makes one bite too hard to maintain a tone. It’s beyond finding a soft reed.

        • Hate to disagree with you, but I must… 🙂

          Maybe I’m the exception but my mouthpiece history does not follow anyone’s teachings…
          From Runyon 5 to LevelAir 9* to Link 10* to Custom Lakey’s to Berg 130/0 to Lawton 12* to 10mFan Merlot 9* and on and on…

          I’ve always played a wide-open Tenor mouthpiece with soft reeds (hardest on Tenor is a #2)… and I do NOT bite down…
          In fact, I can, and sometimes do use a modified Double Lip embouchure…
          basically normal lower lip and just upper lip on top of the mouthpiece with no teeth.

          And I DO double… Soprano with SopranoPlanet modified Yanagisawa HR…
          Alto with Vandoren V16A8s…

          You can hear the Lawton and Merlot on my FB Page Pat Zicari Sax Music…

          May You and Your Family Be Safe…
          Pat

          • Menza played really open mouthpieces until he got interested in the flute. Then he went closer. Brilhart 7 Ebolin.

            • Then I’m just WEIRD then… lol Have no problem with Flute OR Piccolo…
              And, I have tried going down to a Beechler 7-7* Tonalin… that they did some “interior” work on for me…
              A mellower sound than the Lawton but actually not easier for me to play…
              has the same volume/broadcasting as the Lawton but is just missing some of the harmonics the Lawton achieves…

            • Avatar Don Gutheil says

              Hi John, Since I’m also an open mouth player (and naturally biased), I agree with Pat 100%.
              Let me throw in a thought. It’s pretty common knowledge that close mps take hard(er) reeds – and open mps take soft(er) reeds. NEITHER technique/mp use should be using a “biting” method. The lower lip is just there to mainly provide a cushion – and let the reed and the lungs do their work.
              Like Pat, I’ve used the gamut of mps and keep coming back to the “biggies”. They can talk.
              As long as my 82 yr old lungs work, I’m happy.
              My big Berg that Neff tested for me IS extreme. But like Pat, if I get the right (soft) reed, it can blow. I’m not planning to sell it as “original”, so I’m now thinking of lengthening the facing curve to make it easier blowing and reed friendly. Time to call MOJO again.

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  35. Avatar Michael Phipps says

    Thanks, Steve and Pat! And Pat, you are so right about the facing length, as I believe Steve is right about the “select few”. I have not made a nickel blowing sax in about 50 years. Got tired of the drunks in the dives we played in and some band members loaded as well. Those were the days! Two pieces I am practicing with are Ambika 3 and Morgan Jazz, Large chamber. The Ambika 3 is very adjustable for sound with reed changes and ligature changes. It hurts my mouth just as an old metal piece bothered me way back. Should have ordered HR. The Morgan has a great sound and just ordered another, a Classic with large jazz chamber hopefully to help give me more sub tones like the Ambika 3. Practiced last night about 2 hours and awoke with jaws hurting and headache. Old age ain’t for wimps! Thanks guys and stay safe!

  36. Avatar PAT ZICARI says

    Hi Don,
    How’s life treating you??
    As far as the PlastiCovers, they used to have a small sheet explaining How To Break Them In…
    It said to soak in Hot water for 5 minutes… and after I did that had a reed that lasted quite a while…
    Rico used to make me #1 PlastiCovers for the Lawton but stopped a while ago… they were the best match for the mouthpiece. In a pinch, I used to use 1 1/2 Bari Plasticoverss and just may try again…
    Where do you live??? Should be some good guys near you for refacing…
    Tried Theo’s mouthpieces… too “sharp” for me… especially after using the 12* Lawton… lol
    Have had Beechler make me a smaller mouthpiece (7*)… and it actually blows mellower than the Lawton, but is still missing that “something” his mouthpieces have.
    Take care,my friend… and Health and Safety to You and Yours… Pat

  37. Avatar Giuseppe C. says

    Can I joke?
    BDSM mouthpiece? Instructions for Use:
    1) take out a good health insurance policy;
    2) wear a hernia belt before playing;
    3) help yourself with oxygen cylinders for scuba diving (the mouthpiece of the breath could obstruct the mouthpiece) …
    4) keep a hyperbaric chamber ready, just in case …
    I’m just kidding, perhaps out of envy of those who manage to “tame” certain mouthpieces.
    Giuseppe.

  38. Avatar Giuseppe C. says

    170 tip opening practically corresponds to n. 14!
    How do you play, even by acting on the facing … Does a long facing not penalize the high register?
    I have a slightly “pointed” embouchure on the mouthpiece, also because my lower jaw protrudes from the upper one and this balances things out, and, it seems to me, that a “long facing” makes me leak air from the sides of the lips …
    Maybe you are tall stout and burly guys? There is a theory, I don’t know if it’s true, that people with such characteristics can play with large tip openings …
    Lucky you, I have an inguinal hernia …
    Giuseppe.

    • Hi Giuseppe, I enjoyed your funny advice for playing a big opening mp.
      As far as your theory of tall, stout, burly guys – not sure about that. I’m short, thin and 82 yrs. young.
      The few small tips that I’ve used and tried over the years didn’t seem to play much easier than my biggies – but again, the biggies need to be balanced out and use a softer reed. Each to their own, I guess. Enjoy it.

  39. Hi Guiseppe…
    I’m the one who preaches long facings… 1 1/2 or 2 reed on 12* (.155) Custom Lawton Tenor MP…
    28mm is my average length… and I do not have a problem with leakage… then again… soft reed and wide open… in fact, I do not really bite down on the MP at all… guess I have strong muscles… and a lot of wind… lol
    Also, have NO problems with harmonics… easily hit C above High F just overblowing the High F fingering…
    and, as far as big and burley… am 75 years old… 5’9″… and gotta lose some COVID weight… lol
    Pat

  40. Avatar Giuseppe C. says

    Thanks Don for the nice reply,
    sure, everyone is different and chooses what works best for him …
    I acknowledge that the theory I had heard is wrong; I’m 71 too and I’m 173 cm tall. and weight 77 kilos …
    I noticed that what you write on the emission coincides with mine, where you write: “… NEITHER technique / mp use should be using a” biting “method. The lower lip is just there to mainly provide a cushion – and let the reed and the lungs do their work … “.
    I do this too,
    You are nice and kind, a warm greeting,
    (a greeting also to Pasquale Zicari Italian-Russian-American, if I remember correctly …)
    Giuseppe.

  41. Avatar Giuseppe C. says

    Hi Pat,
    I thought you were a young man … but we are almost the same age.
    I, also, don’t bite the mouthpiece either but, strangely, I get along better with the tenor with medium small embouchures; I tried some mouthpieces with long facing and I realized that, in fact, it takes a little less effort even if, at first, they whistled but then I got used to it … It’s true, even if reading they write that long facing penalizes the high notes and vice versa with the short facing, I have not noticed: once I get used to not making the mouthpiece whistle, it almost seems that the high notes will come easier …
    It will depend on mouthpiece to mouthpiece.
    I didn’t understand your Covid weight loss well, I don’t speak English well; I hope you didn’t get the Covid and that, just in case, you get well soon!
    Blessed be you,
    Giuseppe.

  42. Avatar Giuseppe C. says

    Pat,
    excuse my english: where do you write “… am 75 years old … 5’9 ″ … and gotta lose some COVID weight … lol” maybe you meant that you want to lose weight because too much weight exposes you to Covid? I understood after my other answer.
    Do well and take care; I don’t know if they explain it in America but it is good to always wear a mask that is not only “surgical” (the celestial one that Biden wears on TV), a mask that is “altruistic” because it protects others but filters viruses only at 20% for the wearer but, better still, an FFP2 mask, the one that is also “intelligent” that protects both others and the wearer and filters 98% of viruses. Always stay at least two meters away from the others and even more so if they sing or are under stress due to physical activity: the drop they expel when exhaling goes further. Never eat at the table together with others, if not cohabiting: many are asymptomatic patients and carriers without knowing it … Always wash your hands well and never touch your face, mouth or eyes. Protect your eyes with a blacksmith type glasses or a clear visor; if you wear glasses, when you return home disinfect them before touching them … The virus also enters from the eyes …
    Also beware of those who puff cigarette smoke because, together with the smoke, the drop is exhaled with the possible vitus …
    I hope not to scare you but it is better to be extremely cautious.
    Who knows if it might be useful or is it too ridiculous to make a hole in an FFP2 mask in which to pass the mouthpiece while playing? Maybe something protects …
    Yake care,
    Giuseppe.

    • Giuseppe, I think what Pat is referring to is that many of us are stuck in the house because of the pandemic and overeating. (Probably a bit depressed also……) I know I have gained about 15 lbs in the last 6 weeks.

  43. Guiseppe, Steve understood my referral to “COVID” weight as being not as active as we should be… and gaining weight…
    I DO speak some Italian (am 1/2 Sicilian and 1/2 Lithuanian} but I’d have to use a Program that translates English to Italian to write it… lol
    I’ve seen some masks with holes for straws… but, even using the ones with “valves” are not protective of those around you…
    I wish you and yours a safe and healthy Holiday and 2021,
    Pat (Pasquale)

  44. Avatar Giuseppe C. says

    Thanks Steve, for acting as an interpreter.
    I understand that this situation, even more so for those who make music their work, is a very serious situation … other than “a bit” depressed …
    Many of us are also beginning to have psychological problems, some have had bereavement …
    Here the authorities made a general lockdown from about mid-March to early May and people respected the rules because otherwise the checkpoints sanctioned …
    The pandemic had decreased considerably but the discontent of the traders increased because the Government was late in compensating the losses incurred due to the closures.
    Then, when they left respect for the rules to their personal responsibilities, without having to go around with a signed self-declaration to show to the authorities, especially this summer, many, too many unconscious, began to be convinced by some “experts” who said that the virus had weakened, by now it was disappearing … and, many, especially young people, but not only, who took the disease lightly or asymptomatically, began to neglect any responsible behavior: massed in the disco, in the manifestations of those political parties that they professed the reopening of activities and said that these were all exaggerations … until the current collapse that is claiming victims in Italy and in Europe, and all the efforts made in the lockdown have been wasted. Now the contagion is running and public hospitals are in enormous difficulty; you risk waiting hours even for a broken leg or appendicitis.
    As indeed in the rest of the world.
    I saw on a map of America, on TV, that in Maine and Vermont the contagion is much lower … and I thought of my American friend Steve. I hope that map is reliable.
    My wife and I, having been retired, since March, we are still in voluntary lockdown and we only go out for food and important medical or veterinary care, we have a 21 year old female cat.
    But those who have to work or go to school (only some high schools have closed, not elementary schools) in the big cities risk contagion on the crowded public transport at certain times or in bars and restaurants … since the rules are there but few they respect or succeed in enforcing them: the army would be needed!
    Unlike you, with the lockdown I have lost about seven kilos (more or less 15 lbs) because since March I no longer go out to dinner once or twice a week and I don’t take between meals going to bars, because I don’t go out for walks … I only eat at home.
    Now the government has been taking new initiatives for some time dividing Italy into zones: yellow, orange and red with different rules … but I think it is useless if no one takes it into his head that the rules must be respected.
    The situation is very serious for Homo Sapiens! Here one breath is enough and one risks dying.
    Best wishes, take care of yourself and hold on …
    An affectionate greeting,
    Giuseppe.

  45. Avatar Giuseppe C. says

    Hi Pasquale, I just wrote to Steve, we were writing together …
    In fact I forgot to specify that the masks with the valves are useless … harmful.
    Also I remembered wrongly, I had written that you were of Italian and Russian origin, rather than Lithuanian; sorry…
    Thanks for the wishes; let’s hope it’s over by 2021 …
    The same wishes go to you and yours and … to the rest of the world.
    Affectionate greetings,
    Giuseppe.

  46. Sir wonderful review to read and listen to.
    Once I had no idea about mouthpieces. I was so lonely in this whole thing.
    An older guy brought an old Berg Larsen. worn out. teeth straight to metal. Hose clamp. Using a screwdriver to fasten. Long facing narrow diameter small chamber wide open tip. Not that I know any of it back then. It was for me to try. Thank god. I played and played and played. Until I had to sit down like you.
    That was the first time I was realising that there was actually a thing called mouthpieces and their specifications. It was the first time I sounded like a sax player. A tone a bit like yours. I was gonna cry. It made me sound like a tenor sax player. The first time.
    So, therefore, I have a thing for Berg Larsen metal mouthpieces with open tips.

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