Saxscape Live Slim Profile Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece Review

Ken Barry, at Saxscape mouthpieces has been making mouthpiece since before I started  my website at neffmusic.com.  About 4 years ago, I saw a clip of one of my favorite tenor sax players (Danny Walsh) on Youtube playing a prototype Saxscape “Live” tenor sax mouthpiece and I thought he sounded amazing on it.  Here is that Youtube video if you want to check it out:

Danny Walsh playing Soul Eyes on a Saxscape “Live” Tenor Mouthpiece

I contacted Ken at Saxscape shortly after about seeing if I could get a “Live” tenor mouthpiece to  try out but he never got to the point where he had them in production so I gave up on it after a few years.  I’m happy to write that Ken contacted me a few months ago and he told me the Saxscape Live tenor mouthpieces were finally released.  I was  super excited!!  Ken  sent me a production model Saxscape “Live” mouthpiece in a .110 tip opening to check out and perhaps review here on the site.

Saxscape Live Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Saxscape “Live” tenor sax mouthpiece is made of Delrin which is a polyoxymethylene thermoplastic.  Yes, I know I lost most of you already with the scientific wording, sorry!  From what I can gather from google, Delrin is a plastic that has been cleared as food safe by the FDA.  I have also read that it is a very tough and stable material.

When I first received the package from Saxscape, it was so light that I wondered if Ken forgot to put the sax mouthpiece in it!  After unwrapping it, I held it in my hand and it felt like it weighed next to nothing.  It feels so light, in fact, that I have found myself having to be extra careful while handling the mouthpiece so that I don’t drop it.

The Saxscape “Live” tenor mouthpiece has what is called a slim profile.  It is the size of a metal tenor mouthpiece. I used a Selmer 404 silver ligature that I use on my metal Otto Link saxophone mouthpieces and it fits the Saxscape Live mouthpiece perfectly.

Saxscape Live Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Saxscape Live sax mouthpiece looks unique and original.  I have tried hundreds of sax mouthpieces and this is the first time I have played a sax mouthpiece made of Delrin that looks like this one.  Much of the mouthpiece seems to have some kind of machined pattern in the Delrin which helps give it a modern look.  The tip, rails and table look even and well crafted.  The shape of the tip matches the shape of the saxophone reeds perfectly.

The baffle of the Saxscape Live is interesting in that it also has a unique and original design to it that I have never seen before.  The baffle starts near the tip and about a quarter of an inch in, looks to be scooped out as it slopes down to the beginning of the chamber.  What is interesting,  is that this “scoop” isn’t across the whole width of the baffle but the edges are left intact on the sides of the scooped out area.  This has the affect of bringing the sidewalls in a little bit and creating a small ledge on either side of the baffle.

The baffle ends at the chamber where it has a “bullet” shaped end as the chamber starts.  I would say that the Saxscape Live mouthpiece is a medium size chamber if you consider an Otto Link to be a large chamber.

Saxscape Live Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Delrin has a smooth feel to the touch.  I didn’t want to take the chance that my teeth might mark up the beak so I put a square Forestone mouthpiece patch on it.  Interestingly enough, the first patch I put on fell off almost immediately.  I thought maybe the Delrin was resistant to the glue on the Forestone patches but later I tried the bigger tear drop patch by Forestone and that has been on the mouthpiece ever since without moving so I guess maybe it was just something with that one patch.

The slim profile feels very comfortable when I first tried the Saxscape Live.  The size and shape of the mouthpiece feels so similar to a metal mouthpiece that at times I actually forgot that it wasn’t metal. (A few people asked for advice on a good metal saxophone mouthpiece to try and I actually suggested this Saxscape mouthpiece and then later remembered that it isn’t actually metal…..whoops)

Saxscape Live Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The part I dread about trying and reviewing mouthpieces is always the reeds. I always put my first reed on with a fear that this next mouthpiece is going to be really picky and I will have to go through like twenty reeds before finding a good match.  Thanks to Ken Barry’s craftsmanship, the Saxscape Live was very reed friendly.  So reed friendly that I had the opposite problem of having a hard time figuring out which reed to use on it.  I started with a Rigotti Gold 2 1/2 Medium that was on another mouthpiece and it was smoking!  I played that for a few days.  Then I tried a 2 1/2 Strong which was also great.  Then I tried a 3 Light which I spent about a week on that felt terrific.  I was about to record with the Rigotti 3 Light but at the last minute thought I would try another 2 1/2 Strong.  The Rigotti 2 1/2 Strong was even better than the Rigotti 3 Light and I recorded with that.

Now, I thought I was pretty much done after recording with the Rigotti reed but as I was putting my sax down I remembered that I had these new reeds from Germany in my desk drawer that I hadn’t really tried yet.  They are AW reeds that I ordered from Boston Sax Shop earlier this year when I was looking for a darker reed.  Although I love the Rigottis, on some mouthpieces they can play too bright and edgy for my tastes so I was looking for a reed alternative that would be darker.  I put a AW 2 1/2 reed on the Saxscape Live mouthpiece, blew a few notes and thought “Holy Cow!  This plays great! I love this!”  ( I know I was really digging it because the sound clip I recorded ended up being 25 minutes long which is a record for me I think…..don’t worry, I shortened it down to like 4:00 minutes)

Saxscape Live Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The AW reeds kind of reminded me of the old Rico Select Jazz reeds that I used to play that had a darker, richer sound to them.  On the Saxscape Live they just sound a bit darker and fuller to me than the Rigotti reeds did.  The Rigotti reed seemed to have a little more edge and brightness to the tone I think. (I am interested in reading your impressions of the two reeds if you want to share them in the comments below.)

Earlier today, I was listening to a recording of Stan Getz  playing on “Chega De Saudade” where he plays a few notes from “When you wish Upon a Star” in his solo so I quoted those two songs a little bit in the sound clips. (There is also a cool video of Seamus Blake playing “Chega De Saudade” also……..)

As has been my habit lately, I have added reverb to each of the clips for those of you who like to check out the recording with that added also.  I try not to put a lot of reverb on the clip but just enough to thicken the sound a little bit.  The reason I think reverb is good to add to the clips is that you can get an idea of how the mouthpiece might sound in a dry room and how it might sound in a room with natural reverb like a garage or bathroom. (I love playing in my garage!!)

Saxscape Live Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Saxscape Live tenor saxophone mouthpiece had a strong powerful tone from the first time I played it.  Actually, I think I blew my first note on it, stopped and said “Whoa!”, then went back to playing.    The tone in my mind is a good blend of an Otto Link type sound with a Guardala type sound.  It sorta sits in the middle of those two concepts but the cool thing is that if you lean either way it is really easy to head more in that direction.  I taught a few Skype lessons that were focused on playing standards and the mouthpiece sound killin’ on that stuff.  Every student asked me what mouthpiece I was playing.  Then I did a couple lessons with some funk and pop type players and the mouthpiece sounded killin’ on that stuff and you guessed it, every student asked me what mouthpiece I was playing on those lessons also.

Saxscape Live Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

On the sound clips below, I try to give a good range and variety of sounds and textures so that you can hear the mouthpiece perform in different styles.  What I love about the Saxscape Live is how easy you can change the sound depending on your needs.  It’s not a mouthpiece I would label as bright or dark but it really has to do with how you play it.  There were times while playing that I thought it was edgy and bright and other times I thought it was warm and beautiful sounding.

The articulation was clean and smooth and the intonation was surprisingly great!  I write “surprisingly” because usually mouthpieces with a bit of a baffle make the middle of my horn (middle D, Eb, E) a bit sharper but the Saxscape Live was very in tune in the middle of the horn without much work on my part.

I felt like the range of the horn was very even in timbre which makes it really cool to play fast as it sounds really smooth and connected. One thing I did notice,  is that because the Saxscape Live has  a potential to get louder so easily because of the baffle, sometimes I found notes in the line popping out louder than the rest of the line.  There was a few spots in the sound clip where I was playing a line and I noticed that the high B seemed to pop out a little louder than the rest of the line. I don’t take this as any fault of the mouthpiece but more as a fact that I need to spend more time with it and get used to it more.  Once I was aware of it,  I tried replaying the line I had heard and once aware of it I could fix it easily.

Saxscape Live Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

In my opinion, the Saxscape “Live” is a great tenor mouthpiece for those of you looking for a sax mouthpiece that does it all.   I think Ken Barry at  Saxscape mouthpieces has done a great job with the “Live” tenor saxophone mouthpiece.  Ken has recently revamped his website at Saxscape so make sure you check it out if you are interested in this mouthpiece.  He also has three other saxophone mouthpieces on his site called the Arizona, the Downtown MB1 and the Xtra Dark model.  I haven’t tried any of those models yet but if they are as good as this “Live” tenor mouthpiece I sure hope I get a chance to review them also!  You can also contact Ken Barry by phone or text: 570-350-5843, by emailsaxscape@gmail.com  or on Facebook.

If you try a Saxscape Live tenor sax mouthpiece,  I would love to hear what you think in the comments below.  Thanks,   Steve

Saxscape Live Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-AW 2 1/2 Reed-Reverb

Saxscape Live Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-AW 2 1/2 Reed-Dry Recording

Saxscape Live Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Rigotti Gold 2 1/2 Strong Reed-Reverb

Saxscape Live Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Rigotti Gold 2 1/2 Strong Reed-Dry Recording

Disclosure: I received the sample mouthpiece mentioned above for free in the hope that I would try it and perhaps review it on my blog. Regardless, I only review mouthpieces that I enjoy playing and believe will be good for other saxophone players to try also. Steve
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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 Mario Lafrésière says

    Hello Steve. I believe all 4 are great takes but I much prefer the big fat sound on the Rigotti Gold reeds on this mouthpiece. I already contacted Ken Barry and will fit it a try very soon . Thanks again for your great job

  2. Hi Mario, Yes, I was surprised by the recording because I really dug the AW reeds more than the Rigotti when playing this mouthpiece but then when I listened to the recordings I thought the Rigottis sounded more lively to me. The AW reeds more mellow.

  3. Very nice review and playing as always Steve. I have been playing Saxscape mouthpieces for several years now (or more) and I love them. I try others but seem to keep coming back to the Saxscapes. I love his old FatCat model but he doesn’t seem to make them anymore. And I use his Hudson model when I do a rock gig. They really play similarly in a lot of ways, the Hudson is just brighter. It’s nice to have two similar-playing mouthpieces to use for jazz and rock. I have never tried the “live” but your clips are compelling. Thanks again!

  4. Sounds great as usual Steve! This piece sounds and looks very unique. I wonder if maybe you could do a review on the Retro Revival Seventh Avenue South next.

  5. Hey Steve,
    Great playing, as usual. I tried one of these the other day at a horn shop near me. He has a couple of them and is selling them for $175, so at that price I think I’ll grab one just to have in the arsenal. I don’t know if you felt this, but while I was playing it I kind of felt like I was playing a toy mouthpiece because the material is SOOOO lightweight. They really are a strange bird, but they can sound great. I studied a bit with Danny Walsh and he does a great Ben Webster imitation on it. Of course, he can make anything sound great. I didn’t try different reeds on it, so I’m glad to hear you found it to be reed friendly. This shop also had some new 10mfan pieces and they also had the same machine markings on them. I’d like to see you do an instructional on your concept of sound production. Thanks for the review!

  6. Hello Steve
    Great review en very nice playing.
    All the pieces from Ken are gems.
    If you haven t play the Xtra Dark yet…. you really should give it a try.

  7. In my modest opinion of the AW I like the quality, as color, of the dark tone of the sound, but it seems less powerful (you recorded at the same volume?) of the Rigotti gold 2 1/2 hard, which seems more powerful and structured.

  8. Yes, It might have been me also. I played like 8 hours that day and I tried the AW reeds and recorded at the end of it all and was pretty tired. I recorded with the Rigotti earlier. The AW are definitely darker but they are plenty loud and powerful. Steve

  9. Steve, you can NEVER be tired, impossible … 🙂
    Giuseppe.

  10. Hi Steve,
    is possible you will make a review of the other Saxscape’s mouthpieces, particularly Arizona and , also, Xtra dark? Do you know, for these two models, what is, for each one, the more little tip opening at disposition?
    Thanks,
    Giuseppe.

  11. Well, just came back from Liberty Music (that’s where that clip of Danny Walsh playing Soul Eyes was shot) with my new Live .108 piece. I tried a few and most were marked .112 which felt too open for me. This one is just right. They really can take any amount of air you want to give them without choking up and also play like a warm Link if you want it to. I’ll use it on the gig this weekend and see how it does with a horn section and loud band.

  12. Howard, Mine is in the middle of those at .110. Steve

  13. Sounds great! I had the Downtown a long time ago before he had had multiple versions of it and it is the mouthpiece I regret selling the most….that thing was amazing.

  14. I had Ken make me one in a .108. I’m using D’Addario Jazz Select 3S unfiled and the Selmer 404 lig. I’m just now exploring it’s “Link” side as I strive for the elusive “One mouthpiece to rule them all”. Your reviews are always informative.
    Thanks!

  15. Avatar Richard S Mallia says

    Great review! This may be the “Brass Ring” or “Holy Grail” of tenor mouthpieces!!!

  16. Thank you for this review. As always a great job that I really appreciate.

    Looking at the pictures the texture/structure of the Delrin is very “bold”.
    Tip and rails appear to be a bit rough?
    Are these mouthpieces 3 D printed and handfinished?

  17. Ralf, I have no idea about the 3D printed question. Ken will have to answer that one. I’m not sure what you mean by “rough”. The tip and rails look great and are very even and precise. There is a texture on the table that looks like it is also on the rails and tip. Is that what you are referring to when you say “the texture of the Delrin is bold”? Regardless of the texture, the piece is very reed friendly and seals well with all the reeds I tried on it. Steve

  18. I used mine on a wedding gig this past weekend and I have to say it performed great. Very versatile. I did Stan Getz type airy sound on the cocktail hour and then you can really scream it when you want to. Intonation was easy. We have a 3 piece horn section and it blended well. It’s a strange piece made out of strange stuff, but it works. I’m being very careful with it because I don’t how easy this Delrin chips.

  19. Hi Ralf,

    > Looking at the pictures the texture/structure of the Delrin is very “bold”.

    Yes I do leave a texture on the body. Delrin by nature can be a little slippery, so to forestall any problems I leave some precisely machined marks on the outside to give a better surface for the reed/ligature to be secured.

    > Tip and rails appear to be a bit rough?

    The machine surface finish leaves marks on the order of .0001 inch, which does not affect the sound or response. Since hand sanding the table and facing doesn’t make the pieces play any better, I leave the machine finish as a way of keeping the price down.

    > Are these mouthpieces 3 D printed and handfinished?

    No, they are CNC machined from a solid billet and then hand finished.

    Thanks!
    Ken

  20. Hi Howard,

    > I’m being very careful with it because I don’t how easy this Delrin chips.

    Delrin is pretty tough stuff. It will scratch a little but it’s like a very tough Nylon.

    Glad it’s working for you on your gigs!

    Thanks
    Ken

  21. Hello Steve, Hello Ken,

    Thank you for this information!
    A have never seen such a texture before and was curious.

    Best
    Ralf

  22. I find the recording of Danny Walsh to be VERY piercing in the upper register. If that was all I heard of this mouthpiece I would be put off a bit.

    Steve’s playing is so much better. His tone is fat all around. Very nice. Might have to try one of these pieces.

  23. Bob, It’s all about personal preferences. I love the brightness and resonance Danny gets up high but I understand you not preferring that for yourself. I wouldn’t say my playing is “better” because Danny is a monster player! You just prefer the tone of my upper register…….. Steve

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