Morgan Excalibur Indiana Model Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece Review

Today, I am reviewing a Morgan Excalibur Indiana model tenor saxophone mouthpiece made by Erik Greiffenhagen, at Morgan mouthpieces.  Morgan mouthpieces used to be owned by Ralph Morgan who sadly passed away in 2007.  Ralph worked designing instruments and mouthpieces for Selmer for many decades and in the early 80’s started his own mouthpiece company after retiring from Selmer.

After Ralph passed away, the company continued on under the ownership of David and Teresa Hoskins as well as the mouthpieces craftsmanship of Erik Greiffenhagen, John MacQueen and Brian Powell who worked side by side with Ralph Morgan for many years.

I have reviewed a number of Morgan mouthpieces in the past that you can find here on this page. This Morgan Excalibur Indiana tenor sax mouthpiece that I am reviewing today is a newer model that I am excited about trying out!

Morgan Excalibur Indiana Model Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

I was lucky enough to speak with Ralph Morgan shortly before he passed away in 2007.  I had just started my website at neffmusic.com and Ralph saw that I was reviewing and writing articles about saxophone mouthpieces and he reached out to me.   I called him back and I remember talking to him for a couple of hours.

It is an understatement to say how interesting and knowledgable Ralph Morgan was about the subject of saxophones.  He seemed to have an endless amount of stories about so many famous saxophone players and knew so many details about the history of the saxophone and sax mouthpieces that it was like talking to a walking encyclopedia of saxophone knowledge.  The hour or two we talked flew by and I remember hanging up the phone so grateful that Ralph Morgan had shared his valuable time with me.

Although Ralph is no longer with us, I am glad his legacy lives on through the people at Morgan mouthpieces. Here is a page on Ralph Morgan and the history of Morgan mouthpieces if you want to know more about him.

Morgan Excalibur Indiana Model Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

Here are a few words describing the Morgan Excalibur Indiana model tenor mouthpiece from the Morgan mouthpieces website:

Morgan Excalibur Tenor Indiana Model Saxophone Mouthpiece

   This is a newer model introduced during the Summer of 2017 and was designed master crafter  Erik Greiffenhagen.  This saxophone mouthpiece model was inspired by the early Babbitt Otto Links made in Indiana shortly after the Babbitt purchase of Otto Link.  

Mouthpiece Features

  • Slender, streamline body size (similar to metal)
  • Dark and rich centered tones with more edge
  • Powerful response in upper and lower registers
  • Large round chamber
  • Flat, clam shell style baffle (like early Babbitt link)
  • Thin interior walls (more edge and brilliance)
  • Quick Response
  • Includes Rovner Legacy ligature and cap

    The Morgan Jazz Mouthpieces are handcrafted the “Vintage” way.  Ralph Morgan started the company with the purpose of bringing back the lost art and science of truly handcrafted mouthpieces.  Our materials, tools, and process of making mouthpieces are identical to the manufacturers of the 1940s and 1950s.  We start with our 100% pure rubber formula, we mold and cure our mouthpieces to our exact specifications.  No machines are used in the cutting and shaping of our mouthpieces.  We cut our facings and shape the chambers and baffles all by hand.  Our craftsmen are among the most experienced in the world with 80+ years experience among the three of them.  This is a true handcrafted pure hard rubber tenor saxophone mouthpiece.

 CL (Classical), L (Large), FL (Florida), IN (Indiana), NY (New York), M (Medium)

Tip Openings: 7 (.095), 8 (.100), 8* (.105) 9(.110) & 9*(.115) (subject to change based on demand). 

Handmade in the USA since 1984.

Morgan Excalibur Indiana Model Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Morgan Excalibur Indiana tenor saxophone mouthpiece looks great to the eye as I took it out the packaging.  As with all Morgan mouthpieces, it is hand engraved with the Morgan logo and details about the mouthpiece.  This is certainly not fancy and perfect machine engraving but I like the personal touch and thought of someone engraving these details into the mouthpiece by hand just like Ralph used to do.

This mouthpiece is an 8* tip opening which measures out to a .105 tip opening.  For most of the other tenor mouthpieces out there this would be considered a 7* but for some reason Morgan mouthpieces has numbered their tip opening differently.

The mouthpiece has a smaller diameter than many hard rubber tenor sax mouthpieces.  It is closer to the diameter of an alto sax mouthpiece than a hard rubber tenor sax mouthpiece.  I ended up using a Vandoren Optimum alto sax ligature on it that fit well.  The beak also looks and feels slimmer than a typical hard rubber tenor mouthpiece beak height.

The table, side rails, tip rail, baffle and chamber all look well crafted.  The side rails look even as they narrow heading towards the tip rail. The tip rail looks thin and fairly even although the left side of the rail looks a tiny bit wider than the right side.  This is no big deal for me as what I care about most is how a mouthpiece plays and the Morgan Excalibur Indiana played well and was very reed friendly.

Morgan Excalibur Indiana Model Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The baffle is a rollover clam shaped baffle that reminds me of the baffle shape and size in a vintage Otto Link Early Babbitt tenor sax mouthpiece.  Since the Morgan Excalibur Indiana is described as “inspired” by the Early Babbitt hard rubber Otto Link I can see why the baffles would be similar.  The baffle starts out pretty high and rolls over after about 3/8ths of an inch.  The side rails are scooped out and the baffle looks to have a scoop shape to it as it travels down into the large chamber.

The Morgan Excalibur Indiana tenor sax mouthpiece played well with Rigotti Gold reeds but I noticed a bit of brightness and edge on those reeds so I also performed a sound clip with some BSS (Boston Sax Shop) reeds that are a bit darker than the Rigotti reeds.  I recorded a clip on each reed so that you could compare the differences in sound between the two reeds.

Morgan Excalibur Indiana Model Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Morgan Excalibur Indiana had a focused tone that leaned to what I would consider the bright side of a tenor tone in my opinion.  It had a blend of focus with a spread to it that seemed like a nice balance between those two descriptions of tone.  I would say that the softer I played the more spread the tone was and the more air I put through the horn and the louder I played the more focused it could become.  It had a good amount of volume when pushed which is an important consideration when you are choosing a mouthpiece to gig with.

The Rigotti Gold reeds seemed brighter to me than the BSS 2 1/2 reed I also tried on it.  The BSS reeds seemed to have less of a buzz to them and a darker tone to me.  Maybe a bit richer and more complex in sound but as I listened back to the clips I thought the Rigotti reed had more higher partials in the tone which you could consider as “richer” also.  I guess it depends on what your definition of these terms are and whether you prefer a brighter tone or darker and warmer tone.

The altissimo was excellent with both reeds and the intonation was very good as well.  The articulation was clean and precise.

The Morgan Excalibur Indiana mouthpiece is advertised as having thinner interior walls which is part of what makes it a smaller diameter mouthpiece.  I’m not sure if I heard this from Ralph years ago or just someone on the internet but I have heard that these thinner walls increase the resonance, brightness and response of the mouthpiece.   I did feel like I could feel more of a connection between this mouthpiece as far as vibration and sound in my head than I do with many other hard rubber mouthpieces.  Maybe that is due to the thinner beak and walls and the type of hard rubber used?   Not sure of the cause but that is how I felt playing it.

Morgan Excalibur Indiana Model Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

On the clip below,  I tried to show a variety of different sounds that the mouthpiece could get when I was playing it.  As is my habit lately, I have added an additional clip with reverb as well.  I feel this is important because sometimes listener’s get fooled by a “dry” recording of a sax mouthpiece.  They think it is too bright, or thin or maybe even dead sounding but that is only because it is recorded in a “dry” recording environment which is what you are supposed to do for the best recording.  Trust me, a mouthpiece that is a little bright in a dry setting can be unbelievable in a big room with a natural reverb or through a mic with a little bit of added reverb. Honestly, as a gigging musician my choice of mouthpieces have always been the ones who have that brightness and punch that comes alive when on a gig.   That’s my preference anyways………

Morgan Excalibur Indiana Model Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

I want to thank David and Teresa Hoskins at Morgan mouthpiece for sending me this Morgan Excalibur Indiana tenor saxophone mouthpiece to try out and review. Thank you for continuing Ralph Morgan’s business and continuing his legacy so that the next generation of sax players will know his name and something about his passion and artistry that he passed on to Erik, John and Brian as they continue to do work that Ralph would be proud of.

If you are curious about Morgan mouthpieces, check out the Morgan mouthpiece website for more information on them.   If you try one, be sure to come back here and tell us what you think in the comments below.    Steve

Morgan Excalibur Indiana Model Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Rigotti Gold 3 Light Reed

Same Clip with Added Reverb-Morgan Excalibur Indiana Model Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Rigotti Gold 3 Light Reed

Morgan Excalibur Indiana Model Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-BSS (Boston Sax Shop) 2 1/2 Reed

Same Clip with Added Reverb-Morgan Excalibur Indiana Model Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-BSS (Boston Sax Shop) 2 1/2 Reed

Disclosure:  I received the sample mouthpiece reviewed above for free in the hope that I would try it and perhaps review it on my blog. Regardless, I only review sax 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 Tom Meggison says

    Steve, The BSS reeds sound better on that piece.

  2. Thanks for sharing your opinion Tom. I agree. I found the Rigotti’s gave this mouthpiece more brightness and edge and the BSS were warmer and darker. I don’t mind the brightness of the Rigotti’s at all but I’m not a fan of the edge when it is unexpected and unwanted. Edge is cool when you put it there on purpose but when it is there unexpectedly, I don’t like that.

  3. Sounds great Steve, I like the audio clip using the BSS 2.5 reeds the best, a great consistent tone/intonation, typical of Morgan mouthpieces. It’s on the bright side but I personally like that clarity and projection which is a familiar characteristics of the Excalibur models, I have both an alto and tenor, a strident, centred but musical tone, great for jazz & funk. The Indiana model adds a subtle variation, thanks a lot for your fabulous playing and informative review.

  4. Hi Steve, do you find that Morgan mouthpieces (and this Excalibur in particular) are more difficult to control intonation due to the longer facings?

    That was my experience on an Excalibur I played nearly a decade ago. I loved the sound and projection but always struggled to control pitch — became much easier when I switched to a metal Link. But this review has me curious again. Thanks

  5. Jeff,
    I didn’t notice any issues at all with intonation. I played this piece all week with students and with recordings and had no issues. I do find with longer facing mouthpiece that I do like to take more mouthpiece in my mouth. I don’t know the facing length on the Morgan Excalibur Indiana but I did prefer to take a little bit more mouthpiece than I usually do. I think if you play a longer facing and don’t do that then there is more chance that you might bite the reed and affect intonation more. That’s my thoughts on it. Steve

  6. Steve, I really appreciate your reviews and your site! I’ve been playing the Indiana for a couple of months and love it. I was able to try several Morgans at Dave and Tersesa’s shop (the day they mailed yours to you, coincidentally) and they all were great. All were very reed friendly and consistent., and mine is really easy to play in tune. I picked the Indiana because it has a little more edge than the Florida, and as I’ve “gotten to know it”, more and more tonal colors are becoming apparent in various playing situations from ballads to bop to R&B.

  7. Avatar WILLIAM Zhu says

    Hey, Steve, I wanted to ask on your opinions of the Theo Wanne NY Bros 2, Theo Wanne Alto Gaia, and the Phil tone Rift. I want to get a full, rich sound, but have it still on the darker side of the spectrum. Do you have any insight on which mouthpiece would suit this best? Along with that, which would be the most versatile mouthpiece? I love the reviews!

  8. William, I don’t consider the Phil-tone Rift to be a darker mouthpiece so that would rule that one out. The one I have is more on the bright side of things. Between the TW Gaia and the TW NY Bros 2 I can’t really comment because I haven’t played the NY Bros 2 yet. The first NY Bros was more pure of tone and brighter than the Gaia I had for years. I think the Gaia would fit what you are looking for just because I found it to be slightly darker and have a rich character to the tone that I really loved. The original NY Bros (haven’t played the NY Bros 2) is brighter and the Rift is a lot brighter. Good Luck! Steve

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