RPC Gold Series 110B Ultem Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece Review

Today, I am reviewing an RPC Gold Series 110B Ultem tenor saxophone mouthpiece made by Ron Coelho, at RPC mouthpieces.   I reviewed an older red letter RPC 110B tenor sax mouthpiece about a year ago and after the review Ron Coelho contacted me through email and asked if we could talk on the phone. (Ron’s an old school guy that still likes to talk to people on the phone. Can you believe it?)  We talked for a little over an hour about all sorts of subjects related to the saxophone and life that I won’t go into but at one point in the conversation Ron told me that I had to try one of his mouthpieces made out of Ultem.  Ron said he had been using this material for about 5 years (I believe he was the first to use this material for a sax mouthpiece) and that he was very impressed with it as were his customers who were ordering Ultem mouthpieces.

According to Ron, Ultem is incredibly hard and durable (I believe his exact words were that you could drop it on the floor and it wouldn’t break although I’m not going to test that out……) Ron believes the Ultem material has a warmer sound than hard rubber does while still being incredibly resonant.    I was very curious about this Ultem material and Ron was nice enough to volunteer to make me an RPC 110B Ultem tenor saxophone mouthpiece to try and perhaps review here on the site.

RPC Gold Series 110B Ultem Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

Here are some words from the RPC website on Ron’s process of making these RPC Ultem saxophone mouthpieces:

Each sax mouthpiece is machined from round stock , Ultem , and Hard rubber also from hard rubber raw castings, it is then left on a rack to season or equalize, for at least a week so the material will relax and come to equilibrium after being machined. Then it is sculpted with hand tools to the correct shape inside and out. Now the real work of turning it into something truly musical begins.

  • Reeds are carefully chosen to begin the playing and fine tuning.
  • Rico Jazz Select, 2 medium, 2 hard, or 3 soft, filed.
  • Each saxophone mouthpiece is played and fine tuned for the following characteristics. 
  • RESISTANCE POINT: Hugely important, there is good resistance and bad resistance. Good resistance gives something to push against and becomes familiar to the embouchure, this leads to good intonation and evenness of scale, without struggling to adjust different ranges of the horn. Bad resistance makes the horn stuffy and tires the embouchure….Not good. 
  • Also essential to a great mouthpiece, the ratio of overtones to fundamental is blended, by making very subtle adjustments to the facing curve. 
  • Together with an easy flowing resistance the mouthpiece now has a rich palette of tone colors.
  • These designs have been fine tuned with feedback from professional saxophone players all over the world and have evolved over 10 years of mouthpiece making. 
  • Each sax mouthpiece is played and fine tuned evaluating the musicality of the mouthpiece. 
  • FINALLY when the sax mouthpiece becomes just pure fun to play it is ready. 

RPC Gold Series 110B Ultem Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Ultem RPC 110B tenor saxophone mouthpiece looks great!  As you can see in the photos, it is a clear orange color that looks amazing.  In these photos, the sunlight makes the RPC Ultem mouthpiece seem like it is glowing as the sunlight streams through it.  (I also love the affect of having the orange fall leaves in the background behind the mouthpiece in these photos……)  The color of the mouthpieces also looks great along side the dark honey gold lacquer of a saxophone.

The table looks flat and  feels smooth to the touch. The rails look well crafted and even.  The tip rail looks well proportioned and even also. The RPC Ultem 110B mouthpiece has what I would consider a high baffle with a “Berg” like bullet chamber.  It is called a bullet chamber when there is a carved out shape to the baffle where it meets the chamber that looks like a bullet.  In general, a bullet chamber baffle is not as bright and edgy as a high baffle with a straight edge in my experience.  I would say the RPC 110B mouthpiece has a medium small sized chamber when I compare how the chamber looks to the size of some of my Otto Links that have large chambers.  The side rails are flat until they come in contact with the the scooped out chamber at which point the side rails scoop out into the chamber as well.

The outside body of the mouthpiece is thinner than a typical hard rubber tenor sax mouthpiece but a little bit fatter than an alto sax mouthpiece. A typical alto saxophone ligature for a hard rubber alto sax mouthpiece fits perfectly on the RPC Ultem 110B tenor saxophone mouthpiece. The beak profile is very comfortable for me and is thinner in thickness than a typical hard rubber Otto Link tenor mouthpiece beak would be.  The thickness of the beak feels closer in thickness to a typical metal tenor mouthpiece beak thickness in my opinion.

RPC Gold Series 110B Ultem Medium Baffle Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Gold Series RPC Ultem 110B tenor mouthpiece came with a generic silver metal alto ligature that fits the mouthpiece nicely.  It also came with a black mouthpiece cap that fits perfectly over the ligature when it is on the mouthpiece and holding a reed.  I’m not really picky when it comes to ligatures but since the RPC 110B is slimmer than a typical hard rubber tenor sax mouthpiece it is nice that it comes with a ligature that fits well.

The RPC 110B mouthpiece played great with the Rigotti Gold 2 1/2 light, medium and strong reeds that I tried on it.  All three sizes worked so well that I had trouble deciding which reed to use on the clips below.  I ended up going with the 2 1/2 light for the first clip but I will say that the RPC Ultem 110B mouthpiece is very reed friendly. I think I tried maybe 10 different reeds on this mouthpiece over the course of a couple weeks and every reed played great on this mouthpiece.

After I had recorded the first clip with the Rigotti 2 1/2 Light reed, I was curious what a darker reed would sound like on this mouthpiece and I decided to try a BSS (Boston Sax Shop) 2 1/2 reed also.  These are new reeds that I have been playing over the last few months and I really like the warmer darker tone these reeds give me on many mouthpieces.   The BSS reeds worked well on the RPC 110B tenor sax mouthpiece also and I decided to record a clip using one of them also.

RPC Gold Series 110B Ultem Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

I have to admit that this RPC Ultem 110B tenor sax mouthpiece really surprised me. I thought it would be a lot brighter when looking at the baffle and chamber before I played it.  The baffle gives it some nice power when pushed but the tone isn’t overly bright and edgy like I thought it would be.  I found the tone to have a great balance and EQ.  I know that in my review of the hard rubber RPC 110B, I felt that that mouthpiece gave more of a boost to the mids in the EQ of the tone but with this Ultem 110B I didn’t get that same impression.  The highs, lows and mids seemed more equally balanced to my ear.

The RPC Ultem 110B tenor sax mouthpiece had a perfect resistance to blow against.  After I received it, Ron asked me if it was too resistant but I honestly think it is perfect as far as resistance goes.  In my mind, the resistance helps you to play a softer reed and have more to push against while playing which helps a player to shape and mold the tone in my opinion.

RPC Gold Series 110B Ultem Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The tone was nice and even throughout the range of the sax but that high baffle really gives this mouthpiece some overdrive power when you really push it to the max.  The intonation was excellent  which actually surprised me as high baffle tenor mouthpieces usually make the middle E and surrounding notes on my Selmer SBA much sharper but all those notes were right in tune when checking them with the tuner.

The altissimo and overtones were extremely easy on the RPC Ultem 110B mouthpiece and for whatever reason this mouthpiece had probably the easiest high G I have ever played.  I usually have to work pretty hard for that note but on this mouthpiece the G just popped out easily. I honestly hate to describe a mouthpiece with words such as “the altissimo was easy” but in this case it just seemed much easier to get around up there.  I found myself playing and experimenting with a lot of lines and ideas that I usually don’t “go for” in the altissimo range because the RPC Ultem 110B played and responded so well that it made me more confident in that range of the horn.

RPC Gold Series 110B Ultem Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

On the two clips below,  I tried to show a variety of different styles that this mouthpiece can achieve.  As is my habit lately, I have added an additional clip with reverb as well.  I feel this is important because sometimes listeners get fooled by a “dry” recording of a sax mouthpiece.  They think it is too bright, or thin 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 which have that brightness and punch that comes alive when played through a sound system on a gig.   That’s my preference anyways….

I will say that this RPC Ultem 110B is in the lineup for being one of my favorite “garage” mouthpieces.  What I mean by that is that certain sax mouthpieces just sound “killer” in my garage while practicing.  The RPC Ultem 110B has enough brightness and focus to the tone so that the tone doesn’t get too vague and opaque as it bounced around the garage.  The nice core to the sound helps the tone to bounce back to my ears in one solid tone even though the natural reverb is bouncing the sound all over the garage. I think this mouthpiece would sound great in a big hall or auditorium as well.

RPC Gold Series 110B Ultem Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

Like I wrote in my review of the hard rubber RPC 110B tenor mouthpiece,  I feel like Ron Coelho is the master magician of baffled mouthpieces.  I don’t know how he takes a tenor sax mouthpiece with such a high baffle and smaller chamber and gets it to play with a darker warmer sound.  Even now, as I am typing this, I’m looking down at this mouthpiece on my desk and everything in me is saying that this mouthpiece should be a super bright, obnoxious,  “paint peeler” of a tenor sax mouthpiece. Of course with Ron’s magic craftsmanship, it is not that at all.  I don’t know how he does it!

I found the RPC Ultem 110B tenor sax mouthpiece to be very versatile.  I could lay back on the air and get a pretty convincing fat, round jazz tone out of it or if I pushed the air harder I could get a tone and volume that would crank for rock & roll, funk or other modern music. The brightness or darkness of the tone could also be adjusted by air speed and embouchure changes quite easily.

The other tonal aspect of this mouthpiece that I loved is that it seems to be a combination of focus with fatness.  I have always loved the mix of those two qualities. If a mouthpiece is too spread sounding,  I feel like I can’t hear the core and center of the sound.  If it is too focused, I feel like the sound isn’t big and fat enough. This mouthpiece had a nice balance between those two aspects of saxophone tone.

I did notice a big difference between the Rigotti reeds and the BSS reeds on the RPC Ultem 110B tenor mouthpiece. The Rigotti reeds were brighter, buzzier and at times edgier in tone especially up high.  I also felt like the high notes had a bit more sizzle and spread to them in comparison to the high notes with the BSS reeds which seemed thicker, rounder, more compact and less edgy to me.  The BSS reeds seemed to play the high notes with a more round and full beauty I think.  The Rigotti reeds were a bit more edgy and in your face bright in my opinion.  In general, the tone of the BSS reed was darker, warmer and seemed more compact and focused to me.

RPC Gold Series 110B Ultem Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

My final thoughts on this Gold Series RPC Ultem 110B tenor saxophone mouthpiece is that it would make a terrific gigging mouthpiece for sax players that have to cover a lot of styles, sounds and volumes during a four hour gig.  This sax mouthpiece has the power and brightness to cut through on a loud dance set but it also has a warmer fatter tone that can be used on standards during a dinner set or cocktail hour.  If you are a gigging sax payer and looking for a new mouthpiece, this would be a great mouthpiece to consider.

If you are curious about the Gold Series RPC Ultem tenor saxophone mouthpiece, check out the RPC website for more information on them. Ron is running a 10% sale right now on all his already reasonably priced saxophone mouthpieces so if you order soon you can save even more on one of these great mouthpieces.

Ron is a great guy to talk to if you have any questions and his phone number and email are on the site.  I suggest calling him and talking to him about what you are looking for in a mouthpiece so he can fine tune a great sax mouthpiece just for your playing needs. I know in this day and age everyone is used to emailing, texting and tweeting but do yourself a favor and give Ron a call.  He would love to talk to you!

If you try an RPC Ultem 110B tenor saxophone mouthpiece or have any other saxophone related thoughts or comments, be sure to tell us what you think in the comments below.   Steve

RPC Gold Series 110B Ultem Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Rigotti Gold 2 1/2 Light Reed-Dry Recording-No Effects

RPC Gold Series 110B Ultem Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Rigotti Gold 2 1/2 Light Reed-Slight Reverb Added

RPC Gold Series 110B Ultem Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-BSS 2 1/2 Reed-Dry Recording-No Effects

RPC Gold Series 110B Ultem Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-BSS 2 1/2 Reed-Slight Reverb Added

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
Share : Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on GooglePlusShare on LinkedinShare on Pinterest
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 Geoff Nudell says

    Hi Steve, first, thank you for a great review that’s absolutely spot on! I have known Ron for many years and am a devoted RPC customer. I remember when Ron was experimenting with other materials (besides hard rubber) and he sent me three mouthpieces, each with the same facing but made of different materials. The Ultem was the only one of the three that had a resonance and versatile sound quality, even though all the mouthpieces played well. Since then I have been playing the black Ultem with a 115 tip opening. It plays just like the one you have, and continues to be my gigging mouthpiece for casuals and pop music. As you mentioned, it’s perfect for someone who needs a versatile mouthpiece to play a lot of dynamic ranges and musical styles.

  2. I have tenor and bari pieces from Ron. They’re great. Ron made my bari piece longer, at my request, to help me get over intonation problems on my 12M.

  3. I have an 110 B that I’ve used for years. Its good for dark and if you need guts its got itl K

  4. Ron lists them as being medium high and high baffle, do you know which this is? I’ve been playing one of Ron’s pieces for years that looks just like this and love it more than any other and I want another, just in case.

  5. Jim, This is the medium high baffle. I describe it as a high baffle because that is how I think of it but Ron describes it as medium high. Steve

  6. Hi Steve,
    How does this compareto the SYOS Chad LB mpc in terms of brightness, fatness, ease in the low and high range?
    Overall I think I preferred the tone of the LB because it seemed to have better easy-to-play bottom end but both sound great.
    Which one do you think is more versatile/flexible considering going from pop, rock and blues to standards?
    Any input is much appreciated.
    Brian

  7. Avatar Mark Rybiski says

    Steve, Your playing is mind blowing, incredible. I’ve only listened to the first clip before making this post. It sounds like Ron has made a mouthpiece that covers most bases for playing a variety of musical situations. Great warm fat sound, that edge without too much buzz when pushed…but still giving that spice and you really seemed very comfortable with the piece. Think I may need to give Ron a ring.

  8. Hi Steve what differences have you heard and feeled in playing in comparison to the Bill Evens signature mouthpiece?

    Is the RPC more versitale?

  9. Avatar Michael Schuette says

    I completely second Steve’s impressions including the Rigotti and BSS reeds. By far my favorite MPC especially on my Buescher 156 Aristocrat. The tone signature is unique and I have let other players try my MPC and can pin-point the mouthpiece even in a Big Band arrangement, All my other mouthpieces are on vacation now.

  10. Avatar gussierivera says

    One of my favorite all time mps is my RPC 120 medium baffle. Had it for years and although I have put it away to try other new comers I always felt the RPC does it all and gives me the tone I am proud of on recordings.

    From your pics Steve I assumed this was a high baffle because my medium baffle has more of a slope baffle with no bullet chamber? Wondering now if Ron makes them with both options for the medium baffle and curious to find out the difference?

  11. On the RPC website I see a high baffle, medium high baffle and a rollover baffle model. Ron told me this is the medium high baffle. It sounds like youhave a rollover baffle perhaps? Steve

  12. Tobias, It has been years since I tried the Bill Evans mouthpiece. I’m afraid you will have to compare the reviews and see what differences you can hear in the sound clips. My gut feeling is that the RPC 110B is more versatile if you need to play jazz also. I think it has a warmer fatter sound for that type of music. I also think the Bill Evans mouthpiece leans more towards a focused Brecker kind of sound and the RPC leans towards a fatter more Gene Ammons kind of sound I think although it can do the Brecker thing also I think. Steve

  13. Brian, I think this RPC Ultem 110B and the SYOS Chad LB are in a similar ballpark as far as sound and versatility. You would have to listen to the soundclips to figure out which you prefer the sound of more. Something about the RPC 110B makes me feel that it has a rounder smoother tone than the SYOS Chad LB although I really loved that mouthpiece as well. Steve

  14. Avatar gussierivera says

    “On the RPC website I see a high baffle, medium high baffle and a rollover baffle model. Ron told me this is the medium high baffle. It sounds like youhave a rollover baffle perhaps? Steve”

    It was definitely a medium baffle and what Ron recommended at the time when he first started making the medium baffles. I had all three at one time and sold the rollover and high baffle because loved the balance of the medium baffle. Edge but not too bright like the high baffle.

  15. Avatar Jeffrey "Danger" Wilson says

    A friend let me try this mouthpiece for two months (I play 3-4 times a week). HOLY COW this mouthpiece was amazing.

    Rico jazz select medium was the perfect reed with the perfect mouthpiece. I’ve been on a metal mouthpiece for the past 4 years and thought I’d never go back. “The tone just isn’t the same” I thought. It’s not the same – I could never get the tone I wanted on the low end with the fancy metal guy, but this rpc – wowza for every note on the horn.

    Kudos RPC – you’ll be getting some of my money soon 🙂

Speak Your Mind

*

Visit us on FacebookVisit us on TwitterVisit us on YouTubeVisit us on Linkedin