Macsax Soco Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece Review

Today, I am reviewing a Macsax Soco 8 tenor saxophone mouthpiece (formerly the FJ III model, I reviewed an original FJ III 8 years ago!).  I was contacted by Jeff Gjertsen at Macsax earlier this year and asked if I would be willing to review the brand new line of Macsax tenor saxophone mouthpieces.  Of course, I was excited to try these beautiful mouthpieces out!  Jeff was nice enough to send me this gold Soco model 8 tenor sax mouthpiece as well as a silver Queso model 8* tenor saxophone mouthpiece to try out as well.


Macsax Soco Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

First of all, the Macsax Soco tenor saxophone mouthpiece is beautiful to look at.  Before I even received the mouthpieces in the mail, Jeff at Macsax sent me some photos of their new line of mouthpieces that just looked stunning.  When I finally received the package and unwrapped the mouthpieces, I was just as impressed.  These are beautifully crafted works of art.

The Macsax Soco tenor sax mouthpiece feels heavy in your hand as you hold it as it is made from a solid rod of brass.  The gold plating looks thick and perfect with not a flaw or blemish anywhere in sight.  The mouthpiece comes with a stylish red marble bite plate that looks fantastic as well.  On the top of the mouthpiece is engraved MACSAX in all capital letters and on the top side of the shank is engraved SOCO ATX (I assume ATX stands for Austin, Texas as that is where Macsax is based out of). On the underside of the shank is the tip opening of 8 and USA.

Macsax Soco Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

Here is the description of the Macsax Soco tenor saxophone mouthpiece from the Macsax website:

The MACSAX SOCO (formerly FJ III) was created to be a versatile mouthpiece for a traditional jazz tenor player. The sound of this piece is reminiscent to that of an old Link but with a fuller upper register without added brightness. This piece was designed to be very versatile; it is suited for playing soft standards in quiet settings but can also be right at home in a loud rock band. It has a fat, luscious core sound at all dynamic levels.

Each MACSAX SOCO is made from a solid rod of brass with a red marbled hard rubber bite plate which is CNC milled for a very consistent and high quality mouthpiece.

Macsax Soco Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The tip, rails, table and baffle of the Soco tenor mouthpiece all look perfectly crafted.  The window of the mouthpiece looks extra long and wide in comparison to my other tenor sax mouthpieces which I believe is a feature to let more of the reed vibrate and resonate while playing.  The side rails and tip rail look thin, even and precise.  The tip rail is close to the shape of my Rigotti Gold reeds although the outside curve of the tip rail looks to bend towards the side rail a little bit sooner than the shape of the Rigotti reeds but it is really close in shape.

The baffle seems to be a straight line from the tip rail down to the edge of the chamber.  I don’t see any rollover in the baffle shape at all as I examine the baffle. (I am not sure whether to categorize this as a medium baffle or low baffle?  The straight line with no rollover makes me think of a low baffle but it is still at a medium height when it gets to the chamber so I put it in the medium baffle category)

The sidewalls are straight as they head back to the chamber as well. The chamber looks to be extra large in size to my eye.  The bore of the mouthpiece comes right up to where the baffle ends and the extra long and wide window gives the impression of an extra large chamber area to me.

Macsax Soco Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Macsax Soco tenor sax mouthpiece is slightly thicker in diameter than a typical metal Otto Link tenor sax mouthpiece. Ligatures than fit an Otto Link metal mouthpiece will fit on the Macsax metal mouthpieces as well if you open the ligature up a bit.  For example, my fabric Rovner ligature for metal tenor mouthpieces worked great on the Soco as did my Selmer 404 silver metal ligature if I opened it up a bit more. (Although, my Francois Louis Ultimate ligature for metal Otto Links would not fit on the Soco as it was too tight)

The bore of the Macsax Soco tenor sax mouthpiece was similar to the bore of a typical metal Otto Link mouthpiece as well and fit on my slightly worn down neck cork nicely.

Macsax Soco Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Macsax Soco tenor saxophone mouthpiece is one of the more freeblowing saxophone mouthpieces I have reviewed.  On a typical 8 tip opening (.110), I usually use a Rigotti Gold 2 1/2 strong reed or sometimes a 3 light reed. On the Soco tenor mouthpiece, the 3 light reed felt way too soft because the mouthpiece is more free blowing so I had to move up to the 3 medium strength reed which I really liked on the Soco mouthpiece.

The Soco tenor mouthpiece comes with a Rovner Versa ligature but I didn’t really like the affect this ligature had. It actually made the mouthpiece even more free blowing as the reed vibrated even more freely and I had to move up to an even harder reed of 3 strong.  I seemed to prefer the resistance that the regular fabric Rovner gave me to the more free blowing Rovner Versa ligature but you might feel differently about it when you try one out.

Macsax Soco Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Macsax Soco tenor saxophone mouthpiece played great for me with the Rigotti Gold 3 medium reed and the Rovner fabric ligature.  The tone seemed to lean to the darker side of a tenor tone to me as it doesn’t have a lot of brightness and edge in the tone. The tone is thick, full and round while having a strong core to it.  At the same time, the tone seemed fat and more spread to me at softer volumes which I found interesting. The more air I pushed through the Soco tenor sax mouthpiece the more focused the tone seemed to get.

Macsax Soco Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The tone was even and smooth throughout the range of the horn.  The intonation was actually really good.  Better than usual actually.  I think the extra large chamber is a good fit on my Selmer SBA (Super Balanced Action) tenor sax as many of the notes that tend to be sharp were right on the 0 of the tuner when I checked them which is pretty rare without me having to adjust to get them there.

The low notes sound thick, fat and lush to me and it was easy to play the notes in the lower range of the horn and to subtone.  The altissimo register was also very clear and easy to produce.

I found the Macsax Soco tenor mouthpiece unique in that the louder volumes didn’t typically get more spread and blatty in tone like many mouthpieces do when pushed into overdrive.  The Soco mouthpiece seemed to keep it’s round core and centered focus to the notes even at the higher volume and never got out of control.

Just to clarify, when I write that a sax mouthpiece is free blowing, what I mean is that in comparison to other mouthpieces with more resistance the Soco mouthpiece gets to the top volume a lot easier and faster with less air.  My impression is that if I blow the amount of air that gives me a 5 on the volume scale of a mouthpiece with resistance, that same amount of air might give me a 7 or 8 in volume on the Soco tenor sax mouthpiece. This is neither good nor bad in my mind but just feels different if you are use to blowing with more resistance and is just something you get used to as you play the mouthpiece.

Macsax Soco Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

In my opinion, the Macsax Soco tenor saxophone mouthpiece is a great mouthpiece for those of you looking for a sax mouthpiece with a fat thick tone that also has a nice focus to it.   I think Jeff Gjertsen at  Macsax mouthpieces has done a great job with the Soco tenor saxophone mouthpiece.  It looks fabulous and plays great!

Macsax has recently revamped their website at Macsax, so make sure you check it out if you are interested in the Macsax Soco tenor saxophone mouthpiece.  Macsax also has a Queso model tenor saxophone mouthpiece that has a slightly higher baffle than the Soco model being reviewed today.  I will be reviewing the Queso model tenor mouthpiece also very soon.

If you try a Macsax Soco tenor saxophone mouthpiece or have any thought or comments on this review,  I would love to hear what you think in the comments below. Thanks,   Steve

Macsax Soco Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Rigotti Gold 3 Medium Reed-No Effects

Macsax Soco Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Rigotti Gold 3 Medium Reed-Reverb Added

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 Peter Nguyen says

    The extra long and wide window IMO has the effect of increasing the chamber size, which may enhance the low notes. The same for JodyJazz DV. The part of the reed that faces the window is very hard and I doubt it will vibrate at all.

  2. Peter, You are probably right but I wonder if it frees up the reed further up towards the tip as the part of the reed over the more open window isn’t clamped down onto the table like on other mouthpieces…… It definitely feels more free blowing that is for sure…… Steve

  3. Also, I have played a bunch of mouthpieces with extra large chambers and that larger chamber does not relate to more free blowing necessarily. I think this has more to do with the reed being freed up than the size of the chamber. Steve

  4. Boy, that sure looks like it should sound like a Warburton LA, which is a bit of a design predecessor to the FJ-III. It sounds more focused and less throaty though to my ear.

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