Saxscape Downtown MB1 Slim Profile Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece Review

Today, I am reviewing a Saxscape Downtown MB1 8* (.115) slim profile tenor saxophone mouthpiece that Ken Barry at Saxscape mouthpieces recently sent me to try out and perhaps review.  Earlier this year, I reviewed a Saxscape Live model tenor sax mouthpiece as well as a Saxscape Fat Cat model tenor saxophone mouthpiece that I thought were superb and when Ken asked if I would like to review some of his other tenor sax mouthpiece models I immediately jumped at the chance.

The Saxscape Downtown MB1 tenor saxophone mouthpiece model is on the Saxscape website and is described as:

The Downtown MB1 is modeled after the famous Dave Guardala model that Michael Brecker played on most of his career, and is great for jazz fusion, smooth jazz, rock, and wherever a bright, quality sound is needed. High baffle and big chamber.


Saxscape Downtown MB1 Slim Profile Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Saxscape Downtown MB1 tenor saxophone mouthpiece is made of Delrin which is a polyoxymethylene thermoplastic.   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.

The Saxscape Downtown MB1 tenor mouthpiece is a .115 tip opening which is an 8* tip opening. (I believe Michael Brecker’s main mouthpiece was also around this .115 tip opening).  It has a slim profile hard rubber tenor sax mouthpiece diameter and shape to it.  Ken produces some tenor sax mouthpieces that have what is called a “slim profile” and other mouthpiece models with a more “traditional profile”. The diameter of the the Downtown MB1 mouthpiece is very close to the diameter of an average metal Otto Link tenor sax mouthpiece and I used a  Selmer 404 silver metal ligature on it that I also use on metal  tenor saxophone mouthpieces like Otto Links.

Saxscape Downtown MB1 Slim Profile Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Saxscape Downtown MB1 tenor saxophone mouthpiece looks great to the eye.  Much of the mouthpiece seems to have some kind of machined pattern in the Delrin which gives it a modern look.  The tip, rails and table look relatively even and well crafted.  The shape of the tip matches the shape of the saxophone reeds pretty closely.

The baffle of the Saxscape Downtown MB1 is what I call a shelf baffle and looks similar to some baffles in Guardala tenor mouthpieces I have owned in the past like a Guardala Studio model tenor mouthpiece and a Guardala MB1 model tenor sax mouthpiece.  The baffle is high and angles downward until it changes direction at an edge. It then angles down into the chamber at a more acute angle.

The baffle ends at a medium-large sized chamber.  The side walls are straight and go all the way until the chamber starts.

Saxscape Downtown MB1 Slim Profile Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Delrin has a smooth and light feel to the touch.  I didn’t want to take the chance that my teeth might mark up the beak so I put a Forestone mouthpiece patch on it and it has been on the mouthpiece ever since without moving. The beak profile is also similar to a typical metal Otto Link mouthpiece and feels comfortable to me even with the patch on it.

I know that some people have contacted me worrying that the machine marks would stop the mouthpiece from getting a good seal with reeds but this is not the case with any of the four Saxscape Delrin saxophone mouthpieces I have played.  Each mouthpiece has been very reed friendly and all the reeds have sealed well when performing the suction test.  My experience with Saxscape mouthpieces is that Ken Barry is a mouthpiece craftsman that knows what he is doing in this regard.  He is also a great sax player that knows how a great sax mouthpiece should play and sound.

Saxscape Downtown MB1 Slim Profile Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The part I dread about trying saxophone mouthpieces and reviewing them is always finding the best reeds for each mouthpiece.  For this mouthpiece, this task was really easy.  I ended up recording sound clips with a  Rigotti Gold 2 1/2 light reed.  I thought the 2 1/2 light reed was perfect for the .115 tip opening and played easily with a nice crisp brightness to it.

I also tried a Rigotti Gold 2 1/2 medium and strong reed as well.  They also played well with just a little bit more resistance.  I felt like these slightly harder reeds darkened the sound just a tad and would be better suited if I was trying a to play a jazz set on the Downtown MB1 tenor sax mouthpiece.

Saxscape Downtown MB1 Slim Profile Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Saxscape Downtown MB1 tenor saxophone mouthpiece has a focused tenor sax tone that is on the bright side of a saxophone tone. I didn’t feel like it was as bright and edgy as a Guardala Studio and Michael Brecker 1 model that I used to own but it certainly has a ton of power when pushed and is in that brighter category of tenor sax mouthpieces in my opinion.

The intonation was as would be expected with a  high baffle mouthpiece on my Selmer Super Balanced Action tenor saxophone. This means that most of the notes were very close to being in tune but the middle register around D, D#, E and F were slightly sharper than normal.  This is as expected for me and I encounter this with all high baffle tenor mouthpieces with medium sized chambers.  The slight sharpness is very minor and can be controlled easily by voicing those notes a little lower while playing.

Saxscape Downtown MB1 Slim Profile Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The altissimo register on the Downtown MB1 really screamed as you would expect with that high baffle.   It was really easy to play up in the higher register and really easy to kick the notes into overdrive for a tough sound or lay back a little bit and treat those notes with a little bit more finesse.

Like I wrote earlier, the Saxscape Downtown MB1 has a ton of power when pushed.  It is one of those mouthpieces you want to be careful playing loud into a wall as I think the volume bouncing back to your ears could hurt your ears over time when played at full volume.

Saxscape Downtown MB1 Slim Profile 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 Saxscape Downtown MB1 tenor saxophone mouthpiece perform in different styles.  I perform my usual favorites so you can compare these clips with other clips on the site.

As has been my habit lately, I have added some slight reverb and EQ to the clip for those of you who like to check out the recordings with some effects 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 a natural reverb.  It also might give you an idea of how this mouthpiece might sound in a recording studio with some effects added.

Saxscape Downtown MB1 Slim Profile Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Saxscape Downtown MB1 tenor saxophone mouthpiece is a killer mouthpiece for those funky “Brecker” lines in my opinion.  I start off the sound clip with some lines in that style and the bright tone of the mouthpiece just sounds great on those types of lines.

Later on in the clip, I lay back a little bit and play my usual “Moose the Mooche”,  “Donna Lee” and a little bit of “Pure Imagination”.  I think the bright tone settles down when you lay back and it is easy to get a nice middle of the road tone for jazz stuff in my opinion.   I was actually surprised how nice it sounded on “Pure Imagination” and I was playing at a pretty full volume.  The tone is fat, full and thick in my opinion.

The low notes aren’t as warm and lush as they might be on a darker mouthpiece but with a little bit of subtone they fatten up nicely.

I have to admit that I do love the clip with reverb and some EQ on it.  It just makes the recording sound like I am playing in a huge hall or the studio.    I usually don’t like adding EQ to the sound clips just because I don’t like to manipulate the original sound clip too much when the readers of these reviews are judging the sound and playability of the reviewed mouthpieces. However, this EQ with reverb just sounded so great and is just a boost of the bass, midrange and treble that gives the clip a little more presence I think.  I didn’t think it would hurt though as you can still listen to the dry recording to see what the mouthpiece sounds like without any of these effects.

Saxscape Downtown MB1 Slim Profile Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

In my opinion, the Saxscape Downtown MB1 is a great tenor saxophone mouthpiece for those of you looking for a sax mouthpiece with a focused brighter tone similar to a “Brecker” type of tenor saxophone tone.  If you need volume to cut through in a “live” band situation and love that brighter “Brecker” type of tenor saxophone tone, then the Saxscape Downtown MB1 tenor sax mouthpiece is a great choice!  I think Ken Barry at  Saxscape mouthpieces has done a great job with the Downtown MB1 tenor saxophone mouthpiece.

Ken has recently revamped his website at Saxscape so make sure you check it out if you are interested in the Downtown MB1 tenor saxophone mouthpiece.  He also has many other models of saxophone mouthpieces on his site that you can check out as well that I hope I can also review in the future.  Besides his website, 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 Downtown MB1 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

Saxscape Downtown MB1 Slim Profile Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Rigotti Gold 2 1/2 Light Reed-Dry Recording With No Effects Added

Same Clip as above with some Reverb and a little EQ 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
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. Happy New Year Steve,
    It’s always interesting to me how one responds to different sound qualities. Nice playing.

    Ted

  2. Thanks Ted! Happy New Year to you also! Steve

  3. Avatar Dave Fairall says

    Thanks Steve
    This one is intriguing because it really does sound “breckerish” despite being HR. I play an original Guardala Fat Boy (.110 tip – by Matt Marantz’s measurement) and have searched for an adequate backup for literally years. Settled on a Drake Studio, but honestly have never played it on a gig – the Guardala Fat Boy is just too perfect. I love your reviews and you play so great – and curious how you think this piece stacks up against the original Guardala. Granted the Fat Boy model is a wider design but I used to play a pre-silverite Dukoff and kinda miss the slimmer design.
    Would love to know what you think. Thanks

  4. Dave, These mouthpieces are definitely in the same tone ballpark as the original Guardalas in my opinion. I don’t think this one is as bright and edgy as the Guardalas I have owned. I also had an original Studio model that could be a bit chirpy on me. I always assumed that was from the super thin rails on the Guardalas and reeds not playing well with those thin rails. The Saxscape MB1 doesn’t have that issue at all for me. Steve

  5. Avatar John Blevins says

    Steve, of the Saxscape MB1, the Florida Slim and the Live Slim tenor mouthpieces you posted, which did you prefer? They all sounded great! I am drawn toward the MB1 because of the brighter edge but all three seem pushable to a huge sound. Thanks!

  6. Hi John, I’m not trying to be confusing but I preferred all of them. They are all tools and each has its own purpose. If you look at my tool bench in my garage I have probably about 10 screwdrivers lined up. Different kinds and sizes that are useful for a number of different situations. I look at sax mouthpieces the same way. The MB1 is a brighter tone with loads of power. The Live is a little less bright. The Florida is even less bright. If I was playing a jazz gig I would go with the Florida. If I was doing a gig where I had to play jazz and then crank out the volume for the dance set I would either go with the Live or the MB1. I think both would be great for those settings. The MB1 is brighter than the Live so it would be a personal decision whether I would want to go that bright or not. I will say that I have done gigs with a mouthpiece that I thought would kill it on the gig and then on the last set, I could not hear myself at all and wish I had a bit more brightness and oomph! In that situation the MB1 would be the best. Hope this helps, Steve

  7. Avatar John Blevins says

    It does help. Thanks, Steve! I appreciate your taking time to answer, as busy as you are.

  8. Avatar paul fessenden says

    Hi Steve. I use a 2 1/2 Vandoren Blue box on the Downtown and Live 110’s I have. I find them to have a way bigger sound than Rigotti Reeds. Thanks so much for your reviews you do and all the very helpful books and information that you post.

Speak Your Mind

*

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