10mFan Chameleon Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece Review

Today, I am reviewing a new tenor saxophone mouthpiece from 10mFan sax mouthpieces.  This is the Chameleon 7** hard rubber tenor saxophone mouthpiece.   I have already reviewed a number of great 10mFan tenor saxophone mouthpieces and alto saxophone mouthpieces in the past that you can find here.

Whenever Mark Sepinuck, at 10mFan mouthpieces, comes out with a new mouthpiece model, I am always really excited to try it out because all of his mouthpieces are so good!  Mark is always thinking about how he can meet the needs of the sax playing community with new uniquely designed mouthpieces.

Here’s a description of the Chameleon tenor sax mouthpiece that Mark posted on Sax on the Web:

“These rollover baffle sax mouthpieces are very special and have a huge, powerful, full, and clear sound with some brights and a beautiful freedom to the blow! Incredibly efficient mouthpieces with GREAT CLARITY AND POWER. At the same time, these mouthpieces can be played gentle and warm. These can be used for the straight ahead player wanting a more powerful sound, or ANY setting where you need LOADS of power and volume. The sound can be warm and powerful, or bright and powerful, depending on your abilities. This is the most powerful tenor mouthpiece I offer, and its not a step baffle! It’s truly a Chameleon!!!”-Mark Sepinuck

10mFan Chameleon Hard Rubber Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

Here is some more details from Mark Sepinuck’s description of the 10mFan Chameleon tenor sax mouthpiece from the 10mFan website:

“This is a free-blowing powerful rollover baffle mouthpiece designed for my 3rd category, that allows players who don’t get along with step baffle pieces, a real opportunity at finally getting some serious power and volume into their playing with a huge full-bodied sound. This is a rollover baffle design. It has brights and warmth and fatness depending on the players abilities. An open canvas of sound opportunities that fits in my 3rd Category so perfectly. Free and powerful with a full-bodied sound top to bottom!” -Mark Sepinuck

Mark describes his 3rd mouthpiece category as: “Very powerful “Cross-over” category mouthpiece. This is a POWERHOUSE roll over baffle like nothing in the marketplace.”

10mFan Chameleon Hard Rubber Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The 10mFan Chameleon tenor saxophone mouthpiece came in a well packaged box.  Inside, amidst the packaging was a clear tube. Inside the tube, was a velvet looking bag with gold trim that protected the Chameleon saxophone mouthpiece while shipping.

The new 10mFan Chameleon tenor sax mouthpiece has the traditional three rings on the shank that all of the 10mFan saxophone mouthpieces have.  It also has “10mFan” and “CHAMELEON” engraved on the top of the mouthpiece.  On the bottom corners of the mouthpiece next to the table is engraved “U.S.A.” and “7**”.

As you can see in the picture below, the table, rails and tip rail look flat, even and perfectly crafted as all 10mFan mouthpiece do.   The baffle is a slightly curved side to side baffle that rolls over about half an inch into the mouthpiece before it runs straight down towards the rear of the chamber.

The first half inch of baffle is what I would consider a high baffle but it is not so long and high that I would think this mouthpiece would be obnoxiously bright.  About 15 years ago, I was always complaining on the internet sax forums about how I wished there were some saxophone mouthpieces that were made with a  more moderate high rollover baffle to give power and brightness but still be able to play jazz.  At the time, I remember being frustrated because it seemed like most of the choices out there were Otto Link type baffles or Guardala type high step baffles (which I found too bright for my tastes).  This 10mFan Chameleon high rollover baffle is exactly the kind of mouthpiece I was wishing for in my imagination way back then.

The side walls are slightly carved out on each side as they lead into the medium large sized chamber. The rails look even and precise as they head towards the tip rail.  The shape of the tip rail matches the shape of the Rigotti Gold reeds I used on it.

One other interesting fact about the Chameleon tenor mouthpiece is that Mark told me that they made the Chameleon mouthpiece body longer because of the high baffle design so that it plays in-tune on older horns and modern horns.  You need to lengthen the shank on a design like so that it can sit further on the cork and play in-tune.

10mFan Chameleon Hard Rubber Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

So, how does the new Chameleon 7** saxophone mouthpiece in hard rubber play and sound?  The 7** I played for this review played perfectly with a Rigotti Gold 2 1/2 strong reed.  I also tried a Rigotti Gold 3 light reed that also played quite well and gave me even more volume and power but I chose the 2 1/2 strong reed for the sound clip below.

The Chameleon mouthpiece has a tone that lies at that midway area between bright and dark in my opinion.  At normal playing levels, you can shade the tone to be warmer or brighter and it really is a Chameleon in that the player can easily adjust his playing to fit the genre of music he is playing.

Where the Chameleon surprised me, was in the power it has when you blow with all of your air. The Chameleon mouthpiece can go from a 1 on the volume scale to about a 13+ pretty quickly when pushed. A couple times in the clip below, I was playing at a medium level and then decided to push it and the Chameleon took all the air I could give it and is able to really crank out the power and volume. (I actually had to turn down the overall gain on the microphone because the full power of the Chameleon would distort the recording at my normal recording levels.  That’s some pretty impressive volume!)

10mFan Chameleon Hard Rubber Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The first clip below is of the Chameleon tenor mouthpiece with a bit of added reverb to the clip. I like this clip the most just because it represents the type of reverb I would have on my sax during a live performance playing wailing Top 40, Funk or R&B type tenor sax solos.  I open up the clip with a louder, more aggressive line up in the altissimo, so be prepared for that when you listen.

After that, I play a bunch of my standard jazz lines including “Moose the Mooche” and a medium “Donna Lee” (which I try to play in all of my sound clips as a way to compare the different clips).

The Chameleon sounds great on the jazz lines and has a tone that is fat and focused but with loads of character and warmth.  It does have brightness to the tone but not enough brightness that it sounds out of place playing jazz.  The lines and evenness between notes is smooth and the intonation is really great in my opinion.

10mFan Chameleon Hard Rubber Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

I also let myself go into the altissimo with more volume on some bluesy R&B type lines at numerous times in the clip.  The tone gets brighter as the power and volume increases but it is still fat and round to my ear.  It doesn’t get thin and frail like many high baffle mouthpiece can sound up high. You can hear this even more clearly on the second “dry” sound clip which has no reverb or added effects on the clip.  Many high baffle mouthpiece sound really harsh and almost brittle with no effects added but the Chameleon still sounds really good to my ear on a “dry” recording.

10mFan Chameleon Hard Rubber Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The 10mFan Chameleon tenor mouthpiece has a great focus and core to the sound that I loved.  It also had a lot of volume and power to it when you push it without getting too bright, edgy and thin sounding.  At the same time,  the tone has enough highs, brightness and power in those lines to carry the sound through the mix when playing a solo.

This is a great tenor sax mouthpiece for those of you looking for an all-round mouthpiece that can cover many different types of gigs and genres of music.  I would have no problem playing a jazz set on this tenor mouthpiece and then ripping into a solo on “Respect” or “Mustang Sally” immediately afterwards.

10mFan Chameleon Hard Rubber Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

If you like the sound and look of the 10mfan Chameleon hard rubber tenor saxophone mouthpiece, you can order one of them from Mark Sepinuck at connsaxman@comcast.net . You can also check out his site at 10mFan.com for more information and order a mouthpiece right there on his website.

If you have played or end up playing a 10mFan Chameleon Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece or have any other thoughts or comments about this review, I would love to hear what you think in the comments below.  Thanks,  Steve

*To hear the most detail from these clips it is best to listen to them from a computer with nice audio speakers or headphones rather than from an iPhone or laptop speakers.  It makes a world of difference!

10mFan Chameleon Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Rigotti Gold 2 1/2 Strong Reed-Reverb Added

10mFan Chameleon Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Rigotti Gold 2 1/2 Strong Reed-Dry Recording (No Reverb)

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. Sounds great! Bright and thick, rather than bright and thin. What do you prefer? This one or the Black Widow (if you can remember – the black widow review was a while ago!).

  2. Hi Steve, sounding good. I know you probably groan at these questions 🙂 But, how would you compare to the Retro Revival Florida mouthpiece you reviewed? Thanks.

  3. Thank you Steve, I like how you pull the playing characteristics out of the mouthpieces you review. I was surprised how you darkened the tone after the first riff. To my ears, it still retained some of the higher tone frequencies retaining some brightness but also sounded full and fat. I also listened to your review of the Black Widow which is also very flexible for a higher-baffle mouthpiece- to refresh my ear- it sounds like the Chameleon might be a little brighter. Nice mouthpiece from Mark as usual, I love the finishing.

  4. Avatar Arya Boustani says

    Hi Steve, You have very well defined notes and your performance is darn good on this piece. In my opinion, it is a performance oriented mouthpiece (easier to nail down all the notes top to bottom in fast passages). I’m wondering if you have a copy of The Classic model and could compare the two. The Classic is also very focused and has a rollover baffle but perhaps slightly less pronounced baffle. I think both of them and especially this one have what is called a raised floor to create a slightly less volume passed that 1/2 inch baffle portion to focus and thicken up the tone (acts like a funnel) before getting to the further part of the chamber under the table. I’m wondering if a different reed choice makes it more suitable to straight ahead tone quality. Have you tried it with BSS 2 1/2 reeds? If so, what do you think? Also if you could compare it against Theo Wanne’s Gaia 3 would be great (another warm performance oriented medium large chamber mouthpiece with rollover) although probably Gaia 3 has more buzz which may perceive as added brightness and more spread due to longer window. Thank you.

  5. Hi Mike,

    It’s hard to compare any two mouthpieces when I don’t have them to play side by side. The one observation I can make is that I feel like playing a mouthpiece with a shelf type baffle like the Robusto or Black Widow that I am playing a specific mouthpiece with that kind of baffle. I can play darker or brighter but it still has that unique shelf baffle kind of blow and sound to it. What I find with high rollover baffles like the Chameleon is that even though the baffle is higher than on an Otto Link type mouthpiece, I can more easily cross over to a warmer almost Link like sound with it if that makes sense.

    As far as the difference between the Black Widow and the Chameleon, it’s hard to say because the Black Widow I reviewed was an 8* and this Chameleon is 7**. That might not sound like a big difference but going from a 7** to an 8* can be a huge change with the way a piece blows and sounds as far as brightness is concerned. I personally thought I remember the Black Widow as being brighter than the Chameleon but KC commented on this thread about how he just listened to that sound clip and it sounds less bright than the Chameleon. It very well might but that might have to do with the 8* tip opening also.

    All that being said, if I was playing other genres like jazz standards and stuff like that as well as pop, R&B and funk stuff on a gig I would go with the Chameleon. I think the Chameleon is more versatile in my mind…….. Hope this helps, Steve

    PS. I actually got a text from Mark at 10mFan mouthpiece who read this comment who said that he finds the Black Widow to be not as bright as the Chameleon.

  6. Andy, People argue all the time about whether there is a difference between metal and hard rubber pieces. I believe there is for me when I am playing them. Not sure I could always hear that difference from sound clips but when I am playing a metal or HR piece I feel like I can feel and hear a difference. To me, the Retro Revival Super D Florida has a brighter tone with more edge to it. I hate to say it but I think it has a more metallic quality to the tone. The Chameleon seems slightly fatter and thicker in tone to me. I don’t hear as much edge in the Chameleon. The Chameleon can be plenty bright when played that way though. I tend to think the Chameleon has more of an ability to be warmer than the metal Retro Revival Super D Florida. I personally would feel more comfortable doing a jazz set on the Chameleon than I would on the RR piece just because I think the Chameleon could pull off that warmer jazz sound. Hope this helps, Steve

  7. FOLLOW-UP: That makes sense to me, Steve, the wider tip on the BW likely contributes to the reason the clip for the Black Widow sounded slightly darker. Someday I would like to try the Chameleon and compare it.

  8. Thanks for chiming in KC! I appreciate you listening to the clips and comparing them. Also remember that the Black Widow was an 8* and this piece is a 7** which I think makes a difference in brightness from my experience. I wonder how a sound clip of a 7** Black Widow would compare? Steve

  9. Re: Metal -vs- Hard Rubber

    Oh man….there have been numerous threads on the saxophone forums on material (mostly focused on metal and HR, but also other materials) and most conclusions are that it doesn’t have that much impact. What I notice is that (the majority of) metal mouthpieces have a slimmer profile than (the majority of) HR pieces. For me personally, I have to adjust my embouchure between metal and HR….not a huge difference in sound from the front of the horn but definitely has a different response and feel to me as the player. I played a RR Super D Florida a couple of years ago and remember it was a little brighter than other metals I tried. more edge, Steve, as you stated. Again, one of these days I would love to try a Chameleon for comparison.

  10. Hi Arya,

    Thanks! Glad you liked the review. I’ll try a BSS reed on it and see how it sounds with that. I did try one on it when I first got it but liked the Rigotti reed more for some reason. I can’t even remember why right now.

    The Classic is very different as far as the baffle. It’s hard to see in the photos as the baffles look kind of similar from the side but when you compare the Chameleon baffle photo from the tip into the chamber to the Classic photo from the same position you can see that the Chameleon baffle is a bit higher and longer looking. I don’t have a Classic model here to compare but I think you can hear a big difference in the clips if you listen to them side by side.

    I do still have a Gaia 3 here but not sure I will get the time to play them side by side and compare them. If I do I will let you know what I think on here. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. Steve

  11. FOLLOW-UP: Thanks for replying Steve, much appreciated. I’m not sure if there is a difference between metal and hard rubber. I currently play a Retro Revival Florida 8 and do a mixture of jazz sets and 1920s big band playing and find it works fine, I’ve very much tried to find a mouthpiece that can do the jazz thing as well as play loud and bright when needed without resorting to a step baffle. For me the RR does this. However, the band leader says I could do with not having such a wide broad sound, he feels it needs to be more focused, I wondered if a smaller tip opening would increase brightness and width of sounds, I’ll have to try that when I can. Note: I prefer a big broad sound 🙂 Always interested in trying a mouthpiece that’s in the same vein as the RR such as the Chameleon, and after recently buying a Showboat for alto can see 10mfan’s products are very good.

  12. Avatar Michael Caldwell says

    The thing that I like about the Chameleon from listening to the clips is that it has a very clear sound, specially up high. You can hear some air noise, but it’s not as profound as in other mouthpieces. It sounds clean pretty much everywhere.

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