SYOS Steve Kortyka Signature Model Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece Review

Today, I am reviewing the SYOS Steve Kortyka Signature Model Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece from SYOS mouthpieces in France.  This is my sixth SYOS  saxophone mouthpiece I will be reviewing today.  If you want to check out the other SYOS saxophone mouthpieces I have reviewed so far you can click here:  SYOS Mouthpiece Reviews

This SYOS company hit the saxophone mouthpiece scene not too long ago and immediately caught the world’s attention by producing these really bright colored 3D printed saxophone mouthpieces made of plastic.  I remember thinking they were strange looking and looked like something one of my fourth grade saxophone students might have walked into their sax lesson with but now after playing and reviewing quite a few of them, I am pretty impressed.

SYOS Steve Kortyka Signature Model Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

If you haven’t heard of Steve Kortyka before this, you can learn more about him by checking out his website at SteveKortyka.com.  Steve Kortyka is a young burnin’ NYC sax player that I first saw on a Lady Gaga video on youtube a few years ago. He has a number of excellent performances and educational videos out on Youtube that you can check out also.

*When you listen to the sound clip below, you will notice that I am not really sure how to pronounce Steve’s last name.  I have heard it pronounced a number of ways and at this point am not really sure which is right.  I’m hoping one of the pronunciations I used was correct.  When listening back, I thought it was kind of funny so left it in the sound clip.

SYOS Steve Kortyka Signature Model Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

Here is a quote from Steve Kortyka about his Steve Kortyka signature alto saxophone mouthpiece from SYOS:

“My custom piece has the punch that I love especially when playing lead alto, but also is extremely flexible and can play dark, in tune, and at a controlled level extremely well. It works well in just about any environment – I have never found a mouthpiece with such versatility as this one.”

The SYOS Steve Kortyka signature model alto sax mouthpiece is rated as a 5.5 for brightness and a 6.3 for volume on the SYOS 1-10 scale on their website.  Steve Kortyka plays a 7* tip opening.  For comparison, the SYOS Godwin Louis alto saxophone mouthpiece I have already reviewed is a 4.0 for brightness and a 6.1 for volume.

SYOS Steve Kortyka Signature Model Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

Before we get to the playing of the SYOS Steve Kortyka alto saxophone mouthpiece, let me share a few tidbits of info from the SYOS website on these sax mouthpieces.

First of all, you have two choices when you visit the SYOS website and order a sax mouthpiece.  You can order a “SYOS Signature Mouthpiece” which is basically what the mouthpiece that the player whose name is on the mouthpiece plays.

If, however, you want to be unique and are on a quest to find your own unique sound, you might want to pick the second choice of ordering a custom mouthpiece from SYOS which I have to say looks like a pretty cool process.  Here’s what you do on the SYOS website:

  1. First, you choose what saxophone you play. Soprano, Alto, Tenor or Bari Sax
  2. Second, you choose whether you are a beginner, intermediate or professional sax player
  3. Third, you choose what type of music you play (you can pick more than one category)
  4. Fourth, this is the coolest part, you choose your sound preferences.  There is a slider for tone that goes from very dark to very bright.  You can choose where in that tone spectrum you feel you would like to be.  There is also a slider to choose how powerful you want to be.  The slider goes from soft to powerful.   Now here’s the coolest part because as you are reading this you might be confused about how you might choose what you want or you might be confused about what your preferences are.  SYOS gives you a bunch of examples with sound clips!   How cool is that?  The following list of player are listed and rated for tone and power. Ben Webster, Chris Potter, Coleman Hawkins, Dexter Gordon, Joe Henderson, Michael Brecker, Sonny Rollins, Stan Getz and Wayne Shorter. (Can I just point out at this point,  how awesome Chris Potter must feel about being included in this list!)
  5. You click “Submit” and wait by your mailbox for your custom mouthpiece that will answer all your dreams to be delivered.

SYOS Steve Kortyka Signature Model Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

Here is a quote from the SYOS mouthpiece website on the specifics of ordering a custom mouthpiece from SYOS:

SYOS is the first custom mouthpiece maker to use a high-tech process to design its products. It is different from all the other brands who only make standard series of mouthpiece models. SYOS gives you the possibility to have your custom mouthpiece created on-demand according to your needs and preferences.

  • You are helped by an acoustic expert who will help guide you in your sound research.
  • You can test the mouthpiece(s) at home or in rehearsal without having to go in to a shop.
  • You can try your custom mouthpiece for 30 days, with the possibility of requesting adjustments on its shape to modify the sound, to get it even closer to your need.

Simply fill out the customization form on our online shop: you tell us about your saxophone level, the music you like, your favorite sound, which kind of sound you are looking for (bright? Dark? Powerful? Warm…) and we design your mouthpiece based on that. With SYOS, satisfaction is guaranteed. If you have any question, we can answer you on the mouthpiece chat, or you can give us a call: we will help you define your requirements.

Here is a few comments about the material SYOS mouthpieces are made from in case you are curious:

We use ABS plastic to craft our mouthpieces: this material allows us to get the highest degree of precision, with an improved resistance and durability. And you can get that in 18 colors to build a perfect style on stage!

The plastic we use to make SYOS mouthpieces has been certified non-toxic in laboratory (EN 71 and CE 1907/2006 standards). In fact, the same kind of plastic is used to make toys for children, which can be put in mouth without any risks. At the opposite, with the “ebonite” plastic, some sulfuric acid releases are observed when the mouthpiece is old, which gives it a yellow-green color.

And finally, here is a quote about the manufacturing process and how the minute details affect your tone which I found interesting:

For wind instruments, it’s the internal geometry of the bore that gives all the acoustic properties. We work at 1/100th millimeter to adjust the shape and the length of the baffle, the chamber section and size, the tip opening, the facing length… We study and compute the effect of all these parameters on the sound, to predict the timbre of each combination of them.

SYOS Steve Kortyka Signature Model Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

Ok, so let’s get to the Steve Kortyka alto saxophone mouthpiece I received from SYOS. The Kortyka alto sax mouthpiece I received is white, which for the record, is my least favorite saxophone mouthpiece color to review because it is so hard to photograph.  The photos I have included in this review are the best I could get and believe me, I took photos of this mouthpiece with all sorts of backgrounds and in all sort of lighting.  A white mouthpiece is just really hard to photograph……..

SYOS Steve Kortyka Signature Model Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

The mouthpiece felt really light as you would expect a plastic mouthpiece to feel.  The table had some texture to it that I could feel with my fingers.  Whatever process they use to make these sax mouthpieces does leave some texture marks on the mouthpiece.  You can see fine lines going across the table and fine lines going down the baffle as if the machine that created the mouthpieces left these lines on the plastic.

The mouthpiece looks pretty well made.  The table, rails and tip look well made, even and conventional.   The baffle is a medium high long rollover baffle.  I call a baffle a rollover if it has a curve to it whether long or short.  This baffle rolls over after about an inch.  After the long curved rollover, the baffle heads in a straight diagonal line through the chamber and terminates at the rear of the chamber where the bore starts.  The baffle floor narrows as it heads down and through the chamber area.

I would describe the chamber as a small chamber for an alto saxophone mouthpiece.  The baffle through the chamber most certainly takes some of the size out of the chamber.  The chamber looks smaller than a typical Meyer alto sax mouthpiece medium chamber mouthpiece.

The side walls seem pretty straight to me when I look at them but I do feel a slight scoop to them when feeling them with my finger.  The roof of the chamber looks pretty thick to me also.  The high rollover baffle coupled with the smaller chamber makes me think the Steve Kortyka alto mouthpiece will be a more powerful and brighter alto saxophone mouthpiece.

The SYOS alto sax mouthpiece comes with a SYOS ligature which fits the mouthpiece nicely when it has a reed on it.  I was a bit skeptical of this ligature but it actually holds the reed on the mouthpiece pretty firmly when the ligature is slid all the way down and is tight around the reed. When play testing the mouthpiece,  I decided to switch to my Vandoren V16  Optimum ligature and kept that ligature on for the sound clips.

SYOS Steve Kortyka Signature Model Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

The SYOS Steve Kortyka alto sax mouthpiece played with a medium bright tone that was powerful and focused.  It wasn’t as bright as I was thinking it would be though.  It could get a nice warm crisp tone when I laid back on the volume a bit that I really enjoyed.  Although I could push it into a Sanborn type sound and style, I felt like it was a bit warmer and darker than that type of sound concept.  I would be totally comfortable playing a lead alto chair in a big band or a jazz set on this alto mouthpiece.

I really enjoyed the range of tone, power and versatility I could get with this mouthpiece.  When backing off it gets a nice sweet crisp tone that would work well for  playing “Take Five” or reading solos out of the Charlie Parker Omnibook.  When pushed more,  you can really dial up the power and brightness and cut through a louder environment without getting a thin overly edgy alto sax sound that is obnoxious.

The intonation was great on my horn and the tone was even and uniform throughout the range of the horn.  The mouthpiece articulated well also and was easy to play staccato or with more legato jazz articulation.

As is my habit, I have provided a sound clip that is recorded “dry” (meaning no effects or EQ) so you can hear how the mouthpiece sounds naturally.  I have also provided the same sound clip with added reverb so you can hear a sample of how it might sound with that effect added or in a big hall or room.

SYOS Steve Kortyka Signature Model Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

If you like the sound and look of the Steve Kortyka signature alto sax mouthpiece by SYOS, you can find them at the SYOS website.  SYOS HAS AGREED TO GIVE READER’S OF THIS REVIEW 5% OFF THE PURCHASE OF A MOUTHPIECE IF YOU USE THE COUPON CODE NEFFSYOS WHEN YOU CHECKOUT ON THEIR WEBSITE. (Neffmusic also gets a small commission from each sale using this coupon which helps support this website).

The SYOS website has a ton of artists and signature models available so if the Steve Kortyka model isn’t your cup of tea, there are a ton of other sax mouthpieces  to choose from that I have already reviewed.  Or, you can be courageous and go for a custom sax mouthpiece made specifically for you.  The amazing thing is that SYOS has a 30 day return policy which is unheard of in the sax mouthpiece industry.

The other great thing about the SYOS saxophone mouthpieces is the price point.  As of today, the signature model sax mouthpieces are at about 165.83 EUROS (Approximately 189 USD as of today), which in my mind is a great price for a sax mouthpiece that plays this well.  The custom model sax mouthpieces are 249.17 EUROS (Approximately 284 USD), which is still a great deal for a custom sax mouthpiece that is made to your preferences.  From what I read on the SYOS website,  you can send your custom sax mouthpiece back for adjustments if you want tweaks made to it also which is amazing.

If you have played or end up buying a SYOS Steve Kortyka Signature Alto Saxophone mouthpiece (make sure to use the promo code NEFFSYOS to save 5%) and please come back here to tell us what you think.

If you have any other thoughts or comments about this review, I would love to hear what you think in the comments below.  Thanks,   Steve

*For best results, it is best to listen to these clips with good speakers or headphones.

SYOS Steve Kortyka Signature Model Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece-Lupifaro Evo 2 1/2 Reed-No Effects Added

SYOS Steve Kortyka Signature Model Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece-Lupifaro Evo 2 1/2 Reed-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.  I also receive a small commission when you purchase from the SYOS website using the 5% off coupon code NEFFSYOS above that helps to support this site.  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 Lencho Palacios says

    Steve this mouthpiece is amazing, beautiful tone…what alto sax were you playing?

  2. Steve this mouthpiece is amazing, beautiful tone…what alto sax were you playing?

    Thanks! I am playing a Selmer Reference 54 alto saxophone.

  3. Avatar F.F. Palacios says

    Thanks for your reply, keep up the great job. You’re amazing 😎

  4. Avatar paul fessenden says

    Hi steve. Too dry of a mouthpiece for my taste. I do like the Summer of 42 Theme song you were playing. Lots of good memory’s from that movie.

  5. Yeah, I love that too! Ever since I heard Phil Woods play it when I was in high school.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ndgi-ydqbbo

  6. Avatar John Blevins says

    Steve,
    Steve is a friend. It is pronounced KorTEEkah, FYI. A few years back I sent you a transcription of Steve on “Our Day Will Come”, with the Famous Jazz Orchestra, led by Vaughn Wiester, in Columbus, OH. This was just before he went to NYC. I had a good feeling that he would do well in New York. He is knee deep in teaching online at the moment, as well as publishing. He is outstanding and one heck of a nice guy, always encouraging. If anyone is looking for online lessons check him out at stevekortyka.com.

    As always, Steve, you make the mp sing! Your recordings are invaluable and appreciated.

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