James Bunte ARC (Allard Reso Chamber) Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece Review

It looks like December is “Reso” month here at Neffmusic as I have three reproductions of Otto Link Reso Chamber tenor saxophone mouthpieces sitting on my desk to review this week.   I have a Getasax Reso tenor mouthpiece that is a copy of an Otto Link Reso Chamber 5 mouthpiece with a Freddie Gregory Mark II 7 facing curve applied to it. A Getasax Reso FG Special that is a copy of an Otto Link Reso Chamber that was refaced by Freddie Gregory, and the third sax mouthpiece is the one I am reviewing below which is a James Bunte reproduction of an Otto Link Joe Allard Reso Chamber tenor saxophone mouthpiece.

James Bunte ARC (Allard Reso Chamber) 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

This is a bit overwhelming for a guy that has never played an original Otto Link Reso Chamber tenor saxophone mouthpiece before.  The most notable player that I know that played one for many years was Seamus Blake.  If you check out any of his recordings from the 1994-2017 time period, I believe those are all on an Otto Link Reso Chamber tenor saxophone mouthpiece. (I believe Seamus Blake plays on a hard rubber Ted Klum tenor sax mouthpiece now but am not sure when he switched or why)

Otto Link Joe Allard Reso Chamber Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece that was the inspiration for the James Bunte ARC mouthpiece

Today, I am reviewing a James Bunte ARC (Allard Reso Chamber) tenor saxophone mouthpiece.  James Bunte is one of my favorite mouthpiece refacers I have dealt with.  I have played a number of mouthpieces he has refaced as well as created, and all of them played incredibly well for me. I have a lot of trust in James Bunte and know from our history that when he tells me a mouthpiece is amazing, it is!

When James told me he had a new tenor saxophone mouthpiece in the works that was “really special”, I immediately paid attention.  We talked on the phone and he told me all about this amazing Joe Allard Reso Chamber Otto Link tenor saxophone mouthpiece that he had refaced for Chase Baird (an amazing NYC tenor sax player).

He was very excited about this mouthpiece!  He described it to me as having a complexity of tone and power that he had never encountered in an Otto Link Reso Chamber tenor saxophone mouthpiece before.   You can see the original Otto Link Reso Chamber mouthpiece in the photo above (notice it is engraved “Joe Allard Model”) and the two photos below:

Otto Link Joe Allard Reso Chamber Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece (look at that baffle!)

Otto Link Joe Allard Reso Chamber Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

Here is how James Bunte described the ARC (Allard Reso Chamber) tenor saxophone mouthpiece to me:

When Chase Baird (tremendous NY tenor player) sent me this Joe Allard Otto Link Reso Chamber to reface, I was astounded by the power, clarity, and complexity of the sound. This version of the Reso seems to be quite different from others I have played over the years.

I had this Reso mouthpiece measured and my new ARC mouthpiece is CNC machined out of the best rubber rod stock I can get. I hand finish all the facings, baffles and rails. I am VERY proud of the result!-James Bunte

James Bunte ARC (Allard Reso Chamber) 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The James Bunte ARC (Allard Reso Chamber) tenor saxophone mouthpiece came to me engraved with the word “Nuit” (night in French) on the shank of the mouthpiece.  This was the original name of the mouthpiece but James told me that he wasn’t very crazy about that name. He wasn’t sure what to name it so when I hung up the phone I started thinking of names.  A little while later, I texted James just spitballing, “Since it is a copy of an Allard Reso Chamber, what if you call it ARC?”  He loved the idea and the name ARC was born!

The James Bunte ARC (Allard Reso Chamber) tenor saxophone mouthpiece looks great to the eye.  It is a dark glossy hard rubber that James Bunte says is the best hard rubber rod stock he could find.  The tip, rails and table look even, flat and well crafted.  The tip rail is nice and thin, and it’s shape is very close to the shape of my Rigotti Gold tenor saxophone reeds.

The baffle of the James Bunte ARC (Allard Reso Chamber) tenor saxophone mouthpiece is a substantial rollover baffle as you can see in the photos. James Bunte described the baffle as “A pronounced baffle lower than an EB (Early Babbitt) ..but higher than any Slant I have seen”.

The beginning of the mouthpiece baffle reminds me of that flat part of a ski slope after you jump off of the lift. As it starts to rollover, the baffle heads downward at a straight angle into the mouthpiece chamber.  The curved sidewalls come inward a bit as the baffle descends into the chamber so that the baffle floor narrows a bit as it progresses.

The baffle levels out a bit at the bottom of the mouthpiece chamber (again, like a ski slope). The opening to the mouthpiece chamber looks to be a large sized chamber that is similar in size to a typical hard rubber Otto Link mouthpiece chamber.  The roof of the mouthpiece chamber under the table is a medium thickness.

The sidewalls are scooped out nicely until they get to the chamber where they are carved out even more to round out the chamber.  Typically, scooped out side walls tend to help produce a fatter more spread tone and straight side walls seem to add more focus to the tone in my experience.

James Bunte ARC (Allard Reso Chamber) 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The James Bunte ARC (Allard Reso Chamber) tenor saxophone mouthpiece was reed friendly and that caused me some issues just because I couldn’t figure out which saxophone reed to record a sound clip with.

The whole purpose of the sound clip is to give the listener an idea of how a sax mouthpiece sounds and plays for me so maybe they can get an idea of how the mouthpiece might play for them.  When I experiment with different reeds and get different response and tonal shadings it gets harder to choose which reed to use.

For this review, I have chosen to provide three sound clips with three different saxophone reeds:

  • Robertos 2 1/2 Hard Reed-I just got a supply of these delivered and this was the first reed I took out of the box.  It played great and was exactly what I was looking for.  It was similar in strength and feel as the Rigotti Gold 3 Light but had a thicker and more complex tone to it.
  • Rigotti Gold 3 Light Reed-These are my brighter option for reeds. This one felt similar to the Robertos 2 1/2 Hard as far as strength but was brighter and had more buzz in the tone.  (The palm keys can sometimes get too thin and bright for me with these reeds depending on the mouthpiece.)
  • BSS (Boston Sax Shop) 3 Reed-This was the hardest reed I played with the ARC mouthpiece. It has a bit of a thicker and more hearty tone to it but also sounds like a harder reed to me.  I know a lot of guys love the hard reed sound so I have included it. (I also tried a BSS 2 1/2 but it felt way too soft for this mouthpiece.)

James Bunte ARC (Allard Reso Chamber) 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The James Bunte ARC (Allard Reso Chamber) tenor saxophone mouthpiece played great.  It is very different than a high baffled mouthpiece and I had just reviewed a Sakshama Branford Marsalis mouthpiece that was about as high baffled as you can get.  Moving to the James Bunte ARC tenor saxophone mouthpiece was like a night and day difference.

With a high baffle piece, you can almost sigh into and it will play.  You put a medium amount of air into and the windows start shaking and neighbors start complaining. A mouthpiece based off of an Otto Link Reso Chamber tenor saxophone mouthpiece requires a good amount of air and support compared to a high baffled mouthpiece.  Usually the transition from a high baffled mouthpiece to an Otto Link type tenor saxophone mouthpiece takes me a few days of playing and about 4-6 hours.  I did just that and then recorded the sound clips below when I felt comfortable.

James Bunte ARC (Allard Reso Chamber) 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The James Bunte ARC (Allard Reso Chamber) tenor saxophone mouthpiece had a balanced tenor sax tone that leaned to the darker side on the tenor saxophone tone spectrum to me.  The tone is thick and warm with just enough sparkle and brightness to make the tone more interesting.

Usually we just describe tone with words like dark or bright which can be confusing all by themselves.  The ARC tenor sax mouthpiece also brings words like character, richness and complexity to the tone description.  These are even harder to describe.  All I can say is that these words come to mind when I listen to a saxophone tone and hear depth, layers and overtones.  These are some of the things I hear in the sound clips below.

The low notes were full, thick and robust with a tone that was rich and beautiful. The low notes could be played with a sub-tone which made them lush and pillowy sounding or you could play the low notes with a regular airstream and get a clear, full and round low Bb that filled up every corner of the room with richness.

The intonation on the James Bunte ARC (Allard Reso Chamber) tenor saxophone mouthpiece was very good and the ARC mouthpiece was a great match for my Selmer Super Balanced Action tenor saxophone (from the 50’s).

The evenness and smoothness of notes throughout the range of the saxophone was nice when playing fast lines also.  The character and thickness of tone seemed to blend well as I played faster lines throughout the range of the saxophone.  I think you can hear this smoothness in the fast technical lines I play on the sound clips below.

James Bunte ARC (Allard Reso Chamber) 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The altissimo register of the saxophone was easy to produce on the James Bunte ARC (Allard Reso Chamber) tenor saxophone mouthpiece and the notes were easy to control and manipulate. I think that nice rollover baffle near the tip is responsible for that!

The altissimo is slightly different with each of the saxophone reeds I used, but I think with all three reeds, the notes up in that range have a roundness to them that is really beautiful.

The rollover baffle provides a surprising amount of power when pushed but the tone still remains fat and round to my ears. The brightness increases but it stays within certain parameters and didn’t get away from me.  It’s enough to play with more force and power but I wouldn’t want to use it for a Brecker Brother Tribute band if you know what I am saying…….

James Bunte ARC (Allard Reso Chamber) 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

On the sound clips below, I try to give a good range and variety of saxophone sounds and textures so that you can hear the James Bunte ARC (Allard Reso Chamber) tenor saxophone mouthpiece perform in different styles.

My personal favorite of the three clips was the first one with the Roberto’s 2 1/2 hard saxophone reed. It seemed to combine the elements I liked about the harder BSS 3 reed with the playability that comes from a reed that feels absolutely perfect in strength.

The BSS 3 saxophone reed clip is definitely a harder reed for me.  The tone sounds thicker and louder just because I had to blow harder due to the harder reed.  I also think the harder reed gives this sound clip more edge and volume.

The Rigotti Gold 3 Light saxophone reed was an interesting change from the other two clips. There were some interesting elements in the sound clip that made me think some of you who like a brighter sound might dig it more.  The tone sounds lighter, more delicate and with more highs in the tone to me. I think the fast playing was the smoothest with this saxophone reed.

James Bunte ARC (Allard Reso Chamber) 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

In my opinion, the James Bunte ARC (Allard Reso Chamber) tenor saxophone mouthpiece is a great tenor saxophone mouthpiece for those of you looking for a sax mouthpiece with a tone that leans to the darker side of the tenor saxophone tone spectrum but has some kick and a little bit of brightness when you push it.

It is a great hard rubber jazz mouthpiece that would be great for straight ahead jazz playing.  As always, I know people will email me and ask “Hey Steve!  Would this work in my funk band or rock n’ roll band?” and I will  head you off by saying that this would not be the mouthpiece I would play for those types of gigs! (but if you want to go for it, let me know how it goes…..)

James Bunte is currently redesigning his website but if you are interested in one of these ARC tenor saxophone mouthpieces, you can contact James Bunte by email at jamesbunte@gmail.com.

If you try a James Bunte ARC (Allard Reso Chamber) 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

P.S.  I am also working on reviews of the two Getasax Reso mouthpiece reproductions that should be out later this week.  If you are curious about those and want to compare all three reviews and sound clips with each other they will be out shortly……..

James Bunte ARC (Allard Reso Chamber) 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece- Robertos 2 1/2 Hard Reed-No Effects Added

James Bunte ARC (Allard Reso Chamber) 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Rigotti Gold 3 Light Reed-No Effects Added

James Bunte ARC (Allard Reso Chamber) 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-BSS (Boston Sax Shop) 3 Reed-No Effects 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 Alan Burton says

    The third clip sounded a little brighter than the other two with a little more definition to the notes, with more note separation. Good sounding piece! Sounds very similar to my Retro Revival Tru Res 7*.

  2. Hi Steve,
    afaik the Mouthpiece from Seamus Blake is broken so he need a new Mouthpiece and bought a Ted Klum, no idea which model he

  3. Avatar Ian Bumstead says

    Great review as always Steve, I’d certainly be curious to play test an ARC alongside the reso I bought from James a few years ago – the ARC sounds like it may have a little more gas! (FWIW It was my main piece, I used it for everything; jazz, r’n’b, pop – and I definitely got vetoed by one band-leader for being “too jazz”…).

    When the strengths line up what’s your impression of the differences and similarities between the BSS and Roberto’s reeds? I’ve recently been comparing them, alongside Francois Louis’s which I think are in the same ball-park. I’m still a bit undecided, maybe the RW are more focused where the BSS are a little more spread? (I seem to change my mind each time I play a FL, sometimes they feel the darkest, other days the brightest…).

    Thanks,
    Ian

    • Ian, I plan on doing a reed comparison article between all of the Rigotti cane reeds I have here. I have only tried one Roberto’s reed so far so I am not ready for a comparison yet but it should be interesting. Steve

  4. Avatar Ian Bumstead says

    Terrific! I’ve been through pretty much all of them recently – Rigotti Gold, Classic, Francois Louis, BSS, Roberto’s, Ishimori, Lupifaro Evo and Cardinali – so I’ll be really interested to read your thoughts!

    Peter, I believe Seamus Blake now plays a Focus Tone Tonamax 0.118 opening with Roberto’s reeds.

    • I have these reeds to compare:
      Rigotti Gold
      Rigotti Classic
      BSS
      Roberto’s
      Woodstone
      Lupifaro Evo

      I never heard of Cardinali and I don’t have any Francois Louis. I might just do a comparison between Rigotti Gold, BSS and Roberto’s to make it simpler but we will see……

      The challenging part will be deciding which mouthpiece to use and then finding a good example of each reed to use on the mouthpiece. Then I can try to compare them……..

      I have some AW reeds from Germany that are pretty good but I don’t think those are made by Rigotti.

  5. Avatar Ian Bumstead says

    That’s a pretty comprehensive list! Streamlining it a little may save your sanity (my girlfriend will attest to that!)

    The Cardinali unfiled reeds are the same design as the original Lupifaro reed – Luca Cardinali confirmed this to me personally (he has modified the file-cut from the old white-box Lupifaro’s). Luca subsequently left Lupifaro to make his own instruments and reeds whilst Lupifaro modified their cut to make the Evo. In my view they’re not far apart, the Evo being even buzzier, with a little less core. Back on topic – I used to find the Lupifaro’s were a great match for my Reso – but not so much for my Ted Klum Florida.

    I agree the AW’s don’t look to be made by Rigotti, they’re shorter than all the Rigotti-stencils for one thing.

    I look forward to your reed review!

  6. Avatar JOHN R ZANGRANDO says

    I guess Im a hard reed sound guy . I like the BSS #3 sound by far. I use a BSS #3 or LaVoz med hard on my Klum Floroda7*, Drake NY jazz 8 or Wanne slant sig 2 #8. Core sounds very solid on #3test.

  7. The BSS clip sounds best to me, much stronger sound than the lighter reed, but still retains the color of the piece. Just as an aside, to John Zangrando, I used to see you play with Blues Farm in NJ about 43 years ago. We knew each other, but I wouldn’t expect you to remember. Hope you’re well!

  8. This mouthpiece is great !
    I bought one.

    U.

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