10mFan Virtuoso Soprano Saxophone Mouthpiece Review

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

Whenever Mark Sepinuck, at 10mFan mouthpieces, comes out with a new saxophone mouthpiece model, I am always really excited to try it out because all of his saxophone 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.

Since this is the first 10mFan soprano saxophone mouthpiece model Mark has released, and also a large chambered soprano mouthpiece, I was super excited to try it out!

10mFan Virtuoso Hard Rubber Soprano Saxophone Mouthpiece

Here’s a description of the 10mFan Virtuoso soprano saxophone mouthpiece that Mark Sepinuck posted on Sax on the Web:

“This project has been so much fun and I am incredibly proud of how the Virtuoso soprano sax mouthpiece has turned out!  After much thought about what I wanted to put out for a first soprano saxophone mouthpiece, I decided that the best way to go, would be to make an original soprano mouthpiece design that is an ALL-AROUND killer mouthpiece that can do it all.  A soprano sax mouthpiece that a really large group of players could ALL enjoy and be proud to have in their arsenal.

I opted against making a soprano sax mouthpiece that was too dark or a mouthpiece that was too bright, so I made something that will be accessible for a huge group of soprano sax players.  A soprano sax mouthpiece that can be warm and full and gentle or very powerful, that allows for some brightness too.  The Virtuoso soprano saxophone mouthpiece has great response top to bottom, but has what I consider to be the right resistance to push against.  The length of the piece, the bore size and length, the baffle, the chamber, side walls, floor, and beak shape, all coordinate together to make this a VERY fun soprano mouthpiece to play! It plays easy and has an excellent feel.  The palm keys and low end are full, and it tunes great….and thats a big deal!
It’s been played on older horns and modern horns and I think we have really found the sweet spot that will allow this to work well for a HUGE number of soprano sax players.

In the production process, I realized that, all the changes being made were putting me right in the direction of my highly successful Robusto tenor mouthpiece design…. so that’s where I’ve taken it!  It has ended up as a medium large chamber with a Robusto baffle and floor. This way, it is really a sensational all-around soprano mouthpiece for tons of players to be able to enjoy. Very responsive because of the baffle, and a rich fullness because of the chamber. This mouthpiece has lots of power available!” -Mark Sepinuck

10mFan Virtuoso 7 Hard Rubber Soprano Saxophone Mouthpiece

Here is some further details from Mark Sepinuck’s description of the 10mFan Virtuoso soprano sax mouthpiece from the 10mFan website:

“It is an excellent all-around mouthpiece that does everything from warm to powerful.  It really allows the player incredible versatility with sound color and also the range of power that it offers. It has a medium large chamber which gives it a richness and fullness, and a nice baffle to give it great response and clarity.  It has a similar design to my highly successful Robusto tenor sax mouthpiece model. It tunes beautifully and is very responsive from top to bottom. An incredibly fun original design, hand finished soprano saxophone mouthpiece.

This is the ultimate “all-around” hard rubber soprano mouthpiece that can do everything from warm, to brighter with punch! It’s got a focused sound and is really “locked in”.  For those of you who like altissimo on soprano…this piece kills it! 

For me, this is absolutely the most important unique original design soprano mouthpiece to hit the soprano saxophone market in decades!!!”-Mark Sepinuck

10mFan Virtuoso 7 Hard Rubber Soprano Saxophone Mouthpiece

The 10mFan Virtuoso soprano 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 Virtuoso soprano saxophone mouthpiece while shipping.

In my experience, Mark Sepinuck is incredibly diligent with his dedication to customer communication, shipping and satisfaction. Every mouthpieces that he has shipped to me over the years has been accompanied with texts alerting me of the shipment and tracking, photos of the box and then even follow up texts from Mark that the tracking says the mouthpiece is in my mailbox and asking if I received it.  Mark Sepinuck is on top of the whole shipping process and wants to make sure you get what you ordered from him.

The new 10mFan Virtuoso soprano saxophone mouthpiece has the traditional 10mFan three rings on the shank that all of the 10mFan saxophone mouthpieces have.  It also has “10mFan” and “Virtuoso” 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”.  The 7 tip opening measures at a .070 tip opening.  It is made out of quality German bar stock hard rubber.

As you can see in the photos, the table, rails and tip rail, look flat, even and perfectly crafted as all 10mFan mouthpieces do.  The Virtuoso soprano saxophone mouthpiece has an initial medium high baffle that travels a short distance before ending at a curved edge. After the curved edge,  the baffle slopes down towards the rear of the chamber.  The baffle run, all the way down to the rear of the chamber, has a side to side curve to it.

Mark Sepinuck describes the Virtuoso soprano mouthpiece as having a medium large chamber.  Since it is one of the larger chambered soprano mouthpieces I have played I would describe it as a large chambered soprano sax mouthpiece.  The chamber looks very close in size to my Theo Wanne Gaia soprano saxophone mouthpiece which also has a large chamber. I asked Mark why he described the chamber as medium-large and he explained that he has seen some vintage soprano mouthpieces with larger chambers.  Very few people have seen as many saxophone mouthpieces as Mark Sepinuck has, so for the rest of us mere saxophone mortals, I think we can call this a large chambered soprano sax mouthpiece.

The side walls are slightly carved out on each side as they lead into the 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 all of my soprano sax reeds I used on it.

Brian Powell and Erik Greiffenhagen do all the finishing work on all of the 10mFan saxophone mouthpieces and their work is always exemplary.  Erik and Brian have been together for decades, as they both learned their craft from the great Ralph Morgan and they are two of the best in the mouthpiece making business.

10mFan Virtuoso Hard Rubber Soprano Saxophone Mouthpiece

So, how does the new Virtuoso 7 soprano saxophone mouthpiece play and sound?  The Virtuoso played incredibly well with Vandoren Java 2 1/2 soprano saxophone reeds for me.  The Virtuoso mouthpiece also played well with harder strength  Java 3 soprano reeds  and Roberto’s Winds 3 Soft soprano reeds, but I liked how effortless the 2 1/2 Vandoren Java reeds were to play, so I chose them for the sound clips below.

The Virtuoso soprano saxophone mouthpiece has a tone that has some brightness and power available to it because of the baffle while the large chamber makes the tone fat, full and rich.  I love that fat round sound on the soprano sax just because many soprano mouthpieces with smaller chambers seem to have a bit of a smaller sound to them in my opinion.

Personally, I also find smaller chambered soprano sax mouthpiece to have way too much resistance for me.  I seem to prefer the resistance from a larger chambered soprano saxophone mouthpiece which the 10mFan Virtuoso mouthpiece is.  It has a balanced resistance that is perfect and doesn’t cause any bottlenecking of the air like I have experienced with some soprano sax mouthpieces with “pea” sized chambers.

Mark writes this about the Virtuoso mouthpiece: “For those of you who like altissimo on soprano…this piece kills it!   I have to be honest and admit that I don’t play the altissimo on the soprano and rarely even play in the palm keys in the upper register.  I have some hearing issues that make any notes in that register of the horn distort and it is not enjoyable (actually painful) for me to listen to.  I will say that I did go up into the palm keys for a few seconds while playing the Virtuoso mouthpiece and playing those notes was much easier than most soprano sax mouthpieces I have tried.

10mFan Virtuoso 7 Hard Rubber Soprano Saxophone Mouthpiece

One of the surprising benefits to playing the 10mFan Virtuoso soprano saxophone mouthpiece was the intonation.  I don’t think I have ever played a soprano sax mouthpieces that was so locked in intonation wise.

I usually take out my tuner once I begin to play a new sax mouthpiece and after I make sure I am relatively in-tune, I leave the tuner on as I play.  I only look at it if I notice something off with the intonation of a note just to confirm what I am hearing.  With the 10mFan Virtuoso mouthpiece, every time I happened to glance at the tuner it was about as close to the “0” as possible (meaning perfectly in-tune).  I was really amazed by this great intonation the Virtuoso soprano mouthpiece gave me on my Yamaha YSS-62 soprano saxophone!

10mFan Virtuoso 7 Hard Rubber Soprano Saxophone Mouthpiece

The 10mFan Virtuoso soprano mouthpiece has a great focus and core to the sound that I loved.  The fat and rich tone really compelled me to play slower lines and melodies as I listened to the Virtuoso’s beautiful sound. The Virtuoso has a sweetness to the tone that I really enjoyed.

The articulation was crisp and clean and the tone throughout the range of the horn was even, consistent and smooth between the registers.

The first clip below is of the Virtuoso soprano saxophone 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 use on my soprano sax during a live performance or gig.

The second clip is the same as the first but with no reverb at all.  I actually like this clip more during the faster lines I play just because it sounds cleaner to my ears.

10mFan Virtuoso 7 Hard Rubber Soprano Saxophone Mouthpiece

The 10mFan Virtuoso soprano saxophone mouthpiece is a great playing soprano mouthpiece that has a beautiful tone, great intonation and a wide dynamic range that can play really loud or incredibly soft.  If you are looking for a new soprano mouthpiece and the characteristics I have listed in this review appeal to you, then I would suggest giving the 10mFan Virtuoso soprano saxophone  mouthpiece a try.

If you like the sound and look of the 10mFan Virtuoso hard rubber soprano 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 Virtuoso soprano sax mouthpiece right there on his website.

If you have played or end up playing a 10mFan Virtuoso soprano 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 Virtuoso 7 Soprano Saxophone Mouthpiece-Vandoren Java 2 1/2-Theo Wanne Enlightened Ligature-Reverb Added

10mFan Virtuoso 7 Soprano Saxophone Mouthpiece-Vandoren Java 2 1/2-Theo Wanne Enlightened Ligature-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

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 Lev Liberman says

    Sounds like you’re having fun, Steve, showing off the Virtuoso’s range of expression — from fluid, light & lyrical to sassy & assertive. Your clip makes the case for this mouthpiece as multi-tool in styles including minimalism, jazz ballads, bop, or the blues. If I wasn’t already digging my Virtuoso, I’d want one! Maybe two…

    • Thanks Lev! Yeah, it’s so easy to record a sound clip when you are really digging the sound and playability of a mouthpiece. I did have fun making this…. I hope you enjoy your Virtuoso!!

  2. Avatar JAMES M CARTER says

    Sounds nice and even through the part of the range you’ve played, but I need to hear the extremes to which it can be pushed! The low C,B & Bb were ignored as well as the left palm stack and beyond! If this piece is anywhere near his Showboat alto, I might hafta holla! Regards, JC

    • Hi James!
      I hope you are well, my friend. The low-end speaks beautifully and the high-end is incredible. Check out some of the clips on my website. Players are constantly telling me that the altissimo is phenomenal. I’m still not sure why people enjoy altissimo on soprano, 🙂 , but it speaks great up there if you need it.
      I’ll contact you today.

  3. Avatar Kevin Ledbetter says

    Sounds so musical… this must be your new “go to” soprano piece. Do you use a mouthpiece patch or just play it as is?
    Totally loved the sound.

    • Thanks Kevin! I use a patch on all my mouthpieces. I’m so used to the patches that it is hard for me to put my front teeth on bare hard rubber anymore. Just feels weird and uncomfortable to me.

  4. Avatar Rich Winkler says

    Sounds great! I also play a YSS-62 with a Drake HR 7 “Son of Slant” with a Rovner Versa ligature. I like it because it has more of a warm, dark sound compared to several other mouthpieces I have and still plenty of projection. It looks like the Drake has less baffle and more rounded sides leading into the chamber than the 10mFan. (That’s the best I can describe – I’m not well versed in describing mouthpieces.) Anyway, have you ever reviewed the Drake 7 on your YSS-62 ? I would be curious how they compare.

  5. Avatar Kevin Ledbetter says

    I got one of these from Mark… a 7 tip opening. It plays flawless from top to bottom, very even and perfectly in tune. All notes speak well and it’s a joy to play. If you want you can push it for some edge, or back off a little for some amazing sweet tones… it does it all. It seems to like around a 2 1/2 reed as Mark recommends for this size tip opening. I can’t see how any player wanting a soprano piece could go wrong with this mouthpiece. The 10mfan mouthpieces are just the top of the game at this point.

    • Thanks for the review Kevin. I agree! I played a solo for church a couple of weeks ago using the Virtuoso and I thought it sounded pretty great also! Steve

  6. Avatar Phil Godfrin says

    Mine is arriving next week. This will be the second mpc I’ve acquired from Mark – nice work my friend!

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