Macsax Jalapeño ATX Gold Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece Review

Today, I am reviewing a beautifully crafted Macsax Jalapeño 8* tenor saxophone mouthpiece.  I was contacted by Jeff Gjertsen at Macsax earlier this year and asked if I would be willing to review the brand new Macsax Jalapeño tenor saxophone mouthpiece.  Of course, I was super excited to try this beautiful tenor sax mouthpiece as I have already reviewed a Macsax Soco tenor saxophone mouthpiece as well as a Macsax Queso tenor saxophone mouthpiece.  Both of these Macsax mouthpieces looked absolutely  beautiful and played incredibly well so I would expect the same from this new Jalapeño tenor saxophone mouthpiece from Macsax!


Macsax Jalapeño 8* Gold Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

First of all, the Macsax Jalapeño tenor saxophone mouthpiece is beautiful to look at.  When I received the package and unwrapped the Jalapeño mouthpiece, I was floored by how beautiful this gold Macsax Jalapeño mouthpiece looks.  These mouthpieces are beautifully crafted works of art.

The Macsax Jalapeño tenor sax mouthpiece feels heavy in your hand as you hold it as it is made from a solid rod of brass.  The gold plating looks thick and perfect with not a flaw or blemish anywhere in sight.  The mouthpiece comes with a stylish green marble bite plate that looks fantastic as well.  On the top of the mouthpiece is engraved MACSAX in all capital letters and on the top side of the shank is engraved Jalapeño ATX (I assume ATX stands for Austin, Texas as that is where Macsax is based out of). On the underside of the shank is the tip opening of 8* and USA.

Macsax Jalapeño 8* Gold Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

Here is the description of the Macsax Jalapeño tenor saxophone mouthpiece from the Macsax website:

The MACSAX JALAPEÑO was created to be a tenor saxophone mouthpiece for a player who wants to soar above a band with a clear and even tone. The sound of this mouthpiece is bright and projecting, while maintaining a thick core sound we all like in a tenor sax mouthpiece. This mouthpiece was designed to be played in pop or rock settings, but it is also extremely fitting for a soloist in front of a big band or in a jazz fusion group. If you are looking for a sax mouthpiece to make you stand out in the crowd, the JALAPEÑO tenor saxophone mouthpiece is the mouthpiece for you. 

Each MACSAX JALAPEÑO is made from a solid rod of brass with a green marbled hard rubber bite plate which is CNC milled for a very consistent and high quality tenor saxophone mouthpiece.

Macsax Jalapeño 8* Gold Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The tip, rails, table and baffle of the Jalapeño tenor sax mouthpiece all look perfectly crafted.  The window of the mouthpiece looks extra long and wide in comparison to my other tenor sax mouthpieces. This extra long window is a feature of all the Macsax tenor sax mouthpieces to let more of the reed vibrate and resonate while playing.  The side rails and tip rail look thin, even and precise.  The tip rail is close to the shape of my Rigotti Gold reeds although the outside curve of the tip rail looks to bend towards the side rail a little bit sooner than the shape of my Rigotti Gold reeds but it is really close in shape.

I would describe the baffle as a high baffle.  The baffle is higher than the Macsax Soco and Queso model tenor saxophone mouthpieces I have already reviewed. The baffle heads at a straight angle for about 7/8 of an inch and then curves to a steeper rate of decline until it terminates at the edge of the chamber.

The sidewalls are straight as they head back to the chamber as well. The chamber is the same diameter as the bore of the mouthpiece.  The bore of the mouthpiece comes right up to where the baffle ends and the extra long and wide window gives the impression of an extra large chamber area to me because that window takes out material from where the chamber is.

Macsax Jalapeño 8* Gold Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Macsax Jalapeño tenor sax mouthpiece is slightly thicker in diameter than a typical metal Otto Link tenor saxophone mouthpiece. Ligatures that fit an Otto Link metal tenor sax mouthpiece will fit on the Macsax metal mouthpieces as well if you open the ligature up a bit.  For example, my fabric Rovner ligature for metal tenor mouthpieces worked great on the Jalapeño as did my Selmer 404 silver metal ligature if I opened it up a bit more. (Although, my Francois Louis Ultimate ligature for metal Otto Links would not fit on the Jalapeño mouthpiece as it was too tight)

The bore of the Macsax Jalapeño tenor sax mouthpiece was similar in diameter to the bore of a typical metal Otto Link tenor saxophone mouthpiece as well and fit on my neck cork nicely.

Macsax Jalapeño 8* Gold Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

I found the Macsax Jalapeño 8* tenor saxophone mouthpiece to be very free blowing and reed friendly. I tried Rigotti Gold 2 1/2 medium,  2 1/2 strong and 3 light reeds on this mouthpiece and all of them played great.  Although I didn’t try harder reeds, I have the impression that the Macsax Jalapeño tenor sax mouthpiece would have played just as easily with the Rigotti Gold 3 medium or 3 strong reeds.

On the sound clips at the bottom of the review,  I tried to show a variety of different sounds that the Jalapeño tenor saxophone mouthpiece could get when I was playing it.

  • Clip 1 is a dry recording in my office with no reverb or effects on the sound.  This is the bare bones natural sound of the Macsax Jalapeño tenor sax mouthpiece.
  • Clip 2 is a recording I made in a big barn close to where I live.  I love playing in this barn because of the natural reverb that is present.
  • Clip 3 is an added clip that features more altissimo register playing that I decided to add at the end of the review.

Macsax Jalapeño 8* Gold Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Macsax Jalapeño tenor saxophone mouthpiece played great for me with a tone that definitely leans to the brighter side of a tenor saxophone tone at louder volumes but still retains a smooth fattness to the tone. The tone is thick, full and round while having a strong core to it.  The more air I pushed through the Jalapeño tenor sax mouthpiece, the more focused the tone seemed to get just like when I reviewed the Macsax Soco and Queso tenor saxophone mouthpieces.  The difference is that while the Soco seemed to retain a round warmth and control, and the Soco is a bit brighter and edgier sounding at louder volumes, the Jalapeño adds even more brightness and power to the mix.

Macsax Jalapeño 8* Gold Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The tone was even and smooth throughout the range of the horn.  The intonation was really good.  I think the extra large chamber is a good fit on my Selmer SBA (Super Balanced Action) tenor sax as many of the notes that tend to be sharper were right on the “0” of the tuner when I checked them which is pretty rare without me having to adjust to get them there.

The low notes sound thick, fat and lush to me and it was easy to play the notes in the lower range of the saxophone and to subtone.  The altissimo register was also very clear and super easy to produce.  The altissmo register was  so easy to play that I think I spent a lot more time playing up there than I usually do on my sound clips so keep that in mind when you listen to the clips.

Macsax Jalapeño 8* Gold Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

Just to clarify, when I write that a sax mouthpiece is free blowing, what I mean is that in comparison to other mouthpieces with more resistance the Jalapeño mouthpiece gets to the top volume a lot easier and faster with less air.  My impression is that if I blow the amount of air that gives me a 5 on the volume scale of a mouthpiece with resistance (typical Otto Link), that same amount of air might give me a 7 or 8 in volume on the Jalapeño tenor sax mouthpiece. This is neither good nor bad in my mind but just feels different if you are use to blowing with more resistance and is just something you get used to as you play the mouthpiece.

Free blowing also means that I find that harder reeds work better on the mouthpiece than I might typically use on a mouthpiece with more resistance.

Macsax Jalapeño 8* Gold Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

I did feel like the Jalapeño did have more volume potential for me than the Macsax Soco and Queso model tenor sax mouthpieces could produce.  The Soco could bring me to a solid 9 for volume and the Queso seemed like I could push it to an 11 or 12 if I needed to.  The Jalapeño tenor sax mouthpiece seemed like it could maybe take me to 12-13 with volume but also that the brightness was a bit magnified in comparison to the Queso and Soco tenor sax mouthpieces.  It felt like there was more potential for volume with the Jalapeño tenor saxophone mouthpiece.

In my opinion, the Macsax Jalapeño tenor saxophone mouthpiece is a great mouthpiece for those of you looking for a tenor sax mouthpiece with a focused thick tone that also has a Brecker type of brightness to it.  My complaint with other high baffle mouthpiece like Guardala mouthpieces that Michael Brecker used is that the tone can sometimes sound thin and frail in the high register.  Macsax has created a high baffle line here with the Jalapeño that can not only give the brightness and power of a Brecker type of concept but also delivers a fatter thicker tone that so many sax players are looking for.

The Macsax Jalapeño tenor saxophone mouthpiece would be a great all round tenor mouthpiece for those of you looking for a mouthpiece that can handle multiple styles of music.  At soft volumes it is thick and full sounding but at louder volume it gets brighter and more focused to cut through those loud band gigs. If I was playing in a loud R&B or Rock gig I would definitely consider trying the Jalapeño tenor sax mouthpiece for those types of gigs.

I think Jeff Gjertsen and  Greg Wilson at  Macsax mouthpieces have done a great job with this new Jalapeño tenor saxophone mouthpiece.  It looks fabulous and plays great!  Check out the sound clips below!

Make sure to check out the website at Macsax.  Macsax also has a the Soco model tenor saxophone mouthpiece  and a Queso model tenor saxophone mouthpiece that both have lower baffles than the Jalapeño model being reviewed today if you are interested in something with a slightly darker, warmer tone.

If you try a Macsax Jalapeño 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

Macsax Jalapeño 8* Gold Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece – Rigotti Gold 2 1/2 Medium Reed – Dry Recording with No Effects

Macsax Jalapeño 8* Gold Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece – Rigotti Gold 3 Light Reed – Recorded in Big Barn

Macsax Jalapeño 8* Gold Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece – Rigotti Gold 2 1/2 Medium Reed-Altissimo Demonstration in Barn

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
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.

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