Boston Sax Shop R-Series 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece Review

Today, I am excited to be reviewing the new BSS (Boston Sax Shop) R-Series 7* tenor saxophone mouthpiece released by Jack Tyler at the Boston Sax Shop.

Jack Tyler is the owner of Boston Sax Shop and has been my saxophone repairman for the last eight to nine years. I usually head down to Boston about once a year for Jack to check out my saxophones and while he is giving them a tune up, he always gives me the inside scoop on all the saxophone world gossip as well as new saxophone gear that is coming out.  Of course, I always let him know about the latest saxophone goodies sitting on my desk waiting for review as well.

Besides being a phenomenal repairman, craftsman and incredibly fashionable fellow, Jack is always up to some saxophone related endeavor.  Whether it be straps, cases, ligatures, saxophone necks, reed cases, reeds, masterclasses, etc….. Jack always seems like he has a new project on the horizon…… I have already reviewed the excellent Boston Sax Shop S-Series tenor sax mouthpiece and when I heard about this new BSS R-Series 7* tenor saxophone mouthpiece he was developing, I had to try this new tenor sax mouthpiece out for myself!

Boston Sax Shop R-Series 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Boston Sax Shop R-Series 7* tenor saxophone mouthpiece is described by Jack as being a reference to the great large chamber tenor sax mouthpieces of the past (he refers to the Otto Link Reso Chamber tenor saxophone mouthpieces as an inspiration).  From what I understand from Jack, he wanted to capture the essence and sound of the vintage Reso Chamber tenor mouthpieces in larger tip openings like 7*, 8, 8* so modern players can enjoy the warmth and lushness of tone that these mouthpieces deliver but in a tip opening that many modern players prefer now.

Many times, when you open up a vintage mouthpiece,  you change the balance and geometry between the table, tip, rails and baffle.  Unless the craftsman knows exactly what they are doing and how to adjust these elements, you can end up with a mouthpiece that is very different from the original design concept.  Jack Tyler at BSS wanted to offer an alternative to players who love the warmth and lushness of the Otto Link Reso Chamber sound but in more modern tip openings. Those of us who love the sound of modern players like Seamus Blake and Ben Wendell (who have played on vintage Otto Link Reso Chambers in the past) no longer have to search the marketplace for an expensive vintage Reso Chamber to have opened up but can now have a modern mouthpiece alternative to choose from in the BSS R-Series tenor saxophone mouthpiece.

Boston Sax Shop R-Series 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

Here is how Jack Tyler describes the Boston Sax Shop R-Series 7* tenor saxophone mouthpiece on his website at BostonSaxShop.com:

“There is something very intriguing about large chamber tenor saxophone mouthpieces. When they are right, they offer an incredible amount of spread and flexibility in tone that just can’t be beat.

However! Finding that perfect saxophone mouthpiece in vintage form and in a more modern tip size can be a challenge. Personally, I struggled for years to find a Reso Chamber model Otto Link that once opened up retained all the characteristics and potential that I knew these sax mouthpieces could have. Throughout the years of hunting, purchasing and paying for refacing, I only lucked out on one! Inspired by that mouthpiece, I spent the better part of a year to re-imagine it with the power of CNC technology and after many prototypes, found that perfect balance of baffle profile for the larger chamber in bigger than vintage tip sizes. The R-Series is the large chamber mouthpiece for the modern player.

For me, the R-Series is simply put: lush. Yes, I know thats an esoteric word but I really think it fits! The large chamber provides a free and spread sound and the medium roll over baffle gives it plenty of power to project without losing the warmth and width of the tonal center.

As always, each Boston Sax Shop mouthpiece is hand finished in post CNC production and play-tested to my exacting standards here at the shop.-Jack Finucane

Boston Sax Shop R-Series 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Boston Sax Shop R-Series 7* tenor saxophone mouthpiece looks to be made of  quality hard rubber.  You can smell a little bit of that hard rubber smell that you typically smell on vintage hard rubber mouthpieces when you hold it up to your nose.

The mouthpiece has the BSS logo engraved in white on the top of the mouthpiece.  The tip opening of 7* is not machine engraved on the mouthpiece but is hand engraved on the left corner of the body next to the butt end of the table.

Each of the Boston Sax Shop tenor sax mouthpieces (there are three models at the time of this review: the S, R and E Series) have different stylish designs around the shank of each mouthpiece.  I like how each model has a different design.  The BSS R-Series tenor mouthpiece has four white lines encircling the shank of the sax mouthpiece.

Boston Sax Shop R-Series 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Boston Sax Shop R-Series 7* tenor saxophone mouthpiece looks great to the eye.  The tip, rails and table look even, flat, precise and well crafted.  The mouthpiece tip rail and side rails are even and thin, and the shape of the tip rail perfectly matches the shape of the BSS (Boston Sax Shop) saxophone reeds I used on the R-Series mouthpiece.

The baffle of the Boston Sax Shop R-Series 7* tenor saxophone mouthpiece is a low quick rollover baffle right after the tip rail.  The floor of the baffle during the decent is slightly curved from side to side.

Jack explained to me that in the design of the R-Series mouthpieces, he opted for a rollover baffle instead of the Otto Link clam shell baffle typically used on vintage Otto Links because that clam shell baffle in larger tip openings can give a hollow quality to the tone.  Jack has owned dozens of Reso Chamber tenor mouthpieces and has a lot of experience and knowledge on the subject.

The R-Series mouthpiece chamber looks to be what I would consider a large sized chamber in comparison to a typical hard rubber Otto Link sized chamber that I would consider a large sized chamber also.  The roof of the mouthpiece chamber under the table is thin at the start but then the roof angles down as it travels through the chamber area to the bore.

Boston Sax Shop R-Series 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The diameter and beak profile of the Boston Sax Shop R-Series 7* tenor saxophone mouthpiece is very close to the diameter and beak profile of a typical hard rubber Otto Link tenor saxophone mouthpiece.  All of my saxophone ligatures that fit comfortably on hard rubber Otto Link tenor saxophone mouthpieces fit on the Boston Sax Shop R-Series 7* tenor saxophone mouthpiece perfectly.  I chose to use the Boston Sax Shop Gold Superlative ligature that I reviewed last year for this review.

Boston Sax Shop R-Series 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

I found a BSS (Boston Sax Shop) 3 tenor saxophone reed to play perfectly on this 7* R-Series tenor sax mouthpiece.  The 3 sized BSS reed was hard enough to give some healthy resistance to blow against while not being so hard that it felt stuffy or too resistant to me.  In keeping with the BSS brand, I used a BSS Gold Superlative ligature on the BSS R-Series mouthpiece as I mentioned earlier.

The Boston Sax Shop R-Series 7* tenor saxophone mouthpiece had a warm and darker tenor saxophone tone that I thought was one of the warmer tenor sax tones I have gotten with a tenor mouthpiece.  The tone of the mouthpiece was thick, round and rich in my opinion.  When I describe the tone as dark or warm, I am just describing that I don’t hear very many bright overtones in the saxophone tone.  Even when pushed louder, the R-Series tenor mouthpieces still kept it’s warmth and darker tone.

Besides the warmth aspect of the tone, the tone seemed nicely rounded to me like the bright overtones in the tone were shaved off to leave a beautiful pleasant round and warm saxophone tone.

I also described the BSS S-Series with many of these same adjectives but where the S-Series was described as focused, the R-Series seems to have a more spread and wide tone to it.  I tend to think of the S-Series as having a concentrated and focused warm tone and the R-Series as having a more spread warm saxophone tone that seems bigger in width if that makes sense.

Boston Sax Shop R-Series 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The intonation on the Boston Sax Shop R-Series 7* tenor saxophone mouthpiece was very good and the 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.  The character and warm tone seemed to blend well as I played faster lines throughout the low, mid and high range of the saxophone.   I specifically noticed that the middle open C# sounds much more homogeneous and uniform compared to the rest of the scale on my saxophone.  Usually, that note stands out as being more open and less full than the other notes around it, but with the BSS R-Series mouthpiece I didn’t hear that difference between the notes.  The C# sounded just as warm and full as the other notes on the saxophone.

The altissimo register of the saxophone was easy to produce on the Boston Sax Shop R-Series 7* tenor saxophone mouthpiece and the notes were easy to control and manipulate.  Usually, the altissimo range can get a bit too bright and edgy when pushed but with the R-Series mouthpiece the notes still kept a beautiful warmth and roundness up in that range.

The Boston Sax Shop R-Series 7* tenor saxophone mouthpiece had a good amount of power and volume when pushed.  I would say the volume was about an 8 when pushed on my 1-10 volume scale.  It wasn’t as loud as some higher baffled tenor mouthpieces are when pushed to maximum volume, but it has a respectable amount of volume for a mouthpiece that is as dark and warm as it is.

The R-Series mouthpiece did get a little brighter in tone when pushed but the brightness seemed more like a midrange brightness rather than a high end brightness if I were to relate it to the effects of EQ on a sound.  Even at the mouthpiece’s top volume, I felt like the Boston Sax Shop R-Series 7* tenor saxophone mouthpiece still retains a darker warmth to the tone.

Boston Sax Shop R-Series 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 Boston Sax Shop R-Series 7* tenor saxophone mouthpiece perform in different styles.  There are four sound clips.  What I found unusual about the R-Series tenor sax mouthpiece, is how good it sounds with reverb.  Usually, I don’t like added reverb with darker more spread tenor saxophone mouthpieces but the BSS R-Series tenor mouthpiece sounds killer with a little added reverb or in a big room with natural reverb.  I think this might be due to the fact that the BSS R-Series mouthpieces tends to lean to the dry side of a tenor saxophone tone and that added reverb has something to add to the tone that is beneficial.  Many tenor saxophone mouthpieces with dark and spread tones just sound like a washed out mess of sound when reverb is added because it is too much.  I love that the BSS R-Series tenor mouthpiece can sound so good with added reverb.

The first sound clip below is a recording of me playing a bunch of random lines and ideas like I usually do.  This is a dry recording with no reverb added.  This is how the BSS R-Series tenor saxophone mouthpiece sounds for me in the room I am playing in.  I am standing about 2-3 feet from the microphone.

The second clip is a version of some of the lines from the first clip with some reverb added.  I put some of the altissimo lines I play in the first clip into this clip also.

Clip 3 & 4 are simply the melodies of “My One and Only Love” and “My Foolish Heart” recorded with some reverb added.  I thought the BSS R-Series just sounded sublime on these two ballads.  I really loved the lush low notes on “My Foolish Heart” and the roundness and gentle warmth of tone throughout both ballads. ( I love that second low note in “My Foolish Heart”!!!)

Boston Sax Shop R-Series 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

In my opinion, the BSS Boston Sax Shop R-Series tenor saxophone mouthpiece is a great tenor sax mouthpiece for those of you looking for a tenor mouthpiece with an expressive tone that is warm, dark and lush but that can still deliver power and volume when pushed without losing those qualities.  It is a great hard rubber jazz mouthpiece that would be incredible for straight ahead jazz playing.

Modern tenor sax players such as Joel Frahm, Dayna Stephens, Lucas Pino and Ryan Devlin are now all playing the Boston Sax Shop R-Series tenor saxophone mouthpiece and if you go to the BSS page for this R-Series mouthpiece you can hear more samples of these great players playing the BSS R-Series tenor sax mouthpiece.

If you like the sound and look of the R-Series tenor sax mouthpieces by the Boston Sax Shop, you can find them at the Boston Sax Shop website.  BSS HAS AGREED TO GIVE READER’S OF THIS REVIEW 10% OFF THE PURCHASE OF A MOUTHPIECE IF YOU USE THE COUPON CODE NEFFMUSIC WHEN YOU CHECKOUT ON THEIR WEBSITE. (Neffmusic also gets a small commission from each sale using this coupon which helps support this website,  so thank you in advance if you use the code).

If you try a BSS Boston Sax Shop R-Series tenor saxophone mouthpiece or have any thoughts, comments or questions on this review,  I would love to hear what you think in the comments below.   Thanks,   Steve

Boston Sax Shop R-Series 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Boston Sax Shop 3 Reed-No Effects Added

Boston Sax Shop R-Series 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Boston Sax Shop 3 Reed-Reverb Added 

Boston Sax Shop R-Series 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Boston Sax Shop 3 Reed-My One and Only Love-Reverb Added 

Boston Sax Shop R-Series 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Boston Sax Shop 3 Reed-My Foolish Heart-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 Boston Sax Shop website using the 10% off coupon code “NEFFMUSIC” 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
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 Arya Boustani says

    Thanks Steve. I love the tone. It connects directly to the heart and speaks for itself. I think the magic is the role of midrange to fuse the low frequency warmth to the higher frequency expressions. The mid-range is indeed wide enough to open the arms so its hands can reach bass and treble content. The same mid-range role is to sound nice and keep its expression of emotions when adding reverb. I was looking at a Reso Chamber rollover baffle and it is indeed shorter. I have had short rollover baffles which deep dive to the chamber and felt a sense of detachment between the high frequencies and low frequencies. I’m glad BSS decided to make the baffle slightly longer and less of the deep dive to fill up that gap of mid-range frequencies. The first two notes of My Foolish heart shows two qualities that I like. First note (high note) is not nasal and buzzy (which I heard in a few My Foolish Heart recordings) and the 2nd note (low note) definition is not smeared while sounding lush. Bravo to Jack for this rendition of a Reso Chamber. Actually, personally I don’t care if the geometry of the Reso Chamber is followed. The bottom line is the tone, and THIS one delivers that objective.

    • Wow! Arya, you are so good with what you hear but I also love your detailed descriptions of what you hear. I’m tempted to send you every sound clip I record before posting just for your added insight and detailed descriptions. So good! Thanks again!

  2. Wow, what a remarkable feat : this mouthpiece seems to make the most of each register of the horn—-lushness down low, depth in the middle, and warmth up high (which would normally take three different mouthpieces)—-and make them blend as one. That’s a good one! Now, how can I sound like you on it?

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