Theo Wanne Lakshmi Gold Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece Review

Today, I am excited to be reviewing a brand new “top secret” tenor saxophone mouthpiece by Theo Wanne called the Lakshmi. This Lakshmi gold tenor saxophone mouthpiece has a 7*  tip opening and is being released here (Lakshmi page) by Theo Wanne at the same time as I am posting this review today.  I have been so excited about this mouthpiece over the last two weeks but was asked to not post anything about it until today’s release date.  I am so thrilled to finally be able to post this review……….

Theo Wanne Lakshmi 7* Gold Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

A few weeks ago, I knew nothing about this new mouthpiece by Theo Wanne, then I received an email asking me if I would be interested in reviewing it for the Lakshmi mouthpiece release on June 3rd. Here is how the Lakshmi was described by the crew at Theo Wanne in that email:

For the straight-ahead tenor players out there, we’re proud to release our first new Pro-Line model in 7 years, the LAKSHMI:

Theo’s storied history as the vintage mouthpiece refacer to some of the world’s greatest players was the inspiration for this model. The LAKSHMI is the ultimate VINTAGE sound, with all of Theo’s new technology built in. This model is for all the vintage Otto Link fans out there craving the very best dark, balanced, straight-ahead, yet full-bodied CORE vintage sound! Prototypes for this new model have been circulating amongst amazing players from New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Vancouver and Berklee, and the overwhelming consensus is, if you play jazz, you need to play the LAKSHMI. Available in gold-plated brass and in sizes 6*, 7*, 8 and 9.

Wow!  With a description like that, I had to give this Theo Wanne Lakshmi tenor saxophone mouthpiece a try for myself………..

Theo Wanne Lakshmi 7* Gold Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Theo Wanne Lakshmi 7* tenor sax mouthpiece was shipped with the usual high standards of the Theo Wanne mouthpiece company.  The Lakshmi mouthpiece comes in a perfectly designed box with stylish gold printing on it with all the details about the Lakshmi tenor sax mouthpiece inside.  Inside the box is a beautiful black leatherette Theo Wanne mouthpiece case with the Lakshmi 7* tenor saxophone mouthpiece well protected inside.

The Lakshmi 7* tenor sax mouthpiece has a built in ligature included called the “Liberty Ligature” (I call it the Enlightened Ligature in the sound clip by mistake)  that is already attached to the mouthpiece. The Lakshmi tenor sax mouthpiece comes with a detailed information card with specific directions on how to adjust the built in ligature, the affects on the saxophone tone when the ligature is in different positions and directions on how to change the pressure plates on the ligature.

The Lakshmi 7* mouthpiece comes with a reed replacer cap which is on the mouthpiece where the reed goes and the ligature is tightened down on the reed replacer cap to protect the mouthpiece in shipping and when you are not playing it.

Although the reed replacer cap is a cool idea, the Lakshmi 7* tenor mouthpiece does not come with a “regular” mouthpiece cap that you slide on the mouthpiece over the reed and around the ligature. At the time of this review, there is a page on the Theo Wanne website that has new Theo Wanne mouthpiece caps for sale .  Theo sent me one of these new mouthpiece caps to try out and like all of the Theo Wanne products, this mouthpiece cap is a quality mouthpiece cap.  It is strong, durable and fits on all the metal Theo Wanne tenor mouthpieces perfectly!   Maybe, it is just the fact that Theo has kept us waiting for like 10-15 years for a mouthpiece cap, but I have to say, this mouthpiece cap gave me such a sense of relief, completion and satisfaction to put over the Lakshmi mouthpiece that I now feel like my life is complete. It fits like a glove and I could go and have lunch knowing that my Theo Wanne Lakshmi mouthpiece and reed were well protected……….

Theo Wanne Lakshmi 7* Gold Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

As you can see above, the Liberty ligature on the Gold Lakshmi 7* tenor saxophone mouthpiece is connected to the mouthpiece through screws on the ligature that tighten into holes on the sides of the Lakshmi tenor mouthpiece.  The mouthpiece comes with a hex screwdriver that can be used to loosen these screws and move the ligature forward or backwards in relation to the reed and mouthpiece table.

The Lakshmi tenor sax mouthpiece has five positions (holes) that can be used to adjust the ligature.  I personally like the ligature in the middle hole setting as it puts the ligature plate towards the rear of the saxophone reed allowing the reed to vibrate and flex freely but not so far back that I feel it might not put enough pressure on the body of the reed to seal.  This is where I kept the ligature for the duration of my playing time on the Lakshmi tenor saxophone mouthpiece.

Theo Wanne Lakshmi 7* Gold Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Theo Wanne Lakshmi tenor saxophone mouthpiece is beautifully made and has a perfect looking symmetry and balance to it just like all of the Theo Wanne mouthpieces.  The mouthpiece engraving is as perfect as can be.  Not a flaw or mistake anywhere.  On the top of the body of the Lakshmi tenor saxophone mouthpiece is cool engraving of a person’s face with a nose ring.  The shank of the mouthpiece is engraved with “Theo Wanne” and “Made in USA”.

Each Theo Wanne mouthpiece has a unique serial number on the shank which I really love as I know which mouthpiece is mine and if I decide to sell a mouthpiece everyone knows from the serial number that this is the mouthpiece I reviewed on my site.

Each Theo Wanne mouthpiece comes with a bite plate that has a rubber Theo Wanne rubber patch on it.  These patches can be reordered and replaced when they get worn out and I have to admit that this is the first Theo Wanne metal mouthpiece I have tried without using an extra rubber bite pad on it.  Usually, I am afraid of hurting the mouthpiece in any way but this time, I decided to live on the edge and use the built in bite patch.   I figure I can always order another one if I need to replace it.

Theo Wanne Lakshmi 7* Gold Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The tip, rails, baffle, table and chamber all look perfect. Smooth, even, symmetrical, …….flawless.   When it comes to perfection, the standard doesn’t get much higher than Theo Wanne saxophone mouthpieces.  I have reviewed quite a few Theo Wanne mouthpieces over the years and it is quite rare to see any imperfections of any kind.

The window of the Lakshmi tenor sax mouthpiece is a bit larger than other tenor sax mouthpiece windows on my shelf.  Comparing it to a handful of designer mouthpieces, the Lakshmi window is larger than all of them.  The window is also quite a bit larger when comparing it to other metal Otto Link mouthpieces of various vintages.  This extra window area allows more of the reed to freely vibrate and respond while playing, in my opinion.

The sidewalls of the Lakshmi tenor sax mouthpiece are scooped out as they head towards the chamber that Theo Wanne describes as a “large-stadium” chamber.  Here is how Theo Wanne describes the “Large-Stadium” chamber on his website:

A BIG Vintage Large Chamber Sound with incredible Focus and Core.   Not too bright, or too dark, but the perfect balance.    The Lakshmi tenor saxophone mouthpiece uses a unique and proprietary Elongated-Roll-Over-Baffle™, as well as Theo’s new Large-Stadium Chamber™.    The Large-Stadium Chamber™ is a technologically advanced version of a traditional large chamber, combining True-Large Chamber sections with Medium Chamber sections for a focus and core that is incredible while maintaining the full, rich sound of a True-Large-Chamber.   The name comes from the shape of the chamber, which approximates the shape of a sports stadium.  The LAKSHMI projects very well, but never sounds harsh or thin, just a big vintage tenor sound Dexter Gordon would be proud of.  It is the evolution of the traditional Otto Link style vintage sound.”-Theo Wanne

Theo Wanne Lakshmi 7* Gold Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

Reading the description of the Large-Stadium chamber above, I tried to eyeball how big the Lakshmi chamber was compared to my Theo Wanne Gaia 3 and Gaia 4 mouthpieces I have on hand.  I really had a hard time trying to compare the two chambers and couldn’t measure by eye if they were the same or if the Lakshmi was slightly smaller.  I asked Theo about this size comparison and he responded,   “The Stadium Chamber is as large as the GAIA 4 chamber in some areas, but smaller in others.”   I assume this “stadium” chamber design has an impact on the focus and core sound of this mouthpiece as I will write about later in the review.

The Lakshmi mouthpiece chamber is slightly bigger in diameter than the bore of the mouthpiece and the bottom floor of the chamber is scooped out to make it a little bit lower than the bore.  The roof of the mouthpiece chamber is nice and thin.

The Lakshmi mouthpiece baffle is a lower baffle than the Theo Wanne Gaia 3 and Gaia 4 model tenor sax mouthpiece baffles and looks to be a little higher initially than the baffle of the Ambika 3 tenor saxophone mouthpiece.  The first 1/4 inch of baffle is a medium high, slightly angled and flat baffle.  I don’t see any rollover or curve to the baffle at all.  After the medium shelf baffle, the baffle meets a straight edge and then descends at a greater angle until it reaches a scooped out edge where the Lakshmi mouthpiece chamber starts.

Theo Wanne Lakshmi 7* Gold Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Theo Wanne Lakshmi 7* tenor saxophone mouthpiece played absolutely fantastic with the first reed I put on it which was a Roberto’s Winds 3 Soft tenor saxophone reed.  This was a pleasant surprise for me because I have had a hard times with saxophone reeds lately as I have found them to be either too soft or too hard.  The Roberto’s Winds 3 soft reed was in my opinion, the absolute perfect strength reed for this Lakshmi tenor sax mouthpiece.  The Roberto’s Winds reed felt hard enough to blow against and get a full, hearty tenor saxophone tone, but it was soft enough to be expressive and shapeable if that makes sense.

The day of the recording, the Roberto’s Winds reed I had been using felt like it was nearing the end of the reed’s life, so I put another Roberto’s Winds 3 Soft reed on and to my surprise, it played just as good, if not better, than the first reed did.  That second reed is the reed I recorded the sound clips with.

The tone on the Theo Wanne Lakshmi tenor sax mouthpiece was full bodied, rich and complex sounding.  The Lakshmi leans to the darker and warmer side of a tenor saxophone tone but has enough sparkle and brightness to the tone to make it interesting and “alive” sounding.  This complex and rich tone is special in that I found myself just holding out random notes and listening to the colors and layers of each note as I played.  It was really quite interesting and fascinating.

One aspect about the Lakshmi tenor saxophone mouthpiece that I noticed is that the more air I put through the mouthpiece, the fuller and more rich the tone sounded to me.  It has this huge fat sound full of texture and complexity in the tone, but I also found it to be incredibly focused sounding which I absolutely loved.  I found this fascinating as most mouthpiece I have played seem to get brighter and edgier when pushed, but although those qualities can be useful, many times they take away from the rich, complex, lush and grainy tenor sax tone that I find so beautiful.  I did not feel this way about the Theo Wanne Lakshmi tenor sax mouthpiece.  The more I pushed it with air, the more the tone grew in fullness as well as richness, complexity and character.

Theo Wanne Lakshmi 7* Gold Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

Another positive to the Lakshmi tenor saxophone mouthpiece is that it has excellent intonation.  The middle range of the sax, which is usually sharp on my Selmer SBA tenor saxophone (D,D#,E) was much more in-tune and a couple times, I found myself voicing these notes lower out of habit when I didn’t need to.  They were already in tune.  This was a pleasant surprise!

Another positive quality to the Theo Wanne Lakshmi tenor sax mouthpiece is that I found all the notes throughout the range of the saxophone to be thick and full sounding. There were no thin notes to be found and if I found a note to be a little thin it was not the fault of the mouthpiece as adding just a little more air filled out the note and thickened it up nicely.

The Lakshmi played incredibly even throughout the range of the tenor saxophone when playing at full volume or softly and the evenness of notes made fast playing sound and feel really smooth and flowing.

The low notes on the Lakshmi were a joy to play.  These notes were thick and full and sounded great when sub-toned.  The altissimo range was easy to produce and the notes in that higher range of the saxophone just popped out really easily while still being fat and round sounding.

Theo Wanne Lakshmi 7* Gold Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

One of the most exciting thoughts to share about the new Theo Wanne Lakshmi tenor saxophone mouthpiece is my impression that my discoveries with this tenor sax mouthpiece up to this review are only the tip of the ice berg.  The Lakshmi tenor saxophone mouthpiece gives me the sense and impression that playing it is the start of an interesting and rewarding journey.  I think these thoughts lend to the fact that the tone of the Lakshmi mouthpiece is so rich, layered and complex, that I feel like there are depths to explore within the tone if that makes sense.

Bottom line, ideally, a sax player’s main love should be their own tone and the Theo Wanne Lakshmi tenor sax mouthpiece really delivers in that regard. Every time I have played this mouthpiece during the last two weeks, I have been captivated by it’s sound.  Sometime I just play one note and then stop and smile shaking my head.  That is the best feeling in the world for a sax player, in my opinion.

Theo Wanne Lakshmi 7* Gold Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

On the sound clip below, I try to give a good range and variety of saxophone sounds and textures so that you can hear how the Theo Wanne Lakshmi 7* tenor saxophone mouthpiece performs in different styles.  I demonstrate the sound of the Lakshmi tenor mouthpiece with all my usual lines and melodies so if you want to compare it to my other sound clips and reviews, you should be able to find many of the same lines to compare this sound clip to.

This is a longer sound clip and honestly, I recorded two of them that were both about 30 minutes each.  I was just having so much fun playing this mouthpiece.  I had a wicked hard time editing this clip down to under 6 minutes and I didn’t even get to the second sound clip.

I did add a second short sound clip of some of my altissimo lines from the first clip with some reverb added.  I’m not sure if this was needed, but I think it might help some of you who want an idea of how this mouthpiece might sound when pushed harder in a big hall or through a PA with reverb added.

Theo Wanne Lakshmi 7* Gold Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

In my opinion, the Theo Wanne Lakshmi 7* tenor saxophone mouthpiece is a terrific metal tenor saxophone mouthpiece for those looking for a classic, warm, hearty, focused, vintage Otto Link type tenor saxophone tone that can still be incredibly powerful.  I honestly loved the warmth and tonal complexity, but what I loved along with it, was the power that I could get out of this Lakshmi tenor sax mouthpiece.  This mouthpiece could take all of the air I could give it and produce an incredibly powerful tenor saxophone sound.

I really love this Theo Wanne Lakshmi tenor saxophone mouthpiece.  I have to be honest, I have been looking for a mouthpiece like this for years.  A mouthpiece that can give the warmth and complexity of tone of a “killer” Otto Link but also deliver the volume, power and focus that so many of us need in a modern setting.  The Lakshmi doesn’t do this by multiplying the brights with a high baffle like many mouthpieces do but by what I believe  is a balance in the design that allows the Theo Wanne Lakshmi to really travel the path between the “classic” Otto Link sound but also deliver more power and focus than most Otto Link metal mouthpieces I have tried can deliver.   Well done Theo Wanne!

Theo Wanne Lakshmi 7* Gold Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

If you like the sound and look of the Theo Wanne Lakshmi 7* tenor saxophone mouthpiece, you can find them at Theo Wanne’s website. I have agreed to be an affiliate for Theo Wanne so if you purchase a Lakshmi tenor saxophone mouthpiece from this link, neffmusic.com will receive a small commission on the sale. (This helps to support my site and keep the saxophone related reviews, articles and transcriptions coming to you…..).

If you are lucky enough to play a Theo Wanne Lakshmi tenor saxophone mouthpiece or have any other thoughts or comments, I would love to hear what you think in the comments below.  Thanks,   Steve

Theo Wanne Lakshmi 7* Gold Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Roberto’s Winds 3 Soft Reed-No Effects Added

Altissimo Clip with Reverb-Theo Wanne Lakshmi 7* Gold Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Roberto’s Winds 3 Soft 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. If you purchase a Theo Wanne Lakshmi tenor sax mouthpiece through the link I provided in the review, I will receive a small commission that helps to support my work here at neffmusic.com. 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.

Comments

  1. Avatar Benjamin Allen says

    Great review, Steve!

  2. Avatar Mark Rybiski says

    My only qualm Steve is you sound pretty good regardless of which tenor mouthpiece you are reviewing. That stated, this is as good as it gets and you sound like you found “the holy grail”, right in the pocket with this mouthpiece.

  3. Kind of a Blue Lou vibe on the altissimo

  4. The sound and inside remind me of the old Francois Louis silver pieces with the sphere chamber.

    You sound really comfortable on this piece!!!

  5. Avatar Humberto Ardila says

    Steve :
    It would be very useful if you can post another photo of the mouthpiece, like the last one you posted ( vertical View) that shows the window, to have the dimensión of the window related to the length of the mouthpiece.
    Accordying to the position of the pressure plate, is it more beneficial to place the pressure plate in the same position as the Lakshmi on every mouthpiece ( Otto Link, for example) in order to have the Reed vibrate more ?
    “(I personally like the ligature in the middle hole setting as it puts the ligature plate towards the rear of the saxophone reed allowing the reed to vibrate and flex freely)”
    My Otto Link STM has a 40 mm window . Could you tell us what is the measure of the Lakshmi window ?
    I was hearing your audio clip , with very good headphones and you get a full Tone, warmth, and as you said , in the way Dexter Gordon produced. Congratulations…!

    • From what I can tell, the Lakshmi window measures 1 3/4 inches which is approximately 45 mm. I do place my ligatures on metal Otto Links towards the rear of the table so I am thinking it is around the same position as on the Lakshmi.

  6. Great Steve that is tempting for sure, personally would like to compare to the AMMA 8 that I already have had for 10 +years.
    And interesting to see absence of ‘shark gill surface treatment’ on the baffle.
    Do you have a view on this cf Gaia 3/4 ?
    Thanks for all the reviews and help.
    Mike

  7. My apology Steve .. was sloppy of me
    cf. ‘compared to.
    Mike

  8. compare
    The abbreviation cf. (short for the Latin: confer/conferatur, both meaning ‘compare’) is used in writing to refer the reader to other material to make a comparison with the topic being discussed.

    Cf. – Wikipediahttps://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Cf.

  9. Avatar Andy Geiger says

    Steve,

    I got the Lakshmi 7* yesterday and put it right on the horn. I am stunned by this mouthpiece. Great sound, just right resistance, intonation excellent. Wow!

    I have moved the ligature around and I also like it in the middle setting. Have tried D’Addario 2H, BSS 3, and Nexus 3 reeds, and they all work well with this set-up. Cannonball Global Series Big Bell and BSS Heritage Neck.

    I am truly amazed by the Lakshmi.

  10. Volume on scale 1-10?

  11. It will be interesting indeed to compare this one to the Gaia4 …
    I still believe you sound best on the Navarro bebop special metal tenor mouthpiece.

  12. Avatar Erick Daniel Guevara López says

    Thanks Steve for the review, they are very helpful and very well done.
    I’m looking forward to the Gaia 4 review, I’m interested in comparing it to the Gaia 3 version and this new Lakshmi mouthpiece. Cheers.

  13. Hi Steve, How does this compare with the Gaia Metal 3? I’ve decided the Gaia doesn’t quite ‘sing’ enough for me, if you know what I mean, so I’ve been playing the Retro Revival Super D New York, which I love, but your sound on and praise for the Lakshmi (and previous experience where your recommendations have been spot on), makes me interested! Do I need a new tenor piece, no, but that’s never stopped me.

  14. Avatar Bob Doherty says

    You always sound great but that is, by far, the best you have ever sounded. You should keep that mouthpiece!

    I would love to try one but too bad it’s prohibitively expensive.

    Bob

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