Meyer Bros New York Connoisseur Series Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece Review

Today, I am reviewing two new Meyer Bros New York 7 and 8 Connoisseur series alto saxophone mouthpieces made by JJ Babbitt.  The Connoisseur Meyer Bros NY alto saxophone mouthpieces are advertised as being a reproduction of the original Meyer Bros New York alto saxophone mouthpiece that Cannonball Adderley played as described in this quote from the JJ Babbitt website:

“Yes, the original Meyer Bros New York alto saxophone mouthpiece that Cannonball played and had retro-fitted with a brass retention ring due to a cracked shank is now available to you. We believe it’s the best Meyer hard rubber alto sax mouthpiece JJ Babbitt has ever made and have even included the original Bonade style ligature. We believe you will agree, “It’s Back…”

I have only played a few vintage hard rubber Meyer alto saxophone mouthpieces over the years and am very excited to try one of these new hard rubber Meyer Bros NY connoisseur alto saxophone mouthpieces out!

Meyer Bros New York 8 Connoisseur Series Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

The original hard rubber Meyer Bros New York alto saxophone mouthpieces that were made from 1948-1959 came in three chamber sizes according to the Theo Wanne mouthpiece museum.   Here is a quote from Theo Wanne’s page on the vintage Meyer Bros NY alto sax mouthpieces:

The most sought after of the Meyer mouthpieces is the Meyer Bros New York model. These had a fat body and came in a small, medium, and large chamber. The small chambers were very bright, and the large chambers were very dark. Hence most people played on the medium chambers. The large or small chambers are still very good playing mouthpieces though. The finish work on these was excellent. They had very rounded inner side walls and a small rollover baffle at the tip. The Meyer Brothers mouthpieces are also known for having a very good quality hard rubber compound that produces a very rich sound.

The vintage Meyer Bros NY mouthpieces were made with a large, medium or small chamber.  When comparing my photos of the chambers of these new Meyer Bros NY Connoisseur alto mouthpieces they look the most like the chambers of the medium chambered vintage Meyer Bros NY alto mouthpieces in the photos.  I asked Steve Rorie at JJ Babbitt if these were indeed medium chambers just to confirm what size chambers these have and here is his reply:

“What seems to be a simple question has a fairly complex answer;

What most people don’t know, is prior to Babbitt acquiring Meyer Bros., they were sourcing blanks from multiple sources ( 3 and sometimes 4 sources). Even including JJ Babbitt in the last couple of years leading up to the acquisition.  So when you are comparing the current Meyer Bros NY Connoisseur mouthpiece to an old vintage Meyer Bros NY mouthpiece,  how closely it compares depends largely on the blank source of the original mouthpiece you have. We studied the various iterations from the past and had some pro players we trust provide us feedback and elected to reproduce the version we felt best duplicated the intended sound and blow of the Meyer Bros. NY that Cannonball Adderley played and recorded with. 

Also, regarding the chamber…the Connoisseur is actually in between a medium and a small, just like the vintage blank version we chose to reproduce. But it is closer to a medium than a small so we referred to it as a medium just like the Meyer Brothers did back in the day.”-Steve Rorie-President/CEO JJ Babbitt

The most notable sax players that I know that played a Meyer Bros NY alto saxophone mouthpiece are Cannonball Adderley and Sonny Stitt.  I have read that Jim Snidero plays one also and that he actually owns Cannonball Adderley’s original Meyer Bros New York mouthpiece!  Wow!   That is pretty awesome!

Meyer Bros New York 7 Connoisseur Series Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

I received a 7 and 8 Meyer Bros NY Connoisseur alto saxophone mouthpiece directly from JJ Babbitt along with an Otto Link Early Babbitt 7* Connoisseur tenor saxophone mouthpiece that I have already reviewed.  All the mouthpieces were packaged well and came with metal ligatures and mouthpiece caps.  The Meyer Bros NY alto mouthpieces came with what JJ Babbitt describes as an “original Bonade style ligature”.   “Meyer Bros” is engraved on the ligature as well as the mouthpiece cap.

The Meyer Bros New York Connoisseur alto saxophone mouthpieces look like you would expect a great hard rubber Meyer alto sax mouthpiece to look with the exception of having a gold band that circles the shank of the mouthpieces.  This gold band is not something the vintage Meyers had on them but it is a cool looking as well as functional addition.  The gold band encircles the hard rubber shank and offers protection against having the shank crack as has happened in the past to Cannonball Adderley.

The top of the Meyer Bros NY mouthpiece has “Meyer Bros” and “New York” engraved into the hard rubber. The lettering is painted gold as you can see in the many mouthpiece photos in this review.

The table of the Meyer Bros NY mouthpiece has a triangle with the tip opening and “Meyer Lapped Facing M” engraved in the triangle.  The box the mouthpiece comes in says that the facing length is medium so I believe the M engraved on the table is in reference to the facing length and not the chamber size.

Meyer Bros New York 8 Connoisseur Series Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

The new Meyer Bros New York Connoisseur Series alto saxophone mouthpiece comes in four tip opening options.  5M=.071, 6M=.076, 7M=.081 and the 8M=.086.   I usually play alto sax mouthpieces with a tip opening between .076 and .080 but when communicating back and forth with Steve Rorie at JJ Babbitt, Steve was very enthusiastic about the Meyer Bros NY alto mouthpiece in the 8 tip opening and said a number of professional players were blown away by the 8 tip opening mouthpiece.  After hearing that, I asked if I could perhaps review a 7 and an 8 tip opening.  I was a bit skeptical that I would love the 8 tip opening because I have usually not cared for alto sax mouthpieces with a .086 tip opening but in retrospect, I am glad that Steve convinced me to give the 8 tip opening Meyer Bros NY alto saxophone mouthpiece a try.

Meyer Bros New York 7 Connoisseur Series Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

The JJ Babbitt Meyer Bros NY connoisseur alto sax mouthpiece looks very well made and the table, side rails and tip rail look within normal parameters to the eye.  The side rails look even and uniform as they travel towards the tip and the tip rail looks even and well curved.

The tip rail is close to the shape of my Rigotti cane reeds that I use (BSS, Rigotti Gold, Roberto’s Winds, Syos reeds are all Rigotti cane reeds) but the Rigotti cane reed shape curves at a sharper decline on the outside edges of the reed than the curve of the tip rail on the Meyer Bros NY Connoisseur alto sax mouthpieces. All the reeds I used for this review sealed well when performing the suction test and played great for me.

Meyer Bros New York 7 Connoisseur Series Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

The baffle of the Meyer Bros NY Connoisseur alto sax mouthpieces is what I would consider a medium rollover baffle height.  It travels about a 1/4 of an inch and then rolls over where the baffle then proceeds to head at a greater angle towards the rear of the mouthpiece chamber.   The baffle looks even and balanced from side to side.  The entire run of the baffle after the rollover has a slight curve from side to side.  I believe the mouthpiece side walls have a very slight scoop to them as they head towards the chamber as well.  With the eye, the sidewalls look straight to me, but when I feel them with my finger, it feels like they are scooped out a small amount.

The mouthpiece chamber is what I would consider a medium chamber and the bottom floor of the chamber looks to be scooped out slightly when the light hits it at the right angle.   The chamber is a little bit larger than the diameter of the bore of the mouthpiece.  The roof of the mouthpiece chamber is a medium thickness.

Meyer Bros New York 8 Connoisseur Series Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Meyer Bros NY Connoisseur alto saxophone mouthpieces played great with a variety of reeds.   For the sound clips below, I used a Rigotti Gold 3 light reed on the 7 tip opening and a Rigotti Gold 2 1/2 strong on the 8 tip opening.  These reed strengths felt the most comfortable to me on these tip openings.  I would have liked to use the same reed on both mouthpieces for comparison sake but the 3 light reed felt too hard on the 8 tip opening and the 2 1/2 strong reed felt too soft on the 7 tip opening.

I have posted seven clips of the two Meyer Bros NY alto sax mouthpieces below and grouped them together in pairs for comparison sake.  At the end I added a lone clip of the 7 tip opening playing “My little Suede Shoes” just because I liked how light and crisp the tone of the 7 tip opening Meyer Bros NY mouthpiece was.  Unfortunately, I didn’t record “My Little Suede Shoes” on the 8 tip opening Meyer Bros NY to compare it to.

Each sound clip was recorded dry (without effects) but I also posted two clips with reverb added to the recording.  I like to add clips with reverb added to my reviews to give the listener a taste of what a mouthpiece might sound like with a little reverb added. This also gives the listener an idea of how the mouthpiece might sound when played in a big hall or theater with a natural reverb in the room.

Meyer Bros New York 7 Connoisseur Series Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

I have to admit that the 8 tip opening Meyer Bros NY mouthpiece really surprised me in that the tip opening did not feel too big for me.  It felt quite comfortable for me and I hardly ever go over an .080 tip opening on alto saxophone mouthpieces, so feeling comfortable on the 8 tip opening was a nice surprise.

I had a heck of a time figuring out which of these Meyer Bros NY alto sax mouthpieces I liked the best.  They both played great for me and had different attributes that I really enjoyed.  The 8 tip opening Meyer Bros NY seemed to have a bigger sound that was more round and fat sounding.  That roundness of tone seemed really pleasant and beautiful to listen to.  I was indeed reminded of Cannonball’s fat alto saxophone tone while playing this 8 tip opening Meyer Bros mouthpiece.

The 7 tip opening seemed to have a more concentrated core to the sound.  The bright accents while playing bebop lines seemed to pop out more when playing fast bebop lines which  made the lines more crisp and easier to accent. I really enjoyed this.  The 7 tip opening also seemed to have a lighter tone to it in general.  I really loved the light, crisp tone at the softer and more medium volumes.  It also seemed like the articulation on the 7 tip opening was a little lighter and faster than the 8 tip opening but I think that might simply be connected to the fact that the 8 has a fatter tone and the 7 a lighter tone to it.  It makes sense that articulating a lighter tone would seem lighter than articulating with a fatter tone.  The 7 tip opening reminded me more of a Phil Woods kind of tone.

I did feel like I could get more volume out of the 8 tip opening which is most likely due to being able to force more air through that .086 tip opening.  I do hear a little of the hollowness in the tone of the 8 tip opening that I describe in many reviews when I play larger tip openings, but I don’t mind it and the tone sounds great to me on this 8 tip opening.  I notice that the 7 tip opening seems to have a more tight, concentrated core to the tone in comparison to the 8 tip opening.

Meyer Bros New York 8 Connoisseur Series Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

When I listen to the sound clips, I think the brightness of the 7 and 8 tip openings are very similar.  I do get the impression that the 7 tip opening is a little brighter but I wonder if this is because the 7 tip opening seems like the brightness is right on the surface of the tight core of tone where as the 8 tip opening seems like the brightness is diffused a tad by the fat round tone if that makes sense.

Both mouthpieces were easy to play expressively.  Vibrato and bending were easy to implement and use.  I don’t play much in the altissimo on the alto sax just because it irritates my one remaining good ear but the little I played up in the altissimo range seemed easy to play.

The intonation of both mouthpieces was excellent and pretty darn close to “0” on the tuner up and down the range of the alto saxophone.

 

Meyer Bros New York 8 Connoisseur Series Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

The differences between tip openings written about above are really subjective and personal.  I know many of you will be tempted to ask me “Steve, which one is better?” or “Which one should I get?” but I can’t answer that question for you, you have to decide that for yourself.  When I have students ask that question in lessons, I tell them that answering that question for them would be like me telling them what person they should date.  It just doesn’t work that way, it is a personal decision each person has to make.   I could go around telling everyone they should date and marry someone like my wife but not everyone is attracted to the same qualities that I am.  It’s the same with mouthpieces……..Everyone is different and has different tastes and preferences.

Meyer Bros New York 7 Connoisseur Series Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

Some thoughts about the sound clips below:

The first two clips are extended random fragments of lines and melodies to listen to.  You can immediately hear the lightness of the line and tone with the first line of the 7 tip opening clip.  I totally loved this sound and vibe on this clip.  That lightness I describe makes it seem like I could play the lines even faster.  I also think that lightness makes the articulation and accents pop a little more within the smooth light bebop lines.  When I play Kim at the 2:30 mark, I think that is the fastest I have ever played that line due to the tone being so light and crisp.

In comparison, the second clip, of the 8 tip opening,  sounds more fat, bold and “in your face”.  The volume difference is apparent immediately.  Both clips were recorded exactly the same and although I am playing at different volume levels initially, the fact that the first clip stays lighter and the the second clip continues with a fatter, heavier tone shows the difference in tone between these two mouthpieces for me.  At the :34 mark of the second clip, I play that line from Kim again.  I’m playing lighter and softer but I think the tone sounds a bit fatter and heavier than the tone when playing it at 2:30 on the first clip using the 7 tip opening.

At the 1:04 mark of the second clip, you can hear how the tone of the 8 tip opening fills out and fattens up even more with a little more air.  To me, the 7 tip opening sounds more dainty, polite and sophisticated and the 8 tip opening sounds more bold and in your face.  At 1:54, I play a blues lick with even more air and you can hear how the 8 tip opening takes all the air and converts it to a tone that is more forceful.   I think if you are a player that plays a good amount of R&B and loud pop music on the alto saxophone , then the 8 tip opening would give you a bit more of the volume and presence you would need for those types of settings.

In the comparison clips of “The Summer Knows” and “On the Sunny Side of the Street”, I think it helps to play a phrase from one clip, pause it and then play the phrase on the other clip to compare phrase to phrase.  Listening to these clips was really helpful to me. Although I had the impression while playing the 7 tip opening that it had a tighter core of tone while playing, listening to the clips leads me to believe that what is coming out of the front of the saxophone is a more “in your face” and distinct core of tone from the 8 tip opening mouthpiece.  The brightness of both mouthpieces sound similar to me but the 8 tip mouthpiece has a fatter tone that has a more round solid definition to the edges of the tone where as the 7 tip opening has a lighter tone that has more of a soft diffused border to the tone rather than a hard line like the 8 tip opening has.  It’s interesting how you hear one thing from behind the saxophone and then something else when you listen back to a recording.

Meyer Bros New York 7 Connoisseur Series Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece

In my opinion, the JJ Babbitt Meyer Bros NY connoisseur alto saxophone mouthpiece is a great hard rubber alto saxophone mouthpiece for those looking for a classic vintage Meyer kind of alto saxophone sound.  A great characteristic to these Meyer mouthpieces is that they don’t pigeon hole you into one sound.  Think about all the players that played Meyer alto saxophone mouthpieces! Cannonball Adderley, Phil Woods, Sonny Stitt, etc…..  Heck,  even Mark Russo!  I heard Mark Russo playing live with the Yellowjackets back in the 80’s and wondered what mystery mouthpiece allowed him to get that really bright tone and killer altissimo…….. a Meyer 6 I believe it was!  That blew me away!   My point here, is that a lot can be done with these mouthpieces and the Meyer design allows the player to mold and shape the tone in whatever way they would like.

I will say that as I tried these two Meyer Bros NY connoisseur alto saxophone mouthpieces for this review, I imagined being able to try these mouthpieces back in the 80’s and 90’s when I was searching for a great alto sax mouthpiece.   I would have been incredibly excited to try a Meyer hard rubber mouthpiece like these two back then!  These two alto mouthpieces are very different than the many Meyer hard rubber alto sax mouthpieces I tried out in the 80’s through the 2000’s that is for sure.  JJ Babbitt did a great job with this new Connoisseur series Meyer Bros NY alto saxophone mouthpiece!

If you like the sound and look of the Meyer Bros NY Connoisseur alto saxophone mouthpiece by JJ Babbitt, you can find them for sale at Sweetwater. I have agreed to be an affiliate for Sweetwater so if you purchase a Meyer Bros NY Connoisseur alto sax 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…..). Sweetwater even offers the option to pay in three installments as well which is nice.

If you are lucky enough to play a Meyer Bros New York Connoisseur series alto saxophone mouthpiece or have any other thoughts or comments, I would love to hear what you think in the comments below.  I would also love to hear what you think of the differences between these two mouthpieces and which you like better in the comments below.    Thanks,   Steve

Long Clip Comparison Between Meyer Bros NY 7 & 8 Connoisseur Alto Sax Mouthpieces 

Meyer Bros New York 7 Connoisseur Series Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece – Rigotti Gold 3 Light Reed

Meyer Bros New York 8 Connoisseur Series Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece – Rigotti Gold 2 1/2 Strong Reed

 

Short Clip with Reverb Comparison Between Meyer Bros NY 7 & 8 Connoisseur Alto Sax Mouthpieces 

Meyer Bros New York 7 Connoisseur Series Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece – Rigotti Gold 3 Light Reed -Reverb

Meyer Bros New York 8 Connoisseur Series Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece – Rigotti Gold 2 1/2 Strong Reed-Reverb

“The Summer Knows” Comparison Between Meyer Bros NY 7 & 8 Connoisseur Alto Sax Mouthpieces 

Meyer Bros New York Connoisseur Series Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece – Rigotti Gold 3 Light Reed

Meyer Bros New York Connoisseur Series Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece – Rigotti Gold 2 1/2 Strong Reed

 

“On the Sunny Side of the Street” Comparison Between Meyer Bros NY 7 & 8 Connoisseur Alto Sax Mouthpieces 

Meyer Bros New York 7 Connoisseur Series Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece – Rigotti Gold 3 Light Reed

Meyer Bros New York 8 Connoisseur Series Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece – Rigotti Gold 2 1/2 Strong

“My Little Suede Shoes” Meyer Bros NY 7  Alto Sax Mouthpiece 

Meyer Bros New York 7 Connoisseur Series Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece – Rigotti Gold 3 Light Reed

Disclosure: I received the sample mouthpieces reviewed above for free in the hope that I would try them and perhaps review them on my blog. I also receive a small commission when you purchase from the link provided in this review 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 Giuseppe C. says

    Hi Steve,
    Both excellent mouthpieces; I prefer the 8 on the high notes and the 7 on the middle and low notes.
    If I were to buy one of the two I would probably buy the 7 (hard to say without trying them) or, better, in my case, probably the 6.
    I hope that JJ Babbitt will also market the tenor model and that the shops in Rome, being a well-known house, will order it in order to be able to try it on and choose if, and what size, to buy.
    Thanks for the long description, which I read with real interest, and the many sound clips …
    Giuseppe.
    PS How does the mouthpiece bore enter the sax neck cork?

    • The mouthpieces fit fine on my alto neck cork. Thanks for taking the time to read the review and listen to the clips…….

      • Avatar Giuseppe C. says

        Thanks to you for taking the time to try , describe and prepare the sound clips for our knowledge!
        Giuseppe.

    • I have such a mouthpiece number 5, it works on yas62. Yamaha does not go well with Meyer, but I like this combination.

  2. Dear Steve,

    Could you share with me your impressions of this Meyer connoisseur vs. the Phil Tone Rift? Which do you think is the fatter, rounder, mouthpiece, and which can get more edge? I am playing an Aaron Drake NY Jazz 6 on a Ref. 54. Alto.

    I am looking for a rounder, bigger, fatter tone with more presence, and some edge when pushed. More of a Tenor sound on alto. Cannonball often could get a Tenor sound on an alto.

    Have you tried the Phil Tone Intrepid? I have a number of stock Meyer’s from the late 80’s. But I’m looking for something bigger, with more presences. Even a bigger sound then the Drake NY Jazz 6.

    Have you tried the Rift vs. the Intrepid? Does this new Meyer 8 compare to them for power, fatness, presence and edge. The Intrepid is a interesting beast with a reso like chamber.

    I don’t have a ability to try them all back to back. I’m leaning toward the rift to get something more like Cannonball’s Them Dirty Blues to a more powerful, round, Tenor- ish sound with out having to constantly push the mouthpiece.

    Any Thoughts, are you selling any of these mouthpieces?

    I will also contact Phil, but I also wanted your thoughts.

    God Bless,
    Seraphim

    • The Drake NY 6 you are playing has a nice fat sound in my opinion. The one I reviewed years ago was fatter than any of the Meyer mouthpieces I had played. The Rift also has a fat sound but is considerable brighter than the Drake NY mouthpiece from what I remember. I still have the Rift I reviewed so many years ago. Actually, the one I have was the prototype that Phil sent around and I liked it so much that I asked to keep it. I think the Rift is fatter and brighter when pushed than the Meyer 8. The Meyer 8 is fatter in tone than most Meyers I have played in the past which is why I dig it so much. I think both the Meyer 8 or the Rift in a bigger tip opening will give you more volume than the Drake NY 6 if you go in that direction just because of the larger tip openings. Even if you went to a larger tip opening with the Drake NY it would probably do that for you. It all depends if you are maxing out the volume on the Drake NY 6 or not. I add the because some players don’t play at the 80-100% volume range very often. If you do and it isn’t giving you the volume you need then that is a good time to try a larger tip opening in my opinion. If you mostly play at a 40-60% volume most of the time, a larger tip will be harder to fill with air. I have never tried the Intrepid alto sax mouthpiece that I can remember…….. Hope this helps.

  3. Thanks for all your work and reviews!

    I am leaning toward the Rift of The Intrepid, but I can’t afford both. I know Phil has a 7 day trial period, but would still appreciate your thoughts.

    Thank you,
    Seraphim

  4. The 8m is closer to the classic New York Meyer Bros. sound. The very resonant ring of the vintage Bros. pieces is not the same on these attempted replicas. Copying the high sulphur content and curing process of those original Bros. mouthpiece seems to elude everyone who attempts copying the Stradivarius of saxophone mouthpieces. Thanks for the review, I will try an 8 for myself.

  5. First of all, I want to thank Steve for taking the time out of his busy schedule to make these reviews for all of us. I had contacted Steve a few weeks before this review came out and asked if he was going to do a review on the Meyer Connoisseur Alto mouthpiece. Ironically, he told me a review was in the process and would be out in a few days, and what an excellent review it is. I have listened to those clips so many times trying to differentiate between the 7 and 8 tip openings. I even compared these clips to the Meyer 100th anniversary mouthpiece. I have a 100th Anniversary 6M and I do like it. Some have said there is hardly any difference between the two, but I can hear a difference. I think this new Meyer Connoisseur projects better than the Meyer Anniversary especially in the upper register. I believe I like the sound of the 8 tip opening best but think the 7 tip opening would require less air and is so similar in sound to the 8, its quite difficult to tell the difference. The 7 would be my choice .

    • Glad you found the review helpful, Sammy. I think the 7 is a good choice as you are coming from the 6 tip opening.

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