Your Stock Mouthpiece Sucks!

The Difference a (Good) Mouthpiece Makes

Saxophone Mouthpieces

No matter when you began playing the saxophone, there's a good chance you started your saxophone journey started on a Yamaha 4C or equivalent stock mouthpiece. There’s a good reason for this - they’re perfect for beginners! The whole purpose of a stock mouthpiece is to make your playing life as easy as possible. These pieces require little effort to make a sound and will get you through those difficult first few months. But pretty soon in your playing life, you’ll start to feel the limitations of this mouthpiece. At this point, it’s time to upgrade.


The mouthpiece is the first point of call for air to get through the horn. Therefore, it has a monumental effect on the overall tone your saxophone will produce. Though saxophones themselves certainly shape the sound in some capacity, the mouthpiece will have much more influence over your sound. The mouthpiece will have a direct effect on the following 3 aspects of your sound:


When you buy your first good mouthpiece, you will be looking to go up a step in tip opening (more on this in a moment). This more open mouthpiece will allow you to put more air through the saxophone and allow you to play with more dynamic complexity. You'll very quickly realise how loud a saxophone actually can be!

Overall Tone

Your new mouthpiece will be made of different materials and have more complicated internal engineering. These aspects will drastically influence what tone you can produce from your horn. If you want to go darker or brighter with your sound, the mouthpiece's specifications will have the most significance in whichever tonal direction you choose. 

Tonal Depth

Whatever decision you make with your overall tone, the depth of tone any good mouthpiece will give you will feel dramatic. Stock plastic mouthpieces typically have a flat, one-dimensional tone. With a good mouthpiece, the overtones and tonal colour surrounding each note you play will drastically elevate your sound. A good mouthpiece can make even the most basic horn sound that little bit more special. Put a good mouthpiece on an excellent horn and then you're cooking with gas!

What To Look For In A New Mouthpiece

When it comes time to actually buy your first good mouthpiece, it can be very easy to become overwhelmed by just how many different pieces there are to choose from. Because there are many to choose from! Just look at the selection of Alto mouthpieces above this text - there are a lot of them! Thankfully, you can narrow down your options by asking yourself these simple questions:

How do I want to sound?

Do you have some players you love listening to that you emulate? Finding out what style of mouthpiece they are playing can massively narrow down your choices. The same goes for considering what genre you want to play generally. If you want to be playing smoky jazz, or bright and funky pop, the type of mouthpiece you want to be looking at will change.

How big of a tip-opening do I want?

The tip-opening is the distance between the tip of your reed and the tip of the mouthpiece when the reed is on the piece. The bigger the opening, the more air you can push through the horn. However, bigger tip openings can make life much harder in terms of sound production, particularly at the bottom end. You don’t want to jump up too fast from the stock plastic mouthpiece you have been playing, which is about a 4 on the mouthpiece scale. If you are playing an Alto, a 5, 5* (the * indicated a half step) or 6 should be most comfortable for you. Tenor players can sometimes push up a little to 7* but anything beyond that might be a stretch.

How much do I want to spend?

A simple but hugely important question. Depending on the materials the mouthpiece is made from, the amount of R&D done in the creation of the piece and the internal engineering can mean that some mouthpieces can go all the way up to £1000+.

There are some fantastic options between £100 - £200 and you do not need to spend a small fortune to get something great. Beyond £200 will often open the doors to hand crafted ebonite and metal mouthpieces, this can elevate your tone to another dimension!


At the end of the day, the most important aspect of upgrading your mouthpiece is finding the one that feels the best for you to play. If you can visit us in London, answer some of the questions above and let us know your answers so we can point you in the right direction. If you’re online, email or ring us we can go through the process with you. Let us help you on your path toward a new mouthpiece, that’s what we’re here to do!

A new mouthpiece can make all the difference to your tone and enjoyment of playing this wonderful instrument. Stop suffering on your stock mouthpiece, upgrade and level up your playing.