One of the most talked about recent developments in the “saxosphere” has been 3D printed mouthpieces. If you thought they were a gimmick well you were probably wrong.
By now there are so many 3D printed mouthpieces floating around you probably already have a few, I certainly have quite the collection going…
There are 3 new SYOS Originals models available for soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophone and they are called Smoky, Steady and Spark,
I’ll leave it up to you to guess where each one lies on the dark to bright spectrum based on those names.
The new SYOS Originals are available in 3 tip openings 6, 7 and 8.
What’s exciting about these is that they are now using a new material for the plastic and new machines for printing them and the results are in my opinion an improvement on their previous mouthpieces.
The Smoky alto model is supposed to be the darkest sounding. I’m playing an etude from the latest BetterSax course Essential Jazz Repertoire Vol 1 Intermediate Etudes. Which is a collection of jazz etudes composed by Steve Kortyka to go along with the backing tracks available from BetterTrax.com. This one is based on the chord changes to the “Girl from Ipanema.”
Also if you are like me and thought that Smoky was spelled with an E, like Smokey the bear, you my friend were wrong. This is not a spelling error, that’s the correct spelling of the adjective smoky. you’re welcome.
Next up is the Steady which is meant to be even and balanced.
As you listen, please share your thought on these mouthpieces in the comments section below.
I can tell you that I immediately noticed an improvement in the tables on these. One of my complaints about the SYOS mouthpieces before was that the table was textured and it reeds didn’t seal so well. These new mouthpieces have a much more smooth exterior and appear to be another degree more precise overall.
Let’s now have a listen to the brightest model which is called Spark.
I’m testing these pieces out on my BetterSax alto saxophone in case you are wondering and yes, I think it’s only fair to add my own mouthpiece design in there for comparison so you can hear how these SYOS pieces stack up to a hand finished hard rubber mouthpiece. You can hear that play test here.
If I’m being honest, these mouthpieces play really well and sound quite good listening back. They are being sold at a lower price than signature models but without a ligature and cap.
I still prefer a nice hand finished hard rubber or metal mouthpiece. Something about plastic just doesn’t do it for me. But that’s just me.
Let’s have a listen to the tenor models now starting with Smoky the mouthpiece.
I switched up the etude for these play tests. This one is also from the new course Essential Jazz Repertoire Vol. 1 Intermediate Etudes and is based on the chord changes to the jazz standard “There Will Never be Another You.“
You can listen to the Smoky tenor mouthpiece here.
Looking over these mouthpieces they appear to have more similarities than differences. It looks like it’s basically the same mouthpiece with just a couple variables that change from one model to the next.
So they all have this same step baffle just to different degrees.
They all have the same scooped out side walls, and it appears that the chamber size is also about the same.
The length of the shank is the other variable that changes from one to the next.
Next the Steady tenor mouthpiece
One thing I noticed while playing all of these mouthpieces was that they tired out my embouchure a bit at first. It feels like these have a slightly larger diameter compared to what I normally play and that may take a bit of getting used to.
The other thing I noticed was that I needed a harder reed strength than usual on the tenor models.
Whenever you are testing new mouthpieces always try multiple new reeds and a variety of reed strengths. What worked well on your other mouthpiece may not be a good fit for a the new one.
As much as I am not a big fan of plastic mouthpieces, I have to say these do play consistently well. I had no trouble finding good reeds for all of them and I thought the sound was even over the full range. Altissimo comes out with ease on all the models and the intonation is good.
Take a listen to the Spark tenor mouthpiece here.
I think it makes a lot of sense for SYOS to have their own ready made designs. I always wondered why they did not have something like this before.
It’s great to see the improved precision of the 3D printed pieces and if the mouthpiece makers who work with more traditional materials weren’t concerned before they probably will be now.
As always, please remember that no mouthpiece alone can make you sound better. Only consistent practice combined with a healthy listening diet can do that.
If you put the work in you’ll be able to sound good on pretty much any mouthpiece.
Want more reviews on 3D mouthpieces from SYOS? Check out “3D Printed Saxophone Mouthpieces from SYOS, All Hype?”