3D Printed mouthpieces are the new thing in the saxophone world that everyone’s talking about. In today’s video I’m going to play test a bunch of these SYOS mouthpieces. Then I’ll tell you if I think they live up to the hype.
Be sure to leave a comment below with your thoughts and experiences with SYOS mouthpieces. Which models are you playing on? Which one would you most like to get? Let us know!
Now, Let me give you a little background…
SYOS stands for “Shape Your Own Sound,” it’s a company based in Paris that makes custom 3D printed saxophone and clarinet mouthpieces. I first came across them in 2018 and asked them to send me a couple mouthpieces to test… Which they did very kindly.
At the time if I remember correctly they didn’t have the artist models yet, you could only design your own by moving sliders and answering some questions on their website.
I remember thinking that this was a brilliant idea and that these were going to be very popular. I loved the fact that you could return a mouthpiece if you weren’t happy with the results, and they would make you another one until they found something that works for you.
They also offer a 30 day return policy which is great. I definitely need more than the typical week to get really familiar with a mouthpiece.
When these mouthpieces arrived though, I was disappointed.
There were 3 things that bothered me and I couldn’t get past them.
1st, the table is not flat, but has the same textured surface as the rest of the mouthpiece.
Sure enough when I put a reed on there, I did not get a seal when doing the pop test that I always do on my mouthpieces before playing.
The other thing that bothered me was the fact that they came in a little canvas sack and not a box. I’ve never purchased a new mouthpiece that did not come in a box. I couldn’t understand why this expensive mouthpiece didn’t have one.
At the time those were deal breakers for me, and I sent the mouthpieces back explaining why.
Then little by little, I started seeing some really great saxophone players with these mouthpieces.
At first I thought it’s just a gimmick, they want to have a bright colored mouthpiece on stage to be flashy.
But, over time, more and more serious players started adopting these SYOS mouthpieces. I thought, well maybe they’ve got some lucrative artist deal worked out and there’s some financial incentive.
That was until I started talking with some other great players who had no artist deal or financial incentive but were buying new SYOS mouthpieces every couple of weeks.
And I’m talking about older cats who have been playing professionally since the 1960’s and have vast collections of hand-made vintage instruments and mouthpieces.
Those players were now huge fans of these bright colored 3D printed mouthpieces and switching to them on all their horns.
So putting aside my original hangups, I recently asked the folks at SYOS to send me some of their most popular designs to test out once again and they were very kind to send me a nice selection.
I’m going to play 6 different artist models for you on alto and tenor and give you my thoughts.
SYOS Alto Sax Mouthpiece Play Tests
First let’s begin with the alto pieces
I’ve got the Godwin Louis, Mornington Lockett and Lorenzo Ferrero models here.
Each SYOS mouthpiece is rated on a 1 – 10 scale for brightness and power.
I’m playing the same number 3 reed on each of these. The music comes from Chad LBs pdf book, 20 approach note etudes. It’s the one on the changes to Just Friends. Here’s a link to the jazzlessonvideos website where you can find that book and tons of others.
Although they come with these plastic ligatures, I’m getting better results with the Vandoren optimum. The diameters of these mouthpieces are pretty standard and the ligatures you’ve already got will likely fit.
SYOS Alto Sax Play Test 1: Bebop Line
Here are the links to the specific points in the video where you can hear these play tests…
To my ears, the Godwin Louis and Lorenzo Ferrero models are pretty similar as their brightness and power rating suggests. These are both nice mouthpieces for a traditional jazz alto sound very similar in design to a Meyer.
Notice this blue one has 4 of these ridges inside at the beginning of the chamber. I’m not sure what they do, but it’s something that is clearly much easier to produce on a 3d printed mouthpiece than with traditional hard rubber or metal.
The Mornington Lockett model is definitely quite bright and powerful due to its long step baffle.
SYOS Alto Sax Play Test 2: Ballad
Honestly though, I think they they all sound pretty good.
Now, I didn’t have as much time to spend with these mouthpieces as I normally do before making a video.
But, I find it interesting that I was able to get a good sound and play relatively in tune right away on all of these. This indicates to me that the designs are solid.
And that’s one of the crazy things about SYOS. Right now on their website I count 50 different signature models. AND they’re all available in a range of tip openings. That’s a lot of designs that presumably work well since they are being played by high level musicians.
Not to mention all the other possibilities you could create yourself using their website.
If you order any of the existing signature models, the cost is a lot less than for a custom design.
Now let’s check out some more of the signature SYOS models for tenor sax.
Tenor Saxophone SYOS Mouthpiece Play Tests
I’ve got here the Chad LB, Tivon Pennicot and Scott Paddock SYOS mouthpiece models.
Again let’s hear them in order of most dark to most bright.
SYOS Tenor Sax Mouthpiece Play Test 1: Bebop
That example was also from the same Chad LB pdf book. 20 approach note etudes and is the one on the chord changes to This I Dig of You.
I’m playing the same number 3 reed on each of these. However, I did record the Chad LB mouthpiece on a different day.
Comparing the Chad LB and the Scott Paddock models, visually they look quite similar, the Scott Paddock model having a slightly longer step baffle.
On the recording they ended up sounding quite different though. This just goes to show that there is a wide range of possibilities within each mouthpiece and changing different variables can give you quite different results.
Again, I prefer to use this BG duo ligature as I find it gives better results than the one included.
The Tivon Pennicott model is rated as being very dark and not powerful, but I wouldn’t characterize it that way.
After playing on a bunch of these, my impression is that there are more subtleties to what each modification made to the mouthpiece does outside of a scale of brightness and power.
Notice how the Tivon Pennicott has a different shank design than the others as well. It also has the ridges in the chamber area. This time there are 8. What does that do?
Another thing to point out is that all 6 of these mouthpieces have rounded out side walls of varying degrees.
SYOS Tenor Sax Mouthpiece Play Test 2: Ballad
Let’s listen to these three mouthpieces again on another ballad called My Ideal.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
Again, I think they all sound pretty good.
I had easy access to a wide dynamic range. That’s especially nice when playing on a high step baffle piece. Sometimes those can be difficult to play soft.
On both the Chad LB and Scott Paddock mouthpieces I can play super soft subtone and then go really loud very easily.
While the Tivon Pennicott model is clearly darker, it’s not stuffy at all and it can play loud even though it’s got a 2.7 power rating.
Looking at the Scott Paddock model which is rated 9 and 9.1 one would expect a shrill screamer. But I think it plays great on the ballad. I honestly did not think I would like that one, but I do.
I like all three of them actually.
Despite my initial complaints about the SYOS sax mouthpieces… After giving them another shot, I have to say they are very good and at least some of the hype around them is warranted.
It’s exciting to have so many different possible designs at your fingertips. Plus you have the ability to try a mouthpiece and say, that’s cool, but make me one that’s a little darker please, and they do it.
As far as the texture on the table goes, that still bothers me a bit. But hey, the mouthpieces play great, and that’s what matters in the end right?
As far as the material goes, I do have to say that I still prefer hard rubber and metal mouthpieces. I think if you took one of these designs, and made it out of good hard rubber, it would be a better mouthpiece.
The material is part of the compromise though. It allows them to make so many different designs to exact and consistent measurements . It also keeps the price lower and makes the very generous return and redesign policy possible.
While I’m not yet ready to switch over to a 3D printed mouthpiece, I’m definitely a fan of these and who knows? Maybe one day I’ll find one that I really love.
Just a reminder for a limited time you can save 10% on the SYOS website. Use the coupon code BETTERSYOS and that applies to any mouthpiece over there.
Interested in more mouthpiece reviews? Check out the full search results for all of my BetterSax mouthpiece reviews.