Exterior Mouthpiece Finish

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I have been thinking a lot lately about exterior mouthpiece finishing. This is an interesting issue simply for the fact that it is entirely cosmetic.

Pretty much for the entire life and history of saxophone mouthpiece manufacturing the saxophone mouthpiece has been buffed/polished. I do admit, for the most part polished mouthpieces do look good, however with the advent of computerized fine machining it is now possible to have a nicely finished mouthpiece, however, with fine machine marks still present. I am unsure as to whether it is worth the effort to further buff and polish the mouthpiece at that point, since it serves no utilitarian purpose.

Historically it has been necessary to do further exterior finish work on all cast mouthpieces, whether lost wax/investment cast or even injection molded mouthpieces to get rid of seams and imperfections inherent in the processes. The only other finish that I have seen attempted has been bead blasting, which leaves a mildly bumpy finish. Otto Link did this on their Millennium mouthpiece (for reference it was also nickel plated instead of gold plated). Since the 1980’s J.J. Babbitt has bead blasted the interior then hand finishing the baffle on the Otto Link mouthpieces, however, the Millennium is the only mouthpiece they bead blasted the exterior on as well.

The Dave Guardala Laser Trimmed models are made by a machine shop in Michigan and have a decent machined finish on them when done there. The company actually making them (these models were sold to them, so Dave no longer makes them himself) then has them buffed. I asked them why they didn’t just leave the machined mouthpieces as they were when they got them from the machine shop, and they said, “hmmm that never even occurred to us.” What is interesting here to me is that the smooth polished mouthpiece is such a standard of the industry now that it is just assumed that is the way it is suppose to look like. Truth be told, though, it was a function of less accurate manufacturing techniques of the day. Now that technology has moved forward…..do I dare challenge the ‘standard’ polished finish?

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2 Responses to “Exterior Mouthpiece Finish”

  1. Colin Wenhardt Says:

    I agree that a polished gold or silver plated metal mouthpiece is beautiful, and I haven’t played one of the millenium Links (mildly bumpy) but I have played a few of the rico royal pieces and the bumpy finish on some of them I find to be a distraction. I like a smooth mouthpiece feel in my face. I do have gold and silver plated metal pieces and bare brass pieces, and silverite dukoff. Hard rubber is OK, but I think I prefer the feel of polished and plated metal.

  2. Alex Rodriguez Says:

    I know this is debatable, but I’d have to say that this is already by far the most aesthetically pleasing mouthpiece design that I’ve seen in the marketplace to date. Moreover, your website’s functional design, blog engine , marketing collateral and product packaging are all very well executed – it obviously shows that there has been serious professional attention given to all this. That said, I have set high expectations (along with everyone else) on reading the first product reviews of AMMA in this blog or on SOTW.

    Congratulations once again.

    PS – Does the SILVER version of the product come with a matching colored Liberty ligature? I’d appreciate it very much if you could post some pictures of this item. Thanks.

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