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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000031.txt from 1999/06

From: Ken Wolman <>
Subj: [kl] Mouthpiece mystique
Date: Mon, 31 May 1999 16:55:08 -0400

At 12:11 PM 5/31/99 -0700, you wrote:

>There's a similar insanity in the saxophone world. Michael Brecker gets a
>nice (for rock) tenor tone on a Guardela. Consequently, you can now be
>relieved of $600 for a stock mouthpiece. Never mind that there are lots of
>makers whose sonically identical pieces sell for 1/5 as much--when you
>slaving away at idol worship, there is no ceiling on price.

I like the way Brecker plays, too, but having Guardala's name on the thing
is not exactly a guarantee that I'm gonna play like Brecker unless I'm (1)
as talented and (2) practice four hours a day for the next 25 years.

In ClarinetLand, a Gigliotti mouthpiece ain't gonna make me sound like AMG

Joe Sax, from whom I bought my alto, sent me a bunch of used metal
mouthpieces to try out, and I ended up purchasing a very free-blowing Berg
Larsen for a hundred bucks, w/ cap and ligature. I've also got a metal
Dukoff that I bought new for about the same price. Am I missing something?
Sax referred to Guardala and Sugal mouthpieces as "boutique" accessories,
and suggested they're considerably overrated and vastly overpriced because,
I suppose, like the overpriced sandwiches in the Stage Deli on 7th Avenue,
they come with some big star's name on them. Besides: I wonder if Brecker
and Branford Marsalis pay for their mouthpieces any more than Peter
Townshend used to pay for the Fender guitars he trashed onstage nightly in
the Sixties.

"Boutique" makes me think of the difference between Wrangler or Levi jeans
and jeans from Ralph Lauren or Calvin Klein. What's the difference? About
70 bucks.

In one of my favorite movies, "Round Midnight," Dexter Gordon does a
product endorsement of sorts, asking for the money to buy himself a #3
tenor reed; later he says "Happiness is a wet Rico reed." Now, I don't
know if Gordon actually played on Rico reeds in that movie, but he (playing
a semi-fictional tenor sax artist) got some ungodly beautiful sounds out of
that instrument. He didn't ask for Guardala reeds, he didn't sit there
carving his own out of cane that grows in the Var region or in the jungles
of Paraguay...he's asking for a reed you can buy in the crappiest music
stores in Tanktown, USA.

Well, then again, maybe he was using Rico Jazz reeds, same as Sonny Rollins....


Kenneth Wolman
"From the Meadowlands":

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