Unlike some instruments, the saxophone is a fairly recent innovation in the musical world. A Belgian musician, Adolphe Sax, invented it in the 1840s, and it’s where it gets its name.
Initially, it was used as an instrument for classical music. But it wasn’t long before the jazz boys gave it a new lease of life. Since those days, it has played its part in most genres of modern music. It is played in a variety of ways. So finding the right mouthpiece is important to getting the sound right.
The size and roundness of the mouthpiece were specified by Adolphe Sax as part of his invention. Until the 1930s, all the mouthpieces were made to that design. But then their inclusion with big bands and jazz quartets required more volume from the instrument. That is when they started to experiment with different designs.
The new designs gave the sax a brighter sound that had a bit more bite to it. Through the 40s and up to the 60s, the new design took hold. Then in the 70s, narrow-chambered mouthpieces became almost standard.
For those that seek the tonal requirements of classical music, the low-baffle and large-chambered mouthpieces are still available. There is a range available specially designed for the alto sax so let’s go through the Best Alto Sax Mouthpieces currently available and find the perfect one for you…
Top 5 Best Alto Sax Mouthpieces of 2023
1 Yamaha 4C Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece – Best Value for the Money Alto Sax Mouthpiece
This is Yamaha’s official mouthpiece fitted to all the original new Yamaha alto sax models. That covers Yamaha’s three basic models of the instrument Standard, Intermediate, and Professional. This is without a doubt the best Yamaha alto sax mouthpiece you can buy.
As with all things Yamaha, great care is taken with the manufacture. And that applies even to extras for the instruments. While this mouthpiece is suitable for a range of abilities, it has been designed to give some assistance to the beginner.
Any instrument can be tough in the early days. Instruments that you need to blow, especially so. You don’t only have to learn about notes and finger positions. You also have to master the technique of blowing to get a note. This mouthpiece has been designed with that in mind.
It is made from Phenol Resin plastic. This is both durable and safe. And using Yamaha’s superior manufacturing processes, it is a high-quality mouthpiece.
A good all-rounder…
It is a 4c size which is a standard size for most saxophones. It is what saxophonists call a good all-rounder. But importantly, it helps a beginner to master creating sound.
Being a 4c size, it will fit on any brand of the alto sax. It is available in various tip openings depending on the strength of the reed used. You can therefore match it up to your abilities and style.
Quality through heritage…
Yamaha has been building musical instruments for over 130 years. This musical pedigree means you are getting one of the best high quality alto sax mouthpieces at a price point that is more than attractive.
However, it does not come with a ligature or a cap. Nevertheless, the quality of the build still makes this one of the Best Alto Sax Mouthpieces on the market.
- Well-made with good quality materials.
- Designed for beginners but also good for intermediate and professional players.
- Does not come with a ligature or cap.
2 Vandoren SM711 AL3 Optimum Series Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece – Best Classical Alto Sax Mouthpiece
Let’s move on now to a different type of mouthpiece. This is a more formal design from Vandoren. Vandoren Paris was founded in 1905 by Eugène Van Doren. He was a clarinetist at the Paris Opera House.
The business has remained in the family ever since and is still situated in Paris. They have now become recognized and respected manufacturers of reeds and mouthpieces for a variety of instruments.
Made for classical music…
Vandoren has a classical music background as a company. We should not then be surprised to learn they are one company providing classical mouthpieces. Since 1905, designs by Eugène Van Doren have been produced for that.
Performing classical music requires a certain finesse and style. To achieve that, the players need a high-quality mouthpiece designed for the job.
It is made with a very round design. Some may call it the ‘classical’ mouthpiece. Not only is it round, but it is also a moderate long-facing mouthpiece. It has a tip opening of 152, which is 1/100mm.
Vandoren intended that it would be compatible with most reeds. However, it will be best suited to number 2.5 to number 4 reeds.
Made from rubber…
It is made from ebonite. This is vulcanized rubber. Vulcanized rubber is a rubber that has been hardened through a heat process. This makes the rubber still flexible but also very strong.
It is quite an expensive mouthpiece when compared with some. But it has a real quality for playing classical music, and that quality must be taken into consideration.
If there is one thing to consider with this mouthpiece, it is that it doesn’t appear to play the Altissimo register particularly well. The Altissimo is the highest register on woodwind instruments. It does have a wide range, though, so some of that may be the individual platters problem rather than the mouthpiece.
- Designed and made for Classical Alto sax.
- Vulcanized rubber build.
- Some may find it expensive.
3 Glory Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece Kit – Best Beginner Alto Sax Mouthpiece
Are you on the lookout for a budget range mouthpiece for your alto sax to play some jazz? If so, then this might suit. As far as budget mouthpieces go, this will rank amongst the cheapest from a recognized manufacturer. As a result, this is one of the best student alto sax mouthpieces you will find.
For the beginner…
Let us be clear about this mouthpiece. It is made for the beginner. Therefore, it is not the sort of mouthpiece that will be suitable for an intermediate or professional player. It might suit a slightly more experienced player or someone who needs a cheap spare to carry around with them. But that is all.
Some nice extras…
Some useful extras have been included in the package. There are a brass ligature and a plastic cover to offer the mouthpiece some protection when not in use. They have also included a reed.
As a cheap mouthpiece, it will suffice. You might be new to the saxophone and want to upgrade from what was supplied with your instrument. If you don’t know which mouthpiece to get, this is a good option.
Will soon need to be upgraded…
However, you might find you need to upgrade it quite quickly. But, with this being one of the best cheap alto saxophone mouthpieces, it will hardly matter.
- Made for the beginner.
- Very cost-effective price point.
- Not the highest quality mouthpiece you will find.
4 Meyer MR-402-7MM Rubber Alto Sax Mouthpiece – Most Versatile Alto Sax Mouthpiece
From what was a very cost-effective budget mouthpiece to a much higher level of quality. This is the Meyer MR-402-7MM. This is a mouthpiece that will suit a range of playing abilities. But if you are a beginner and want a very good mouthpiece without selling the car, this is worth a look.
This mouthpiece is made from rubber and has a tip opening of 0.081 of an inch. This has a medium chamber room size that gives it a couple of benefits.
Firstly, medium chamber mouthpieces are easier to play, especially for younger players just starting. But it still maintains a nice rich sound with a good tone. This makes it a good choice for a variety of levels of ability and playing styles.
Secondly, it gives a very clear and precise response across all the ranges from low to altissimo. The medium room design gives it variety. And sound-wise, it seems to sit in the middle of the ranges. Not too bright but certainly not dull.
Some useful extras…
With each purchase, you get a ligature that we have to say is not the best and a mouthpiece cap. Overall, this is one of the best medium chamber alto sax mouthpieces on the market.
- Well-made with some useful extras included.
- Medium chamber design makes it suitable for a range of styles and levels.
- The ligature is cheaply made and might need replacing.
5 SELMER CONCEPT Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece – Best Premium Sax Mouthpiece
To musicians worldwide, Selmer is a name that hardly needs much introduction. Founded in Paris in 1885, they are well-known for manufacturing instruments from beginner to professional level.
Over the years, they have specialized in saxophones, trumpets, and clarinets. Of course, they have also been involved in so many other areas, including guitar amplification. Until recently, they were family-owned.
A new design…
Selmer has been making mouthpieces for as long as anyone can remember. But this particular mouthpiece is among its latest designs.
Therefore, it combines years of tradition and build-quality with some modern technology. And, of course, a more advanced manufacturing process. Combine the two, and you get an outstanding mouthpiece that is one of the best professional alto sax mouthpieces currently available.
This has a square chamber design that gives you excellent acoustic precision. The sound is produced easily and has a rich, warm feeling to it. One could say almost a dark sound.
One of the great aspects of the design of this mouthpiece is that it allows you to produce even and balanced tones. And this applies right through the whole range of the instrument. Both high and low registers are full of depth. This mouthpiece is delivered to you with a protective bag to offer at least a little protection and safe storage.
- Well-made and can be used in a variety of musical styles.
- An excellent tonal response across the registers.
- Will be expensive for some.
Best Alto Sax Mouthpieces Buying Guide
If you are buying a new sax, it is almost certain that it will come with a mouthpiece. It might not be the very best, but it is supplied. Silly not to. You can’t play the sax without it. What this article has been about is what happens when you want or need to replace it. What do you need, what is best for you, and what will it cost?
It will not surprise you when we say that selecting the right mouthpiece is absolutely vital. Let’s consider for a second what goes into producing a note.
The air moves from the player through the combination of the mouthpiece and the reed and then into the saxophone itself. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It isn’t.
From the player then to the mouthpiece, where the “mouthpiece room” then converts your breath into a column of air. The shape of this concentrated column of air is determined by the “room,” or shape of the mouthpiece. The air becomes the note as it enters the sax and is projected outward.
When we look at it in those terms, we can realize what effect the mouthpiece can have. If the mouthpiece is poorly designed or badly made, you are going to struggle to get a note at all.
What material should you choose?
The material affects playability and, of course, sound. There are some options we haven’t considered here, like crystal, wood, or metal. Plastic mouthpieces are usually recommended for beginners, and we have looked at some of those. Rubber mouthpieces can be used for Classical or Jazz. We have also considered those in the list.
This is personal, and in some cases, a practical choice. Vulcanized rubber or Ebonite will deliver a warmer sound. Plastic will be hard-wearing, but some consider them to have a sterile, ‘plastic’ sound. Not surprising, we suppose. But they serve a great purpose early on, and some professionals continue to use them.
One final word about the mouthpiece room. The wider it is, the more difficult it can be to produce good notes. Manufacturers know this, and most mouthpieces for beginners are designed with suitable “room.” It is something you need to be aware of if you are changing your mouthpiece.
Two More Concerns
Opposite the window of the mouthpiece is the baffle. Having a lower baffle will produce a much warmer sound. Great for mellow, almost gentle performances. A higher baffle gives you a sharper sound with more attack.
Finally, the mouthpiece “table.” This is a vital area and where the reed sits. It needs to be flat, smooth, secure, and make excellent contact when the reed is added. Having a good contact will allow the reed to do its job. And it will help you produce a great tone.
There is a wide range of prices. There are some budget offerings and also some much higher-priced mouthpieces. Buying the best that you can afford will serve you better in the long run.
Looking for Something Else?
We have a wide selection of saxophones. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Alto Saxophones, the Best Soprano Saxophones, the Best Selmer Saxophones, the Best Tenor Saxophones, and the Best Beginner Saxophones you can buy in 2023.
Also, take a look at our comprehensive Yamaha YAS-23 Standard Eb Alto Saxophone Review, our YAMAHA YAS-280 Saxophone Review, our Best Yamaha Saxophones Review, Yamaha YTR-2330 Standard Bb Trumpet Review, and our Mendini by Cecilio MTT-L Trumpet Review for more amazing items currently available.
What are the Best Alto Sax Mouthpieces?
We have been close to someone making this decision as a young player and have seen the confusion with the options. But as with all things musical, you should get the best you can afford. Without breaking the bank, of course.
We would therefore pick the…
It was essentially made for playing classical music. But it is well-made and can lend itself to most genres.
So, until next time, let your music shine.