If you have been playing the Saxophone for a while, you will know just how important the mouthpiece is. If you are a complete beginner, let me assure you, it is not just something you blow through. It is much more important than that.
Finding the Best Tenor Sax Mouthpieces is something that will affect the way you perform. You need to choose the right mouthpiece for you.
A Big Part of Your Tone
The mouthpiece is a big part of the tone you generate. If you have only been playing for a short time, maybe you are already a little frustrated. You can get some screeches and some weird noises at times. A cheap mouthpiece is not going to help you.
It will not matter that you have an expensive instrument. If the mouthpiece is wrong, your performance is going to suffer. Many players will tell you, along with the reed, it is the most important part of the saxophone.
They can get expensive
Yes, they can, but buying the most expensive mouthpiece is not always the right answer. You do need to consider your skill level and where you are. Some manufacturers provide quality tenor saxophone mouthpieces for beginners. These can be much cheaper.
What are they made of?
There are a few options in terms of materials. Hardened rubber or Ebonite is probably the most common tenor sax mouthpiece. You will find carbon fiber and also metal.
At the cheaper end of the market, there are also different variations of plastic. If you find a quality manufacturer, then a plastic mouthpiece is acceptable for a starter or improver. A rarity that you may come across is wood or even glass. But these are not so popular and not often seen these days.
Top 5 Best Tenor Sax Mouthpieces of 2023
1 Vandoren SM721 TL3 Optimum Series Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece – Best Overall Value Tenor Sax Mouthpiece
Let’s make a start with one of the manufacturers who are known for producing real quality. There is something comforting to know that you are buying from a company with a history in music. Such is the case with Vandoren.
The founder, Eugene Van Doren, played clarinet with the Paris Opera. He founded his company in Paris in 1905. It has since been passed down through generations and is still a family-owned business manufacturing in Paris. That is one way to ensure high standards are maintained.
From the Optimum series
This is a range of mouthpieces that are geared more towards the classical style of playing. Although, it is one of the best tenor saxophone mouthpieces for playing Jazz.
The TL3 is designed with perfect roundness and manufactured with great precision. This quality of manufacture is one of the hallmarks of the Optimum range. It weighs just 0.8 ounces and is a medium short-facing designed mouthpiece with a tip opening of 1/100mm.
This mouthpiece will generate a great tonal range with plenty of width and with a smooth response. The projection is good, and it produces a powerful sound. But the intonation is controllable, which is important. Players who have switched to the TL3 say they have immediately heard the difference.
Vandoren says that it will work best with reeds from size 2.5 to 4. Vandoren makes the reeds that fit best. It is set at a reasonable price point considering its quality. The Vandoren SM721 TL3 Optimum Series must be considered one of the best Tenor saxophone Mouthpieces.
- Quality build from a recognized manufacturer.
- Good materials produce a tone with good projection.
2 D’Addario Woodwinds Select Jazz Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece – Best Rubber Tenor Sax Mouthpiece
Originally from Italy, where they had been making strings for instruments, the family emigrated to New York in 1915. These days they have a well-established name for making quality guitar strings, but also produce strings and accessories for orchestral instruments. You can expect that the mouthpieces they manufacture to be of the same high standards.
This is a mouthpiece that is made from solid rod rubber. It is 100% milled and has not been molded as some are. Using computer technology specially designed for the job, they can create a mouthpiece with precise measurements.
Its solid rod rubber construction ensures it will be durable and last you a long time. It offers an impressive combination of tradition and modern innovation.
Inspired by vintage Jazz mouthpieces, this gives you a classic sound and a great response. Especially noticeable is the accuracy of the intonation right across the saxophone’s entire range. It is available in four different tip openings; this particular mouthpiece is D7M. Getting towards being expensive, it nevertheless is a quality mouthpiece.
- Well-made computer-controlled milled design.
- Solid rod rubber offers durability.
- Some might find it expensive.
3 Yamaha YAC 1293 Standard Series 6C Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece – Best Budget Tenor Sax Mouthpiece
I read an article that described Yamaha as “one of the most promising manufacturers of musical instruments.” That made me smile. They are “the” manufacturer of musical instruments in the world at the moment.
They design and make just about everything. And they make them from starter to the highest professional levels. And they make them well. There is hardly an instrument they make that is not used by pros somewhere. But, there are also houses all around the world with people learning their craft on Yamaha instruments. Not bad for a “promising manufacturer.”
Whatever they make
It is going to be good because that is what they do. Relative to the price-ticket, of course. And whilst they might be most known for their instruments, their accessories pass the test as well.
Their products are good but are also cost-effective, as we can see from this Tenor mouthpiece. They make great saxophones, so why not great mouthpieces?
This is an impressive option for a beginner or someone on a budget. It is made from a high-quality Phenol resin, which is plastic. Plus, it is completely non-toxic and is quite safe. And it takes its design from Yamaha’s higher-level mouthpieces.
Easy to Play
It has a 1.9mm tip opening and weighs just 0.8 ounces. It has an impressive tonal range and powerful sound with a good projection which makes it a good option.
Although it may have been designed with starters in mind, it will also suit more experienced players. A well-made mouthpiece from one of the best manufacturers at a great price point. For those on a budget or a new player, it must be considered as one of the best Tenor mouthpieces.
- Yamaha quality at a great price point.
- Good performance with powerful projection and good tonal range.
- Some might not like plastic.
4 Meyer MR-404-6MM Rubber Tenor Sax Mouthpiece – Easiest to Play Tenor Sax Mouthpiece
If you are familiar with the saxophone and a little of its Jazz history, you will probably be familiar with Meyer. The two brothers, Frank and Edward, began making mouthpieces for saxophones in 1916. They finally set up their company in 1936, and the business has been making quality mouthpieces ever since.
The Jazz influence
In the Jazz heyday, they were often the chosen mouthpieces of some great Jazz players. Cannonball Adderley being one. In fact, Meyer mouthpieces from that time are now highly-prized collector’s items.
They were made from various metals in those days. Today they adopt a more standard approach, and this mouthpiece is made from Rubber.
Good Response and Tone
This is a 6MM size with a top opening of 0.081 inches. It has been designed to suit various levels of ability. And while it is a great mouthpiece for Beginners and Improvers, it can also be played by experienced players.
It is easy to blow and produces a smooth tone, and has a good playing response. An added extra with this product is that it is supplied with a Ligature and a mouthpiece Cap. A good option and, considering the pedigree of the manufacturer, an attractive price point.
- Easy to play with good response and a smooth tone.
- Suitable for a range of abilities at a reasonable price point and supplied with Ligature and Cap.
5 Otto Link OLM-404-7S Super Tone Master Metal Tenor Sax Mouthpiece – Best Metal Tenor Sax Mouthpiece
Otto Link is another well-respected name in the business. He worked with Frank Meyer in the 20s and built himself a big reputation for building mouthpieces for saxophones. This design of mouthpiece has been popular with saxophonists for over fifty years.
This is our first look at a metal mouthpiece. There is a heated debate amongst players whether metal or the newer hard rubber mouthpieces are better. And by better, we mean producing a better sound. This applies especially to Jazz players where the consensus often seems to favor metal.
This is one of the top-selling tenor sax mouthpieces from Otto Link. It has a tip opening of 0.105 inches. It produces a sound that many liken to a large bore rubber mouthpiece.
They are made from Bell metal and come supplied with a Ligature and a cap. However, the Ligature is a little lightweight in its build. Care needs to be taken, so you don’t bend it out of shape.
It is a little more expensive and possibly vulnerable when compared to the rubber equivalent. However, it produces a different type of sound some will prefer.
- Some will prefer the sound from a metal mouthpiece.
- Come switch Ligature and a Cap.
- Ligature can be vulnerable to bending.
Best Tenor Sax Mouthpieces Buying Guide
There are some things to consider when buying this vital piece of equipment. If you are an experienced player, you will likely know what you are looking for. But for a novice, it can be a daunting experience.
As we have shown, there are some options. For the beginner or early improver, plastic may be better. But you must go to a reputable manufacturer. It will be much cheaper and will last you until you progress. Some people will prefer metal. They do seem to have those that appreciate them in the Jazz world. However, they do often come up more expensive, and they can be vulnerable.
Rubber is probably the safest option. These days they are well-made with very accurate dimensions. They produce a well-rounded tone and are going to last a while.
Easy to change
Mouthpieces are usually interchangeable. Most of them will fit on any neck. And if they need some adjustment, the cork is easy to shave or, if need be, to replace.
For beginners, it might be best to start with a standard mouthpiece with possibly a 2 and ½ reed. You will need to ensure the reed fits the mouthpiece well. Most of the manufacturers will do a mouthpiece that is suitable for a beginner.
Try a few
Don’t be afraid of asking to try a few to see how they feel. A good instrument shop will be there to help and advise you based on your skill level.
Looking for Great Saxophones and Sax Accessories?
We can help you with that. So, check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Soprano Saxophones, the Best Yamaha Saxophones, the Best Alto Saxophones, the Best Tenor Saxophones, and the Best Selmer Saxophones you can buy in 2023.
Also, have a look at our detailed reviews of the Best Saxophone Mouthpieces For Jazz, the Best Alto Sax Mouthpieces, the Best Saxophone Neck Straps, the Best Beginner Saxophones, and the Best Saxophone Brands currently on the market.
What are the Best Tenor Sax Mouthpieces?
For me, I would be looking at an established manufacturer with sound experience in mouthpieces. I would also choose a rubber mouthpiece, but that is just a personal choice. Therefore, I would go for the…
A company with huge music traditions that produce a quality product making it my choice as the very best Tenor sax mouthpiece.
Until next time, let your music play.