The saxophone market has been flooded in recent years with less expensive Chinese-made instruments. Some of the products widely available to the U.S. market have been of questionable quality in years past. In more recent years, we have seen the quality of the Chinese exports become much higher. Despite the innovations and progress made in manufacturing instruments – particularly out of China – not all instruments are created equal. Kanee mouthpieces seem to be of this new, higher quality product the Chinese manufacturers are trying to promote.
Recently, a gentleman named Kane Lee of Kanee Music contacted me. He was interested in sharing some samples of his mouthpieces in order to help spread the word about Kanee Mouthpieces. I immediately sought out information on the Internet and discovered the Steve Neff of NeffMusic.com had done a very nice job of reviewing these pieces. I also visited the Kanee Music site in order to educate myself.
According to their website, “Kanee was found in 2004 China, Kanee is specializing in woodwinds accessories manufacturing, and being one of very few manufacturers worldly, who have capability handle from material refine himself, CNC machined, to hand craft finished.” The Chinese to English translation is a little rough but you get the idea.
Kane was gracious enough to send me four mouthpieces to try. Below is an explanation of each from the Kanee site followed by my brief observations.
Custom Alto V5
“Trying to seek the sound of traditional Jazz in Mid-twentieth century, and thus to define the style of Kanee V series mouthpieces. Kanee V series mouthpieces use moderate slope of the baffle and medium chamber produced a flexible, powerful penetration of tone.”
Observation: The V5 does have the general feel of a Meyer, although the profile seems a bit narrower. The relatively low baffle does help with projection and the V5 is a bit more freeblowing and brighter than the M5 I tried. Personally, I would prefer a larger tip opening, around .080-0.85. This measures around .070 on my gauge.
Custom Alto M5
“Kanee M series mouthpiece is a very nice traditional Jazz style mouthpiece, which took Meyer New York as prototype; Kanee M series offer a variety of sounds, responses and dynamic ranges. Kanee M series utilize a lower baffle to produce a dark, warm and gentle tone.”
Observation: The Custom Alto M5 definitely had the old Meyer quality to it. I typically play a much larger tip opening and this measured .070 on my gauge. I was impressed by the quality of the workmanship, thin rails and the finishing work at the tip. My 14-year-old son stepped in to try it out and he was equally happy with this as his Meyer 5 he currently plays on.
Custom Tenor V7
“Trying to seek the sound of traditional Jazz in Mid-twentieth century, and thus to define the style of Kanee V series mouthpieces. Kanee V series mouthpieces use moderate slope of the baffle and medium chamber produced a flexible, powerful penetration of tone.
Observation: The V7 measured approximately .095 on my gauge. As the alto pieces, this is a bit small for me but the baffle does help with projection. As the alto pieces, the tip, rails and handwork appear to be of high quality.
Custom Tenor O8
“Kanee O series mouthpieces successfully acceded Florida Otto Link mouthpieces. It has traditional sound, which is rich, plump and with tensile force. O series mouthpieces have a more complicated inner construction compared with other Kanee series, which combines a short medium high baffle and the chamber with a large angle slope.”
Observation: The O8 measured approximately .112 on my gauge. This is a plenty large tip opening, allowing a big sound when pushed. I do prefer the baffle of the V7, however the addition of a baffle is often a trade off on the quality of sound. As the alto pieces, the tip, rails and handwork appear to be of high quality.
Conclusion: The only minor issue apparent would be the need for a bit of sanding on the inside edge of each shank. The sharp edges were not consistent with the rest of the mouthpiece details. This could have been easily overlooked, however each of the four mouthpieces was sharp enough at the shank to scrape and tear the corks on my alto and tenor. The Kanee mouthpieces well represent the newer products coming out of China, which represent a higher standard. They appear to be well-crafted, attractive mouthpieces backed by a manufacturer with great enthusiasm for the success of his product line. All four mouthpieces play as you would expect, based upon the manufacturers description.
The Kanee mouthpieces don’t appear to be available to the US market, however owner Kane is making great strides in getting the word out. We can only expect to see more saxophone products of a higher quality coming out of China in the years to follow.
You can find out more about Kanee Mouthpieces at http://www.kaneemusic.com/