Warburton has recently launched another new series of saxophone mouthpieces. The A Series mouthpieces are available for soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophone. They also come in silver or gold plating, and a beautiful marble hard rubber design. The L.A. Tenor Saxophone mouthpieces are available in silver or gold plated finish. They are available for tenor saxophone as the name implies.
Terry Warburton has long been successful with his line of trumpet mouthpieces and accessories. Over the past few years the company has branched out to include a line of woodwind products as well. Eric Falcon (formerly with JodyJazz) has been at the center of the development of the original and newer lines of Warburton saxophone mouthpieces and necks.
I first learned of the Warburton Ultimate Sax Neck while surfing the web. It looked interesting but I only took a passing glance. Within months of first seeing it advertised, my old road buddy Otto Alcon (an rep for Warburton) contacted me about these new necks. Soon I was in touch with Eric Falcon and I continue to play the Warburton Neck today. You can read the original review here . Again, it was Otto who put Eric and I in touch again in order for me to play-test and review the newest mouthpieces.
After a brief phone conversation with Eric Falcon, he understood the type of playing I was doing and the general type of pieces I tend to play. The package he sent included four mouthpieces for tenor sax. One was the L.A. model and the other three were A Series mouthpieces. The A Series pieces came in three different baffle heights/angles – 16, 12 and 8. They were all tenor saxophone models, size 7* and silver-plated for comparison purposes.
I play tested the Warburton tenor pieces over the course of several days and in the presence of students in my studio. I found all the pieces to be well-crafted, great-playing pieces. The line from top to bottom of the tenor was very even and the intonation very excellent as well. The sound, resistance, edge and projection varied with each piece and I would expect the variation of sound to be even greater with other materials. As mentioned earlier, they are all available in gold plating and the A Series comes in hard rubber.
The L.A. Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece is marketed toward the Otto Link crowd. According to the Warburton site, “For many years the classic Otto Link models from the 50's, 60's, and 70's have been the overwhelming choice of the Los Angeles area tenor players. The versatility of these pieces is legendary. Now, the Warburton L.A. Tenor model takes that versatility and adds more depth, color, and richness to that classic sound.” I played the piece before reading the above description and it is spot on. To look at the piece there appears to be a sizeable baffle and longer window in the facing. Despite the looks, it plays as you would expect a good Link to play and then some. I found the piece to have a nice core sound, ample resistance yet not stuffy. Ideally suited for those looking for “that Link thing.”
The three A Series mouthpieces came in three baffle heights, similar to the Berg Larsen concept. Instead of 1, 2, 3, they were numbered 16 (lowest baffle), 12 (medium baffle) and 8 (highest baffle). All three pieces are reminiscent of the early Guardala pieces possibly closest to the Brecker II although I couldn’t compare them side by side. I found the edge and projection to increase as I moved from the 16 up to the 8 as expected. With the reeds I used (RJS 3M) the 12 seemed most comfortable for me in resistance, sound, projection and feel. The 8 gave me more edge than I desired and the 16 played almost as well as the 12 did for me. One of my private students played all of these for me as I listened. He liked the 12 least as he found it too resistant. That same reason may be why I preferred the 12.
Only after trying the mouthpieces several times over the course of a few days did I opt to measure them on my tip gauge. The 7* is listed at .105 on the Warburton site and they all measured very close to that. (hand finishing likely accounts for the slight variation) The L.A. measured .107 on my gauge. Interestingly enough the A Series pieces had marginally smaller tip measurements as the baffles got higher. They measured .106 (16), .105 (12) and .104 (8).
None of the above measurements have a lot of meaning other than to say when you order a 7*, you are getting a 7* from Warburton. A quick check of the helpful facing chart on the Warburton site confirmed the size of the 7* pieces is .105. It is interesting to note that Warburton’s chart references many major mouthpiece brands as well as JodyJazz and Theo Wanne – both companies which I am very familiar.
In the end, my two personal favorite pieces of these four were the A Series 12 and the L.A. model. If I were in the studio all day, I can see where the L.A. model would be an ideal tool. Playing many styles in many situations as I do, the A Series 12 seems to be the most versatile for me – just as the Warburton site says.
My final thought is that after having played these, I suspect it would be great to try the hard rubber and gold plated models as well. The sonic possibilities continue…
You can find out more about Warburton necks and mouthpieces at Warburton's Official Website.