The best alto sax mouthpiece is a mouthpiece that you attach to a saxophone, hence the name. In comparison to other woodwind instruments, the saxophone is a relatively new addition to the musical world. The instrument was invented in the 1840s by a Belgian musician named Adolphe Sax, and it bears his name.
The saxophone began its life as a classical music instrument. Fortunately, the jazz boys came along and breathed new life into it. Since then, it’s been a staple in just about every genre of edgy or modern music you can imagine. Finding great jazz mouthpieces is vital if you want to achieve a particular tone or perfect your own tone.
We’ve done our research and studied the best alto sax mouthpieces available on the market. Our team read a wide selection of articles published by music industry experts, read in-depth customer-supported product reviews, and made sure to pay attention to all the dimensions that would help you choose the ideal product.
Check out our top picks to find more about each model. Additionally, don’t forget to read our buying guide to learn all you need to know about selecting the ideal alto sax mouthpiece.
So, sit back, relax, and join us in jazzing things up!
8 Best Alto Sax Mouthpieces Reviewed: Our Top Picks
Anyone who wants to play alto saxophone must first find the best alto sax mouthpiece. Using a great mouthpiece, you can achieve the warm jazzy sound you desire when you enjoy playing alto sax.
Moreover, you must be very aware when selecting a mouthpiece because it can significantly affect your performance quality when played.
Here, we’ll go through seven top-rated alto sax mouthpieces on the market.
This is Yamaha’s official alto sax mouthpiece, and it comes standard on all new Yamaha alto saxophone models. This mouthpiece suits Yamaha’s three fundamental instrument models: Standard, Intermediate, and Professional. Without a doubt, this is the finest Yamaha alto sax mouthpiece money can buy.
The construction of this alto saxophone mouthpiece is handled with care, as is the case with all Yamaha products. That includes useful extras for the instruments as well. This alto sax mouthpiece is suitable for a wide variety of skills.
It is constructed of Phenol Resin plastic. This is both long lasting and reliable. It’s also a high quality alto saxophone mouthpiece made with Yamaha’s advanced manufacturing procedures.
Saxophonists refer to it as a good choice as an all-rounder. But, more importantly, its tip opening helps a beginner in mastering the art of music creation.
Because it is a 4c size, it will fit any brand of the alto sax. It comes in diverse tip openings depending on the strength of the reed sits on this. As a result, you may tailor this mouthpiece to your abilities and preferences.
It does not include a ligature or a mouthpiece cap, though. Nonetheless, the build quality makes this one of the finest mouthpieces on the market.
- Excellent build quality at an affordable price
- Specific tip opening to help beginners play without any trouble
- The high quality mouthpiece is suitable for all skill levels
- Creates brilliant sound quality
- Easy to produce and control balanced tone across a large range
- Doesn’t include a ligature or a cap
Are you looking for a low cost mouthpiece for your alto saxophone so you can play jazz? If that’s the case, this might be a good fit. As far as budget mouthpieces go, this is among the most affordable from a reputable brand. Thus, this is among the premium student alto sax mouthpieces available.
This alto sax mouthpiece is designed for beginners. Therefore, it’s not suitable for an intermediate or professional player. It might suit a somewhat more experienced player or someone looking for a cheap spare for a few months to carry along with them.
The package includes several valuable extras. This alto sax mouthpiece is protected by a brass ligature and a plastic cover when not in use. They’ve also added a reed.
It will suffice as a low cost alto saxophone mouthpiece. You might be new to the alto saxophone and want to upgrade from the equipment that came with your instrument. This is a great alternative if you don’t know which mouthpiece to get.
- Specially made for beginners attending lessons and practice sessions
- Decent sturdy construction at a very affordable price
- Comes with a plastic cover, brass ligature, and one reed
- Excellent choice for producing a mellow tone
- Beautifully designed with glossy black and gold finishing
- Not recommended for a professional or intermediate player
This Vandoren alto sax mouthpiece is fashioned in a fairly circular shape. Some may refer to it as the ‘classical’ mouthpiece. The mouthpiece is not only circular, but it’s also a medium long facing alto saxophone mouthpiece. It has a tip opening of 152mm, which is equivalent to 1/100mm.
Vandoren planned for these alto sax mouthpieces to be compatible with the majority of reeds. They’ll, however, be better suited to number 2.5 to number 4 reeds.
This mouthpiece is composed of ebonite. This is made of vulcanized rubber. Vulcanized rubber is toughened by heat. This keeps the hard rubber flexible while simultaneously making it incredibly durable.
When compared to other alto sax mouthpieces, it is quite pricey. However, it has a real quality for performing classical music with bands or as solos, and that quality must be considered.
If there is one thing to keep in mind about this mouthpiece, it doesn’t seem to play well in the Altissimo register. Regarding woodwind instruments, the highest register is Altissimo. It does have a wide range, so some of that could be due to the individual discs more than the alto sax mouthpiece.
- A perfect option for any beginner or professional player
- All-around performance with well-balanced sound quality
- Excellent durability with vulcanized rubber build
- Medium long facing and 152 mm of tip opening
- Performs better with number 2.5 to number 4 reeds
- Exceptionally rounder for classical music
- A bit expensive
This Selmer mouthpiece is a great alto saxophone mouthpiece, but be sure the specifications are suitable for your alto saxophone model. It doesn’t matter exactly what style of music you play as long as you do that.
This mouthpiece will provide exceptional sound quality and consistent performance. You should also look into the same manufacturer’s tenor saxophone mouthpiece. Both alto sax and tenor sax chambers have square cross-sections, which make them unique.
This mouthpiece has a medium long facing. The favored material of the company was hard rubber. As a result, this mouthpiece has exceptional durability and superior quality that you will appreciate.
- A chamber with a square cross-section, similar to Selmer’s successful Tenor Sax mouthpiece
- Excellent choice for professional musicians and as a step up
- A high quality mouthpiece that comes with a tip opening of 1.70 mm and a medium long facing
- Offers improved sound quality and response
- Suitable for any musical style
- A hard rubber mouthpiece with a durable build
- Need to buy ligature separately
Saxophonists have long appreciated Meyer mouthpieces, and their tenor sax masterpiece stands as a prime example. Meyer’s alto sax mouthpiece is equally as gorgeous as its fan-favorite tenor mouthpiece.
This Meyer mouthpiece is a low-cost budget alto sax mouthpiece with a high level of quality. It will appeal to a wide spectrum of playing abilities. However, if you are a beginner looking for a really fine mouthpiece that is not too costly, this is worth a look.
This mouthpiece is composed of rubber and has a 0.071-inch tip opening. This is a medium chamber room size, which provides a couple of advantages.
First thing, medium chamber mouthpieces are easier to play with free blowing, especially for newer players to blow. However, it retains a wonderfully rich sound with a solid tone. Therefore, it is suitable for a wide range of skill levels and playing styles.
Second, it responds very clearly and precisely across all ranges, from low to Altissimo. The medium-sized room design adds variation. And, in terms of sound, it appears to be in the middle of the ranges. It’s not too light, but it’s also not too dark.
With each purchase, you will receive a ligature that we must admit is not the finest and a mouthpiece cap. Overall, this is one of the top-notch mouthpieces available today.
- Has a tip opening of 0.071-inch
- Sturdy, durable, and premium construction with 5mm rubber
- Offers free blowing and the production of very rich and full tone quality
- Suitable for all skill levels, especially for easy blowing
- Excellent response ranging from very low to extremely high registers, including Altissimo
- Comes with a ligature and a cap
- Poor quality of the ligature on these great mouthpieces disappointed users
D’Addario’s Select Jazz Mouthpieces are vintage-inspired alto sax mouthpieces that combine current technology to create the perfect feel and tone mix. The D’Addario’s precision design was built with a detailed computer created technology that specializes in producing mouthpieces.
This alto saxophone mouthpiece was masterfully designed by a team of engineers and musicians and machined from solid rod rubber rather than molded.
This mouthpiece is completely machine-finished, with facing lengths and medium chambers. You have the freedom to choose among three tip openings available – 5, 6, and 7. The characteristics of this alto saxophone mouthpiece, of course, generate classic jazz sound and provide the sought-after response that vintage mouthpieces provide.
This mouthpiece provides the versatility required to perform all genres of jazz music and create even intonations over the whole alto saxophone range.
Note that this mouthpiece is ideal for only intermediate students and professional players to push their limits.
- Specifically designed range of tip opening for professional, advanced players, and teaching purposes
- Durable and sturdy construction with solid rod rubber and computer-controlled technology
- Versatile uses
- Even intonation producing warm sound, classic sound quality, and response
- Comes with a medium facing length and chamber
- A great option offering excellent value for money
- Not the ideal jazz mouthpiece for beginners or students as there’s no large bore
This mouthpiece is one of Selmer’s most recent creations. Thus, it mixes years of heritage and build quality with some cutting-edge technologies. Of course, a more modern production technique is required.
When you combine and tune in these two, you get an amazing mouthpiece that proudly carries the label of the finest professional alto sax mouthpieces on the market today.
The square chamber shape provides excellent acoustic precision. The tone is easily created and has a rich, warm feel to it. Almost a dark sound, one could say.
One of the features that stand behind this mouthpiece’s design is that it helps you generate even and balanced tones. This is true throughout the instrument’s whole range. Depth can be found in both the high and low registers.
This mouthpiece comes with a protective bag to provide neck protection and safe storage.
- Designed for professionals with a tip opening of 1.52 mm and facing length of 24 mm
- Developed by Henri Selmer Paris
- Sturdy rubber construction with innovative technology
- Easy to play with high precision acoustic
- Features consistency and comfort in playing rich tone
- The round shape of the chamber to produce classic and vintage saxophone sounds
- Comes with a protective bag
- No mouthpiece cap or ligature included
The Vandoren V16 is offered in five different sizes for the alto range: A5, A6, A7, A8, and A9. These sizes vary in both the diameter of the tip opening and the volume of the chamber. This provides you some leeway in terms of determining the size that is most suitable for the way you play the instrument.
Ebonite, often known as hard rubber, is used in the construction of these alto mouthpieces. This material might not be as durable as metal.
The main difference between the hard rubber alternatives and the metal ones is that the firm rubber ones are simpler to play for extended periods of time. In addition to this, they are better suited for jazz.
All of the V16 alto mouthpieces have facing lengths that are medium long, with the exception of the A8, which has a length that is medium short. Every single one of them also includes the two different chamber variations, known as the medium chamber and the S+ chamber.
Since it has a nature that is both warm and powerful, the M chamber is an excellent choice, not only in general but also specifically for section playing. Even yet, the S+’s design has greater depth and color options, as well as a strong projection and a free-blowing character that accentuates the greatest attributes of the V16 mouthpieces.
Not to mention the fact that the S+ enables you to obtain more body and a sweeter depth to your sound with much less effort on your part. Imagine that you are getting the benefits of a mouthpiece with a small chamber, but with increased airflow similar to that of a mouthpiece with a medium chamber. The fact that you don’t suffer from any cutting or loss of focus is definitely something to be impressed by.
In addition, the V16 S+ has a feel that is more versatile when it comes to playing at varied dynamics, and it produces a sound that is warmer.
- Excellent value considering the cost
- Amazing playability
- Available in wide range of sizes
- Tones and sounds of superior quality
- Excellent for use in jazz performances
- Ideally suited for use with more robust reeds
- Although it covers fora range of genres, it is not particularly strong in the classical genre
Buying Guide for The Best Alto Sax Mouthpiece
Depending on whether you buy a new or used saxophone, you may or may not need to purchase a new alto sax mouthpiece, as used saxophones come with an alto saxophone mouthpiece already paired. However, even this piece will deteriorate over time, necessitating the purchase of a new one.
There are a few basics that a alto sax mouthpiece should have for your comfort, which are detailed below. You can also take advice from your instruction or band director for better insights.
Types of Saxophone Mouthpieces
Horn mouthpieces, like electric and acoustic guitars, are constructed with diverse musical styles and saxophones in mind. Generally speaking, there are two sorts of mouthpieces: classical mouthpieces and jazz mouthpieces.
i. Classical Mouthpieces
Classical mouthpieces have relatively closed tip openings, low, flat baffles, and smaller chambers. These factors contribute to a more round, concentrated, and pure sound (unlike the sound delivered by jazz mouthpieces). This makes it much simpler to blend with more “mellow” sounding instruments in a concert band or wind ensembles, such as clarinets and flutes.
ii. Jazz Mouthpieces
On the other hand, a jazz mouthpiece features a larger chamber, more open tip opening, and a higher baffle design.
The amazing jazz mouthpiece is designed to let more of your sound’s upper overtones, notes, volume, and harmonics shine through, giving you that extra edge and projection that we hear in smooth jazz, rock, and pop music. This allows you to compete with big band brass sections that are high and loud and fit in with amplified instruments like guitars or keyboards.
Buying Used Alto Sax Mouthpieces
If you’re concerned about saving some bucks, you can find some great alto sax mouthpieces on sites that offer used saxophone gear. Don’t look past the importance of thoroughly inspecting the quality of any used mouthpiece you purchase.
Don’t buy an alto saxophone mouthpiece if the rails, tip, or table are noticed to be damaged. Examine the biting plate to discover if the previous owner used a mouthpiece patch.
If they didn’t, there’d be teeth marks and, sometimes, a divot where their teeth dug into the hard rubber mouthpiece. However, you can always improvise and use your own mouthpiece patch over the top of this.
The materials used in alto saxophone mouthpieces make a significant impact on the sound. Softer materials have a dark sound with less projection, while firmer materials have a brighter sound with more projection.
For starters, plastic alto saxophone mouthpieces are the most widely used by beginners and advancing students or to temporarily replace an old one since they are durable, easy to maintain, and inexpensive.
Classical and jazz professionals choose ebonite or crystal saxophone mouthpieces because they have the ability to provide a warmer, more focused tone than plastic.
Although they are uncommon, alto sax mouthpieces made of wood create a brighter sound. However, you may struggle as they are less sturdy and wear out fast.
You can’t go wrong with a stainless-steel metal mouthpiece if you want great results with a bright sound and an excellent projection.
The facing curve is the alto saxophone mouthpiece curve where the reed is situated. When the reed opens and closes, it bends along this curve until it is entirely sealed, then opens again. To produce the finest sound quality, this curve must be highly exact and even.
Unfortunately, alto sax mouthpieces from many manufacturers do not fit this description. Resistance and squeaks may be heard if a jazz mouthpiece is unequal. If you buy an off-brand or refaced alto saxophone mouthpiece, you can expect horrible squeaks and resistance caused by an uneven facing curve. As a result, it’s critical to get alto saxophone mouthpieces from prominent brands like Vandoren and Selmer Paris.
Cap and Ligature
When you are not using your mouthpiece, the cap protects it offering safe storage. Consider a good option with a cover that will perfectly protect your device from dust or bacteria if you place it on a table. Some of the high-end products include mouthpiece caps. It is worth noting that branded caps can be purchased if you wish to add an attractive touch to your alto saxophone.
A ligature is a device used to secure the mouthpiece to the reed, which is an important thing to assess. Consider a ruler placed at the table’s edge. You want to create a vibrating effect with the pointed half hanging off the edge. If you don’t want the ruler to fall, use your other hand to keep it on the table. A leather ligature delivers the highest quality.
The position of the baffle is critical in determining the type of sound produced by your alto saxophone. If you’re new to playing alto saxophones, the baffle is a portion of the mouthpiece on the opposite side from the window, and it influences how the mouthpiece bite looks.
A low baffle will deliver a warm and mellow tone, while a higher baffle will produce a brighter sound with more projection.
The chamber is the most important factor of an alto sax mouthpiece. The open region inside the alto saxophone mouthpiece serves as the tone’s primary resonance chamber.
The brightness of the sound is determined by the pressure when air moves. The sound will be louder in a smaller chamber. Larger chambers, on the other hand, produce a darker tone.
When purchasing an alto saxophone mouthpiece, saxophonists should pay close attention to the chamber. Choose an alto mouthpiece with the appropriate chamber size for your needs.
The table of your mouthpiece should be as flat and smooth as possible. The table is the section of the alto saxophone mouthpiece where the reed is held in place, and it should be quite secure.
An excellent contact between the table and the reed shall result in the sax reed working properly and providing experienced players with excellent tone production.
Alto Saxophone Tips
The saxophone tips are another portion of the alto sax mouthpieces on which the mouthpiece’s response is most dependent. The jazz mouthpiece tip and reed tip must be properly aligned to obtain a good tone from the alto saxophone.
The gap between the reed and the tip rail constitutes the tip opening. Alto sax mouthpieces are available with different tip openings. The brightness of the sound is determined by the mouthpiece’s tip opening. The brighter the sound, the larger the saxophone tips.
The tip rail is the section of the alto sax mouthpieces that goes inside the mouth while one plays an alto saxophone. The thickness of the tip rails has a significant effect on the sound of a good mouthpiece. Thick tip rails are smooth and stable for soft play. Thin tip rails, on the other hand, provide bright sounds.
In other words, light rails make brilliant tones, whereas thick rails make gloomy sounds. Choose the most suitable alto saxophone mouthpiece as you see fit.
There is a wide range of prices and different brands available when it comes to mouthpieces. There is a huge number of low-cost options as well as some crazy expensive options. Buying a saxophone mouthpiece you can afford will benefit your own sound projection in the long run.
Alto Sax Mouthpiece Maintenance Tips
- The high-end alto sax mouthpieces are both pricey and delicate. You must take good care of them and avoid dropping your alto saxophone mouthpieces at all costs.
- After each playing session, clean your mouthpiece with a swab. Every time, run the swab through the interior of the alto saxophone mouthpiece and wipe the exterior clean.
- When properly cared for, the mouthpieces retain their great value rather well.
- Avoid scratching your alto saxophone mouthpiece and, at all costs, avoid any chips dance or other visible damage.
- Never use warm water on an ebonite saxophone mouthpiece, as this may cause discoloration. Never put an ebonite mouthpiece in the dishwasher for the same reason.
- We recommend using a mild soap or neutral pH cleaning gel on ebonite saxophone mouthpieces to avoid discoloration.
- To avoid discoloration, it’s not recommended to soak an alto saxophone mouthpiece in white vinegar for more than 1 minute.
- Using an ethyl acetate or acetone-based dissolvent is not suggested to remove glue remnants from the alto saxophone mouthpiece cushion, especially on the insert of a metal mouthpiece, which may not hold it. Never combine a solvent, such as alcohol, with bleach while maintaining your mouthpiece. Toxic gases could be produced as a result of this.
To select a top-notch alto saxophone mouthpiece, you should become familiar with the various models by carefully evaluating their features. Because each of these alto saxophone mouthpieces has different advantages, the choice will still be based on your personal preference. Furthermore, the alto saxophone mouthpiece you select will have an impact on the delivery of your performance.
We hope that if you’ve paid attention to all of the features, reviews, our opinion, and suggestions given, you should be able to search and pick the suitable mouthpiece based on your unique preferences, playability, and what you see fit personally.
Are harder reeds better?
Ans: If you play harder reeds in the upper register, they’ll give a richer tone. They also have more projection and higher pitch stability. In many cases, these advantages aren’t all that big. They are, nevertheless, worth exploring if you are considering upgrading to a harder reed.
Are metal mouthpieces better?
Ans: A metal mouthpiece generates a brighter sound (as the metal mouthpiece is more resonant, not as absorbent as the hard rubber mouthpiece). So, if you play alto saxophone, you might not want this because alto saxophones already have a brighter tone by default.
Do saxophone mouthpieces make a difference?
Ans: Some people believe that saxophone mouthpiece material directly impacts sound, whereas some belief otherwise. Hence, when steel or hard plastic saxophone mouthpieces of comparable diameters are used to play extended tones on a saxophone, there is no discernible change in a listener’s impression of saxophone sound when listening.
What is the best alto sax mouthpiece for beginners?
Ans: For a beginner, the Yamaha 4C is the top choice. All of this is due to the shape and opening of this alto sax mouthpiece. The Yamaha 4C is meant to be extremely simple to play, which is a good thing even if your embouchure (the muscles around your lips) is still developing.
What mouthpiece should I use for alto sax?
Ans: Vandoren SM711 AL3 Optimum Series alto saxophone Mouthpiece
What size reed is best for alto sax?
Ans: Most students start with a size 2 reed, which is an excellent place to begin for jazz players. Stick with it for a bit before switching to a 2.5, unless it feels completely too soft, in which case 2.5 is fine for advanced students and a slightly more experienced player.
Size 3 is probably too difficult for a beginner but perfect for professional and intermediate players.
When should I upgrade my saxophone mouthpiece?
Ans: Around grade 7, you’ll show more promise, have a better notion of what styles you want to play, and be able to track down your saxophone mouthpiece to your preferences. At this point, you should have outgrown the same mouthpiece you had as a student, which probably has poor tone, needs a lot of effort, and occasional squeaks.
Why are saxophone mouthpieces so expensive?
Ans: Handmade, or at least hand adjusted, saxophone mouthpieces are generally more expensive. The cheap saxophone mouthpieces are usually machine-made.
The price is also affected by the material used to make saxophone mouthpieces. Metal mouthpieces cost more than plastic ones. Furthermore, gold-plated metal mouthpieces are more expensive.
Another factor that influences the price is an endorsement. A saxophone mouthpiece endorsed by a famous musician will be more expensive.
However, a more expensive alto sax mouthpiece does not always perform better than a less expensive one.