Every saxophonist knows that the smallest differences can greatly affect the way the sax produces its music and tones, and the material of the mouthpiece definitely plays a role.
When it comes to mouthpieces, you can find metal ones or hard rubber ones, which can sometimes be referred to as ebonite mouthpieces.
Metal vs. Hard Rubber Mouthpiece: Short Answer
Metal mouthpieces are made of various types of metal, including stainless steel, bronze, gold plate, or silver plate, and this is why they have more projection and power to their sound. On the other hand, ebonite ones usually give a fuller and darker sound.
But to really be able to make the decision, it’s important to realize that the sound of either a metal or hard rubber mouthpiece can vary depending on the type of saxophone you’re playing. So, what’s the best way to approach the choice?
The materials of the mouthpiece -or any part, for that matter- can affect the vibrations, and thus, the sound of the music or its overtones.
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And if we’ll talk about vibrations, then metal mouthpieces tend to give more of those, which results in a brighter sound and higher baffles. On the other hand, ebonite or hard rubber mouthpieces typically have a deeper, lower sound to them.
But when it comes to comfort, hard rubber mouthpieces are definitely a lot easier to play for longer periods of time. That’s not to say metal ones aren’t good, they still have a low beak feel, which could suit your style or preferences more.
And in terms of durability, metal mouthpieces outplay hard rubber ones.
Perhaps, it’s also important to look into the size of the mouthpiece, as it’s usually the larger external dimensions of a hard rubber mouthpiece that direct saxophonists toward playing with an open throat, which could contribute to the deeper lows.
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In brief, some saxophonists believe the material of the mouthpiece makes a difference, while some think otherwise.
For what it’s worth, the difference everyone seems to agree upon is that metal mouthpieces produce brighter sounds and vibrations, while hard rubber ones are great for deeper lows and more mellow tunes.