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Author Topic: Tenor sax mouthpiece modified for alto clarinet – It changed my life!  (Read 41 times)

Offline windydankoff

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I have a Vito alto cl. that I play for jazz and improv. I have been almost happy with it, always wishing for a more clarinet-like tone throughout the range. I heard a modified tenor sax mouthpiece on an alto clarinet demonstrated by Eugene Kirton at https://www.youtube.com/@eugenekirton6548  It's also discussed at https://www.woodwindforum.com/forum/index.php?threads/tenor-sax-mouthpiece-on-alto-clarinet.26537/

I have a good-playing no-name plastic tenor MP that a repair client gave me. It had a typical cylindrical end that fit into the alto cl. socket after adapting with tape and grease. It sounded great, but flat because it was too long. So I mounted it on my lathe (using a wooden mandrel cut to the dimensions of the sax cork). I cut the MP shank about 8mm shorter until I had good tuning. Then I cut the cork groove and corked it as normal for the alto cl.

My top A, Bb and trills were very flat. I used epoxy putty to coat the top inside of the neck for about 1 cm. of length. I did that to roughly match the neck bore (18mm) to the exit bore of the modified MP (about 17mm). After some experimenting, this corrected the throat tones accurately.  (My first experiment to explore this was to use a pair of magnets (one inside/one outside) to "modify" the bore by sliding to different places.)

The horn plays exceptionally well. It's expressive and free-blowing. My Vito alto now sounds much more like a clarinet (and also more like a bass cl.). It sounds similar to the Kirton videos. I use a Fibracell 1.5 tenor sax reed.

To my amazement, the intonation is BETTER than my vintage Vito France or my J&D Hite alto cl. mouthpieces. It is the only MP I have that lets me start and articulate the low and mid clarion notes. The low altissimo is delicate, but the intonation is still good.

At first I could only play loud, but I quickly learned to play a wide dynamic range. To maintain the pitch when going soft to loud, I had to find a specific neck pullout. 

Conclusion:  I will never go back to a conventional MP!  And a plastic beginner tenor MP works that well (at least this one). And, although it's shortened a bit, it will still fit onto a tenor sax, just looks ridiculous. I'm having fun doing my Rubank exercises on this alto. It's less fatiguing to my chops, and easy on the ears. It also keeps me in practice for the bass cl.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2024, 03:07:36 PM by windydankoff »
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Offline Windsong

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Re: Tenor sax mouthpiece modified for alto clarinet – It changed my life!
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2024, 06:20:40 PM »
That's awesome, Windy.  What a great bit of experimentation and fine calibration you always do.  I doff my hat to you for your pioneering sensibilities and fearlessness.  I never cease to be amazed by the hurdles you clear. 
Very nice.
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Offline philpedler

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Way to go, Windy!