As with the tenor mouthpiece, I was looking for something that doesn’t yet exist – a versatile mouthpiece for baritone sax that is capable of extreme dynamics from a gentle whisper to a gutsy roar. Up until now I used several baritone mouthpieces for different styles of playing: a Lawton, Berg Larsen, RPC and (my favourite) a vintage Otto Link Slant signature. I took inspiration from them all, but the new PPT is closest to the Slant signature. It is available in two different models, the “Power” and the “Signature”
Intonation on vintage baritones, e.g. Conn 12m
These work very well on modern baritones, but we have also discovered that this seems to be the “go to” mouthpiece for excellent tuning on vintage instruments such as the Conn 12m baritone. I discovered this one day by accident, I was selling my Conn 12m because it wasn’t in tune (I thought). The buyer turned up and asked me to demonstrate it. I didn’t have my trusty Lawton mouthpiece to hand at the time so I just picked this old smelly mouthpiece I had in a drawer and played it – but lo and behold – as perfect intonation on a 12m as you would ever hope for. There’s a lesson to be learned there about both Conn 12m and choosing the right mouthpiece for it. The mouthpiece was an Otto Link, and that was the inspiration behind the PPT
This mouthpiece was recently tested for the Intonation Station app and will be featured in a future upgrade. Here are the comments I received from the developer, Paul:
A few weeks back, Rhys came over with a clutch of mouthpieces, and we had an enjoyable evening performing some intonation tests on our 12Ms with my app.
I’m sure it won’t surprise you to learn that I was completely blown away with the PPT mouthpieces. Fantastic modern volume and tone while still preserving that unique 12M resonance. The intonation was absolutely spot-on: better than any other mouthpieces we tried, for me at least.
Unfortunately, I’ve made too many mods to my Conn since the original study to include the PPT there (though I will mention it). So my plan is to do a new study in which it will appear prominently.
I always found the Otto Link baritone mouthpiece was superb for jazz and smoky sensual ballad playing, but didn’t quite make it when you pushed it hard for rock & roll or pop. This mouthpiece is very very similar, same chamber and low baffle, but with a slightly enhanced facing curve which gives you a warm dark purring tone with great subtlety of expression for jazz and ballads, but can still hold its tone when pushed hard. Again, the superb craftsmanship of Edward Pillinger has helped develop these into one of the best baritone saxophone mouthpieces out there. I find that subtone on the baritone can easily get a muddy undefined character, which is true of tenor as well, but it seems to be more so on baritone due to the lower pitch. Using the Slant Signature baritone as inspiration, we worked on getting a very focussed but still warm bottom end.
I wanted to create a mouthpiece that can achieve a warm and/or dark sound for ballads, jazz and swing as well as a fine loud roaring or growling sound for rhythm and blues. The Signature is an all round ideal, it’s a great jazz mouthpiece that can be also be pushed hard for rock and is capable of some edge if you are. The Power is designed for people who want a loud stage sound, that has more body than the typical loud baritone mouthpieces, all of which seemed to be designed for loudness via edginess rather than a proper full-bodied tone that happens to be loud.
Power (aka “the Hooligan”)
Since the introduction of the Signature, Power is the new name for the original PPT baritone mouthpiece. This has a similar facing and large chamber to a vintage Otto Link, but with the now familiar PPT bullet baffle, rather like a Berg Larsen but with a much smoother sound and more accurate intonation on both vintage and modern saxophones. My concept behind the sound is exactly the same as for the tenor, but with added grunt at the bottom especially useful for funk, soul and rock. This mouthpiece is extremely loud, probably not ideal for blending in a big band section unless the section is also very loud.
The baritone is a difficult instrument to get across in loud settings and although there are some very loud mouthpieces available, usually these appear to be loud due to extreme edginess (a lot of high frequencies). The PPT Power is designed to be loud but still retain a good solid core to the tone.
These are be available only in tip sizes 7 (.110) for the Signature and 8* (1.25) for the Power. Custom sizes are available, but without the usual 14 day return policy. I have found that with this mouthpiece these are the sizes that work best as the ideal sound is created by getting just the right balance between chamber, baffle and facing. These mouthpieces are extremely reed friendly and work very will with standard Rico reeds (depending on your tastes) as well as any other good brand.
A few weeks back, Rhys came over with a clutch of mouthpieces, and we had an enjoyable evening performing some intonation tests on our 12Ms with my app. I’m sure it won’t surprise you to learn that I was completely blown away with the PPT mouthpieces. Fantastic modern volume and tone while still preserving that unique 12M resonance. The intonation was absolutely spot-on: better than any other mouthpieces we tried, for me at least.
(Hooligan 8*) First off I found it very customisable in the sense that I could try different reed cuts and strengths to change its tone colour. Every reed I tried on it worked and must commend it’s reed friendliness. For me it seemed to work better when I “darkened” it with a Rovner style leather ligature and a classic double cut style reed. I usually use an unfilled reed ( Rico Jazz select or Alexander NY ) but these were too aggressive for me on this piece. It enabled me to whizz up and down the horn very easily and I suddenly felt like a saxophone genius with the speed I was able to play, what I missed though was a centred core sound and the usual control, especially on the attack. My usual “loud” aggressive mouthpiece is a Geoff Lawton 7*B (0.120) which I found the Hooligan to be quite similar to ( though with a little less core sound but much more “customisable”.) The best analogy I can offer for this mouthpiece is that someone has just given me the keys to an F1 car to drive around the neighbourhood, a lot of very naughty fun but I fear I may have run over the neighbour’s cat…(all sounds inclusive!)
Hi Pete. You may remember that late last year I bought a baritone mouthpiece from you, tried it for a few weeks, struggled, took band-leader advice then asked if I could return it? Part of the advice was to buy a Yamaha 5C mouthpiece and no.2 reeds to give myself an easier time. This worked – the Bauhaus bari suddenly reached the low notes and could whisper. I thought that was that, nearly sent your mouthpiece back but tried it again with a No 2 reed and suddenly there was a big smile! A combination of an easy reed, better embouchure has made your mouthpiece sing! It has much better body, tone, and richness compared to the Yamaha and I can also make it whisper – vital for an amateur and sole bari in the band!! So apologies and thanks. This was operator error. I’m delighted with the mouthpiece now and just wanted to pass that on with gratitude! One happy customer!! Kind regards John Watt Edinburgh
Hi Pete, I’ve had a couple of days to blow on the PPT with the Martin bari (and RSJ 3M reeds). I’ll put one up on SOTW at some point in the next few days. In short – what a fantastic mouthpiece. Great tone, easy to play, takes a lot of air without giving up: I’m really looking forward to using it in anger because the link has tended to run out of steam and maybe even chirp if I get over enthusiastic. The only criticism, and it’s a minor niggle: it’s only about 1.5 cm on the neck cork to tune on the Martin – an extra 0.5-1cm of shank would be a really helpful option for some vintage baris. Thanks Sean
Hi Pete I have received with great satisfaction the mouthpiece .Is fantastic and adapts very well my The Martin without a doubt a great mouthpiece very flexible and great intonation in all registration .Thank you for everything and until the next Joan Rigol Fernandez
Hi Pete, Just want to tell you know how pleased I am with the PPT baritone mpc. It has all the attributes you aimed for, plus some extra magic! A complete joy to play, with just the tone I’ve been looking for on bari. Looking forward to trying the PPT tenor mpc soon. Any plans for a PPT alto mpc? Cheers! David Sorry for not responding earlier – I thought I’d rather take my time with the mouthpiece first before reacting. It arrived here last thursday – with a hefty customs tag added, but I don’t mind that (you’ll see why in an instant). I’m happy to say that I’m very pleased with the PPT baritone mouthpiece; it sort of ends my indecision – I was stuck between two mouthpieces, my trusted Brancher L27 (ebony) and my newly acquired (old series) Rico Metalite M7. I love the precision, clearness and brightness of the Brancher (because it’s bright, but neither sharp nor edgy), but am also fond of the eruptive power and strong low end of the Rico (I’ve used it on stage more often lately than the Brancher). Now the PPT gives me both – and it’s also easier to play in a pleasant mellow tone than both of the others, which means that I can also do away with the Meyer M8M I’ve use for section work sometimes (I’ve also used the Brancher for this, but it’s easier with the Meyer). I’m really enthusiastic – and all that comes at a very reasonable price, too! 🙂 One interesting observation is that the basic baffle/chamber design of the Brancher and the PPT are very similar (with the PPT offering a slightly bigger chamber, but the same type of smooth baffle); it seems that this is what I’ve been looking for all along. But newer Brancher pieces aren’t offering this design any more. I had some issues at first, though: it’s not really easy to find a ligature that fits it fully (I don’t like two screw ligatures – for convenience reasons) – I went with a Rovner Versa for bass clarinet that works reasonably well with the Alexander Superial reeds I use the most, but not quite so well with Hemke reeds (since they’re slimmer). I’ll also try a GF-System Maxima (I want to try one anyway, and the size I’m after will fit since it can be adapted) – I’ll let you know how it works out (you can prevent me from doing so by telling me not to, of course ;)). The reason why I’m talking about ligatures at lengths is that this mouthpiece really needs a good fit – it’s what I call “reed-conscious”, i.e. it needs a good reed in perfect position to work at its best. While this may seem obvious, none of my other mouthpieces (with the possible exception of the S90 I have to play with the wind orchestra) is as sensitive to reed quality and placement as the PPT. At the beginning, I got some squeaks from a group of brighter reeds and some dullness from some less responsive ones – experimenting with placement brought both kinds nicely in line, which means that I’ll be able to play more reeds for all purposes. That’s more than a simple added bonus, that’s a real feat! Of course you may quote my comments! As I said, at the price you ask, this is a steal, so I’m absolutely comfortable with recommending the mouthpiece. Thank you very much for this fine mouthpiece – now I’ll have to adapt my setup post on SOTW 🙂 Kind regards Matthias G.
Pete I’m very much enjoying the wide dynamic range and the tonal variety that comes naturally to the ‘piece. Sadly there have been complaints from the rest of the family due to the increased volume. Hopefully they’ll learn to live with wearing ear plugs! I’m no mouthpiece expert and have only being playing Bari for a year, but it seems to me that you and Ed have created an excellent piece. Best regards Alex