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.