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The Concept Behind PPT Mouthpieces
Like many saxophone players I have been on a constant search for the ideal saxophone sound. The main factor involved is the player rather than the saxophone, however the mouthpiece plays the next important role. There seem to be two schools of thought on this: those who recommend you get one decent mouthpiece and stick to it for life, and those who try lots of different mouthpieces, or experiment by physically changing a mouthpiece. There are all sorts of things you can do in this area: open or close the tip opening (the distance between tip and reed) change the facing curve or adjust the baffle by removing or adding material. For quite a long time I stuck with an Otto Link STM 7* on tenor, but although I was quite happy with the sound for some styles, I found it not quite versatile enough for my work as a session musician, so I started to look around and try different mouthpieces, including Lawton, Guy Hawkins, Wolf Tayne, Berg Larsen, Vandoren and Dave Guardala, all of which had something about them I liked, but none of which did everything I wanted. Was that too much to ask? No, so I developed my own range: PPT mouthpieces.
I was looking for a mouthpiece that could give me a different, more characterful sound on tenor saxophone. I realised that what this meant was one that didn’t influence the sound but really allowed me to get the sound that was in my head. so I started to experiment with altering mouthpieces. I liked a Vandoren Jumbo Java but found the baffle too severe giving too much of a constant edge to the sound, likewise I have always liked some of the Berg Larsens but found them a bit inconsistent.
Most of my early attempts at working on a mouthpiece were pretty awful, as this is something best left to the mouthpiece experts.However I sent one of my efforts off to top UK mouthpiece manufacturer and refacer Edward Pillinger, who developed this into something rather special, which is how we developed PPT mouthpieces.
- Black HD Resin A high density hard rubber and bronze composite – very attractive pearlescent look
- Onyxite – White stone powder resin composite
- Solid Silver – Hallmarked sterling silver models – available in tenor only, custom orders.
|Slimline (Custom Order)||Solid Sterling Silver|
|Baritone||Signature (Standard)||HD Resin|
Originally PPTs were available in dark blue or bronzite (a resin compound that includes bronze powder). MKII PPTs were made with a new composite, Onyxite, that included powdered stone. These are still available in some models, are exceptionally strong and consistent. They have an ivory colour that can mature with age to a slightly more creamy tinge. MKIII PPTs are Black HD Pearlescent (Resin), a brand new formula that includes bronze powder and hard rubber (ebonite). The density is designed to be the same as grenadilla wood which may have a very slightly different sound to the standard resin, although any slight differences would probably be insignificant except on low baffle alto mouthpieces*. We are still testing these and will be available mid autumn 2018. (Tenor and baritone models can now be pre-ordered).
*The basic sound of all resin PPTs is so similar that it is not realistic to differentiate via sound clips. Low baffle pieces (such as the alto and soprano) can have very slight differences between standard resin and onyxite and if we are able to accurately record any differences then sound clips will be posted. However most significant differences in sound are always due to the geometry of the mouthpiece.
About the New Hooligan Models
We are finally very proud to offer a new line in PPT mouthpieces – the Power (aka “Hooligan”). This has taken years in research and development. Originally made with purple resin, these are now also available in black HD pearlescent (resin)
NB: the baritone Power model preceded the tenor/alto Hooligan concept, it is a sort of kid brother as it is slightly better behaved, but still capable of some bad behaviour. Of course you can get a really hooligan baritone if you want (at your own risk) via a custom order.
Hooligan by Name, Hooligan by Nature
In many ways, yes but of course in the right hands it can be tamed. But maybe tamed is the wrong word – this is unlikely ever to sound tame, however you should be able to bend it to your will without losing any hooliganality.
Hooligan Sound Concept
On to the sound concept. I was not just after a bright, edgy “paint peeler” – there are plenty of those around.
One of the things saxophone players seek in a blues or rock mouthpiece is an elusive kind of sound that I call “grit,” and a truly gritty sound is what we are aiming for with this mouthpiece. Of course the player him or herself can supply that, but it really does help if the mouthpiece is amenable. Otherwise attempts to add grit can often just sound overblown and have a tendency to sound flat.
Inspiration for the Hooligan Alto
We started out working on the alto version. Originally we thought of taking a typical “holy grail” New York Meyer Brothers type mouthpiece and adding a baffle. Sounds easy, but that didn’t quite work in the way we wanted. One reason this has taken so long in development is that getting the perfection you strive for is not an exact science. A lot of trial and error is involved getting not just the right baffle and chamber combination, but the best facing curve. All these factors contribute to what makes it work the way we want. We only produce the alto with a wide 8* facing, as that is the facing that works best in combination with the chamber and baffle, however custom orders are of course possible for different facings.
“First impressions. I love the way the mouthpiece looks, and it is beautifully finished for a prototype. Fortunately had an old 2 screw Lig that fit. Spent about half an hour going back and forth between my 10MFan Boss and the Hooligan. Tried a 2 1/2 Bass Clarinet and 3 and 3 1/2 Tenor Sax Legere Signature Reeds.
Facing curve works well on all 3 no quackiness or other oddities. As expected the 3 is easier at this stage to go quietly down low but was a little more fussy on altissimo. A few hours of get to know are in order.
Sound wise my first impressions are its not quite as raspy as my Boss can be but offers a wider palette in the more civilized range of sax noises. I use a 10MFan Robusto for section work which is a great section mouthpiece.
Mid point of the soundscape of the PPT is between the two others. Time will tell, but I think the altissimo on Pete’s piece is capable of being a little fuller if not overblown. Both Boss and PPT can shriek up there if pushed.
Again first impressions but I think the PPT Hooligan has the widest sound palette of any mpce I have played so far. Intonation on my SML Gold Medal 1 requires a wee bit less correction on the PPT than the Boss which indicates to me that the mpce and SML are a great match. Big bore horn and big open mpce.
Nicely free blowing which Suits my style. A few hours of long tones at the bottom and altissimo ends will tell the tale.
Oops forgot to add, it’s nicely balanced across the range of the horn.”
Jazzaferri (PPT Tenor Hooligan prototype)
Inspiration for the Hooligan Tenor
This one goes to 11.
For intense rock and roll, this allows you to really push the sound into overdrive, with a huge growl that doesn’t force the flatness you often get when pushing so much air into the instrument.
Who plays PPT Mouthpieces?
Soundfile by David Roach