The Vandoren V16 metal tenor mouthpiece.

May 30, 2016

In 1995, woodwind super company, Vandoren Paris released a metal tenor mouthpiece that was meant to fill a gap in the market for a great playing, straight-ahead style piece.  They called it the V16 and was made from "the legendary 'Bell Metal" brass and then 24 karat gold plated.  It came in 5 openings and proudly boasted a "dark, expressive sound [that] produces all of the harmonics with ease".  This seemed like a godsend in an era of some of the most poorly finished Otto Link 'Super Tone Masters' ever produced and the only well finished commercially available pieces were Guardalas.  Straight ahead players simply had to either make do, or hunt down vintage gear in an era before the Internet, or eBay.


I still consider this piece to be a great example of a vintage inspired, yet mass produced tenor sax mouthpiece.  And at a reasonable price, no less!  That being said, I still get requests to customize this nicely designed mouthpiece.  


Because it has a chamber loosely modeled after the 'B.D' Bobby Dukoff pieces with the smaller chamber and squeeze throat, I find that these pieces can suffer from an excess in the baffle area.  by reshaping this crucial area to reflect a balance between it and its relationship to the tip opening and smaller chamber, it's possible to create a mouthpiece with a lot of focus and flexibility without sacrificing the warmth it was intended to provide. 


Here are some photos I took of a recent project where I did just that: re-shape and re-voice a well designed piece. These photos were taken pre-polish with just files and steel wool to show the baffle area more clearly.







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Sebastian Knox Woodwind Services

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