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Reviewed: A Collection of Alto, Tenor, and Soprano Mouthpieces by Lebayle

Lebayle MouthpiecesThere are more and more professional level mouthpieces coming out on the market today. This makes it more and more difficult (for me, at least) to try every new mouthpiece on the market and see how it works with one’s setup.

A few weeks ago, I was sent a couple of Fred Lebayle’s mouthpieces to try out and review. I have tried some of Lebayle’s mouthpieces before at Roberto’s Woodwinds in New York but have not had the chance to try the various models he offers for soprano, alto, and tenor saxophone.

To gain a better understanding of who Fred Lebayle is, I have included a short bio on him as follows:

“Fred Lebayle (born March 28 1960) worked as a metal tool worker in his father’s company in France. As an enthusiastic saxophone player, he started designing mouthpieces for himself, trying to emulate Charlie Parker’s sound. In 1987 he set up his own mouthpiece business as a one-man venture. Today his work is known and appreciated worldwide by some of the finest musicians such as Chris Potter, Wayne Shorter, Branford Marsalis, Ron Blake, David Liebman, Ravi Coltrane, Marcus Strickland, Greg Osby, Jan Gabarek, Candy Dulfer and many other professionals whom sound is shaped by Lebayle’s work.”

To evaluate the various Lebayle models I received, I will focus on the tone, intonation, and build quality.

Lebayle Jazz soprano (7 tip opening)

Lebayle Jazz soprano

Lebayle Jazz soprano

Tone

I found the Lebayle jazz soprano mouthpiece to be warm and focused. I am mainly a tenor and alto saxophone player, but I noticed that this mouthpiece responded quickly and was not sharp or shrill throughout the horn.

Intonation

For someone who does not play soprano much, this piece did not take long to get used to, nor was it difficult to play in tune.

Build Quality

This model is similar to the LR II in which it comes in wood, hard rubber, or metal. I found this piece, like the others I tested, to be well constructed as well as hand finished.

Overall

This is a great soprano mouthpiece that has a warm centered sound, and most importantly is easy to play in tune and free blowing.

Price

$175

Here is a link to the Lebayle jazz soprano mouthpiece.

http://Lebaylemouthpieces.com/jazzchamber.cfm

Here is a link with Alex Terrier testing out the jazz model soprano mouthpiece

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fpfw1VEtzY

Lebayle AT chamber alto (7 tip opening)

AT Alto Mouthpiece

AT Alto Mouthpiece

Tone

I have played vintage and modern mouthpieces in hopes of finding a mouthpiece that gives me the edge and projection characteristic of such players as Vincent Herring, Antonio Hart, and Bruce Williams. The Lebayle AT chamber reminds me of the Meyer mouthpieces of yore. I found this mouthpiece to have a punchy, edgier, darker tone in comparison to my standard Meyer mouthpiece, and the AT chamber gave me a bright edgy sound in the upper register which was easy to maintain.

Intonation

This mouthpiece is easy to keep in tune and while playing through my overtone exercises, I found it incredibly easy to keep in tune.

Build Quality

I know Fred hand finishes his mouthpieces and it can clearly be seen by the tip opening and rails being even and consistent. The AT chamber comes in hard rubber with tip openings from a 6 to a 10.

Overall

This is my favorite of the pieces that Fred makes. It embodies many of the characteristics associated with a NY Meyer mouthpiece, but has Fred’s own unique handiwork, which makes it truly one of a kind.

Price

$270

Sound clips with me comparing the AT to the mouthpiece I normally play:

1.) Meyer 6m mouthpiece, Rico H ligature, Alexander Superial reed 3, Selmer Super Balanced Action alto

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2.) AT Chamber 7 mouthpiece, Rico H ligature, Alexander Superial reed 3, Selmer Super Balanced Action alto

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Here is Alex Terrier testing out the AT chamber mouthpiece

Lebayle Jazz Chamber Alto (tip opening 7*)

Chamber Alto

Chamber Alto

Tone

I found this piece to be very free blowing but to have more of a spread and broader tone compared to the AT Chamber. The Jazz Chamber had a punchier sound in the palm keys compared to the AT chamber.

Intonation

This mouthpiece was incredibly easy to keep in tune and I found the upper register into the palm keys to play very well in tune.

Build Quality

This model is similar to the LR II in that it comes in wood, hard rubber, or metal. I found this piece like the others I tested to be well constructed as well as hand finished.

Overall

If you are looking for a bright sounding straight ahead alto mouthpiece, I would definitely check out the jazz chamber alto mouthpiece.

Price

$190

Sound clips with me comparing the Jazz Chamber to the mouthpiece I normally play:

1.) Meyer 6m mouthpiece, Rico h ligature, Alexander Superial reed 3, Super Balanced Action alto

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


2.) Lebayle Jazz Chamber mouthpiece, Rico h ligature, Alexander Superial reed 3, Super Balanced Action alto

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Fred Lebayle LR II tenor metal mouthpiece (7 tip opening)

LRII Tenor

LRII Tenor

Tone

The tone of the LR II metal reminded me of an Otto Link, but with more edge and power, especially towards the bottom of the horn. I found the LR II metal mouthpiece to be very free blowing. I did feel that I would rather try a 6* tip opening because when I started playing chromatically towards the palm keys I felt the sound got softer as well as thinner.

Intonation

In terms of tuning, this mouthpiece was very consistent while playing through my overtone exercises. I am seeing a greater number of mouthpiece makers focus on producing a metal mouthpiece that is easy to keep in tune and not incredibly sharp in the palm keys, and Fred has accomplished this.

Build Quality

I know Fred hand finishes his mouthpieces and his attention to detail is evidenced by the tip opening and rails being even and consistent. The LR II comes in metal, wood, or hard rubber with tip openings from a 6 to a 10.

Overall

I found the LR II to be one of the better metal mouthpieces I have played in a long time. I found that even though the 7 tip opening might have not been the right opening for me, I could tell that this is an incredibly well made mouthpiece. Currently Ron Blake, Branford Marsalis, and Marcus Strickland play on the LR II metal mouthpiece.

Price

$560

Sound clips with me comparing the LR II to the mouthpiece I normally play:

1.) Slant Sig Otto Link, Selmer Mark VI, Alexander Superial 3 Reed, Francois Louis Ultimate Ligature.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

2.) LR II mouthpiece, Selmer Mark VI, Alexander Superial 3 reed, BG ligature.

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Below are videos of Branford Marsalis and Marcus Strickland playing the LR II mouthpiece:
http://Lebaylemouthpieces.com/lrlrii.cfm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0stjkvvdZV4

Lebayle Jazz Studio tenor mouthpiece(7* tip opening)

Studio Tenor

Studio Tenor

Tone

I found the Jazz Studio model mouthpiece from Lebayle to be one of the brightest tenor hard rubber mouthpieces I have ever played. When I mean bright, I found that when playing in the palm keys, there was an instant response and the sound was clean and focused. I found this mouthpiece to have a big open sound with a nice edge as well as focus.

Intonation

This mouthpiece like the other models Lebayle makes was easy to keep in tune as well as play through various overtone exercises.

Build Quality

The Studio model comes in hard rubber, wood, or metal. This mouthpiece has a bullet-like chamber which I have not seen on many modern mouthpieces.

Overall

This mouthpiece would be great for any player who has been playing on a metal mouthpiece and is open to switching to hard rubber, or for a player who’s used to playing on hard rubber, but would like to get that bright, metal sound.

Price

$210

Sound clips with me comparing the Jazz Studio to the mouthpiece I normally play:

1.) Slant signature Otto Link, Selmer Mark VI, Alexander Superial 3 reed, Francois Louis Ultimate Ligature

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

2.) Lebayle Jazz Studio Chamber, Selmer Mark VI, Alexander Superial 3 reed, Francois Louis Ultimate Ligature

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Overall Thoughts

I would have to say that Fred Lebayle has gained an impressive following of professional players using his mouthpieces, and now I understand why. Fred truly knows what characteristics players are looking for in a mouthpiece and he offers various models to embody those characteristics.

I enjoyed playing all of Fred’s mouthpieces for soprano, alto, and tenor saxophone, and I would highly recommend them to any player interested in playing on a great hand crafted mouthpiece in a price range that many musicians can afford. Thank you Fred for your great work!

Here is the link to the website with everything you need to know about Fred Lebayle mouthpieces:
http://www.lebaylemouthpieces.com/fr_home.cfm

Category: News, Updates, and Brand Overviews, Saxophone Product Reviews

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About the Author

Hailing from San Francisco California, Zachary Sollitto is a man of many skills and many passions. Besides working in the telecommunications industry, his love for playing jazz is paralleled only by his passion for the world of saxophones and saxophone equipment. Perhaps more than just about any saxophonist you're likely to meet, he maintains an up-to-the-moment awareness of the latest and greatest products hitting the market for saxophonists. Whether it's saxophones, mouthpieces, neck straps, or just about anything else, Zach is the man you want to talk to. Manufacturers looking to have their saxophone products reviewed can reach him by email at zach@bestsaxophonewebsiteever.com or by phone at 954-292-2951.

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Comments (1)

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  1. Scott Austin says:

    Hey man we should get together again soon. Things are getting a bit more predictable work wise and have some ideas for writing to submit. Also saw your review of Forestone and Lebayle and am considering the alto metal #8 based on youtube i heard but wondered who stocks them down here of if you have any. Have you reviewed or tried woodstone reeds? Spoke with your Dad recently and looking forward to getting together when he is back in town. Thanks Zach. Best regards,
    Scott

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