Do You Need a Mouthpiece Patch?

saxophone mouthpiece patch
A real, live, saxophone mouthpiece patch

As saxophone players, it’s clear that nothing occupies our thoughts on a daily basis more than the question, “Should I be using a mouthpiece patch or not?”

OK, I kid, but it is an interesting topic to look into as anything that can affect the “signal chain” of body to bell is something to be conscious of.

The Purpose of a Mouthpiece Patch

BG Mouthpiece Patches (a popular brand)
BG Mouthpiece Patches (a popular brand)

Why would you get one of these things? Quite simply, you slap one of these bad boys on so that you don’t leave teethmarks on your beloved mouthpiece over the course of years of playing.

For some sax players, the patch also helps reduce the sound vibrations from the mouthpiece onto the teeth, as those vibrations seem to irritate these players (I would assume that the effect would be similar to the bodily sensation of nails on a chalkboard).

Effects of the Mouthpiece Patch on Tone

I recently took part in a very interesting online forum discussion that was started by a great saxophone player who recently removed his patch and immediately noticed that his tone was obviously brighter and louder than it had been with the patch.

However, the general consensus of the other sax players in the forum was that the shift in tonal quality was nothing more than a perceived change. The reason being that the direct vibration of the teeth against the mouthpiece affected only way the instrument was vibrating within his head. Kinda like how when we hear recordings of ourselves speaking, we might be surprised to hear that our voice sounds different on the recording than it does when we hear it while we’re actually speaking.

In fact, members of the forum also chimed in that they had recorded themselves both with and without the patch and could hear no difference between the recordings.

I also got a bit of a consensus that the thinner patches seem to serve players better, as the impact on the way the piece feels in your mouth is reduced. Of course, if you’re looking to soften the feeling of the mouthpiece under your top teeth, then you can always go thicker.

The Conclusion

Since there seems to be no effects from the patch on your tone, I say slap one of these bad boys on. Tarnishing your lovely mouthpiece goofy teethmarks seems kinda silly.

BG makes a popular brand of mouthpiece patches, so you if don’t have any, you can grab some here.