Review of the Theo Wanne “AMMA” Metal Mouthpiece
I recently received a Theo Wanne “AMMA” model metal mouthpiece with a 7 * tip opening for my tenor saxophone. Over the years, I have heard from many saxophonists that Theo Wanne is one of the leading mouthpiece refacers in the world. This past January, I had the opportunity to visit his booth at the 2012 NAMM show. Unfortunately, with all the musicians and general activity at his booth, I did not have a chance to sit down and try out the many different model mouthpieces that Theo brought to the show.
From reading different blogs as well as Theo’s website, his mission is to develop the “Rolls Royce of saxophone mouthpieces,” and so far, Theo offers over 30 models of mouthpieces from baritone to soprano saxophone. In this article, I am going to talk about the AMMA model mouthpiece and discuss its sound, intonation, and response.
I have recorded myself playing the AMMA as well as my hard rubber Otto Link Slant Signature so you could hear a difference between these mouthpieces (see audio clips at the bottom of the article).
The “AMMA” model mouthpiece is designed to fit almost any style of music. This mouthpiece produces a medium-bright sound and with Theo Wanne’s “True Large Chamber.” Overall, the AMMA embodies a warm, fat, robust sound. While I was playing the mouthpiece, it reminded me of a great double ring vintage metal Otto Link, but the response was faster and was easier to control.
When I was switching between my Otto Link and the AMMA, I noticed that while I was playing the AMMA, I produced a medium-bright sound, just as Theo notes in describing the sound of this piece. Although the sound was medium-bright, I found that you could shape it the way you wanted it which it to sound. Tone-wise, the mouthpiece reminded me of various different metal Otto Link mouthpieces but, with the design of the AMMA those features were enhanced.
While going through my overtone exercises with the AMMA, I noticed that this mouthpiece was spot-on. The AMMA is incredibly easy to control and this surprised me the most because I have typically found metal mouthpieces, especially in the palm keys, to be harder to keep in tune than when I played on a hard rubber mouthpiece. Not the case here.
This mouthpiece was incredibly responsive as well as powerful. I could play from very soft to very loud with little to no effort. The overall response was very quick, and no matter how much I pushed the mouthpiece, the sound never cut out. I really enjoyed playing the AMMA because the core of the sound was always there, no matter what volume I was playing at.
The AMMA metal mouthpiece for tenor is priced at $775. It comes in a silver, vintified, and a rhodium finish. Included in the package are Theo’s Liberty Ligature, a Francois Louis smart cap, as well as different pressure plates. I understand that for many saxophonists this mouthpiece is one of the more expensive ones out on the market today. What I do have to say about the AMMA is this probably the last mouthpiece you will ever purchase. The quality as well as craftsmanship are, by far, among the best I’ve seen so far. This is a mouthpiece that you can, and mostly likely will play for the rest of your career.
Some endorsers of the AMMA model are Jeff Coffin, Chris Potter, Chris West, Adam Niewood, Jan Garbarek, and many more.
Obviously, I really enjoyed playing the AMMA mouthpiece. I hope to try out one in a 7 tip opening because although the 7* played great, the opening was just a little bit too big for my taste. I would recommend the AMMA to anyone who is searching or has been searching for the vintage Guardala’s, Links, and Dukoff’s.
If the AMMA is a bit out of some musicians’ price range, Theo offers an extensive line of mouthpieces that can fit any professional sax players budget. Theo truly designed the AMMA with the professional musician in mind and I can’t wait to see what other models Theo intends to come out with.
In addition to the line of mouthpieces Theo offers, Theo’s website is THE best place for sax players wanting to know anything about vintage as well as modern mouthpieces.
Yanagisawa 991 tenor with a Theo Wanne “AMMA” 7* mouthpiece, Rico Jazz Select 3M, Francois Louis ligature[audio: zach_Amma_new.mp3]
Yanagisawa 991 tenor with a Otto Link Slant hard rubber 100 tip opening mouthpiece, Rico Jazz Select 3M, Francois Louis ligature[audio: zach_Link_new.mp3]
To learn more, go to http://store.theowanne.com/products/amma-tenor-metal-saxophone-mouthpiece. [Sorry(!), but this web page has disappeared since the original publication of this article]
August 22, 2012 @ 8:53 am
I’n not sure whether the difference in sound is worth $ 775 …
August 22, 2012 @ 3:34 pm
To much distortion in the recording to get a clear idea of the difference in sound. But I’ll agree with Toni, the difference that I hear is not worth $775…sorry.
August 22, 2012 @ 5:17 pm
Like all gear changes, the effect is usually much more perceived by the player than actually heard. *Feeling* like you sound better goes a long way, but it’s a question of how much do you want to pay for something that makes you feel like you’re sounding better when you can find something that might actually make you sound a bit better.
August 24, 2012 @ 5:47 am
Hey Toni and Charles, I apologize for the sound quality. I am going to re-record myself playing both mouthpieces sometime soon which I hope will help you as well as other players hear a difference between the pieces.I found both pieces to play great and share many of the same features which is why the difference might not seem so significant. The one thing about the theo wanne is you can purchase one today unlike the old otto link hard rubber mouthpieces which you have to go on ebay, go to a speciality shop, or know of someone who is selling one through word of mouth. I apologize again for the sound quality, but I hope the article kept you up to date on what theo wanne has to offer.
August 28, 2012 @ 12:52 pm
For whoever’s following this thread, Zach was kind enough to record the mouthpieces using much better equipment, and I think that the difference between the 2 pieces is a lot more obvious now. Give ’em a listen!
October 8, 2012 @ 5:19 pm
Hey, any higher quality is worth the pay.
October 9, 2012 @ 12:20 pm
I know Tim Price and a couple artist’s play theo’s pieces all the time. Some artist are very picky with what mouthpiece they play and like to change there setup frequently. From my understanding, an artist might play one mouthpiece for a couple of months and than switch to another one quickly. Is there one artist in particular that you see frequently switching to different mouthpieces?
October 10, 2012 @ 12:37 pm
Well I was wondering what the endorsement really means…ie. did they try it and say oh this is good or whatever..It just sounds like a selling gimmick, which if its the case is not very honest.
November 5, 2012 @ 2:08 pm
I can understand where you are coming from in regards to endorsements. As you probably know with many players, they like to change their setup every so often. You might see one player playing on a mouthpiece for a couple months and then the next time be playing on something totally different. I view these endorsements as many players actually play on theo wanne’s mouthpieces as well as many pro’s are stating that theo wanne makes a great mouthpiece which is true.
October 9, 2012 @ 11:59 am
Why is it that most artists that endorse these producuts don’t necessarily use them?
October 24, 2016 @ 6:12 am
great jazz sound on both!, But the Amma sounds more refined, fatter and darker, better in tune and as if it’s easier to control and articulate