Stephan Kammerer Mouthpieces vs. The Vintage Heavyweights
Stephan Kammerer MouthpiecesIntroduction
The first time I heard of Stephan Kammerer is when I visited KB Saxophone Services in N.Y.C. Kim Bock introduced me to some of Stephan’s prototype hard rubber mouthpieces while I was test playing various SBA’s and Mark VI’s with my Otto Link Slant Signature tenor mouthpiece. I remember playing one of Stephan’s hard rubber tenor mouthpieces which reminded me of a slant link and the alto mouthpiece was reminiscent of a N.Y. Meyer. Overall, I was very impressed by the quality and attention to detail Stephan put into each of his mouthpieces. I asked Kim if I could meet Stephan since he was based in N.Y.C. and Kim was nice enough to arrange a time for me to meet up with Stephan at the shop and discuss his line of mouthpieces.
When I met Stephan, we discussed two mouthpieces that he was working on and once finished, he would send me one tenor and one alto mouthpiece to test play. I am glad to say that although Stephan has gotten busier and busier as a mouthpiece re-facer and as a player in N.Y.C., he was nice enough to send me an Otto Link Super Tone Master (vintage specs) and his SK New York Custom alto mouthpiece. The tenor mouthpiece is a 7* but Stephan has it marked after re-facing it to a 106 and the alto mouthpiece is a .080 tip opening. I will be reviewing each mouthpiece on the following: Sound, Intonation, Response, Build Quality, and my Overall Thoughts.
SK Metal Otto Link Super Tone Master 7* (106.)
I have played Otto Link Super Tone Master’s before and overall found that each one responded a bit differently from mouthpiece to mouthpiece (focused, spread, stuffy, free-blowing, bright, dark, etc.). Stephan’s Otto Link Super Tone Master, which he refaced and hand finished to vintage specs was one of the better Otto Links I have played to date. The overall sound of the mouthpiece, I found to be neutral rather than leaning on the brighter or darker side. I found that the sound was even from low Bb to high F# and very easy to control. This Otto Link had the right amount of edge, focus, and warmth that you do not find in all metal Otto Link Super Tone Masters.
I have heard from many saxophonists that they find metal mouthpieces to play shrill in the palm keys, and are more difficult to get used to initially when compared to a hard rubber mouthpiece. From test playing more and more mouthpieces from various manufacturers and made from various materials, I do not see this as the case. I would say a metal mouthpiece that has been hand finished and play tested over and over with adjustments should play just as even, in tune, and easy to control as a hard rubber mouthpiece. I found Stephan’s Link to play evenly throughout all of the registers and while working thru my overtone exercises, it took very little time for me to adjust which is not always the case when trying various metal mouthpieces.
The Otto Link Super Tone Master responded well throughout the entire range of the horn. I did find it to contain more resistance or back pressure compared to my Otto Link Slant Signature but this resistance allowed me to project more than my Slant Link. I did find this mouthpiece took more air which could be due to it being a 106 tip opening and I play a 7 or 100 tip opening. When I played chromatically from bottom to top and vice versa, I noticed it was very easy to play from high D to high F# with a full sound that was not shrill and was easy to control.
The rails, tip, and baffle were even, smooth, and balanced on both sides. From my experience, these qualities you do not find all the time when purchasing new Otto Link Super Tone Master’s.
The vintage Otto Links are some of the most sought after and commonly played mouthpieces on the market today. Unfortunately, the new Otto Link Super Tone Master’s from my experience do not respond and feel like the vintage ones of the past. The SK Otto Link Super Tone Master is a great alternative for someone looking for that “vintage” Otto Link metal mouthpiece or as a back-up to their existing Link. If you are in the market for a metal mouthpiece or searching for the ultimate link, check out a SK Metal Otto Link Super Tone Master mouthpiece or email Stephan for further information.
Sam Dillon test playing the SK Otto Link Super Tone Master Tenor Mouthpiece
SK New York Custom Alto Mouthpiece (.80)
I found the SK New York Custom alto mouthpiece reminded of a N.Y. Meyer. The overall sound I found to be warm, focused, and contain a nice amount of edge in the mid-range, a bright but full sound in the upper range and into the palms keys, as well as a dark and full sound down to low Bb.
Although I mainly play tenor, this mouthpiece was very easy to control, stay in tune, and while working thru various overtone series took very little time to adjust which makes it especially great when switching between alto and tenor or vice versa during gigs.
The response was instant with a bit of resistance which really allowed me to project.
The tip, rails, baffle, etc. was clean and even. The finishing work was nice and I noticed no scratches. I liked that Stephan used Zinner blanks because I have tried various mouthpiece facings using Zinner blanks and I believe the material is solid.
To put it simply, if you are in the market for a N.Y. Meyer alto mouthpiece, I would highly recommend checking out Stephan’s SK New York Custom alto mouthpieces. The sound, response, intonation, and build quality is great and I know Stephan can customize the mouthpiece to your preference.
David Mann presenting the new SK New York Custom Alto Mouthpiece
I would like to thank Stephan Kammerer for sending me his SK Otto Link Super Tone Master tenor mouthpiece (vintage specs) and SK New York Custom alto mouthpiece to test play. With so many mouthpieces on the market today, it can be difficult to figure out which one will suit you best. In addition, there have been many copies and re-releases of popular mouthpiece facing under almost every mouthpiece manufacturer and refacer to date. All I can say is Stephan Kammerer is someone I have added to my list as a quality refacer, as well as a go-to guy if something ever happened to one of my mouthpieces, I know he is someone I could contact to find a great replacement or fix.
Please feel free to send Stephan an email (via his website, link below) with any questions and I highly recommend scheduling an appointment with Stephan at Kim Bock’s shop.