The quest to find the right mouthpiece can seem like a never ending process. Once you find the mouthpiece that you believe suits you best, the next step (or at least for myself) is to find a secondary or back-up mouthpiece that plays identically in case something were to happen (drop, stolen, natural wear, etc). When I saw various manufacturers begin to experiment with 3D printing new models, I thought “I wonder if I could use a 3D printing machine to copy my main mouthpiece?” After doing some further research, I learned that these 3D printing machines can copy very exact measurements but if additional adjustments are needed, a skilled re-facer and play testing is required to really make that mouthpiece sing. In addition, even if the facing is identical to the original, the new mouthpiece will play slightly different based on the material and process for creating the final product.
As I continued to think to myself “there has to be a way to copy my main mouthpiece”, I ran into a company called SYOS. SYOS stands for “Shape Your Own Sound” and was founded my Pauline Eveno (I’ve included a link around how SYOS was started: SYOS Story). After meeting up with Pauline in San Francisco, she was nice enough to send me three mouthpieces to play test based on my survey responses that I completed on their website. Please note, although SYOS is not offering to make a 3D printed copy of your current mouthpiece, they do offer you the ability to play test many variations based on your survey responses until you find the SYOS mouthpiece that is right for you. I will be discussing the SYOS survey, the mouthpieces they sent me, and my final thoughts.
The process to purchase a SYOS mouthpiece begins with their survey. Their survey asks you such questions as follows:
1.) Which mouthpiece do you want to order (soprano, alto, tenor, baritone)?
2.) Which mouthpiece brand are you using?
3.) Which tip opening are you using?
4.) What is your saxophone skill level?
5.) What is your preferred brightness?
6.) Do you want a mouthpiece with a soft or powerful sound?
7.) What music styles do you play?
8.) Choose your colour?
9.) What tip opening do you want for your SYOS mouthpiece?
10.) Additional Info?
After this survey is complete, Pauline and her team will work together with you to come up with an initial mouthpiece that suits your requirements and send you one for testing. What I find is unique with the SYOS process is if you are not satisfied with the first mouthpiece, you have the ability to send it back to their team who will further tweak the overall dimensions based on your feedback and send you another mouthpiece. This process will repeat until you find the model that works for you. I found the overall survey questions were good but have some suggestions which I believe will lead to further clarity around the right dimensions for what you are looking to achieve in your next mouthpiece.
1.) For question #7, I believe the Genre’s are nice to know but after selecting a Genre, I think it would be helpful to refine what players you like to listen to within those genres.
2.) For question #3, besides tip opening, I believe the exact mouthpiece model and chamber are also very important as well as elaborating if any work has been done.
3.) For question #10, if this is possible, I would allow the ability to attach images (pictures of your current mouthpiece). I believe this will assist the SYOS team very much to gain a better understanding what you are coming from and where you want to go with your next mouthpiece.
Pauline sent me 3 mouthpieces (Red, light blue, and a neon green color) with a M, L, and XL chamber. After playing testing all three SYOS mouthpieces in comparison to my Otto Link, I decided that the M chamber worked best for me. My experience after play testing all three SYOS mouthpieces is the current tip opening you are used to playing on does not necessarily translate to the SYOS mouthpiece. For instance, I play on a 7 tip opening Slant Link and the SYOS mouthpiece that played most similarly in terms of resistance and play-ability measured closer to a 8. I believe this has to do with the overall dimensions and if look at the baffle, rails, and chamber of the SYOS mouthpieces (See pictures), it is quite different from my Link. I thought the material responded well which I believe is a hard plastic. I found the sound was pretty consistent across the entire range but noticed the upper and lower extreme’s of the horn were a bit brighter compared to my Slant Link. The roadblocks or bumpers as I like to call them inside the chamber was quite interesting and when I play tested other SYOS mouthpieces without this feature, I found they did not respond as quickly or project as much as I pushed more air through them.
There have been many attempts to 3D print a saxophone mouthpiece with various levels of success (unfortunately with most being unsuccessful). I believe SYOS has moved the needle forward in terms of 3D printing mouthpieces that are a viable alternative to the traditional way to manufacture mouthpieces today. With that being said, I spoke with Pauline and per our discussion, she told me that she is not a saxophone player herself as well as members on the team so she is designing these mouthpieces from an acoustic standpoint and relying on various local musicians and simply users feedback for overall results of each mouthpiece. I still prefer my Slant Link over the 3 SYOS mouthpieces that Pauline sent me to test play. With that being said, I believe by further refining the survey questions as well as continued experimentation with various dimensions and players feedback, these SYOS mouthpieces can become a great alternative option for those players that have struggled to find the right mouthpiece for them. One additional benefit I see with the SYOS mouthpiec line is since they are 3D printed and the material is very consistent from mouthpiece to mouthpiece, if something were to ever happen to your SYOS mouthpiece, you could reach out to Pauline and her team with the model number and they could go back and print another exact copy of your current model (I wish this existed with current mouthpieces on the market today).
Overall, I would like to thank Pauline for sending me these SYOS mouthpieces to test play. I do wish to continue working with her to get closer to a SYOS mouthpiece I like just as much as my Slant Link or even more. If you have tried a SYOS mouthpiece, what are your thoughts? How do they compare to your current setup?
Players Testing SYOS Mouthpieces