What Sax Mouthpiece? Classical Sounds

31st October 2019

The mouthpiece is one of the most – if not the most – influential pieces of kit on the sound of your instrument. And, at some point, you’ll be needing to get yourself a new one! A new mouthpiece will help you explore an entirely new tone world. Furthermore, and particularly in the case of upgrading from a plastic student mouthpiece, a new piece will help develop stronger expressive tools like articulations and dynamics.

But with so many mouthpieces available, with a range of tip openings, lays, chambers, materials … which one is good for what style? Hopefully we’ll be able to provide some insight on to which mouthpieces work in a range of genres – starting off with classical saxophone.

Classical Sounds

Traditionally, the sound of a classical saxophone has warmth and sweetness, is round, mellow and focussed. This compliments both the melodic and more technical aspects of classical playing. To achieve this, players will lean towards mouthpieces with smaller chambers. They’ll also use harder reeds coupled with more closed tip openings.

Selmer Options:

One of the most popular mouthpieces to achieve this is the Selmer Concept. With a 1.48mm opening and round chamber, it is the contemporary standard for classical playing. It offers a smooth legato and responsive staccato with a range of tonal colours. Available for soprano, alto and tenor saxophones.

Selmer also offer the ever popular Soloist. A small, horseshoe shaped chamber focuses the tone without ‘squashing’ it. As well as having a good reputation as a classical piece for decades, it’s also not uncommon to see it being used by a jazz player looking for a ‘traditional’ tone. Typically, a classical player would opt for the C* opening. Available for alto and tenor saxophones.

The latest addition to the Selmer Classical range is the Claude Delangle model. It features a more open tip than the concept (165 vs 152) with the same facing length. However, the combination of a more open tip, combined with the metal ring and inner metal socket means this mouthpiece has a fair amount more projection and ‘go’ than the Concept which is arguably more subtle. Stock is difficult to get at the moment but we’re hoping that will improve soon!

Vandoren Options:

Vandoren present the Optimum as their ‘ultimate’ classical mouthpiece. It is designed to be more free blowing than traditional classical mouthpiece design, yet retains the capacity for focus and control thanks to a compact rounded chamber. It is available in a number of openings (3, 4 and 5) Choose for soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones.

In 2020, Vandoren launched the new ‘Profile AP3’ Alto Mouthpiece, also designed for contemporary classical players. It’s more towards the Selmer Concept in tone and style, and has proven to be very popular so far.

D’Addario/Aizen Options:

A newer offering from Aizen, the ASKB embodies traditional ideals with contemporary design. This is a delicate piece with narrow rails and round chamber. The ASKB is highly responsive with huge expressive capabilities. Currently only available for alto saxophone.

The D’Addario Reserve has a strong, pure and dark cored tone. Wonderfully expressive, particularly in softer dynamics, the Reserve allows for clean and precise control over articulation and tonal variation. For alto saxophone.

It goes without saying that this is just a drop in the ocean that is saxophone mouthpieces! Keep a lookout for future blogs on mouthpieces for jazz, pop and rock, and more… All of our mouthpieces are available on 14 day approval – so take a couple home with you to try in lessons, rehearsals, and your practice!

Take a Listen:

For more information on the saxophone mouthpieces above, drop us an email at or give us a call on 01628 630800.