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What’s Your Set-up? Sax & Clarinet…

19th February 2020

This question gets thrown around a lot! From first time mouthpiece upgraders looking for something new, to highly-skilled amateurs looking for a different sound. Truthfully, someone’s answer – beyond letting you know how much money they dropped on a mouthpiece! – isn’t a lot of use to you. Why is this?

What Works Best?

The mouthpiece, reed and ligature set-up is a very personal thing. Yes it’s true that different mouthpieces offer wildly different tonal palettes, and a different reed will respond in various ways depending on ligature. But ultimately, it’s best to try what you can to find what suits you.

‘Your body is as much a part of the instrument as the instrument itself.’

Citation – me, to any customer!

What I mean by this is that your physiology can, and will, affect how you respond to different gear. Your natural tongue placement, the size of the cavity in your mouth and throat, your lung capacity and power … these all play an important part in your sound production. If a mouthpiece demands a fast, high volume air stream to really take advantage of it’s dynamic capabilities, then someone smaller just might not have the puff. Or someone who hasn’t been playing for long might like the sound of a set-up with a harder reed – this might not suit them so much, as the embouchure perhaps won’t be as strong as someone who has been playing for years.

So, How Do I Research?

It’s great to read and digest marketing materials on new gear, and it’s even better to bear those points in mind when trying it out. Did you read up on that great new mouthpiece? Now go out and give it a go! Know what you’re looking for, but don’t hold an expectation for a ligature to be ‘the one’. Keep in mind what you like, how you play, and most importantly; what you’d like to change when testing new accessories.

Where Do I Start?

At Dawkes, we’re pleased to be able to offer our services for testing appointments. Whether you’d like to try a new or second hand instrument in stock, or any of our accessories, get in touch to book your place. Our sales team are experienced, actively performing musicians, ready to offer honest opinions and recommendations based on your likes and requirements. From piccolo to tuba, we’re happy to help!

We also offer a 14 day approval period on new and second hand instruments, and a range of accessories from mouthpieces to ligatures. Whether you’ve bought in store or online, this is the time to put your new purchase to the test! In lessons, rehearsals, practice and performance … see if it really is for you. If not, simply return the item for a refund (minus £3 sterilisation and restocking fee for mouthpieces).

If you really can’t make up your mind, take a few options home with you! Keep the winner with you and return the rest. Check our website for full details on the returns policy and terms & conditions.

Jesse – Sales Specialist


To book an appointment in one of our dedicated testing spaces, drop us an email or call us on 01628 630800. If you have any questions about our products or services, please get in touch – the team is ready and willing to help.