Blindfold Challenge - Battle of the Slants
With the first in a new series of Blindfold Challenges, I get the fabulous Jim Cheek to check out some of our most popular Slant style Tenor mouthpieces to see which stands out!
Theo Wanne Slant Sig II
The Theo Wanne Slant Sig 2 is, ironically, probably the least Slant styled out of the pack. This mouthpiece has all the distinctive stylings of a Theo Wanne mouthpiece, full of power and projection, excellent to control and feels like a quality product. What sets the Slant Sig apart from the other, more contemporary, Theo pieces is its routing in the Slant family. Though not a traditional Slant it still has all of the fullness and warmth one would expect with the Slant style mouthpiece. Overall, The Theo Wanne is a free blowing piece that’s full of creative freedom, whilst retaining the dark core expected from the Slant model.
Otto Link "Vintage" Tone Edge
Moving from the most modern styled Slant in the Theo Wanne, through to our most traditional Slant in the Otto Link “Vintage” Tone Edge. This model, compared to its Modern Tone Edge brother, has a slightly more accented baffle, giving the mouthpiece a bit more projection to suit the modern set up, whilst retaining the traditional dark core. The core on the Vintage Tone Edge feels broad whilst retaining a presence reminiscent of that big, fat 40’s sound that’s full of resistance. This piece might not be suited for a player looking for something that will absolutely cut through an electric set-up, and it is 100% worth trying an Otto before you buy, as they are hand finished and will have slight discrepancies from one piece to another. But overall if you are looking to obtain a true, authentic, Slant sound, the Otto is the way to go.
Drake Son of Slant (Large Chamber)
The Drake Son of Slant encapsulates every aspect of the Ben Webster’s big bluesy sound. The sound has a wispy quality and this fundamentally rooted in a very dark core. The sound this produces is very pleasant if you are looking to encapsulate that very traditional “tubby” sound. However, when pushed, this mouthpiece doesn’t want to push out of this comfort zone. This mouthpiece, with the large chamber, will probably not provide enough cutting edge. This mouthpiece shares many similarities with the Otto Link, and if anything leans even further into that traditional Slant sound, ideal for the solo player or small ensemble player that is looking for that cloud-like smokeyness to their tone.
Retro Revival Tru-Slant
The Retro Revival Tru-Slant, as evoked by the same, is centred fundamentally in the ideals of the traditional Slant. All the expected responsiveness, darkness and fullness of the core give the mouthpiece that big Slant sound. The Retro does do a few things differently as well, such as the inclusion of a slightly steeper roll-over baffle, to give the mouthpiece the appropriate edge to suite a modern set up. The Retro has plenty of resistance, making the mouthpiece feel significantly harder work then some of the other pieces on this list, however once you move past this you discover a very full sounding, flexible mouthpiece.
The Marmaduke mouthpiece follows much the same pattern as the more traditional Slant style mouthpieces on this list with slight variations. The chamber size for example is more of a hybrid “Medium Large” rather then the go to large chamber found on the other pieces on this list. What this means is that the space in the chamber is slightly smaller than the others, letting the air travel faster through the piece, allowing for a more projected sound without having to heavily baffle the mouthpiece. This means that the Marmaduke can cut through a modern set up whilst retaining that warm, fuzzy Slant sound.
The last mouthpiece we covered was the Aizen LS. Aizen mouthpieces are made from a slightly different material, a rubber and resin blend, giving the tonal performance a more unique Slant edge. The mouthpiece is incredibly free blowing, allowing a performer to get that cutting edge without compromising on the fundamentals of what a Slant mouthpiece is. The Aizen does the well rounded, juicy sound beautifully, and though you can get plenty of projection from the sound, the tone will always want to be this, and will struggle to sound more contemporary. It is worth noting as well that the Aizen mouthpiece material is more delicate than traditional hard rubber, making the Aizen LS not for the slightly clumsier player.