What Does Aerospace Manufacturing Have To Do With My Saxophone Mouthpiece?

I don’t know about you but in my previous mouthpiece buying experience I would have to line up multiple, identical mouthpieces from a manufacturer and then play each one individually to assess them.  Why?  Because each one played differently even though they were labeled identically.  The variability of the manufacturing and hand finish processes involved in making mouthpieces forced me to take this approach of finding the best one in the batch.

I recently visited Theo WanneTM in Bellingham to discuss our upcoming Saxophone Mouthpiece Workshop in Seattle on Oct 31st.  I was fortunate to meet with Theo and Matt as they were reviewing some new designs on the CAD system. 

Theo & Matt discussing a mouthpiece design

Theo and Matt have thoroughly embraced technology to help drive their mouthpiece design and manufacturing beyond any others in the world.  Theo Wanne manufactures their mouthpieces to within 2 ten thousandths of an inch (.0002) in a state of the art, aerospace quality manufacturing facility!  To put .0002” in perspective, the thinnest human hair is two thousandths of an inch (.002).  This means they make mouthpieces accurately to within 1/10 of the thinnest human hair! A very small change in the mouthpiece geometry can have a large impact on the sound and response of a mouthpiece making manufacturing tolerances of utmost importance.  This is even more critical at the tip of the mouthpiece, where the sound starts, and every detail of the sound is shaped from this point on.

Why is this important to you?  It means that when you play a Theo Wanne mouthpiece and compare it to another of the same model and facing (6, 6*, 7, etc.) the mouthpieces will play the same.  This means if your mouthpiece is stolen or damaged beyond repair you can buy another knowing that it will play the same as the one you lost!  That is comforting news to me because in the past I had always dreaded the thought of losing my favorite mouthpiece and never being able to get that special feel and sound back again.

Theo & Alan after a tutorial on mouthpiece design by the master, Theo


Leave a comment

Add comment