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The exceptional E. Rousseau Jazz Metal Mouthpieces

"The amazing thing is that I tried one mouthpiece that ‘for me’ was not only better ... it was leaps and bounds better than the rest of them. It was an ‘unlikely’ Eugene Rousseau Jazz Metal.*"

There has been a debate over the years regarding the question of materials used for manufacturing both instruments and mouthpieces. A great number of saxophonists believe that metal mouthpieces are exclusively for playing jazz, and that hard rubber mouthpieces are for playing classical performances. Actually, there are excellent mouthpieces for all genres in both materials. The great Marcel Mule for many years used a metal mouthpiece for his classical performances. It stands to reason, then, that mouthpiece design is the most influential aspect of quality, not the material.

Today, however, metal mouthpieces are generally relegated to the jazz/rock/pop categories. While, in theory, a great player can make any mouthpiece sound good in any genre, most players who are looking for a dramatic tone with more edge, for jazz, rock, funk, r&b or pop, tend to gravitate to metal mouthpieces.

Regardless of mouthpiece material, response, projection, and dynamic control continue to be important qualities of a mouthpiece design. However, overall, tone quality is certainly one of the most critical. It is probably the determining factor in a player’s decision of which mouthpiece to use. The opening and length of the facing, balance of the side rails, appropriate chamber size and a well-designed baffle are among the first four factors to consider. For a player to have flexibility and control in all registers and at all dynamic levels there needs to be good balance in these design features without sacrificing tone quality. 

Having a complete understanding of what is a good or great mouthpiece, and how to choose one, is an important part of playing music. In all cases, student players should consult their teachers or ensemble directors when considering mouthpieces.

E. Rousseau Jazz Metal

The Jazz Metal Series provides a beautiful, powerful and clear tone with an excellent balance of edge and warmth. These mouthpieces are capable of tremendous volume of sound but are also able to be played very quietly.

The low baffle and angled side walls guide the air through a modified trapezoid from the chamber to the throat. Through extensive testing by many players, including Eugene Rousseau, the Jazz Metal mouthpiece is designed to produce a very consistent sound in all registers, including altissimo which almost never sounds harsh or too bright. 

Jazz Metal mouthpieces are produced from select solid brass using CNC computer-aided technology. These alto and tenor models are made from solid blocks of fine quality brass. Using digitally controlled computer programs, the entire manufacturing process is completed with a high degree of remarkable accuracy and consistency. The result is the exact design as prescribed by Rousseau with no variations or hand adjustments. Each is 24 carat gold-plated and a hard rubber insert is secured in place for maximum comfort and protection.

Players may be surprised to learn that facings (the curve that separates the reed from the mouthpiece) of metal mouthpieces are similar to those of hard rubber. A medium facing, while often preferred for hard rubber, is less popular than the various open facings available on metal. While a more open facing provides the opportunity for greater flexibility, it often takes greater energy as well. Players should consider their personal and performance needs before deciding on the facings appropriate for them.

There are many individual differences and players will get varying results that sometimes are exceptional, such as producing excellent pianissimo passages with a mouthpiece intended for extremely loud playing, and also the reverse of this. Since there are so many models designed for specific musician demands, the saxophonist must experiment and test a variety of mouthpieces in different situations to determine his/her best course of choice. E. Rousseau Saxophone mouthpieces are state-of-the-art designs, precision made, affordable, and the best in the industry for the demanding saxophone musician. There are a variety of designs each offering a unique difference in sidewalls, facing, materials. The E. Rousseau Jazz Metal series provides flexibility and control in all registers and at all dynamic levels while promoting excellent tone quality. 

Each E. Rousseau Jazz Metal mouthpiece includes a perfectly matched E. Rousseau Flex ligature and mouthpiece cap. 

Comments from the field

John Gist

John Gist is an alto, tenor, and soprano, saxophonist who has mastered a wide variety of musical styles which include Jazz, Funk, Blues, R&B, Gospel. A well-respected player, John provides a great example of a highly successful musician who sees his tone quality as his personal signature. Not surprisingly, he plays on E. Rousseau mouthpieces. 

“I've been playing Rousseau mouthpieces for 7 years now. I use the Rousseau Classic on Soprano Saxophone and the Rousseau Metal on Tenor Saxophone. The Rousseau Metal Tenor Mouthpiece is extremely flexible in terms of play-ability, sound and projection. E. Rousseau mouthpieces allow me to shape my tone for both classical and jazz performance.”

Hear John Gist on the JMT mouthpiece: https://www.reverbnation.com/johngist 


Gary McCourry 

Gary is a former member of the West Point Jazz Knights, having spent 23 year as saxophonist in the U.S. Army. He now is a member of Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra, Gull Lake Jazz Orchestra, Kalamazoo Big Band, Truth in Jazz Orchestra, Rhythm Section Jazz Band and performs as adjunct with Grand Rapids Symphony, West Michigan Symphony. He also teaches privately in the Grand Rapids area. 

“I am quite impressed with my Rousseau #8 Jazz Metal tenor mouthpiece after having had the opportunity to use it in various performance situations. The response is great in all registers for me, including the altissimo range. There is a depth of tone, resonance and sweetness that is apparent not just to me, but to saxophonists in the groups that I perform with. I appreciate the evenness of tone from register to register. Pitch control, focus, stability and tonal blend are very easy to maintain when I am playing unison lines and harmonized parts with a good big band saxophone section. Sub-tones are easy and it can be played with large dynamic contrasts, from very soft to very loud without losing control. The mouthpiece also projects well when needed without being overly bright. I will definitely be recommending the Rousseau jazz metal tenor mouthpiece to my students and fellow saxophonists.” 

Matthew Patnode 

Concert and jazz saxophonist Dr. Matthew Patnode has earned degrees and certificates from the SUNY Potsdam, the Conservatoire de Bordeaux, and Arizona State University. He has appeared in concert with Symphonies and jazz greats including Buddy DeFranco, Jimmy Heath, Slide Hampton, Ken Peplowski, Allen Vizzutti, Phil Woods, Kurt Elling, Monty Alexander, the Hard-Bop Saxophone Quartet, the gypsy-jazz group Carluster Crumplebee Orchestra; and the Post Traumatic Funk Syndrome. He was named the 2013 North Dakota Jazz Educator of the Year, and has been a member of the faculty of the International Music Camp since 1994. 

“My Rousseau Jazz Metal mouthpiece has a nice powerful sound, like most metal pieces, but not as ‘edgy’ in the low register. It actually plays full in the mid to low registers similar to a hard rubber piece. There is plenty of vibrancy in the upper register when you push more air into it can really project. The response is clean and it’s easy to articulate. It’s a great looking mouthpiece as well, the facing and rails look very even. The chamber is machined well.”

*Sax On The Web Forum