Baritone Saxophonist Gary Smulyan on Performance and Product


Hi, my name is Gary Smulyan and I play the baritone saxophone. I am really excited about this new Vandoren V16 mouthpiece. I’ve been playing the same mouthpiece for over 20 years (and I’m not really an “equipment junkie,” I don’t really seek out and look for the new latest and greatest things out there). I was really satisfied with what I was playing, but when I heard that Vandoren was going into research and development to create a new baritone saxophone mouthpiece, I got really excited. They really went out of their way to develop something fantastic by talking to baritone saxophone players all over the world in terms of what they were looking for, what they needed in their mouthpiece, and what kind of sound they were trying to get. 

Through all of the speaking with different folks, they came up with this mouthpiece and it’s really fantastic. It’s easy to play, even from top to bottom, got a beautiful core in the sound, beautiful center in the sound and it really “cuts.” It’s really got a really good strong feeling of projection and it will take all of the air that you can put into it. It’s really a great mouthpiece and I think it’s one of the best things to come on the market in a very long time.

So I’m playing on a V16 B9, which is a rather open mouthpiece and a Blue Box Traditional 2.5 reed (which I’ve been playing 2.5’s for a long time). I prefer an open mouthpiece and a softer reed. Some musicians prefer more of a closed mouthpiece and a harder reed: it’s really a matter of personal choice. For me, I can really get what I need in terms of expressing myself, in terms of sound and what it is I’m looking for with a more open mouthpiece and a softer reed. So a 2.5 blue box seems to work really well for me. I seem to get a lot of them out of a box (3 or 4), which is really good, considering a lot of times reeds can sometimes be inconsistent but these Traditionals are very consistent. I really like these reeds a lot.

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"I’ve spent a lot of time on the road and have played with a lot of diverse musicians and knowing that Vandoren products are in my case, I really feel confident when I go to the gig, that I’m going to have exactly what I need to play the kind of musical situation I’m involved in for that particular evening." - Gary Smulyan

I think Vandoren strives really hard to develop products that are consistent across the board and that are going to give musicians exactly what they need, for exactly the situation that they might need it for. I think that’s one of the strong points of this company is that they do get the input of musicians and they try to meet the musicians needs and demands, for the particular situations that they find themselves in. So I go to a gig, knowing Vandoren is behind me all the way.

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