Each Sanborn Signature mouthpiece is precision-milled from virgin brass rod stock, then extensively hand-worked and finished by a true artisan, Aaron Drake. Aaron’s dedication to his craft and attention to detail ensure that each mouthpiece is an exact reproduction of David Sanborn’s own. The result is the harmonious combination of a rich core sound, with a precise, instant attack and; ultimate projection. The mouthpieces are plated in sterling silver for an elegant, satin-like finish.
This limited-production mouthpiece is available in small quantities and each piece is made to order. The unique serial number is engraved on the mouthpiece, along with David Sanborn’s signature, as well as the Drake logo and trademark. For the Sanborn fan or contemporary jazz enthusiast, owning this mouthpiece is like owning a piece of music history.
The acoustic concept of the Drake Sanborn Model is established on a three-tiered baffle design, with a medium, Venturi chamber. It features hand-polishing of the primary baffle, hand-contouring of the chamber and satin-finished second and third baffles. The baffle transitions are left un-touched so as to create a crisp line that creates turbulence in the air flow. This helps to facilitate certain desirable upper partials in the sound. It is a very free-blowing mouthpiece, with just enough resistance to achieve your intended tonal color and expressive nuance. It is currently available in three tip openings: 6 (.08″) 7 (.085″) and 8 (.09″) David Sanborn plays an 8
Your Sanborn Signature Mouthpiece comes with a custom-fit Drake Quad-Point Ligature. This ligature is designed to sit near the end of the mouthpiece table, allowing the reed to vibrate with total freedom. This ligature facilitates an instant response and maximizes resonance.
Your mouthpiece is shipped in a transparent plastic case and also includes a plush drawstring bag bearing the Drake trademark.
Drake Masters Series “David Sanborn” Mouthpiece
Interview with Aaron Drake (AD)
Questions by Daniel Clermont (DC)
DC: Your Masters Series line of mouthpieces includes tributes to many saxophone greats. What makes working on the David Sanborn Model so unique and special for you?
AD:Dave is such an icon of the alto saxophone, a truly innovative voice that stands out.He has contributed solos to so much music in the popular music world.I can remember my early journey into studying music and the saxophone and Sanborn was on Saturday night live, David Letterman, and of course the “Night Music” show (that was on the air during my saxophone studies at Eastman).David’s presence on TV gave me, and many of my friends, hope of a fruitful career in music, he crossed so many “boundaries” in music. He has helped us all see and hear the possibilities of incorporating the saxophone in all styles of popular music.
DC:How did this project come about? Was it initiated by David? What were his demands and design criteria that you set out to meet?
AD:Yes, Dave contacted me initially and asked to try some of the mouthpieces I was making.From there we met up back stage at his concert in San Antonio Texas in 2014.At that time Dave was playing one of the last old Dukoff mouthpieces that worked for him.He was looking for a mouthpiece that could take the place of his old piece.He described to me how he feels the acoustics of tone production and talked a lot about the importance of the attack of the note, as he describes “the point” of the sound.He felt that in my mouthpieces.I had a look at his mouthpiece, Dave was on a concert tour and did not take the mouthpiece from his neck cork,I took some notes, then I went about designing a new mouthpiece, not a copy of his old piece.My design process is all done by hand (a lot of incremental adjustments and play testing), I sculpted the prototype mouthpiece taking into consideration the various acoustic design elements: table angle, baffle contour, chamber shape, bore, etc… I made several prototypes through a one piece casting process and finished them by hand, as I do with all of my mouthpieces.
DC: Have you always been a fan of David Sanborn? Was there a recording or performance of his that really made an impression on you?
AD:Yeah, Dave was a great inspiration to me growing up.I pretty much had all of his records.My father took me to the 1985 “Cool Jazz Festival” at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center – that was the first time I saw David perform live – it was inspiring.Taking off, Double Vision, and Straight to the Heart come to my mind as some favorite albums that I listened to while in High School.
DC:As far as the conception of the David Sanborn Model, did you draw inspiration from legendary mouthpiece models? From a design perspective, which well-known mouthpieces informed the structure of this model?
AD:I have been making mouthpiece since 1990, so I have a large back log of designs that are my original designs.I did take into consideration the old Dukoff design, because this is the design that worked for Dave for many years.But Dave was specific in wanting to make a change from that design.One thing to mention here is that Dave was playing a handful of Dukoff mouthpieces that he got from Bobby in the 1980’s for much of his career, until he switched to his Drake mouthpiece.Dave mentioned that, over the years, he had gone back to Dukoff for another mouthpiece but could never get another piece that worked for him.
DC: In design, was the mouthpiece done in CAD, or was it a hand-made blueprint first?
AD:The piece came from the hand made version and then was painstakingly converted to CAD for reproduction purposes.The process involves various technologies, like 3d scanning.This is essentially the only way to achieve the level of consistency from piece to piece, and creates the possibility for every player to have the same potential experience.
DC:Is the mouthpiece worked by hand at any stage, or is it entirely a CNC / machined process?
AD:There is extensive hand work done on the CNC milled blank.The chamber, baffle and facing are all worked and finished by hand in order to achieve the exact specifications of Dave’s.So, what a player is getting is a mouthpiece identical to what Dave plays.There is something very special in the way the air moves and the attack, “point” of the sound of these mouthpieces.
DC:What can you tell us about the materials used for this mouthpiece?
AD: Precision milled from virgin brass rod that we have sterling silver plated.
DC:Explain the finish of the mouthpiece.
AD:The piece is finished with several different textures in considerations of their functionality.For example the primary baffle is shaped by hand and polished – this is where the attack and initial sound is created, very careful time and attention is put here.The 2nd and 3rd baffles and the chamber of the piece are given a satin finish after the hand contouring is done to the venturi chamber.The baffle transitions are intentionally left untouched in order to have a crisp line – this helps to create a turbulence to the air flow and facilitates the production of certain harmonic partials in the sound.The throat transition to the chamber is curved and smoothed by hand to allow a natural / ergonomic air column as it transitions through the Venturi chamber – this is affectively compressing the air column as it is spead up and moves into the saxophone.
DC: How has the mouthpiece changed since the early prototypes, to the model/s made for David in 2014, to now?
AD:There is no difference in the acoustic design, and dimensions.
DC:Explain the design of the mouthpiece in traditional nomenclature, ie., baffle style, chamber design / size, etc.)
AD:The acoustic concept is fundamentally based on a three tiered baffle configuration and a venturi chamber which is considered medium in size.These design elements work together to compress and move the air in a specific way – there is a freeness to the way the air flows while still maintaining a comfortable amount of resistance – which is necessary for tonal color and expressive nuance.
DC: What are the technical specs of the different tip openings and do you have some comments in regards to the advantages of closer or more open tips?
AD:Dave plays the 8 opening (.090”) – this tip opening will require experience and a well developed embouchure.The 7 (.085”) and ultimately the 6 (.080”) are options to consider based on the players experience and preference.All of the mouthpiece / baffle contour ratios are adjusted for the various tip openings – so the piece will feel fundamentally identical from tip to tip.
DC:Is the mouthpiece quite “reed-friendly”? Are there particular brands and types of reeds that pair very well with it?
AD:I like to recommend the Rigotti Gold 2.5M reeds (Dave favors these too) for this mouthpiece, but it is designed to be very reed friendly and I encored players to experiment with the brands that they like.I consider this a personal preference choice.