As a charter member of the GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) crew I have purchased, traded, and found many mouthpieces over the years. I have always found my way back to a Otto Link Tone Edge for my Baritone needs. I’ve always loved the tone I heard in recordings but hated the over feel of the mouthpiece. In my head the tone was stuffy and constrained to the horn but wow did it work well in the studio.
Well after a recent stint with the Otto Link Super Tone Master I had enough and decided to get a Berg Larsen and see what the hype was all about. I had my reservations about choosing a Berg. My fear was that it was a chops in a box type piece that would have me two shades from Pepper Adams and a far cry from my desired, dark with edge, tonal concept. Boy was I in for a surprise when she came in from the interwebs.
I waited for 2 months before I found the exact Berg that I was looking for on ebay. The piece is 110/1 SMS. I choose the medium opening of 110 because I have always liked how focused the tone is on more closed mouthpieces. For the baffle I choose a 1 because it is the 2nd lowest baffle and as expected was the 2nd darkest tone. The mouth feel is very neutral for a hard rubber piece, neither too big nor too small for my embouchure. These factors lead to a piece which can be pushed hard before the tone spreads too wide and thins out.
The tone of the piece is what pushed my Link into the drawer. This piece has power in part because of its bullet chamber, medium low baffle, and slight cliff baffle. But power is not all it has in it arsenal. When paired with a full bodied reed this piece has a depth of tone which is reminiscent of an Otto Link Tone Edge but with more flexibility. The combination of power, tone, and a bit of edge (or buzz depending on your favorite nomenclature), fulfills my criteria for a great mouthpiece.
The only con to choosing a mass produced mouthpiece let alone a used one is that you can’t be sure that the facing will be even and that the rails will be even. In my case I lucked out and got one that is quite even and the facing seems compatible with all of my reeds.
Take Away: For the money i couldn’t go wrong. Hard rubber Berg Larsen pieces sell for less than $160. Choosing one with a baffle height and tip opening which suits your playing style and personal tastes can help you sound anywhere from an Adams like roar to a Chaloff haunting whisper.