1/24/11

NAMM 2011- part II (Aaron Drake)

Aaron Drake of Drake mouthpieces was the person who got me into NAMM as a demonstrator this year. He brought quite a few of his mouthpieces to the show with him. It was the first chance I've had to get a good look at all of the different models he makes. I'd never seen his ceramic pieces before and I'd always been curious about them. Aaron had been making his ceramic pieces for a while and just recently started making pieces using more traditional materials in order to reach a wider market. The idea with the ceramic pieces is that they have much less surface friction as rubber and metal and they have a sound somewhere between hard rubber and metal. Eric says that they take forever to finish compared to resin/rubber.

The new Drake prototype resin compound w/ added brass
 I have been moving all of my alto students to Aaron's New York Jazz 'rubber' pieces with great results. These are the best modern alto pieces that I've ever seen and my students love them. I believe that Aaron's pieces would be even better than my vintage Slant if they were made from the same old hard rubber compound. One thing that Aaron has done to improve the compound he makes his pieces with is to add some ceramic powder to it in order to increase it's density. He brought a few new experimental pieces with him to NAMM that had some added brass dust added to the resin compound. The added brass makes the compound 11% denser, which changes the response and tone of the pieces. Beside, this stuff just looks COOL. It looks like the rubber piece has gold dust sparkles in it.

Aaron also brought some of his brand new metal mouthpieces with him. I would have tried them, but I didn't have a horn with me. I ended up bringing a couple of rubber Drake Son of Slant tenor pieces and a NY Jazz alto piece back home with me. They all play great and my students have been snatching them up as soon as they try them.

Look for my extended interview with Aaron soon.

Drake Mouthpieces

8 comments:

Scooby said...

Looking forward to the follow-up interview with Aaron. I love his pieces. Have them on alto and tenor and hope to pick up a soprano piece soon.

vpsaxman said...

What's up with everybody coming up with their own "compound" material. These never sound as good as rubber does.

David Carlos Valdez said...

VP,
Read my latest post on hard rubber compound. You can't get good hard rubber anymore, so guys like Aaron are trying whatever they can to make up for this by adding different material to make the rubber denser. The stuff that Babbitt is using these days just plain sucks ass, no question. It sounds like thin and bright, so no wonder mouthpiece makers are searching for something better.

vpsaxman said...

I don't find the rubber they use for the regular Tone Edge tenor pieces that bad.

You said the brass dust changes the tone and response of the piece. Could you elaborate, please?

David Carlos Valdez said...

I should qualify that statement, Otto Link's new rubber compound sucks ass compared to their old rubber (EB/Slant). It is not even in the same ballpark. It responds differently in every way. The purpose of adding ceramic or brass to the rubber compound is just to make it denser. New Link rubber is not dense enough. All you have to do is flick your fingernail on it and then try doing the same to an old Slant. The new rubber flick will sound higher and thinner compared to the thud of the Slant flick. They respond to vibration differently. The newer rubber piece has more higher overtones in the tone, making them sound edgier. Not all rubber is the same.

vpsaxman said...

Thanks for explaining. :)

Scooby said...

What do you think of the ligatures that Aaron has? That's the only thing that doesn't work for me. Seems like a lot of people are using the "shower curtain ring" design (e.g. JodyJazz). They're just not secure enough for me. You get everything set just right, realize you're a little sharp, grab the mouthpiece to pull out a little, and everything shifts. I've been using a Vandoren Optimum with Aaron's pieces and like that combination much better.

David Carlos Valdez said...

I think that on some of the Drake pieces they work well, but not all. It just depends on how bright or dark they are. To me a ligature is the thing use use to balance the out timbre tendencies of the piece you're playing.

The design is fine for me, since I'm used to playing a vintage Selmer expando lig anyway. You just need to make sure Aaron fits the lig to where you like it on the piece. If you like it lower then Aaron will file out the reed slot so it slides down further.