Otto Link Mouthpieces, Past and Present
Otto Link Mouthpieces, Past and Present
This guide was NOT written by me- it has been generously given to me to publish here by MN, and I have it up here with his permission to help anyone who is wanting to learn more about the differences between Otto Link mouthpiece models. Also check out my links section and go to mouthpiecemuseum.com for more information.
If you would like to reprint this elsewhere, please contact me first and I will put you in touch with the author.
If you find any discrepancies with your own research, please let me know and I will update this page.
Otto Link Mouthpiece: The Definitive Guide
As a preface to this guide, I would like to give insight on my experience with these mouthpieces. With any mass-manufacturing process there is an obvious need for quality control. Like every company, Otto Link has and continues to do their best to ensure that every product that is distributed is properly made. This is a great system we have, however we do not live in a perfect world. When professionally adjusted, every single one of the mouthpiece that I discuss will definitely play BETTER. Of course there are limits to how much a mouthpiece can be refaced (just as you can only rotate your tires so many times before they need replacing), but a mouthpiece is a tool and should be treated as so (when a tool is broken, it is corrected). I see far too many original mouthpieces in terrible adjustment yet the current market dictates that originality should command more than playability.
Another issue that seems to always arise is the new-vs-vintage argument. These tools are made with the principle that the user has a command over their instrument. On the saxophone, one must master the harmonic overtone series to have a clear command over every aspect of their instrument. The late Joe Allard was world renowned for his methods into saxophone embouchure development (along with others eg. Sigurd Rascher, Larry Teal) and any serious student of the saxophone should study those concepts to great lengths. Otto Link still makes great mouthpieces. Their design is different from previous years, but it was always changing. Since we live in a world of individuality and difference, there will always be choice, and personal preference. Some players adore the new design, and some do not. Otto Link is constantly working on new ideas and will hopefully keep releasing great tools to for us to make great music.
METAL OTTO LINK MOUTHPIECES:
Master Link Series: These mouthpieces were actually the first production mouthpiece by Otto Link. There is some debate that Lelandais had used the same blanks/design for their “Supere-Jazz Modele” as both mouthpieces are notoriously similar. These pieces were pioneered by Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, etc. While they came in smaller facings they are very lush sounding mouthpieces, and when refaced well they can be a spectacular mouthpiece. Steve Grossman currently uses a 4**** model. In value, they usually reach around the $350 mark however excellent condition originals, as well as superbly refaced examples can reach over $500.
Master Link (NYC, NY)
-These mouthpieces featured a large chamber (the largest ever in Otto Link production)
-First mouthpieces had an integral ligature much like a Sugal, or Lawton which clipped into the cut-outs on the side of the mouthpiece
Master Link 4**** (NYC, NY)
-Basically identical on the insides to the previous model, but they lost the cut-outs on the exterior of the mouthpiece and were issued with the first slip on lig offered by Otto Link, with no ridge.
Tone Master Series: These mouthpieces were the pieces that really put them on the map in my opinion. They were so good that Bobby Dukoff started to make pieces that were almost exactly the same. Soon enough the mouthpiece was seen on albums like Blue Train and everybody had to have an Otto Link. In value, these usually reach $500 and under, but once again. Excellent condition originals, and expertly refaced examples have reach close to $1000 online.
Tone Master (NYC, NY)
-These mouthpieces boasted a smaller chamber, and considerably more baffle material than the previous models, making them able to project like no other mouthpiece.
-Issued with large slip on ligs with Otto Link written in a circle on the thumb screw.
“New and Improved” Tone Master (NYC, NY)
-Same chamber, but higher baffle and in a red & white box stating, “New and Improved”
Super Tone Master Series: These mouthpieces were the next mouthpiece in a long succession of “Super Tone Master” mouthpieces. The first models, the “Double Ring” are highly prized among players/collectors due to their excellent playability and their fame due to previous legends who have played them over the years. In value, these mouthpieces generally lie in the $500-$1000 range, but excellent condition originals, and expertly refaced examples have exceeded $2000 online.
Super Tone Master Double Ring (NYC, NY)
-The first STM made (also came in a red & white box with a NYC address)
-These pieces boasted an even smaller chamber (though still very large) and a longer baffle.
-They also had the address stamped on the shank like the Tone Masters and issued with the same ligs.
Super Tone Master Double Ring (Pompano Beach, FLA)
-Essentially the same exact mouthpiece as previous, but the address was not on the shank and they came in black & gold boxes.
Super Tone Master No USA (Pompano Beach, FLA)
-First ones came in black & gold boxes, most came in the gold & black writing boxes
-Used by Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, etc.
-Issued with the T lig, which was basically the same lig as before but with T stamped on the thumb screw.
Super Tone Master USA (Pompano Beach, FLA)
-Same exact mouthpiece as previous release except with USA stamped on the shank in big letters
Super Tone Master USA Big Font (Pompano Beach, FLA)
-Somebody coined these as “Early Babbitt” mouthpieces a few years ago, however they came in gold boxes with black writting addressed to 21 SW 5th St. not 121 SW 5th St.
-These were shorter than the previous model, with different body dimensions inside and out.
-They also had narrower tips than the previous STMs.
Super Tone Master USA Big Font (Elkhart, IND)
-These are what I call the real Early Babbitt mouthpieces.
-They came in P.O. Box boxes addressed in Elkhart IN, and 2201 Industrial Pkwy boxes.
-They have the number on the side.
Super Tone Master USA Shank Tip (Elkhart, IND)
-These are the modern Links that everybody’s learned to love and hate.
Super Tone Master NY USA (Elkhart, IND)
-These are the 90s release of the NY chamber
-It looks exactly like the previous, but NY is stamped just under the Super Tone Master
-They have a larger chamber and a wider tip.
-Darker than the previous.
Super Tone Master “Millenium” Special Edition (Elkhart, IND)
-These were a Limited Release (only 2000 made), just like the Meyer New York re-release
-Made from nickel plated brass, with a blue biteplate
-They have 2000 stamped where NY was stamped on the NY model
-They came in Silver & Blue boxes, with brass ligs and caps (I don’t know why).
HARD RUBBER OTTO LINK MOUTHPIECES:
Master Link Eburnated Bar: These pieces were originally made in response to the success of the Master Link brass mouthpieces. They were marketed as a budget line but it was realized very quickly that there was a big market for hard rubber mouthpieces. Value-wise, they only really reach $450 or lower.
Master Link Eburnated Bar (NYC, NY)
-Very large chamber with not much baffle.
-The very first “Slant Sig” mouthpieces
Reso Chamber Eburnated Bar:These pieces were really a transition between the previous model, and the Tone Edge. These are very nice mouthpieces, and they acted as the Tone Master for the rubber line. In regards to value, these pieces generally lie in between the $500-$1000 range.
Reso Chamber Eburnated Bar (NYC, NY)
-They came in white boxes with black writing.
-Not too much baffle material
Tone Edge Series: These mouthpieces were the latest release. They were release around the time of the double-ring STM in NYC, NY and are what most people refer to as the “Slant Sig”. The irony of that name, is that there are 3 different types (including the master Link HR), all being completely different playing mouthpieces. These mouthpieces were selling for over $1000 at one point, but have settled into the $400-$1300 range (depending on condition and facing)
Tone Edge “Slant Sig” (NYC, NY)
-Facings stamped on table
-Fat body, fat beak, straighter baffle closer to the Reso-Chamber mouthpiece.
-Came in a white & blue box
Early-Tone Edge “Slant Sig” (Pompano Beach, FLA)
-Facings stamped to the right of the table.
-Slightly slimmer beak than previous.
-Slim rounded shanks, the largest chamber of the Tone Edges and very nice pieces.
-Came in white boxes with orange writing.
Late-Tone Edge “Slant Sig” (Pompano Beach, FLA)
-The first change in the Tone Edge body shape, and interior dimensions
-More attention was placed on the baffle shape
-Flat bottom shank, with shorter beak.
Tone Edge USA “Slant Sig” (Pompano Beach, FLA)
-Same exact mouthpiece as above but they have a large font USA on the shank
Tone Edge “Straight Sig” (Pompano Beach, FLA)
-Different rubber compound
-Same exact blanks as above but the signature is written across as opposed to on an angle and USA is on the shank
Tone Edge “Straight Sig” (FLA/Elkhart, IND)
-These are what I call an early Babbitt mouthpiece.
-They came in 21 SW 5th St. boxes as well as P.O. Box Elkhart addresses.
-They have a fatter beak, and a different rubber compound than the previous models.
-Early ones have very synthetic looking baffles and they all have a small USA font on the shank.
-They are also very nice, and they are totally different from the two previous “Slant” bodied pieces
Tone Edge small-USA (Elkhart, IND)
-Made from the same material as previous
-They had a thicker beak
-The baffles were not as pronounced as the last ones.
Modern Tone Edge small USA (Elkhart, IND)
-These are the same shape as the new Links
-They featured the same rubber compound as the last
-Considerably less baffle material
-They always seem to have a very fuzzy nature to them
-From what I recall, these were the first pieces that started to have a mould number in the chamber on the opposite side of the table.
Modern Tone Edge small USA (Elkhart, IND)
-These are the same exact mouthpiece as the previous piece except for the rubber is the worst grade of rubber to date (possibly due to quality control?).
-Occasionally you will find one with nicer rubber, but not like the old days
“V” | “PT” Tone Edge (Elkhart, IND)
-These are the same body shape as the new ones, yet the have a V stamped in the chamber on the opposite side of the table
-I am not sure, but I think that these pieces were inspired by Paul “Doc” Tenney.
-They have lots of baffle material to work with and are made from an excellent grade of rubber, reminiscent of the old FLA blanks.