Mouthpiece Brushes: Why You Need Them – Or Not

I don’t know how I stumbled across this particular item on eBay, but the description of these saxophone mouthpiece brushes made me laugh so hard, that I decided that I had to share them with you…

A seller who specializes in children’s musical instruments is flogging multi-coloured mouthpiece brushes for soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones.

mouthpiece brushes, saxophone mouthpiece cleaning brush

Source: Little-Kids-Instruments on

This is how the seller describes these little gems:

Soprano Saxophone Mouthpiece Cleaning Brush – This powerful cleaning tool helps remove dirt & grime build-up inside your mouthpiece, which is unsightly and detrimental. The tapered shape of this stiff bristled nylon mouthpiece cleaning brush enables thorough cleaning, and will help you maintain an unobstructed airflow making for better tone production. This tool is an essential accessory for all Soprano Saxophone Players.

“Unsightly and detrimental”. I know I am always worried about what people might think about me if my mouthpiece was unsightly on the INSIDE. But isn’t that a bit like people snooping through your medicine cabinets when at a party at your house. WTF are people doing looking at the inside of your mouthpiece? Or are you just leaving it around on the dinner table for others to handle? Really? That’s just gross on a lot of different levels!

As far as “dirt and grime” building up inside your mouthpiece being detrimental; how so? Sure, your mouthpiece is a haven for bacteria and fungi, but is that really what they mean? Let’s take a closer look.

The sellers claim that their mouthpiece brushes allow you to clean your piece so that you’ll have “an unobstructed airflow making for better tone production”. WTF! Just how much bacteria do they think we have growing inside our mouthpieces so that they become obstructed?

My curiosity was now piqued, so I started taking a look at all the mouthpieces I have, and I noticed something: perhaps Little-Kids-Instruments has a point.

Ever since I quit smoking 15 or so years ago, I started chewing gum. Yes, I have been known to chew gum when I play sax. Well looky here… this is where some of my used gum is… ;)

saxophone mouthpiece shank, used gum,

OK, so you know that was a joke, right? I don’t really have gum stuck to the inside of my saxophone mouthpiece. That said, if I did, these saxophone mouthpiece brushes certainly wouldn’t do the job of getting it out.

Mouthpiece cleaning: saxophone mouthpiece brushes not required

There is no disputing that cleaning your saxophone mouthpiece is an important part of the overall aspect of instrument hygiene. After all, you don’t want to end up with saxophone lung.

That said, mouthpiece brushes have never been a favourite tool of mine for the simple fact that they can scratch the inside of the mouthpiece. For as long as I’ve been playing I’ve done the following, and it has worked for me.

Materials needed:

  • Plastic container big enough to hold mouthpieces. Plastic is important because it won’t scratch the pieces.
  • Regular dish soap. Be sure it’s NOT anti-bacterial.
  • Q-tips
  • Warm, not hot, water.
  • A clean towel

How to clean your mouthpieces:

  1. Add a drop of dish soap to the plastic container.
  2. Fill the plastic container with warm water, the temperature should be about that you wash your hands with. NO HOTTER.
  3. Gently place your mouthpiece(s) in the soapy water and let them soak for 5 minutes of so.
  4. Using Q-tips, clean the beak, tip and side rails, chamber, and as far into the barrel as you can. Don’t cheap out on the Q-tips. I usually use at least 3 or 4 per mouthpiece.
  5. When you’re done cleaning the mouthpiece, rinse it with warm, (NOT HOT) water.
  6. Lay it on a clean towel, table side up, so that the chamber and barrel has lots of access to air.

NB: It’s important not to use hot water because it will damage hard rubber mouthpieces and discolour them.

If you’re still in doubt about mouthpiece brushes, take a look at the metal loop that the bristles are attached to. Not only do I not like the bristles scratching the inside of a mouthpiece, the metal loop can definitely do some damage. Furthermore, certain mouthpieces, like the Dukoffs, are especially prone to damage, so this is for sure a no, no.

mouthpiece brushes, saxophone mouthpiece cleaning brushes

Source: Little-Kids-Instruments on

So, happy and safe mouthpiece cleaning everyone. It isn’t the sexist part of being a sax player, but it sure beats the alternative ;)  ….

saxophone lung, joke anatomy cartoon

Original source material from:

…this is just my blog. My “real” website is If you’re looking for sax info, you should check it out too.There’s lots there!

Happy Thanksgiving 2015: American Style

Although we had our turkey dinners last month already, today is Thanksgiving Day for the majority of the people who read my website on a daily basis.

For that reason I want to give a special shout out to all my American friends. I wish them all a safe and happy holiday with their family and friends. I especially wish them a healthy and assault-free Black Friday. May you stay out of the way of the fists, knives, bullets, and whatever else might transpire tomorrow, as the official Christmas shopping season begins… Peace to all. :o

Thanksgiving cartoon, American bald eagle costume, turkey in a tree,

…this is just my blog. My “real” website is If you’re looking for sax info, you should check it out too.There’s lots there!

Vogtländische Musikinstrumentenfabrik GmbH Markneukirchen (VMI)

Vogtländische Musikinstrumentenfabrik GmbH Markneukirchen (VMI), B&S, logoFor the last few weeks I have been working a lot on developing the Vogtländische Musikinstrumentenfabrik GmbH Markneukirchen (VMI) section of my website. Vogtländische Musikinstrumentenfabrik GmbH Markneukirchen (VMI) is what VEB Blechblas- und Signal-Instrumenten-Fabrik (B&S) evolved into post-1989. In other words, VMI is what B&S became after Germany’s reunification.

Confused by all the long, German words yet? I don’t blame you. If you want, you can try to remember it this way: VEB & VMI. VEB came before VMI, since “E” comes before “M” in the alphabet.
Now that we have that bit of housekeeping cleared up, here’s an overview of what I’ve been working on, and what I’ve still got left to do.

Although my website is known as a primary source for vintage sax info, believe it or not, I am interested in some modern instruments. Vogtländische Musikinstrumentenfabrik GmbH Markneukirchen (VMI) is one of those modern companies that has caught my attention, since not only are they an evolution of a vintage brand, but because they produced some top-of-the-line, cutting-edge saxophones.

Sadly, VMI ceased saxophone production in 2005, but their legacy is one of fascinating and unique saxophones. Unfortunately, some of their lines were so poorly marketed through places like WWBW, that they were seen as budget horns, rather than the high-end, pro horns that they were. This did not help their cause.

What also didn’t help their cause, were stories of some quality control issues regarding tone hole heights and bell to bow tightness1. The company seemed to crank out so many horns, that sometimes things slipped through. For example, my Medusa bari had to have some of its tone holes filed when I first got it.

Given that there really are no English, and very few German, sources of Vogtländische Musikinstrumentenfabrik GmbH Markneukirchen (VMI) saxophone info, I decided that it would be in keeping with my website’s current tracking to research and write some pages about this company’s now-defunct sax production. Besides, in a few years, these horns will be vintage anyway. ;)

Vogtländische Musikinstrumentenfabrik GmbH Markneukirchen (VMI): Its history in condensed form

The Reader’s Digest version of the company’s history can be summed up as follows:

After the fall of the Berlin wall, VEB Blechblas- und Signal-Instrumenten-Fabrik (B&S) transitioned into the Vogtländische Musikinstrumentenfabrik GmbH Markneukirchen (VMI). Some sections of the national corporation that had been appropriated by the government were liberated once more, while others—such as Hüller—were closed down. After this point in time, VMI only produced standard brass instruments such as horns, trombones, tubas, trumpets, and saxophones.

Despite the company’s return to private ownership, VMI continued producing both Weltklang and B&S blue label horns for a few more years—some of which I have called transitional. It wasn’t until 1991, when they introduced the 2001 series, that it truly stepped onto the world stage as a saxophone maker.

The new Vogtländische Musikinstrumentenfabrik GmbH Markneukirchen (VMI) section that I am currently working on for my website, explores all the horns that were sold under the B&S label after VMI was created. So far I have researched and written about the Series 2001 and Codera model horns. Next up are the Guardala, Medusa, and 1000 Series horns.

In addition to the written pages, I have uploaded hundreds of new photos to the Vogtländische Musikinstrumentenfabrik GmbH gallery of Bassic Sax Pix. Currently I am in the process of inserting all the data related to the photos.

To help you get a better idea of how the old VEB’s horns morphed into the new VMI’s, I’ve created some graphics for the various categories of saxophones.

Weltklang Evolution

Vogtländische Musikinstrumentenfabrik GmbH Markneukirchen (VMI), B&S, Weltklang saxophones evolutionary chart

B&S AKA “Blue Label” Evolution

Vogtländische Musikinstrumentenfabrik GmbH Markneukirchen (VMI), B&S, blue label saxophones, B&S saxophones evolutionary chart

B&S Pro Horns

Prior to the 1989, B&S did not make what they consider professional model saxophones. After their evolution into VMI, the following were their pro lines, and production dates

Vogtländische Musikinstrumentenfabrik GmbH Markneukirchen (VMI), B&S pro models, professional model saxophone chart for VMI/B&S,

If you have a modern B&S saxophone that you would like to see included in the gallery, please send me an email. Thanks!

I also want to give a big shout out to Dave Kessler from Kessler & Sons. He generously sent me all the photos he took over the years when his store was an authorized B&S dealer.

If you’re in the market for a new horn, check out his shop. I have played a few Selmers that he sold, and I know that if I’m ever in the market for a new horn, Dave will be my go-to guy.

1 June 3, 2003 comment from Wolf Codera on SOTW regarding the Codera Model saxophones sold by WWBW.

…this is just my blog. My “real” website is If you’re looking for sax info, you should check it out too.There’s lots there!