Rico Royal Metalite Mouthpieces

This entry is part 2 of 13 in the series Rico Mouthpieces

As I mentioned in a previous post about the Graftonite mouthpieces, I’ve been using the Arnold Brilhart designed Rico Metalite and Graftonite mouthpieces on my baris for a number of years now, and really like them. They do everything that my more expensive mouthpieces do, and more.

I originally started with a Graftonite, but one day while in a music store in Vancouver (with no horns with me of course, since I was living 3000 miles away at the time) I discovered that they had some new, old stock Metalite pieces for alto, tenor, and bari.

The alto and tenor pieces I bought were fine, but unfortunately the bari piece (an M11) was too open for me. However as luck would have it, another SOTW player had a Metalite bari piece (an M5) that was too closed for him. Both were mint condition, in their original boxes, so we just traded them.

Above are the Metalite pieces that I have. From left to right: an alto M5, a tenor M7, & a baritone M5.

The alto and the bari pieces both have the pebbly finish, while the tenor piece has a smooth finish.

I find the Metalites are a very free-blowing piece, that can produce an incredible volume when necessary. However, they do not get thin, or distort in sound when pushed to that level. They are very lush in the lower end, and subtone beautifully. The midrange is fantastic, and the top end of the horn doesn’t suffer from any “thinning” in tone. Altissimo notes also just pop out effortlessly with the Metalite.

I can’t comment on the soprano Metalite since I don’t own one, nor have I played one, but of the 3 I have, the bari is by far and away the clear winner. (Something that is echoed by most players who have them all.)

Before discussing the differences between the Metalite and Graftonite mouthpieces, a bit of mouthpiece anatomy might be necessary. The following is from Mouthpiece Express.com. BTW, this is a great resource. Make sure you check them out!

 

Tip Opening

Wider tip openings offer a freer “blow” and can be played more loudly. However, they are brighter in sound and require more control. Conversely, narrower tip openings offer more resistance to airflow and require a less control. They tend to have a darker and rounder sound.

Baffle Height and Chamber Profile

The baffle is the roof of the mouthpiece chamber. A “high baffle” is when the baffle is built into the tone chamber, thereby reducing the chamber’ size. A high baffle gives a tone with more edge and brightness. Conversely, a “low baffle” results in a larger chamber and a somewhat darker sound.

Bore

Mouthpieces with a small bore give a tighter, more compact, focused sound. They are more individualistic (soloistic) in nature and therefore are better suited for solo playing than for use in ensemble playing. Large bore mouthpieces have a broad and open sound quality and blend well in ensemble situations.

Other Important Terms

  • Table: the flat surface that the reed is placed upon.
  • Window: the hole in the mouthpiece between the tip rail and table.
  • Side rails: the side edges of the window.
  • Baffle: the roof of the mouthpiece chamber.
  • Throat: the back of the mouthpiece, also referred to as the bore.

Because I was primarily playing my Mark VI bari in rock, R&B, and electric Blues environments, I really liked the brighter & edgier sound, as well as the increased volume & projection that the Metalite gave me over the Graftonite. However when it comes to jazz, I still play the Graftonite on my VI.     

 

The baritone Graftonite B5 (left) and the Metalite M5 (right). 

 

Other than the colour and model number, the 2 mouthpieces appear the same from the top and side, but when you look into the chamber, you can see what makes these 2 pieces very different animals.

 

The chamber of the Graftonite has a dip behind the tip rail, followed by the medium (B) chamber baffle (which is the only one available for baritone). The chamber of the Metalite has the same dip behind the tip rail, but is then followed by a high baffle.

Many players have experimented by adding homemade baffles or the spoilers from Runyon mouthpieces into their Graftonites, in an attempt to duplicate the sound, volume, & projection of the Metalites. Some claim that it worked, others claim it didn’t, still others say is was OK, but nothing outstanding. 

If you’re not familiar with spoilers, this is what Runyon says about them:

Spoilers are small metal reeds that can be placed inside Runyon mouthpieces to increase volume. Spoilers increase the loudness of the instrument, yet maintain its overall tone, with the same amount of breath.

Each mouthpiece has a specific spoiler designed to fit its unique characteristics. A beginning student can play louder with confidence. The experienced professional can play with increased authority.

Once placed inside a mouthpiece, spoilers look like this:

I personally haven’t tried it, but if you’re curious, it’ll cost you about $17 for a bari m/p from WWBW, (less if you play a smaller horn, since we bari players get hosed on everything) a buck or so for some putty adhesive from your local office supply store, and some of your time.

Try different sizes & shapes of baffles. Try adding a spoiler. If you don’t have a spoiler, you can always try using a flat piece of thin metal cut to size with tin snips. Experiment with different sizes, shapes, and bends in the metal. If you find something that works, you can always make a permanent baffle with a more permanent material.

In 2006, a poster on SOTW, on one of the countless Metalite threads, noted that:

[He had] read an article where Arnold Brilhart said the Metalite mouthpiece was based on his classic 40’s levelaire design, and that the Metalite was his best mouthpiece yet. Could have just been some hyping going on. This article was published back when the Metalites came out, some 20 years ago. Maybe if we petition Rico to start production again. They could double the price of the piece to $50.00 and still sell a bunch. I’d love to know why they stopped production of the Metalite but continued the Graftonite.

This is interesting, because just a little over a year later, in 2007, another SOTW member contacted Rico to find out why they had discontinued the Metalite line. Surprisingly enough, not only did Rico reply to him, but the rep from the company was honest and said he didn’t have a good answer why production was stopped. The rep went on to say that Rico does get quite a few emails about Metalite mouthpieces, and if people keep asking for them, the product might possibly get re-introduced…So…

If you’d like to see Rico bring back the Metalite line of mouthpieces, let them know. You can write Rico a message about the Metalite mouthpieces through their contact page, on the company website. No guarantees that it will work, but it doesn’t hurt to ask :!:

When the Metalites first came out they were inexpensive, around the $20 mark or less. Fueled mostly by Internet chatter on places like SOTW, if you can find them at all, they can easily run you around $100. Still a far cry from the hundreds you could spend on other mouthpieces.

I’m not saying the Metalite is for everyone, but I’m extremely happy with mine. So are lots of other players. The Metalite is just one more option to try out when you are looking for a loud, bright, edgy, & projecting mouthpiece.

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

© 2008 – 2009, Helen. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Rico Royal Metalite Mouthpieces — 17 Comments

    • Hello Palenquero.

      I don’t know of anybody who has one for sale. Have you checked SOTW? That is the largest collection of saxophone players on the ‘Net that I can think of.

      I would post your request under the Mouthpieces Wanted/For Sale area of the the forum and see what happens.

      I suspect that the SOTW forum, combined with the usual eBay searches, will give the best chances of finding this rather oddball, older mouthpiece. Perhaps you’ll hit it lucky and even find a new, old stock piece in someone’s mouthpiece drawer.

      Best of luck in your search!

    • Hello Evaldo.

      Rico is not making the Metalite for baritone larger than M9. If you want an M11, you will have to buy a vintage one.

      I see them come up for sale quite regularly. Players buy them, and find that they are too open for them. That’s what happened to me. I had one years ago, but it didn’t work for me. I like open mouthpieces, but it was just way too open for me. I traded it with a player in Boston about 10 years ago.

      I would suggest that maybe you post your request on a saxophone forum. That’s most likely where you’ll find one.

      Good luck Evaldo.

      • Olá amigos, após esperar 1 ano e meio procurando, apareceu a primeira M11 rico royal de baritono, e logo após apareceu uma segunda peça, ambos nas caixas originais, que também acabei comprando e estou muito satisfeito, só para lembrar uso em um sax baritono Conn Lady Face um dos últimos de 1981, após comprar 23 boquilhas, pois o teste por aqui é difícil, mas cheguei a esse setup agradável, um abraço a todos :shock:

        • I’m really glad Evaldo that you managed to find some M11 mouthpieces for your Conn baritone. I’m especially happy that your mouthpiece search is over. Having to buy 23 mouthpieces because you can’t try them locally is very much a nuisance. Congratulations, and I hope you continue to enjoy your baritone sound!

  1. Hello felipe. Welcome to my website!

    Although Rico has reintroduced the Metalite mouthpieces, so far the alto mouthpieces are the only ones not yet available new. I just checked the Rico website, and they still aren’t shown. There is also no information as to when they might be available.

    If you really want a Metalite now, you will have to try and find an old one through eBay, or other such on-line source. I don’t know of anyone who is selling one, but you could also check Sax On The Web. (The site is currently down for maintenance.) There are sometimes players who sell their Metalite mouthpieces there.

    I hope this information has been helpful. Good luck in your search.

    I hope you visit again.

    Regards,

    Helen

  2. hello ,i had long time lookingfor a metalite alto sax m7 and i didnt find to buy anything i live in spain and if you can help me
    i apreciate that
    thank you

  3. Hello people.
    I have new and good information.
    I send again an email for Rico, and they answered me:

    Dear Sir,

    Sorry, we discontinued the Metalite mouthpieces but are planning to reintroducing it in the next year.

    We can appreciate your desire to try our products.

    Thanks

    —————————–

    I wait anxiously for the next year.

    • This is indeed good news. They have sent similar emails out to other people as well, so they must really be planning on doing it!

      Hopefully they will keep the Metalite mouthpieces as they were, and not change them, or up the prices. The prices should be no higher than those of the Graftonite.

  4. Pingback: The Bassic Sax Blog » Blog Archive » Rico Royal Metalite Baritone Chamber & Facing Info

  5. Pingback: The Bassic Sax Blog » Blog Archive » Making A Homemade Baffle For A Sax Mouthpiece

  6. I believe the material that the Metalite is made of is the same as the Graftonite, the only difference is the colour. I think the only thing that makes the 2 mouthpieces sound different, is the high baffle in the Metalite.

    Yes, the Metalite definitely vibrates when I play it. I haven’t played the Graftonite and the Metalite side by side in a while. I would have to do that, to get a true comparison of the difference in their vibration levels. (Both of them are pebbly finishes.)

    What country do you live in Peter?

  7. Hello Helen. What you said is true.
    Many companies do stupid things because of greed and ambition

    Saying goes here in my country: We only give value and importance to something when we lose.

    After the Rico stopped producing the metalite, the number of people looking for it seems that grew. I make a list of signatures (150 signatures approximately) send e-mail asking for the production again. Unfortunately it did not work

    My first mouthpiece Rico Royal Metalite was an M7 that I bought a few years ago.
    The date of the pack was the mouthpiece of the year 1988. This mouthpiece was pebbly.
    Last year I found that my current mouthpiece: M11. The date of the pack was more recent and mouthpiece was smooth. It was how I finished thesis.

    Here in my country, met a person who said that mouthpiece Metalite is made of metal inside and coated with plastic. I do not know if it’s true. I think not. But the fact is that I really feel that the mouthpiece pebbly is brighter, more resounds.
    Do you feel it “vibrating” when play.

    Again I ask sorry for my english
    The google translator is helping me a lot.
    :P

  8. Hi Peter. Thanks for stopping by & leaving a note.

    What you say about the pebbly and the smooth finishes is interesting. I had wondered if that was the case (smooth being later production) in the Metalites. We’re seeing that now in the Graftonite production. The new Graftonite mouthpieces are smooth, while the older ones were pebbly.

    What I didn’t know, was that there was weight difference. It’s interesting that you notice a brighter, edgier, projection with the pebble finish mouthpiece, than with the smooth. I wonder why that would be?

    I don’t know if Rico will really start up Metalite production again. It would be nice, but I’ve seen so many companies (and music companies are no exception) do the dumbest things, that I am not holding out much hope.

    By the way, no worries about your English. It is fine. I completely understand what you are saying, and so would anyone else who reads your writing.

  9. I know well the Royal Metalite Rico. I have some for alto and tenor. At the alto I use the M-11. I love her sound, projection is more than many metal mouthpieces.

    I have noted that the mouthpieces with rough (pebbly) finish are older and those that have smooth finishes are more recent. The rough mouthpieces has more weight and, in my view, has a sound brighter (edge) and with more projection than the smooth mouthpiece.

    It is unfortunate that there is no more the production of Brilhart mouthpieces. I tried to send emails asking Rico because the production stopped, but they do not know what to say. I tried to do “the undersigned” XD and also not worked.

    I’m happy to know that “perhaps” the production again.

    Sorry for my english.

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