Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Mouthpiece Review: Morgan RM06 (c. 1989)

Morgan RM06

One of the more unusual mouthpieces in my collection is a Ralph Morgan RM06, which has a scoop beak more common to saxophone mouthpieces, purchased in New York City in 1989.

The designation RM06 makes this a 1.06mm tip opening of their standard pro model.

Morgan RM06--profile view

It's easy to jump to the conclusion, based on the outer shape of this mouthpiece, that it might sound brash, or saxo-phoney. Playing it rather immediately dispels those concerns. The tone it produces for me is warm, round, yet slightly diffuse. I don't find the "core" or "edge" sound of a Selmer C85 in this mouthpiece, which tends rather towards a nice floating softness instead. There is also, for me, a sense of greater separation from the sound when I play this one. In many ways, this piece behaves like a Vandoren B40, but with a little more directness and compactness--there is a feeling that the Morgan's sound can be turned more quickly and nimbly.

The intonation and timbral consistency of this mouthpiece is exemplary, from the bottom of the chalumeau to the top of the altissimo. It also holds sound shape very well at extreme dynamics. These are undoubtedly the qualities that convinced me to buy it--especially considering the angle I tend to the hold the horn (more elevated than the usual classical posture). With this Morgan, I can blow "straight down the horn" and get a solid, timbrally consistent sound, well in tune.

I bought this mouthpiece back in 1989 on an impulse. It sounded fantastic in the store, and was too good to leave behind. Almost immediately after getting it home, though, I found that the scoop beak wasn't for me--however nice the sound, I could never "forget" the mouthpiece enough and just wail. Since then, it's basically sat in an obscure, yet honorable place in my mouthpiece museum.

Bottom line: The Morgan RM06 is a very good mouthpiece--obviously a high quality design, excellent tone and articulation. Other players might find the scoop beak ideal. I recommend it especially for players coming from the saxophone--not because this will yield a saxophone sound, but because it can give the player a solid clarinet sound, yet with something closer, perhaps, to what a sax player is used to in terms of beak shape and embouchure comfort.

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