First of all you may have heard the term 'Profile 88' floating about in mouthpiece descriptions. This simply outlines that the exterior angle of the beak is different to the traditional angle, allowing each player to choose a profile that fits their mouth shape better, allowing for a more comfortable playing style, ease of articulation and sound projection. In general the profile 88 will feel more familiar for saxophone players.
The next description you may have seen on your faithful mouthpiece is 'Series 13'. For those of us using the American tuning system of A440 pitch, this series of mouthpiece is particularly suitable. Vandoren have made this range of mouthpieces in alignment with American tuning, in order to make our lives easier when it comes to intonation!
Now that I've explained the basics, it's time to get into the nitty gritty of all the different models available to you! Once you know exactly what you want to get out of your mouthpiece, it's easy to choose what would be the right fit for you. Each model is known for providing different things to the player, whether you want a rounder sound, easier articulation, or more projection, the answer is often in the mouthpiece.
M13 : Rich, colorful sound. Very precise response. Meets every demand.
M13 Lyre : More open, the same qualities as the M13, easier to play in the upper register. Its facing gives it a particularly pure sound.
M15 : Great articulation ease. Offers musicians a colorful spectrum of sound
5RV : The time-proven standard for professional musicians. Quality and tradition.
5RV Lyre : More open than the 5RV with a longer facing.
M30 Lyre : The 5RV Lyre with a larger tip opening and a longer facing guarantees flexibility and roundness. This mouthpiece has an exceptional quality of sound.
BD5 : The perfect balance between a dark, rich, yet compact sound. Very versatile classical mouthpiece
M30 : Its facing length gives it great flexibility, a good balance between timbre and roundness.
BD4 : Very similar to the BD5 with a medium long lay allowing the lower register to speak a little richer
11.6 : Same sound qualities as the B45 with a smaller tip opening.
B46 : The mouthpiece best suited to musicians playing both clarinet and saxophone.
B40 Lyre : The perfect blend between a round sound and rich tone color. Easy blowing especially in the upper register.
B45• : Same technical characteristics as the B45 with a great blowing ease.
B45 : The universal mouthpiece. With an intermediate tip opening and a medium-long facing, it is appreciated by most clarinetists.
B40 : Same facing as the B45 with a wider tip rail, it produces a compact and centered sound.
B45 Lyre : Characterized by a particularly large tip opening, it offers a flexible, round sound and remains easy blowing.
BD7 : Similar to the BD5 but a larger tip opening produces more volume of sound, while keeping the round and compact sound of the BD5. Long Lay.
5JB : THE jazz mouthpiece.
7JB : Mouthpiece for jazz and traditional music. Powerful and flexible sound
Hopefully this list provides you with a few ideas on what you'd like to try next, or explains to you why what you're already using works so well for you! It's always good to know the facts.
The next step - pop in a play a couple to see what works for you.