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Product review: Alliance tenor horn mouthpieces

We put the Owen Farr Signature, Prestige and Alliance tenor horn mouthpieces under the 4BR microscope to find out how they measure up...

The Alliance Brass brand of mouthpieces has been the somewhat slightly less famous member of the iconic Denis Wick family of siblings.

However, since their successful introduction in 2006 they have developed a highly respected reputation, with development linked to associations with high profile performers such as Roger Webster, David Childs, Philip Cobb, Richard Marshall and Les Neish.

The British made range are manufactured with the same CNC technology and adherence to high quality finishes (as well as mouthpiece pouch) as all Denis Wick models and now has a line-up that encompass all brass instruments from soprano cornet to tuba.

Tenor horn lineage

The tenor horn lineage starts with the Alliance models, moving to the Prestige and to the flagship Owen Farr signature range.

They come in a comprehensive range of specifications and finishes – from either fully gold or silver plated to gold cup & rim/silver body variants.

The tenor horn lineage starts with the Alliance models, moving to the Prestige and to the flagship Owen Farr signature range.

We’ve been fortunate to ask Tredegar horn player Ross Dunne, fresh from his recent debut CD release, ‘Matryoshka’ to give a number of them a comprehensive test over the last month to find out more about what they offer.

To find out more about Alliance mouthpieces go to: https://www.alliancebrassltd.com/

A review of the CD can be found at: https://www.4barsrest.com/reviews/products/cd693.asp


Owen Farr Signature 2


Specifications:

Finishes: All Gold/All Silver/Gold cup and rim with Silver body
Cup Diameter: 19mm
Rim: 5.8mm
Bore: 5.2mm
Weight: 150grms
Cup: Deep
Comparison: Similar to the Denis Wick 2A mouthpiece but with a heavier more streamlined body.

Designed with the insight and performance expertise of Owen Farr, arguably the best tenor horn player in the world, the Signature 2 has quickly become the mouthpiece of choice for players keen to replicate the free blowing, warm tonality of its signature star.

It has been designed with an open backbore, a long, deep cup, and a large drill size with a short length – the ideal technical specifications in attaining a rich, open tone without losing any degree of flexibility.

It is the mouthpiece for the player with ambition to back their technique. 

 It is the mouthpiece for the player with ambition to back their technique. 

The Signature 2 does have a thinner rim than the comparison Denis Wick 2A (5.82mm) but is still extremely comfortable, with the deep cup and bore enabling the air to move freely, aiding the lips to vibrate with ease. It gives the player with a secure overall production technique a real boost.   

Benefit

Instead of relying on a smaller mouthpiece for resistance, you can now find resistance is gained with the tongue, which, in turn, will benefit sound quality and range. The weight of the mouthpiece (heavier than the Wick 2A) is perfectly balanced between the cup and the backbore, helping you top putting any unnecessary pressure on the lips - even when tired.

Players looking for something a bit brighter in tone should consider the 3G model which has a slightly narrower cup diameter (18.50mm) and rim (5.75mm) whilst the bore is the same. The essential flexibility is maintained but the medium depth cup does make for a more direct sound – ideal for the player wanting a bit of help to project more. 

The all-gold 2G & 3G models come at a premium price of around £130.00 (roughly the same for the gold cup and rim/silver body, whilst all-silver comes in at around £85.00), but if you are serious about your playing it is money that rewards your investment many times over. 

Find out more: https://www.alliancebrassltd.com/product-category/mouthpieces/tenor-horn/


Prestige 2


Specifications:

Finishes: Gold rim & Silver body/All Silver
Cup Diameter: 19mm
Rim: 5.8mm
Bore: 5.2mm
Weight: 160grms
Cup: Deep
Comparison: Similar to the Denis Wick 2, but with a heavier body and different rim.

The workhorse model that offers thoroughbred characteristics; the Prestige is a very good all-round mouthpiece for band players and soloists alike.

Developed with the input of former Black Dyke star Leslie Howie the Prestige 2 has an open backbore, deep cup (although not as deep as the Owen Farr models) and with a large drill size with a short length. 

As with the signature range the rim is comfortable whilst the design certainly aids free blowing tonality, lip vibration and flexibility.

It is a heavier weight than the signature line so players need to be careful maintaining technique, especially when tired.

Little wonder it is seen with players at all levels of the banding movement. 

Great versatility

However, it offers great versatility - making it the ideal ensemble mouthpiece for a player with secure production technique who wishes to blend with their section yet still make a distinction mark in front of the band.  

Little wonder it is seen with players at all levels of the banding movement. 

For those looking for something with a bit more heft the Prestige model 1 offers a slightly wider cup diameter (19.25mm) – perhaps idea for the player happy with their lot as a 2nd horn.  

The Gold cup and rim & Silver body models are priced around £112.00 whilst all-silver comes in at around £70.00.  As a long-term investment, it is money very well spent. 

Find out more: https://www.alliancebrassltd.com/product-category/mouthpieces/tenor-horn/


Alliance 2A and 4A


Specifications:

Finishes: Gold rim & Silver body/All Silver
Cup Diameter: 19mm/18.25mm
Rim: 5.8 mm/5.73mm
Bore: 5mm/5mm
Weight: 160grams
Cup: Medium/Medium
Comparison: Similar to a Denis Wick 2A and 3/4, but with a heavier body and a different rim.

The progressive lineage of the Alliance/Prestige/Signature mouthpieces are clearly defined with the six models that are on offer with the Alliance range - 1A, 2A, 3, 3A, 4, 4A.

We tested the two most popular – the 2A and 4A, and found them really well designed with a clear purpose in mind. These are the ideal mouthpieces for the developing player or those looking for something that meets their specific needs.   

The Alliance 2A is the mouthpiece that does it all – with a wide cup diameter, comfortable rim and medium cup depth that offers a free blowing tonality with enough flexibility to explore things without compromising technique.

The Alliance 2A is the mouthpiece that does it all – with a wide cup diameter, comfortable rim and medium cup depth that offers a free blowing tonality with enough flexibility to explore things without compromising technique.

As we said, it is the ideal mouthpiece for a player who has mastered the basics and now is determined to develop as player, both within a band section, a small ensemble or as an emerging soloist. 

The 4A also has a slightly shallower cup depth but narrower rim and diameter making the sound brighter and more direct. It doesn’t quite have the same degree of flexibility as the 2A but for young player its ideal. 

In addition,  whilst discussing things with some cornet players they felt it would be the ideal ‘hybrid’ mouthpiece for those talented multi-instrumentalist types who can give most things a go.

Other options

The other options available are the 1A (similar to a Denis Wick 1) – again, ideal for the player who is happiest in the lowest register of the instrument and the 3 & 3A which bridge the gap between the 2A and 4 and 4A.

Although each players needs are different, we can certainly recommend the 2A and 4A.

The 2A does everything with such competency that you could see yourself stopping on one of these for the rest of your banding career if your ambitions are set.  

The 2A does everything with such competency that you could see yourself stopping on one of these for the rest of your banding career if your ambitions are set. 

Meanwhile, the 4A if different – and a good teacher should seriously consider recommending it to a young player to aid development whilst the experienced ‘old pro’ may just find it the perfect fit for their needs too if they swap around instrument on a regular basis.

The 1A (which is slightly lighter) and the 3, 3A and 4 all have defined characteristics, so it means the Alliance range has something for everyone.

The Gold cup and rim & Silver body models are priced around £98.00 whilst all-silver comes in at around £58.00.  They offer a great deal for the money.

Find out more: https://www.alliancebrassltd.com/product-category/mouthpieces/tenor-horn/

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