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The Wanne Durga 5 Alto Mouthpiece
A powerful, modern-sounding alto sax mouthpiece that is bright but not overly bright/shrill. The new “medium-stadium-chamber” adds more core body to the sound that enhances the fullness of the sax tone. This mouthpieces is suitable for jazz, pop, R&B, and a variety of musical styles.
Theo Wanne is one of the most respected names in the saxophone world, and their mouthpieces are some of the most sought-after on the market. I have been playing Theo Wanne mouthpieces since 2014 and they are simply amazing. In fact, my first Billboard-charting single was recorded on one of Theo’s pieces.
Over the course of last year, I was in search for a new mouthpiece and Nelson Rangell, a saxophone superstar, recommended that I try out the Theo Wanne Durga 5.
After, one year of playing it, I can tell you that I am still blown away (it has become my main mouthpiece) Here’s a quick review of this top-of-the-line Theo Wanne mouthpiece.
Who Is Theo Wanne?
Theo Wanne is one of the most innovative and respected names in the world of saxophone mouthpieces. Theo has an intense passion for his craft, which really shows through in his creations.
Theo learned the craft of mouthpiece making from legendary mouthpiece refacer, Bob Carpenter. After many long hours of study and refacing, Theo became the go-to guy for vintage mouthpiece refacing. His clients included, Joshua Redman, Chris Potter, and Grover Washington Junior.
In 1998, started a website called “saxophone mouthpiece heaven” where he shared his knowledge about sax mouthpiece refacing. By that point, Theo and a very long waiting list for saxophone refacing and would turn away 95% of the requests.
While refacing, Theo came up with his own designs that would turn vintage and new mouthpieces into gems. It was these designs that Theo used when he launched his line of his own mouthpieces in 2007.
Fun fact: Theo has applied for 5 patents related to saxophone mouthpiece design.
Today, Theo offers several different options a full line of saxophone mouthpieces for soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophone, for players at all levels and abilities.
His Durga mouthpiece line, originally launched in 2009, is one of the most popular series and has become a true classic in the saxophone world.
Since 2009, Theo has made changes to the Durga design (similar to Apple’s iPhone/iPad updates) I have personally play on all each iteration (Durga 1, 2, 3, and 4). However, the Theo Wanne Durga 5 is my favorite for the reasons below.
Theo Wanne Durga 5 Alto Sax Metal Mouthpiece
A universal high-baffle mouthpiece that promotes a flexible full modern sound suitable for jazz, pop, R&B, and a variety of musical genres.
The Theo Wanne Durga 5 Alto Metal Mouthpiece
The Durga 5 is a beautifully crafted metal mouthpiece that delivers rich, contemporary saxophone tone and incredible projection. It features a unique design that provides excellent resistance and control, making it perfect for all types of players. According to Theo, the Durga 5 does everything that its predecessor does, but with more added core to the sound.
What Makes The Theo Wanne Durga 5 So Great?
There are several factors that really set the Durga 5 apart from other high-baffle mouthpieces on the market. First and foremost, this piece offers:
- Bright modern sound
- huge dynamic range
- full tone
- huge core sound
- comfortable mouthpiece shape
- adjustable ligature
- Available in 24K gold plated or premium hard rubber
- innovative high baffle design
- innovative medium chamber design (“medium stadium chamber”)
- rounded inner side walls
- Promotes an expressive sound
- sensual tone
- used by such superstars like Nelson Rangell and Adrian Crutchfield
Who is this Mouthpiece For?
According to Theo, this mouthpiece is a great pick for jazz, R&B, and Rock & Roll. I think this mouthpiece is also suitable for smooth jazz and other genres where you need extra projection to be heard over electric instruments.
However, this mouthpiece is not just a powerful contemporary sound, it is also very versatile, so you can play a soft ballad without any difficultly as need.
This mouthpiece features a high step baffle, rounded inner side walls, and a special chamber called a “medium-stadium chamber.” So while the baffle design gives you a bright sound, the overall tone is not overly bright or shrill.
The mouthpiece also comes with an adjustable ligature to hold the reed to the mouthpiece and a patented reed replacer cap.
Note: the ligature, can also be customized by changing the pressure plate using Theo’s premium pressure plates set.
The pressure plates
The purpose of the pressure plates is to further help “dial in” the player’s particular sound preference. However, please note that the Theo Wanne Durga 5 comes with the “alive gold pressure plate.”
Note: you can also further customize the Durga 5 by ordering varying hardness bite pads, which are available on their website.
Here’s a clip of me playing this mouthpiece on a gig at Spaghettini’s with Adam Hawley. On this gig, I used a size 9 (I have since moved down to a size 7).
Theo Wanne Durga 5 (size 9)
Overall, I thought the Theo Wanne Durga 5 is Theo’s best Durga model to date! It is now my main mouthpiece!
I refer to the Theo Wanne Durga 5 as my universal weapon: It has a modern bright sound, but it can also be warm sounding simultaneously!
When playing the alto saxophone, it is vital to be mindful of your choice in mouthpiece since a brighter one can add excessive brightness to an already luminous sound. However, I found that while the Durga 5 was bright, it is not overly bright and is much fuller sounding–I think that this is due to the new chamber design which provides extra core to the sound.
And you could further control the brightness by combining either trying the hard rubber version or using a darker reed (I have been loving the Vandoren Traditional Reeds 2.5 on it). I also found that the medium-stadium chamber added a great deal of fatness/fullness to my sound that I wasn’t getting from my old mouthpiece.
I think the Theo Wanne Durga 5 gives you a rich sound that would be at home in almost any musical genre (with the exception of classical music because in that style, you want a very dark sound).
This mouthpiece has lots of volume!
The metal Durga 5’s huge sound makes it easier to compete with other instruments in a band situation but play soft and quiet when needed.
I found metal durga very easy to control. When I’m testing a mouthpiece for control, I typically look to see how easy it is to play through some complicated passages. Typically, I play through one of my Marcel Mule Saxophone Books to test it. When playing through this one, I found that it was even easier to make the huge octave jumps.
So for me, this mouthpiece is really easy to control, and the easy of playability makes it so much fun to play!
Why I Chose the Durga 5 Over My Old Mouthpiece?
My old mouthpiece was a Theo Wanne Mantra mouthpiece. The Mantra is also a great mouthpiece that has served me well! I recorded an entire album and two singles (including my first Billboard charting single) on the Mantra.
Simply put, I love my Mantra mouthpiece (and I’ll never sell it). However, I chose the Theo Wanne Durga 5 because:
- It sounds fuller
- It is easier to play
One issue I’ve run into with small-chambered mouthpieces is that while it sounds great on a recording (going through a tube mic/tube preamp with some compression and reverb), it can sound bright/thin live.
I have also found that smaller chamber mouthpieces are more challenging to play because of their heightened back pressure, which creates added resistance.
For me, the Durga 5 solves both of those issues; it gives me a brighter/modern/powerful sound, but is much more fuller sounding in the studio and live.
Overall, I am extremely impressed with the Theo Wanne Durga 5 Alto Metal Mouthpiece. It delivers rich, contemporary tone and extra projection that is perfect for jazz, R&B, and Rock & Roll. I found this mouthpiece to be very flexible and suitable for a variety of musical styles. and it is so much fun to play!
Whether you are a seasoned pro or just starting out, I highly recommend this mouthpiece to saxophone players looking for superior performance from their alto saxophone.
If you’re interested in trying out the Durga 5 for yourself, be sure to visit the Theo Wanne website today!
You should also check out some other mouthpieces I recommend here:
This mouthpiece is extremely versatile too….it’s really at home in any style. Read my full review here.
The Phil Tone Rift alto saxophone mouthpiece offers the perfect marriage between warmth and brightness. Read my full review here.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between the Theo Wanne Durga 5 and the other Durga Alto models?
According to Theo, the Durga mouthpiece promotes an “expressive sound,” and “sensual tone,” and is “downright sexy,” but can also play a soft ballad.
With the Theo Wanne Durga 5, Theo did not want to change the base sound signature, however, he wanted to update the Durga with some of Theo’s latest research. I take this to mean that updated the Durga model with his new “medium stadium chamber.”
In contrast, in some of Theo’s past advertisements, it appears that the prior Durga models had a large chamber. So it appears that the Durga 5 makes a shift from a large chamber to a medium chamber. For me, the new chamber, in combination with the rounded inner side walls, seems to add more core to the sound and works really well!
What Is The Difference Between The Metal and Hard Rubber Versions of the Durga 5?
The base sound signature will be similar. However, the hard rubber version is a tiny bit darker/less edgy than the metal version.
What is the tip opening sizes of the Durga 5 mouthpiece?
The mouthpiece is available in sizes 6, 7, 8, and 9, in premium hard rubber and sizes 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 for metal.
Is the Durga 5 mouthpiece suitable for beginners or more advanced players?
This mouthpiece is more suited towards advanced players that know what they want out of a mouthpiece.
Are there any notable saxophonists who use the Durga 5 mouthpiece?
Yes, Nelson Rangell and Adrianne Cruthfield.
Is the Durga 5 mouthpiece compatible with different saxophone models?
Yes. As, long as you buy the alto mouthpiece for an alto saxophone, and a tenor version for tenor saxophone, etc.
Can the Durga 5 mouthpiece be customized or adjusted to personal preferences?
Yes. You can choose between different sizes, and material (metal or hard rubber), you also change the material of the pressure plate (on the liberty ligature), to adjust your sound (the pressure plates are sold separately). The mouthpiece also comes with a bite plate, but you a change it to a harder or softer one (also sold separately). The varying hardness bite pads help adjust the comfort of the top of the mouthpiece that touches your top teeth.
Is the Durga 5 suitable for jazz or classical music?
The Durga 5 is a good option for a contemporary player that is looking for a mouthpiece that they can play at a jazz gig and a commercial/pop gig. Typically, jazz players often struggle on their jazz setup (e.g/ Meyer mouthpiece) when they play in a louder gig. The Durga 5 has a huge sound that can cut through and be heard, but it can also be toned down (depending on how you play it), to play a jazz gig.
I would not recommend the Durga 5 for classical saxophone as that genre requires a very dark sound.
Does the Durga 5 come with a lig and cap?
It comes with a liberty ligature, and a reed replacer cap. Theo recently created a mouthpiece cap that can is sold separately.