So, you ask; what does an endorser do?
An endorser endorses, of courses!
Back in late 2012, when Bari Woodwinds was under the umbrella of the Cavanaugh Company*, I was kindly offered to try their new "Hybrid" tenor mouthpiece. Even though I was skeptical about trying new pieces, as I had been very happy playing my Guardala King Curtis (original) for 25 years (I've never been one to fool around with mouthpieces), I said "sure, I'd love to check it out"!
*Update - As of early Jan. 2016, Bari Woodwinds is no longer under the umbrella of the Cavanaugh Co. and was sold to former VP Ron Van Ostenbridge, who along with developer Gary Spears, continue the tradition of innovation and excellence established in the early 1950's by Bari's founder, Wolfe Taninbaum.
I received one gold and one silver stainless steel "Hybrid", which is composed of a unique melding of metal and hard rubber. After unboxing the "gold" and finding a ligature that fit (it's a "fatboy", so I had to use the ligature from my baritone mouthpiece), I was ready, but not really expecting all that much. Well, call me a pessimist! After the first few notes, I was like, "Whoa!", kind of shocked at both the response and volume, first of all.
The Hybrid hasn't changed the character of my sound, it has just made it warmer, fatter and wider, without sacrificing it's upper partials, or brightness.
Hat's off to the Hybrid's main developer at Bari, Gary Spears. Give that man a raise! .
Gary explains the concept behind the Hybrid:
"The idea was brought about by talking to players and listening to how they described the best features of the mouthpieces they've played. We were hoping that combining hard rubber and brass (now stainless steel too) would give us the best of both worlds. We knew that just by adding a collar was not the answer, so we made an insert and bore out the body and fitted them together. We did have some issues in the beginning in finding the right glue to keep it together, but now we have it."
"Each mouthpiece gets tested before it leaves our plant. We actually had three prototypes to test. How we determined which one to go with was: We had taken them to a show and two of them came back with so-so reviews. The third one disappeared."
As they say, "Imitation is the highest form of flattery", but in this case "theft" seems to be the operative noun.
Because the Hybrid's dimensions are wider than the Guardala's, I've become more aware of taking enough mouthpiece and conscious of my tongue and throat position as well. As I stated in an earlier post, mouthpieces and reeds don't produce the sound, you do. With the Hybrid I'm discovering new aspects of my own sound and how I can consciously manipulate and enhance it.