|Two mouthpieces for tenor saxophone: the one on the left is rubber; the one on the right is metal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
A professionally selected mouthpiece will improve sound more than any other part of the saxophone. For general playing - classical mouthpiece is good enough. They are plastic but look like made from hard rubber. There are three excellent mouthpieces which are reasonably priced: Rousseau 4R is about $70, Selmer S80 C* is about $100 and the new Rousseau plays like an S80 with a little different sound. All three of them could be recommended for all of the saxophones. Jazz mouthpieces are a little more complicated. If you play Alto sax, most people will go for a hard rubber mouthpiece as opposed to the metal, which tends to be a little bright for the Alto Sax. If you are going to play a lot of rock music, you may want that bright sound. The favorite mouthpiece for the Alto Saxophones for general jazz playing is the Meyer 6M. This is a classic that has been around for a long time.
It would be smart to start here before anything else for Alto saxophone. Tenor and Baritone sax is generally preferred to a metal mouthpiece. For Tenor Horn musicians really like the Otto Link 7 or 6. These mouthpieces have a good sound and are pretty popular all around. Before paying the big bucks for a mouthpiece, you should always try it out first. If you bought 10 of the same exact brand and tried them all, you'd find that they all play differently. Always try out first and pick the one that works best for you. Later on, you may want to buy a handmade mouthpiece and enjoy the wonderful sound that comes from that.
Be prepared to pay the big bucks for one of these! You will definitely need a different size of Reed for jazz mouthpiece. Then use a classical one. Most people use a little shorter size of the jazz mouthpiece. Also, if the mouthpiece feels funny on the teeth, a musician can buy a patch to put on the mouthpiece. This will feel more comfortable on the front teeth and protect the mouthpiece for a longer time. If a person just begins to learn to play the saxophone, he really should stick with the classical piece. After he advanced, he will probably want the jazz piece for all other styles.
If you are not interested in popular styles of music, you won't need the jazz piece. There is a great difference between the two types, and if you plan on playing all styles, you will definitely need both types of mouthpieces.