I own two Links, a STM 8 and a STM NY 9. I played them both as they came out of the box for a number of years. I liked the depth I got with the larger NY chamber, but it had some response isssues that I was playing through without fully realizing it. There was also a certain dullness to it. When I felt it imperative to round out my style of playing, I found it much easier to achieve what I wanted technically on the STM 8, which had much better response than the STM NY 9. I wanted to keep the 9 as my primary, but it just wasn't going to work. Comparing the two pieces, the STM NY 9 had some manufacturing inconsistencies that I didn't see on the STM 8. The rails were uneven thickness, the sidewalls into the chamber were uneven, the tip corners were uneven, and the baffle was uneven. After seeing a Steve Goodson mouthpiece clinic video online, I decided to take a chance and make a project out of tuning up my STM NY 9 since it was falling out of favor. First came getting the sidewalls even, followed by getting the rails even and to proper thickness (dime), then flattening the table and sloping the edge leading into the floor of the chamber. That was all pretty straightforward, although with some mouthpiece designs shaving the rails to the desired thickness from the inside can make the window too wide for some reeds. Then came the dicey parts, truing the facing curve, evening the baffle, and evening the tip rail and corners. Nothing is guaranteed, so I adopted the approach of file/sand a little, test a lot. Fortunately, there was very little anomaly in the facing curve, which was the part of the job that had me the most nervous. All's well that ends well - that work enhanced the response, control, and ease of articulation, added a slight bit of brilliance, and made overtones/altissimo much easier. Now the NY STM 9 is back in favor as my primary. Of course, after that result I had to see what that program would do to the STM 8, and honestly it went from being a decent piece to a screamer although I still like the NY 9 better.
The moral of the story is, if you get one of the current production Links it probably has defects that keep it below its full potential. I frankly would not want to pay current prices for one in light of those issues (only paid $75 for the STM 8 and $90 for the STM NY 9 back in the day, so not too much heartburn). I would suggest finding a tech with whom you can agree on a price for a tune up program (not refacing) and buying one of the many unloved Links used for the project. Or, if you are feeling adventurous, undertake the project yourself. Or, get one of the new Link-like but consistent Van Dorens if you don't want the hassle of getting a Link into top condition.
One last note on quality - the lig that came with the STM NY 9 was terrible. It had burrs that scratched the plating on the mouthpiece and the brass clamp screw was underfit into the threaded hole in the block. That was sheer negligence. The screw eventually stripped out.
The rating is the average of the quality of the two pieces as purchased, 70% for the STM 8 and 30% for the STM NY 9.
Hello everyone, I just like to say that if you are looking to buy a mouth piece, you should consider an Otto Link. Not so much for a professional player who is looking for a certain type of sound, but if are an student or an intermidian player, give a try.....I think you will like it. Many professionals still play with otto links and if you ask them to change, the answer most like will be.....sorry no can't do it.