A mouthpiece made of beech wood?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Mesmerist, Nov 11, 2015.

  1. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    Etsy ? Oh what an interesting site ...... may Mrs 2T never find it 'cause that could cost me a fortune!

    For the reference of others looking on etsy mouthpieces can be found via: Jeu-Naturel wooden Trumpet mouthpiece 4A. I noticed on eBay that if the size they offer isn't your preference than they will make one to suit you but still charge you the same price as for their standard product, nice.

    I wonder what other competitors to Amazon and EBay there are out there that I know nothing about. Oh well, live and learn.
    Mesmerist likes this.
  2. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    Out of curiosity, I had a look at the info on the LOUD website, as to why they use stainless steel. TBH, their reasoning sounds a bit muddled. I quote:

    "Stainless steel eliminates the inefficiencies of brass, giving you, the performer, the best possible playing situation. Why? It is all about vibration. Specifically, REDUCING vibration. Hardness is the answer. Stainless steel is much harder than brass. According to the Brinell Hardness Scale, typical yellow brass (used to make silver-plated brass mouthpieces) has an average hardness of 58. 304L-grade stainless steel (which is what we use) has an average hardness of 140!"

    What they describe as "typical yellow brass" is around 70% copper and 30% zinc, and is certainly used for the body of brass instruments, as it is very ductile so can be formed into the complex curves quite easily. This is, as the LOUD website says, quite soft, and 58 Brinell would be a typical value. I think it highly unlikely that it would be used to make mouthpieces, though, as they have to be machined to pretty accurate dimensions, and with good surface finish. Trying to do this with yellow brass would be a nightmarish job, as the stuff is far too soft to cut cleanly, tending to smear and scuff up, even with the sharpest of cutting tools.

    The types of brass used where these operations are required would be the free-machining types, with a much lower copper content (about 58-60%). They come out about 140 on the Brinell Hardness Scale - in other words, about the same as the 304L stainless steel used for LOUD mouthpieces.

    "Why does this matter? When you buzz into a brass mouthpiece (i.e., when you are playing your instrument), the mouthpiece itself is vibrating in all directions as your embouchure vibrates. Correspondingly, the louder you play, the more unwanted vibration you create (which creates an “edge” in your sound, and further limits your highest dynamic levels). When your mouthpiece vibrates excessively, then less of your sound/effort transmits through the instrument. Quite simply, these vibrations cause you to lose sound and energy before your sound even makes it into your horn. By vastly reducing mouthpiece vibration, more of YOU is going into your instrument!"

    Actually, if you want a piece of metal (or anything else) to vibrate well, use the hardest and most brittle material you can use. That's why church bells are made from very hard and brittle metals, such as cast iron or bronze, and the casting is made to be as brittle as possible. For extreme proof of this, try tapping the rim of a wine glass with teaspoon, and then tapping a piece of sheet lead; what do you hear?
    "Dinnnnggggggggggggg!!" from the glass, and "Dunk" from the lead.

    Soft materials are so efficient at killing vibration that (believe it or not) lead is used as soundproofing in aircraft, in the form of a microscopically thin lead foil bonded onto a thin sheet of foam plastic. Aircraft makers say they get a better reduction per given weight than could be achieved by any other material.

    So, if the LOUD mouthpieces really are harder than the usual brass ones, far from vibrating less, they'd actually vibrate more - which does knock a hole in their explanation. I've never even heard one being played, let alone tried one, so I've no idea how they sound; if they do sound better, though, it can't be for the reasons they give on their website.

    Jack E.
  3. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    "Better" in this kind of context is a word that is so hard to define satisfactorily. What even does it mean to say that one musical sound is 'better' than another?

    Some play on particular models of LOUD mouthpieces and like them. Some dislike what they try. As you point out, the explanations given for this (and more generally, regarding the effect of material on brass instrument sound) seriously tend to the mythological - tinged with enough sciency words to make people just go "yep, they must know what they're talking about", and give their logic a free pass. They're decent mouthpieces, but so are many other designs, and vibration of the metal has very little to do with it.
  4. GordonH

    GordonH Active Member

    The original wooden mouthpieces were the renaissance cornetto mouthpieces which were actually the cups taken from the bottom of acorns. A wee bit sharp on the lips and very small!

    In modern times Maurice Benterfa made hardwood trumpet mouthpiece tops but the backbores were metal. Recently there have been three part trumpet mouthpieces where only the cup is wooden (Kanstul made them for a while). This avoided the grip problem. It is quite a different sound. There have even been wooden piccolo trumpet bells (Stomvi I think made them).

    I am not sure I would want a wooden mouthpiece though. I think it would change characteristics too much with moisture. This is a problem with some recorders and wooden penny whistles, regardless of oiling. I suspect it might be the same with mouthpieces. Ash might be a better wood as it is more inherently water resistant.
  5. Mesmerist

    Mesmerist Well-Known Member

    The maker has emailed me to check my preferences and offered (at no extra costs) to use a wider more comfortable rim and; get this; put my initials on it! Oooh how super pretentious is that? Of course I'm having it!
  6. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    You exhibitionist, you! ;)
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    ROBTHEDOG Member

    Zoltan Kiss and The world of the Trombone - Mouthpiece
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  8. Mesmerist

    Mesmerist Well-Known Member

    It's the way forward then...good enough for Mnozil Brass...:)
  9. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    In his adverts, M. Jeu Naturel says:

    "Made from beech wood, a hard wood that have a very good mechanic resistance and provides great acoustic transmission, the grain is fine and gives smooth surfaces. Wooden mouthpieces gives a mellower, more velvety timbre than the brass ones and the lip comfort is improved by the pleasant contact of the wood and the fact that it is nourished by a balm that hydrates your lips as you play. The touch feels softer and less slippery than a plated brass, that improves the precision of your lip moves and gives you a better support, therefore a better endurance.

    The whole mouthpiece has been tempered at hot temperature in beeswax, this protects and raincoats the wood deep inside, then on the surface a balm is applied to give you extra comfort. Your mouthpiece comes with a tube of balm made from beeswax and almond oil, it is designed to keep the surface of your mouthpiece well waxed."

    So it appears that as long as you look after the mouthpieces as he suggests, moisture shouldn't be a problem.

    As regards using ash instead of beech; I'm not so sure that would feel very comfortable, as ash has rather a coarse grain, whereas the grain of even English beech is very fine - and even more so if the maker sources his timber from beech woods in the higher and drier parts of France.