All trombonists out there

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Stanley Accrington, Aug 20, 2017.

  1. What mouthpieces are you using? With maybe a few words why you play with the mouthpiece of your choice. I just don't understand the different sizing criteria between the different manufacturers!
    My plea to enhance my mouthpiece knowledge maybe shouldn't be so trombone specific....I'm hoping players of other instruments could maybe enlighten me.
  2. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    This page from Yamaha gives you a run-down on the different aspects of mouthpieces, Stanley - and gives some pointers about how even some apparently minor points have a big impact on what they're like to play.
    Yamaha Brass Mouthpieces General Info

    As to comparisons between different makes, I think I can track down some extra info on that, and will post links.

    HTH, and best regards,

  3. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    Further to my earlier post, Stanley, I've dug this out from my computer. It's an explanatory run-down on mouthpieces posted on here by Jim Fox (Doc Fox), a regular contributor to TMP. Sorry I don't have a link to Jim's original post. I found it very helpful, indeed, as mouthpieces are such a complex subject!

    Note; where Jim is writing about 'sharp rims' or 'rounder rims', he's referring to the part of the mouthpiece which Yamaha and some other makers call the 'bite'.

    I quote, Jim's post, in full:
    Mouthpieces - by Jim Fox

    Rims can be roundish or have a cut (sharp) edge. Every player's embouchure is different. So the statements I am about to make are very general in nature. Like Steven Mead said to me when he was in my neck of the woods, a great player can make the worst euph setup sound great, but it takes more effort. If you find a good setup, you can concentrate on the details more.

    A sharp rim generally makes it easier to hit the higher notes, especially with people with larger lips. For some people, it makes the tone thin. It is also easy to make quick articulations. And for some, it can wear them out more quickly.

    A rounder rim generally is a bit harder to hit higher notes but is more comfortable. Generally, it makes for a better tone but can be difficult for people with large lips. Articulations take a bit more work.

    A shallow cup generally is good for getting high notes. It is usually used by players who play high a lot (sop player perhaps) like jazz players. The tone is thinner, but for high playing jazz types, that is not their aim.

    A deep cup is for a nice rich tone. Depending on your embouchure, you can get too deep a cup. Lots of euph players use a 4 (quite deep), 5 or 6 (using the Mead/Bach numbering). If you get too deep a cup (for example, you buy a bass trombone mouthpiece for your euph), you will be swallowed by it and articulation will be out the window.

    Now those are the extremes. Mouthpieces come in semi-rounded rims, semi-sharp rims, medium cup depths, etc. If you examine all the combinations, finding a mouthpiece that fits you can be a daunting task. The mouthpieces that come with new instruments like 6 1/2 AL or 12C are compromising mouthpieces. Like a one size fits all, except it is usually one size fits none. For cornets, the 7C or 11C fits that bill.

    That is why it is best to try a mouthpiece for an extended period. I have always carried my extra mouthpieces with me to band rehearsal. If I am not using one, and someone wants to try it, I let them. I have lost a few that way, but in the long run, I have provided a lot of help. When I owned my store, I gave a 60-day money back period.

    HTH, and best regards,

  4. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

  5. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    I have to say that (atleast as far as trumpet and cornet mouthpieces go) there's a fair amount of utter twaddle in the docs post quoted above... But I don't play lower brass so maybe it's different, I don't know.

    Some general advice that I think ought to translate well from my squeeky corner:
    1) Most advice you'll find on the internet is contradicted by other advice elsewhere - this is because everyone is different and we find different things suit us... Which brings me to 2...
    2) Never, ever, expect something to be right for you on the basis that it's right for someone else - never buy a particular mouthpiece because XYZ famous player uses one, or because your mate (who is awesome) does... So, 3...
    3) Make sure you play a few yourself and go with what gives YOU the best results. This means finding a decent shop that'll let you play a few (or a friend who has a few spares or discarded alternatives) and ideally having a good pair of ears assisting you with secondary observations - don't go in looking for just one thing, test a series of things: look for the best response on your chops (pick your most comfortable note to play and try to start it at pp with zero tongue/articulation), look for good flexibility (pick an exercise from Arban or elsewhere that is uncomfortable but not unplayable) and take some music you're familiar with and look at tone - does it sound how you want it to in soft and loud playing?
    Don't be afraid to walk away - if your current mouthpiece wins on these tests, it's pointless switching.

    Finally... Don't worry about what you think you "should" be playing - there are lots of people who will push you into rubbish like "bigger mouthpieces make a bigger sound, all the best players use big mouthpieces", "everyone should use XYZ brand/model" etc - there are lots of sweeping statements that are at best limited and often plain wrong...

    What you need is what works best for you, and the best way of find that is to avoid excessive preconceptions and play a few paying careful attention to results.

    I'm a bit waffley tonight, sorry - all the best with the search!
  6. Crikey Jack. You appear to be a man on a mission. I do appreciate your posts and internet links though.

    Thank you,
  7. Tom-King,
    I was (am) quite happy with the mouthpiece that came with my first trombone. It doesn't have a makers mark on it but has 12c stamped on it. I now have a wider bore bone....and this mouthpiece doesn't fit it unless I put some paper around the shank so as to get a tighter seal. I suppose that I could just get a large shank version of it.....if there is one!!
    Tom-King likes this.
  8. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    I agree, Tom - but I think there are some grains of wheat amongst the chaff, if read with care. After all, most of it is published by manufacturers and / or music shops, and they have to sell to stay in business. But I think Stanley was looking for some general guidelines - such as "What on earth is a 'sharp bite' when it's at home?", and "What - if anything - is the difference between a Yamaha XXXX and a Wick ZZZZ?"

    As to your points 1, 2 and 3 - agreed, again!
    I couldn't agree more, Tom. I've just started playing electric bass guitar, and was given exactly the same advice. So when it arrived, I tried it out to see what worked best for me - regardless of what worked for other people. I was born left-handed, but forced to change to using my right hand before I was even old enough to crawl - which messed me up a treat - and then had constant criticism from my parents because I was so clumsy, and couldn't even throw a ball properly . . :confused: . . I don't know why my ******* parents expected any different, but they did . . . :mad:

    So now I'm teaching myself to play a right-handed bass, but playing it left-handed, upside down - because it feels most comfortable to me that way!! (and actually feels extremely awkward if I try to play it right handed - as I remember it did when I tried to learn the acoustic guitar in my early 20s).

    It's impossible for me to play slap bass, as I've got the E string at the bottom, and the G string at the bottom - but I've noticed that other left-handers who play bass the same way can get some very interesting sounds for that very reason, and as I'm learning from scratch, anyway, it makes no odds. I suppose it's like learning to drive a car; it's no harder to learn to drive on the right than it is to drive on the left - just different.
    I don't think so, Tom - I think you've made some very valid points which I think will help Stanley a lot.

    With best regards,

  9. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    You're welcome, Stan - I remember, all too well, how bewildering I found the whole subject when I first delved into it, and how much I appreciated the advice from people like Jim Fox, in particular.

    Best regards,

    Stanley Accrington likes this.
  10. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    On Tenor Trombone I settled on a Wick 6B (6BL for large bore and 6BS for small bore) and found that others seemed to favour that size too. Bach's 6-1/2 AL size is also quite popular. A smaller piece might allow easier production of the high notes but the quality of sound (to my ears) dimishes, however progressively larger mouthpieces don't give linear improvements in sound quality but do make it both harder to get the higher notes (above the stave) and tiring on the chops, it's all a trade-off. YMMV.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2017
    Stanley Accrington likes this.
  11. I've been looking at the mouthpieces you've mentioned 2nd tenor....especially the Wick 6BL as my upper register is poor (well....non existent past e on fourth space treble clef).
    The 6BL as described in the Wick mouthpiece website. :-

    Even tone quality. Big, full sound. Ideal for concert band and brass band players. Medium shallow cup for improved high register.

    I've got to at least try one out after reading this description!
  12. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    Do let us know how you get on with it, Stan.

  13. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    On smaller/larger diameter and sound quality... (Again, I don't play lower brass so this is sop/cornet/trumpet)

    Larger diameters tend to give larger "targets" for each note (a larger sweetspot, if you prefer), so they require less embouchure focus and control to play - smaller diameters require a bit more finesse because you can't just overpower that sweetspot and get away with it.

    Everything in a mouthpiece is a compromise - that larger diameter (within reason) might make it easier to play in some ways, but it's often at the expense of endurance... That larger diameter may make it easier to make a warm sound but it's usually at the expense of projection...
    In any case, it's about the right compromise and it's as much of a pain in the ass as it sounds.
  14. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    That sounds like the understatement of the century, Tom!! ;) But many thanks for the extra info about the effects of changing the diameter - I've not come across that before, so I'll store that away for future reference.

    With best regards,

  15. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Just to note - Tom's observations hold fine for low brass.

    The 12C (originally a Bach designation, but there are a million knock-offs of the size) is very narrow, shallow, and tight for most developed players, and only used for specific applications that require utmost brilliance of tone or extreme high register facility. You'll find some specialist jazzers using them, and they aren't bad in a bass trumpet. But for the most part their main use is as an entrance ramp to trombone playing - the new player is commonly started on one - the small size means that some noise can be produced without the need for much developed facial power at all. In time, most find that the noises that are wanted from them are much more easily made with something bigger in all dimensions.

    NB There are even smaller mouthpieces than the 12C - Bach make narrower rims out to a number 22 (though 22 isn't that much narrower than 12 - the system's a bit odd), and even shallower cups up to an E - but Vincent B. designed his line of mouthpieces in a different musical era (between the wars), a time when trombone blowing approaches were notably different from today, and mouthpiece fashions ran a good deal smaller in general. Even amongst jazzers these supersmall mouthpieces are very rare.

    So you're now on a trombone with a larger shank size than small. That probably means large, but might not... What model is the trombone?

    A Bach 6-1/2AL is a good suggestion in this situation. It's wider, but not hugely so; it's deeper, but still shallowish by the standards of many. Note that (unlike Wick), the 'L' doesn't stand for 'Large shank' with Bach. You can buy a 6-1/2AL in both small and large shank sizes. It's a mouthpiece that's in general well-matched to trombones of medium bore sizes.

    I'm sure you know this... But take mouthpiece marketing descriptions with a pinch of salt (and both Wick and Bach are especially guilty of hyperbole and nonsense on this front).
  16. Hello MoominDave. Thank you for your informative post. The model of trombone that ive got is a Bb/F Weril Gg85. I am led to believe ( from the previous owner ) that it's a medium bore trombone. The 12c mouthpiece that I was using on my previous bone may, in hindsight, have been too small/shallow as I'm coming to trombone from BBb bass. I'm playing BBb bass for 4 hours a week but maybe playing the bone for 3 hours a day ( in divided sessions). Bone is what I want to play.......maybe it's time to wave goodbye to the tuba!
    I kinda understand the effects of mouthpiece diameters...rim sizes...cup depth and throat/bore's just that I can't find enough of them to try before I wish to buy.
  17. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    I wouldn't worry too much about having come to it from BBb bass - what matters is whether a given mouthpiece gets you the results you're after, not whether you'd be expected to like something larger (especially if it turns out that you don't).
    If a 12C is working okay and you're getting a decent tone and response from it, it might be worth persevering with for the time being... or it might not... getting to try a few (include a 12C in your test) is definitely the way forward IMHO (Dave will certainly be much more useful in giving you specific models that would be good to try out... beyond generalities I'm pretty useless to you here).

    3 hours of practice a day sounds like a lot, even divided up into shorter sessions (which is a great approach!) - it's really rare for me to do beyond 2 (admittedly on sop which can be quite tiring), but we're all different and maybe this is one of those areas that lower brass is different from high....
    It's great to have that commitment to it, but it's worth a reminder to be careful that you're not over-practicing (I'm sure you're aware of your limits - this is as much for anyone else that might find it useful advice as for you) as that can be really quite destructive - never play beyond where you start to feel tired if you can help it, nothing you do beyond that point will do any good and it'll impact on your freshness and ability to practice well the next day.
  18. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    Three hours a day! I hope my MD doesn't expect that of me! I'd have said that half of that should be more than plenty, quality not quantity ...... but if you're playing stuff for fun then that's more understandable.

    Ask around your mates in the band(s) on Trombone and Euphonium for Mouthpieces to trial, there might also be some in the Band's store cupboard (loose or in instrument cases). eBay is the place that I've bought all of my Mouthpieces off of and if you watch and wait then a purchase needn't be too expensive. You won't go too far wrong with just buying either a large shank Bach 6-1/2 AL or a Wick 6BL.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2017
  19. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Medium bore trombones (a label which covers a range of bore sizes, but let's skip the detail) usually have a small shank mouthpiece, so this makes me curious. I don't know Weril's models, so I need to inform myself... A spot of Googling later, I find an online Weril catalogue. This lists the GG85 in their range of large bore options, which makes sense when you tell us that it has a large shank mouthpiece.

    A Bach 6-1/2AL or a Wick 6BL are options on the small side for a large bore tenor, but are perfectly workable. The Bach 5G (a little wider, a fair bit deeper) is the usual 'default' for this size of trombone, used by amateurs and professionals the world over. Wick 5AL (deeper) and 5BL (shallower) are both good equivalents in the same size. A size larger (4 rather than 5 in each of the above designations) will work well too, but requires more chops.

    Any brass dealer ought to have all of these options as stock; I'd suggest that if you want to try before buying, dropping in on one would be the best way to do that. I see from your profile that you're in York; am just trying to think where's nearest... There must be somewhere nearer than Preston, surely, in this highly bandy part of the world, but it's not a part of the world I know very well... I think in your position I'd start by ringing these people to see if they stock what you need, and ask their advice on who nearby stocks a sensible range of Bach and Wick trombone mouthpieces.

    As a side note - there are many mouthpiece manufacturers making quality products, but Bach and Wick are a de facto standard.
  20. Thanks again for posting MoominDave.

    Currently eBay don't have any 'bargain' mouthpieces of note unfortunately.

    This place is probably my main local store but don't have much choice than a few VBachs and Wick. I don't know if they would let my try before I buy.
    Gear4music | Shop Music Equipment & Musical Instruments

    I might have to venture south to maybe places in Leeds, Huddersfield, Doncaster areas. I've managed to cadge a 'Sonata' 5G large shank from a bonding in the band.
    I like it apart from the cup maybe is a tad too deep. I'm going to stick with this mouthpiece for a while as I hope to try others. It might even grow on me.

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