Mouthpiece choices

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Spanky Rear, May 29, 2004.

  1. Spanky Rear

    Spanky Rear Member

    How do players choose,or find, the best mouthpiece for their instrument? The choice and variety on offer is bewildering, and the number of makers probably runs into dozens. The makers,presumably, must think their selection is the best on offer. Confusion reigns asto a common and universal method of describing measurements and properties of a given mouthpiece, so accurate comparisons are difficult if not impossible. Wouldn't it be much more useful if makers had to provide descriptions and measurements to a universally set standard of criteria? Comparisons between allegedly similar and/or different mouthpieces would be simplified and choices made easier.
  2. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Personally speaking, I've tried a whole host of mouthpieces in my playing career and I've finally settled on the best of the lot, namely!

    What do you mean 'Shut up you withering sycophant'? What's a sychophant, anyway? I thought it was a mad elephant....... ;=)
  3. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    :roll: :roll: :lol: Dave, have you been drinking?? :?

    To answer the post properly, I was started on cornet with a Denis Wick 4. I say "was started" because at that time I had no idea how to pick a mouthpiece. The DW 4 is bang in the middle of the range so I guess that is as good a place as any to start. When I moved onto Flugel I tried a few before settling on a DW 4FL. But after a move onto and then off of horn I wanted a change so I went to a music shop with my flugel and spent the afternoon trying out Denis Wick and Warburton mouthpieces. I dragged a mate along and between us we picked the one which gave me the best sound across the range and I guess the mouthpiece which just felt "right".

    I'm sure manufacturers can give you cup depths and rim sizes etc, but the bare figures don't mean a lot to me, the best way is to sample them back to back.

    Now where's that elephant......
  4. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

  5. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    Oral make-up?

    Isn't that Lipstick? I hear Max Factor do a nice hot pink one........

    Damn Carlsberg Export..........
  6. tim

    tim Member

    Fortunately I have found the mouthpiece that suits me at a young age and I have no intention of changing it until it falls apart on me! But if you want to find a better mouthpiece for YOU your just gonna have to try and keep trying until it sudenly clicks in place.

    Also don't go on first impressions! I did about a year ago and ignored the mouthpiece I have found now because I didn't give it a real chance!
  7. Naomi McFadyen

    Naomi McFadyen New Member

    When I started learning cornet I just used what came with the instrument I got... the mouthpiece was a Besson 7...
    Then, it wasn't until I came into uni and asked around at what people used for mouthpieces that I started to try a few...
    Now I use a RW 3, although I'm thinking of going to a 4 because I can play well with that as well...

    But, it is a personal perference, so get into a music shop and get trying them out! ;-)
  8. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    So what is your magic mouthpiece, Tim? Many people find that, as their embouchure strengthens with age, a mouthpiece with all-round larger dimensions helps them more in the core registers.

    Having said that, the attitude of "I'm going to work with the equipment I've got" is a very good one.
  9. tim

    tim Member

    The 'magic' Mouthpiece is a DW steve mead thing size 4. I was using a 3.5 but it was a tad to big and with having embouchure problems we decided a 4 would be better for fixing the issues.

    Also why fix what isn't really broken!!!

    TIMBONE Active Member

    As a trombone player, I recommend Denis Wick. He of course was/is a professional trombonist, who designed the trombone mouthpiece as an 'improvement' on the Vincent Bach. To simplify matters, the numbers of the Wick trombone mouthpieces match the Bach, the main difference is in the 'throat' of the mouthpiece. Although the gold plate is more comfortable, the silver plate doesn't 'wear off' as quickly. As for size, my teacher (principal trombone, Halle) always said the largest you can manage. I have always played on a '4', (Bach then Wick), and at the tender age of 53, an E above top C still 'falls out of the instrument' very nicely.
  11. drummerboy

    drummerboy Member

    As another trombone player, and one who has done both bass and tenor work, I've got mixed views. I prefer a Vincent Bach for bass work (the bigger the better), but then with tenor it depends what I'm doing. Orchestral and band work generally a mid size Wick does the job nicely, but for jazz work or sustained high work orchestrally, nothing beats a VB12C.
  12. Emb_Enh

    Emb_Enh Member

    This MAY help some... :)

    Mouthpiece characteristics.....

    Here's some thoughts on mpc characteristics. It would be wise in making ANY choice to remember that your choice needs to be a moderate/comfortable one for yourself alone.

    Inner Rim Diameter
    A large diameter generally enables the lips to vibrate more freely. It will also aid in the production of a bigger tone but if too large, the tone will be too open (unfocussed). In some players a smaller diameter can sometimes lead the use of a spread embouchure to gain volume of sound which then in turn leads to excess mpc. pressure in an effort to close the lip aperture once more. Excess mpc. pressure leads to inefficient endurance.

    Cup Depth
    Basically, the deeper the cup or overall total cup volume will darken the tone. A more shallow cup will give a brighter tone. For playing in the upper register a mpc. that is more shallow than average will give the tone and support required to perform in this register.
    Shallow cups (at the extreme end) will make the tone thin / edgy

    Cup Volume
    The mouthpiece(s) of your choice need to suit the style / sound of the genre you are playing in. Using multiple mpcs. for multiple styles must result in extra practice on each particular mpc relevant to that particlar style. This will help to cope with the types of articulation/dynamics that you will meet within those particular styles. The larger the cup volume the fuller and louder the tone; the smaller the cup volume the softer and thinner the tone. If you choose a cup volume at either end of the extremes, control will be compromised. If you find switching mpc's difficult you are probably too mpc dependant.

    Inner Rim Bite or Alpha Angle
    The sharper the bite, the more grip is perceived. With a flatter or rounder rim, less grip is felt but more comfort acquired. Personal mpc. pressure plays a big part in choosing a mpc which will aid performance.

    The backbore volume and shape can affect pitch greatly. The backbore has several tapers, an initial and an average taper. If the initial taper is greater than the average you have a backbore with more volume, less resistance, and different harmonics. The diameter of the backbore also influences timbre and resistance. The length of the bore affects the blow resistance too. A narrow backbore results in increased resistance, brighter tone, and easier playing in the high register. A larger backbore decreases resistance and gives a darker tone and easier playing in the lower range.

    "U" / "V" Shaped Cups
    Most U shaped cups have a fairly sharp shoulder which results in an easy to play resistance and a well defined bright sound. V shaped cups have a smoother, rounder shoulder which produces low resistance and softer, darker tone.

    Throat Diameter
    The throat is the narrowest part of the mpc. bore. The diameter and length of this set the restrictions for playing resistance (back pressure). A narrow, long throat gives a high level of resistance which then in turn equates to fast response/brilliant tone and an aid to playing in the high register. A wide, short throat is more playable in the lower register and results in greater volume of tone but requires a great deal of air support from the player.

    Model Numbering System
    Most companies have their own way of numbering their Mpc's with the differences in Rim / Cup / Throat Specifications. The Schilke 12A4a can be deciphered as this...

    The "12" part of this mpc. is the inner cup diameter.
    The "A" is the cup volume plus shape.
    The "4" is the rim contour.
    The "a" is the back bore.

    Mouthpiece Weight
    Light weight mpcs. produce fast, flexible response while heavier mpcs. produce a more focussed tonal core. Much the same can be said for horns too!

    Mouthpiece Finish
    Gold plating IMHO helps with lip flexibility and is more suited to the player who uses a wet embouchure but is not so suitable for the dry lipped player who requires more grip. Silver plating is generally preferred by dry lipped individuals. Gold plated mpc's also tend to keep a constant temperature better. Solid silver adds to the weight and therefore adheres to the above.

    Rim Thickness
    A thick rim provides greater lip contact resulting in extended endurance but lip movement is limited therefore in extreme cases you lose some flexibility. A thin rim gives flexibility and control but provides less support for the lip thereby causing fatigue earlier than a mpc. rim of more average dimensions.

    On people using one mpc for all playing, I have only one comment.

    The 'performnce criteria parameters' of that particular individual are probably not that disparate to warrant a change of mpc style in the first place.

  13. Spanky Rear

    Spanky Rear Member

    Thankyou all for your efforts to help. If I have understood the last part of Roddy's explanation correctly you need a mouthpiece that suits you,your instrument,and the style of music to be played. This would suggest several mouthpieces or a mix and match type such as a Warburton in order to be able to select/provide the right properties. Is this right, or have I misunderstood?
  14. flugelgal

    flugelgal Active Member

    I have found that whoever is teaching me at the time is usually very helpful. Best not to change teacher too often though as they all have a different idea of what to use and you could find yourself changing mouthpiece regularly.. :wink:

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