Which mouthpiece would suit doubling between bass and tenor trombone?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by arniesarnies, Jun 4, 2014.

  1. arniesarnies

    arniesarnies Member

    Hello everyone. Which iron would suit shifting between Bass trombone and tenor? I usually play of a 1G bass bone iron and my range is quite good but soon I might need to double between bass and tenor.
    My main is obviously bass trombone and that's my preferred weapon of choice but the need to play more means I need to change between bass and tenor.
    The reason for doubling is playing for 2 bands which is really good experience wise and change of weapon is very good lip wise. My dilemma is stick or twist. Stay with the 1G or change iron with clef.
    Any help would be appreciated. I'm mainly a Bach boy and have considered a 6 1/2 AL to choose for my tenor work but your opinion matters.
    Thanks in advance.

    P.S. The same trombone will be used between Bass and tenor.
  2. Bayerd

    Bayerd Active Member

    Will you be playing 1st or 2nd tenor? I find I can get away with 2nd using a 1.5. I use a 1.5 when playing bass anyway.
  3. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Active Member

    I’ve seen a double trigger bass trombone playing 2[SUP]nd[/SUP], it’s out of place but it depends on the band’s standard and the player as to whether that’s actually an issue or not. In the basic bands that I play in it’s common for a standard large bore Bb/F tenor (e.g. Conn 88H) to be used on any of the three parts. In the Bach range a 5G seems typical for large bore tenors.

    You plan to play the same instrument for bass and tenor. If the piece that you are using at the moment will give you the upper range needed and matches the instrument well then there’s little to be gained from a change so why risk damaging your chops with a different mouthpiece? If the bass you have proves too big for say the 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] part then could you try out a large bore tenor - just Bb’s usually aren’t expensive - that still takes (the shank of) your piece of choice?
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2014
  4. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Doubling bass and tenor trombone is a lot harder to do well than most people think it will be before trying it. Doubling bass and alto trombones - actually less of a problem, the embouchures are fairly separate. Bass trombone and tuba - less of a problem, you can basically use the same embouchure and just let the bigger mouthpiece sort things out for you. But bass and tenor trombone doubling is not quite so simple, and typically speaking tenor players find it easier to double bass than bass players to double tenor - because they are already used to making smaller equipment work down low, and so a slight upsizing in mouthpiece size tends to give them a honking low register with a nice focus, whereas the opposite manoeuvre is not so straightforward.

    You say you will not be changing the trombone. I'd suggest that this is not the route that is likely to give the most appropriate sound quality, and would also suggest getting hold of a large tenor (e.g. Bach 42B, Conn 88H). But even if you are only changing the mouthpiece, then there are a few things to think about:
    - Mouthpiece sizes tend to be well matched to trombone sizes. A good tenor mouthpiece will make your bass sound more like a tenor, but you'll find it difficult to lay into stuff without obliterating the texture.
    - A 6-1/2AL is a small mouthpiece for a large tenor. You use a large mouthpiece on your bass - I would suggest finding a tenor mouthpiece that is also on the large side. A Bach 4G (or even 3G for some) or a Wick 4AL are good choices in this situation - don't throw out the Wick option untried - their tenor trombone range is much more generally suitable than their bass trombone range. I suspect a 5G would feel a bit cramped - it certainly does for me, and I use a smaller bass piece than Arnie.
    - You could stick with the 1G. But you'll find that this will be extremely wearing on the face and will probably leave you sounding a bit tubby in the tenor range. If you get hold of a tenor instrument, I wouldn't even consider using the 1G in it - it won't take the strong wide airflow well.
    - One option that is sometimes taken by people, good players who have struggled to make multiple mouthpiece rim sizes work for them, is to order a custom modular mouthpiece set with the same rim but different cup sizes. There are bass trombonists out there who at professional level double smaller brass instruments on a 1G-like rim stuck on a smaller cup. Doug Elliott is your man for this approach.

    For what it's worth, here's what I use for these two instrument combos:
    Bass: Bach 1-1/4G + Rath R9
    (Large) Tenor: Wick 4AL + Conn 88H

    I've played every seat in trombone sections in championship section bands and in paid orchestral situations using these two mouthpieces. It's a pretty flexible pair of combos.
  5. tromboneyone

    tromboneyone Member

    Do you have a removable lead pipe? I know of bass trom players with removable lead pipes that find it better to switch to a more tapered lead pipe for playing 2nd rather than switching instruments or mouthpieces.

    As for effectiveness it depends on what level you want to achieve. I've found that bass trom players can do alright when occassionaly playing tenor, but the reverse is usually not the case. I used to be a regular bass trombonist (Holton TR181 with either a 1G or Shilke 59) in brass bands, big bands, orchestras (even getting paid sometimes) and found it was okay to pop on to a tenor every now and then (although I didn't notice that I was pushing a lot of air through the instrument so it would get a bit hard a higher dynamics). As I am now a regular tenor trombonist playing solo trom in brass bands + orchestras (88H + 5GL) when I try and play bass it is very, very hard and my tone is pretty questionable. I'm also now playing a lot of big band and jazz where I use a smaller set up (King 3B + shilke 47), I don't find switching between tenors that much of an issue, by contrast.

    I think the advice from a lot of pro-players is that you need to treat both trombones as separate instruments and so to be good at both you need to practice twice as much! MY view would be try it with the 1G and if it doesn't work, try something else, perhaps a 4G or 4AL as the poster above says.
  6. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Active Member

    Opinions, opinions, they all vary depending upon individual experiences. Things I love about the forum are the diversity of opinion and the variation of knowledge. Post an issue yourself or get involved with or even bump an interesting thread - as best you can put in something sensible and helpful - and you’re often rewarded by a later answer. MD’s answer is a ‘cracker’ from the top of banding – brilliant.

    Now off I go to apply the said ‘cracker’ at the base of banding whilst wondering if there’s a few more gems of wisdom out there. Might I not struggle but easily get those last two peddle notes (in 5th and 6th) on my tenor if I gave up my 6BL for a 4XL? It’s an art, a bit arbitrary, a shifting balance, varies between people and maybe there’s no answer at all but matching in with doubling (which I also try to do but on a large bore tenor) what range can most of us (particularly inc. the OP) expect to readily get on what size mouthpiece?
  7. arniesarnies

    arniesarnies Member

    Well what can I say? Brilliant answers lads and food for thought. Maybe the way forward is what MD says, 2x trombones with 2x mouthpieces.
    I have already tried the 1G in a large tenor and it was just a bit too much. By the time I finished blowing I was speaking like Rio Ferdinand and looking like I had blew up a 1000 balloons.
    Thank you for your input guys.
  8. Euphman2

    Euphman2 Member

    Just seen this subject. I am nominally a euph player who does play trombone (although not bass). I have experimented with mouthpieces on a euph and I humbly suggest a DW 3AL or perhaps a 2AL if your embouchure is powerful.
  9. cockaigne

    cockaigne Member

    I'm a tenor trombonist who doubles on bass - going down to a 2G for that, as against usually playing on a 5G (or 4G when more width is required than brightness). I'd agree with Dave that a 3G would probably feel right - although possibly not support you in the high register as much as a 4G would.

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