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Thread: Mouthpiece metal

  1. #1
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    Mouthpiece metal

    Hi all,

    Does anyone know what metal mouthpieces are made from and coated with? I've noticed recently that I get dermatitis on my lip when I've been playing my Bb cornet with a metal DW mouthpiece I've had for about 10 years in a relatively short amount of time. To try and avoid this I've switched to a plastic one which is taking some getting used to. In the meantime, I'm helping a band out on sop for the areas and am playing on a DW metal mouthpiece, bought about 2 years ago and not played on much. It's taken about 2 months for some dermatitis to come about as a result of that which started in the last week or so. However, to complicate it more, I played the trumpet on a mouthpiece which is about 15 years old at the weekend which might have something to do with it too.

    I've been patch tested for the most common metals including nickel, chromate and cobalt, and currently have a palladium patch on my arm to see if it's that. All tests have been negative so far. I'm looking to see if anyone has any ideas what to try patch testing next - is there copper in mouthpieces?

    Thanks,

    Julia
    Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man HOW to fish, and he will sit in a boat all day and drink beer.

  2. #2
    tMP Prime Friend tubafran's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by picju96 View Post
    Hi all,

    Does anyone know what metal mouthpieces are made from and coated with?
    If its a standard DW silver type that would be brass coated with silver, as the silver wears the brass can become exposed - brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. You can usually taste a sort metal flavour if the brass is exposed.

    I know some people who can only play on gold plated as they have problems with silver.

    Its fairly cheap to have a mouthpiece re-coated in silver or gold
    Mr Francis Hargate
    EEb Bass - Dronfield Genquip Band
    www.dronfieldband.co.uk

  3. #3
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    I've just got a herritage Wick 4, its rim and cup (and I think back bore) are all gold plated, in real terms I used to get a bit of soreness on my lip after a long session (on a wick 4B standard) however this has cleared up just a thought that might help
    Last edited by cornyandy; 02.03.2012 at 16:26. Reason: lousy speellliiiing
    Andrew Sapcote

    "Where there's Muck there's Brass" It's okay to play a cornet and live in a pig sty

  4. #4
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    My wife has a reaction to the DW mouthpieces if there is any damage to them, so we either have to get them re-silvered or buy a new one.
    I have not heard of many people reacting to the silver as it is a very inert metal - most likely is there is some damage to your mouthpieces, even very small...
    Andy Grace
    MD Driffield Silver Band
    MD East Riding Youth Brass Band
    Flugel Simply Brass

  5. #5
    Maybe time to try out surgical steel mouthpieces? There's plenty on the market.
    It's not how you play ... it's the way how you play it!

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  6. #6
    tMP Prime Friend Bayerd's Avatar
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    Or just coat it in clear nail varnish.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Bayerd View Post
    Or just coat it in clear nail varnish.

    ... that has a familiar ring to it
    It's not how you play ... it's the way how you play it!

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  8. #8
    tMP Master Friend Aussie Tuba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brassneck View Post
    Maybe time to try out surgical steel mouthpieces? There's plenty on the market.
    way to go. This is what most commecial cuttlery is made from. I have been using Stainless for about 4 years.
    Aussie Tuba
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    Windsor Brass

  9. #9
    tMP Senior Friend pbirch's Avatar
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    brass is a fairly toxic metal and will cause problems if you are exposed to it. it was my impression that the gold plating on DW mouthpieces was directly onto the brass, and it didn't last very long. I am also not sure that too many people give the necessary consideration to looking after their mouthpiece, it gets dumped in the case or cupboard and gets a bit knocked around and damaged, exposing the base metal under the plating.
    For me, the mouthpiece is as intimate a piece of equipment as my toothbrush, it gets cleaned after each use, and is never given to anyone else to play with, minor lip infections and irritations might just be down to poor hygiene.

  10. #10
    tMP Friend for Life Accidental's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tubafran View Post
    I know some people who can only play on gold plated as they have problems with silver.
    I'm the other way around - can only play on silver mouthpieces (which is weird, because I can only wear gold earrings!). It may simply be a case of the silver plating being thicker than the gold, and I can't use a silver mouthpiece that's been dinged or scratched through to the base brass, like flyingscot's wife.

    I don't like the nail varnish idea - wouldn't getting enough on a mouthpiece to protect your skin mean fundamentally changing the shape and size of it?
    Alex

  11. #11
    tMP Prime Friend jockinafrock's Avatar
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    I had contact dermatitis playing on a gold DW, and it came on within minutes of starting playing, exaccerbated by the wetness - changed to the silver and never looked back. GP told me it's the zinc and nickel in the gold mouthpiece that causes the probs. Try a silver one and, like said before, take good care of it and avoid it getting damaged through careless storage as it will expose the bare metal.
    Fiona Rolfe



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Accidental View Post
    I'm the other way around - can only play on silver mouthpieces (which is weird, because I can only wear gold earrings!). It may simply be a case of the silver plating being thicker than the gold, and I can't use a silver mouthpiece that's been dinged or scratched through to the base brass, like flyingscot's wife.

    I don't like the nail varnish idea - wouldn't getting enough on a mouthpiece to protect your skin mean fundamentally changing the shape and size of it?
    I'm the same, I've found I can only use the silver coated ones but have had several Denis Wick ones over the years and not had a problem with the silver ones. (Ditto with nail varnish, that wouldn't appeal either although it does work on metal buckles etc)

  13. #13
    tMP Prime Friend Bayerd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Accidental View Post
    I'm the other way around - can only play on silver mouthpieces (which is weird, because I can only wear gold earrings!). It may simply be a case of the silver plating being thicker than the gold, and I can't use a silver mouthpiece that's been dinged or scratched through to the base brass, like flyingscot's wife.

    I don't like the nail varnish idea - wouldn't getting enough on a mouthpiece to protect your skin mean fundamentally changing the shape and size of it?
    It depends on how thick you like it


    Speaking from personal experience as a bass trombonist, it makes to no difference because of the size of the mouthpiece. It might make more of a difference on a cornet mouthpiece. However, before sending the gobiron off for replating, coat it in nail varnish, if it works you've saved a bit of brass, if it doesn't, the plater will shift anything on the surface anyway before replating.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by pbirch View Post
    brass is a fairly toxic metal.
    Actually, it's not. In fact, silver is more toxic than brass.The only cases of "brass poisoning" (16 articles) that appear in the MedLine database (21 million plus articles from 5000+ publications covering biomedicine and health, from 1950 to the present) are due to:a) long term exposure to brass dust or fumes (may be a hazard for repair techs, but not ordinary players);b) direct ingestion of multiple gram quantities of brass (don't know anyone who eats or drinks brass regularly); orc) exposure to leaded brass (could be a problem with 19th to mid-20th century mouthpieces, but this is really lead poisoning as opposed to brass poisoning).Sensitivity to brass is an issue for some people, but sensitivity is not the same thing as toxicity.

  15. #15
    tMP Friend in Training skiosbod's Avatar
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    Some newer mouthpieces are made from Titanium which are great if you've just won the Lottery to afford one. On the normal Person's wages, there's always Kelly Plastic mouthpieces and even wooden mouthpieces you can use if you're allergic to metal
    Ta Butt

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