Brass Mouthpiece Advice & Info…18th July 2014
Many brass players will tell you that you can search for that elusive perfect mouthpiece, but never find it. Truer words have probably never been spoken but the benefits of trying to find a good compromise can be enormous. If you are looking to improve the squeakiest of lead trumpet parts, the mellowest of flugel tones or the meatiest bass trombone pedals, the chances are we have something to suit!
All instruments are sold with a mouthpiece included, but this is often a student size and can sometimes be completely inappropriate for the style of music you like to play.
A mouthpiece is the part of the instrument that communicates the sounds and expressions from you to the instrument – even the smallest change can alter your whole sound.
General rules to observe…
• Mouthpiece cup diameter: increasing this will make more of your lips vibrate inside the cup and give a richer sound, but may also compromise endurance.
• Cup depth: a deeper cup gives a fuller sound but makes playing higher more difficult. Shallower cups make high playing much easier but will produce a harsher tone.
• Rim width/ sharpness: a wide rim will make playing for long periods of time very comfortable but will make lip slurring harder. A thinner, sharper rim will vastly improve lip slurring and flexibility but will become very uncomfortable for endurance playing.
• Backbore: this is possibly the most complicated measurement. A wider backbore will make the whole instrument feel and play more openly but this will affect your breathing and endurance. A narrow backbore increases resistance, which can make higher notes easier to hit but gives a very thin sound.
This is just a brief glimpse into the science behind mouthpiece selection. Selecting one is all about compromising and, of course, working hard! This writer is lucky enough to have stumbled upon his “perfect” mouthpiece… until the next one comes along!
Of course, every player is different and this is why we suggest trying out several until you find one that fits you. Any brass player can come to us and try out mouthpieces in store or we can simply offer some friendly advice. Dawkes Music offer a 1 week trial period on any brass mouthpiece as often the only way to test a mouthpiece accurately is in situ – at band or with your teacher. We charge a £3.00 “hygiene” fee to cover the cost of cleaning the mouthpiece should you decide to return it.
Matt – Brass Dept