Big Mouthpiece or Small Mouthpiece? That Is The Question. Part 3

What advantage is there for the use of two mouthpieces?

This is a question which comes up often for many times we are faced with contrasting performance styles, i.e. Classical music and Jazz compositions. Generally the Classical music requires a darker, more “legit” timbre and the Jazz music requires a more commercial or brighter tone quality. It seems logical that two different mouthpieces would fit the needs of the performer and this is what we will be covering in this posting.

What should I consider when switching between two different mouthpieces?

• Two mouthpieces with the same cup diameter cause the least problems.
• Mouthpieces with the same size and contour of rim are best.
• Deep and shallower cup depth will give you the effect you are after.
• Change in throat diameter and length will also affect the contrast.
• Backbore works also to change the timbre between the two mouthpieces.

Should I purchase two complete mouthpieces of different dimensions or should I buy one mouthpiece with changeable components?

• Many professionals purchase two different mouthpieces.
• Just as many purchase one mouthpiece with changeable parts.
Here is my suggestion- “When considering cost, you will be better off finding two different mouthpieces with the same cup diameter and different cup depth”.

Schilke 15
An excellent all-around mouthpiece which offers a free blowing, clear sound.

Cost $44.99

Schilke 15B
With the same diameter as the #15, this mouthpiece includes “B” style cup which produces a more brilliant sound than the standard #15 mouthpiece.

Cost $44.99

I am not suggesting that you should buy a Schilke 15 or a 15B. I am not even suggesting that you purchase a Schilke mouthpiece for I am only using these two as examples. When considering the cost of the components needed to construct two contrasting mouthpieces, the difference in price would be close to twice that of two standard mouthpieces and for that reason; I suggest buying two complete mouthpieces.

Big Mouthpiece or Small Mouthpiece? That Is The Question. Part 2

What constitutes a big or small mouthpiece?

There are several areas which can be described as parts of a big or small mouthpiece.

• Cup diameter- The distance between inner edge or bite of a cup is described as the cup diameter.
• Cup depth- The distance from the top of the mouthpiece rim to the bottom of the first cup is the depth of the cup.
• Contour of the second cup- The shape of the second cup will effect how the mouthpiece responds.
• Throat diameter- the width of the throat has a great effect on the sound as well as the resistance of a mouthpiece.
• Throat length- changing the length of the throat will also affect tone and resistance.
• Backbore- the shape and diameter of the back bore will determine tone also.

When describing a mouthpiece as being big or small, our attention is focuses mostly on the first two measurements- the cup depth and the cup diameter. Secondarily we discuss the throat length and diameter and the backbore.

The two most often quoted mouthpiece makers are Bach and Schilke for they were most responsible for establishing standards to mouthpiece labeling. Even though both disagreed on how mouthpieces were to be labeled, they did set the standers with which we use today for most mouthpieces.

The Bach numbering system- The higher the number, the smaller the mouthpiece. A 1 C mouthpiece is much larger than a 10 1/2C mouthpiece.

The Schilke numbering system- The higher the number, the larger the mouthpiece. A 14 mouthpiece is smaller than a 20 mouthpiece.

Schilke’s labeling is much more detailed than Bach for each area of a mouthpiece could have a letter or number to identify changes from the normal such as the very popular 14a4a mouthpiece. Notice in the following chart that the Schilke company lists the numberings as “other” manufacturers. The “other” numbering system is from the Bach Company. Even though they were friends, Mr. Schilke and Mr. Bach had their own way of doing things and were in direct competition in the industry.

In our next post we will make some recommendations as to which mouthpieces we recommend for different playing situations.

Big Mouthpiece or Small Mouthpiece? That Is The Question.

This has been a constant decision for all trumpet players. The large mouthpiece gives you a big, dark, rich sound but on the other hand, the small mouthpiece makes the upper register easier to play. I will try to illustrate the advantages as well as the disadvantages when trying to select your perfect mouthpiece.

Big is big and small is small.

The larger the mouthpiece the more air you will be able to push through your horn and the smaller the mouthpiece the less air you are able to utilize. Now at this point, I have lost half of my readers who are trumpet players for they are starting to write nasty letters to me saying, “You’re not mentioning small cups verses large cups nor are you mentioning small throats and large throats, or even deep cups as opposed to shallow cups”, and they are correct in their observations. If I were speaking to experienced players, they would have most, if not all the information I have learned through the years but for this post, I am speaking to an entry level player as well as the inquiring band director and for that reason, I am approaching the subject in this manner.

What advantages do large mouthpieces have over small mouthpieces?

The larger the mouthpiece-

• More meat you have to work with.
• The more meat in the mouthpiece results in a richer, darker tone quality.
• The more lip you are utilizing, the more muscles need to be strengthened.
• The more lip muscles in the cup, the better your flexibility.
• Larger mouthpieces generally make soft entrances easier.
• Large crescendi are usually easier but pitch tends to go flat at high volume levels.

What advantages do small mouthpieces have over large mouthpieces?

The smaller the mouthpiece-

• More air resistance which gives you something to blow against.
• Brighter sound due to less meat in the cup.
• Higher range is generally easier because of the smaller vibrating area.
• Brighter tone projects farther so you don’t have to work as hard to be heard.
• Generally with smaller mouthpieces less time is given to practice when developing the lip muscles.
• Tonguing is more obvious and more pointed.

As you can see from the lists above, each extreme in mouthpiece size has some benefits and to fully understand the selection process, you need to also be aware of the disadvantages of each. In my next post, I will cover these disadvantages and make some suggestions as to how you need to go about making your selection for “the perfect mouthpiece”.