Trumpet Mouthpieces – Getting Started
Most instrument manufacturers also make mouthpieces which are produced under their own name and are included with the purchase of their instrument. Beginning trumpet and cornet players will not need to go through the endless quest to find the perfect mouthpiece as the more experienced players often do for the younger player needs to be more concerned with basic practice habits and steady improvement on his/her instrument and less concerned with what Mr. Trumpet player uses to play his style of music.
To be perfectly honest, if I’m asked what is the best trumpet mouthpiece, I would have to say that “there is no perfect mouthpiece for every player”.
If that were true, every trumpet player in the world would be playing on the same mouthpiece. If one mouthpiece gets you more high notes it will also be the mouthpiece that gives you more problems in the lower register as well as possibly limiting your flexibility in all ranges.
Function of all brass instrument mouthpieces
Whether you are playing a trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn, tuba or any other brass instrument, the function of the instruments mouthpiece is exactly the same. The mouthpiece is there to help vibrate your upper and lower lip when air passes between them. It does this by anchoring the outer limits of your lips as well as spreading the contact area on the lip over a wider area.
As with every variable on a mouthpiece, one advantage will usually cause an equal disadvantage. That is the reason again that “the beginning student should continue with the mouthpiece which came with the instrument” until the time in his/her development a change needs to be implemented.
Parts of a trumpet, cornet, and flugelhorn mouthpiece
All brass mouthpieces have the same general sections and function in the same manner. A trumpet mouthpiece and a cornet mouthpiece, though not interchangeable, have the same basic structure and functions.
Diagram of sections of mouthpieces-
When comparing and choosing mouthpieces, consider these effects:
- Wide: Increases endurance.
- Narrow: Improves flexibility.
- Round: Improves comfort.
- Sharp: Increases precision of attack.
- Large: Increases volume, control.
- Small: Relieves fatigue, weakness.
- Deep: Darkens tone, especially in low register.
- Shallow: Brightens tone, improves response, especially in high register.
- Large: Increases blowing freedom, volume, tone; sharpens high register (largest sizes also sharpen low register).
- Small: Increases resistance, endurance, brilliance; flattens high register.
Combinations of size and shape make the tone darker or brighter, raise or lower the pitch in one or more registers, increase or decrease volume. The backbore’s effects depend in part also on the throat and cup.
Difference between Cornet, Trumpet and Flugelhorn Mouthpieces
Trumpet mouthpieces and cornet mouthpieces as I stated before are not interchangeable for two reasons.
#1. They don’t fit, and
#2. They are designed for different playing styles and sounds.
Trumpets most often have a strong, powerful tone quality which contrasts to the sound of a cornet. One should not think that one is any better than the other, they are just different. The trumpet is brighter in timbre (tone) and the cornet is more delicate and sweeter in tone quality.
When you think back to the turn of the century (that would be 1800-1900) with park concerts for well dressed men wearing top hats and women carrying parasols, the sound of the sweat cornets drifting on the air was very typical of the cornet and brass band music of that time.
Now jump ahead to the big band, swing days in the 1940’s and the sound of Harry James rocketing through the big ballroom will give you an indication as to what the trumpets function had become. Many trumpet players complain of the inability to play a cornet with the same power and sound as they play their trumpet. And this is why we play cornets.
The strong, sometimes edgy trumpet sound can be complimented by the softer, gentler sound of the cornet. For that reason, trumpet and cornet mouthpieces are designed to do what they were intended. Don’t expect a trumpet sound with a cornet and don’t expect to play a cornet the same way you play a trumpet. The flugelhorn mouthpiece is also unique to itself.
Top 10 most popular mouthpiece manufacturers
- Bach mouthpieces
- Conn mouthpieces
- Bob Reeves mouthpieces
- Blessing mouthpieces
- Parduba mouthpieces
- Monette trumpet mouthpieces
- Warburton mouthpieces
- Yamaha mouthpieces
- Purviance mouthpieces
- Giardinelli mouthpieces
Recommended Trumpet Mouthpieces
For the younger student- use the mouthpiece that came with the horn as long as it was the original mouthpiece. By far the most widely recommended trumpet mouthpiece which almost all of us started on is the Bach 7C. Each time I’m asked which mouthpiece I recommend for a beginning player that is the one I recommend.
When buying a used instrument many times the original mouthpiece has been replaced by the previous owner so try to match the instruments name with the mouthpiece which in most cases will also be in the case.
For the more advanced player- you will have your own requirements and playing style so use your own judgment in this area. It’s like asking advice on which pair of shoes to buy- “It totally depends on what you want them for and how they feel”.
Where to buy Trumpet Mouthpieces
Buying a used Trumpet Mouthpiece
For a young player- Don’t do it. The cost of a new mouthpiece is not that expensive but if you must, check for these problems.
- Check the rim (the flat area which comes in contact with the lip). If there are any dents or scratches on the rim, DO NOT CONSIDER BUYING THIS MOUTHPIECE. This is where the comfort factor comes into play. Trumpet players do not and should not play on a rim which is scratched or dented.
- If the plating (silver or gold) has been worn down to the point that the brass is showing, DO NOT CONSIDER BUYING THIS MOUTHPIECE. Bare brass which comes in contact with the lip will in many times cause reactions or at least infection.
- If the shank (the part which is inserted into the instrument has been filed or sanded down, DO NOT CONSIDER BUYING THIS MOUTHPIECE. Many players will file down the shank to make adjustments to improve their sound. Also many times they file too much down and the mouthpiece will not fit properly in the instrument.
- Even with the most careful cleaning, you will always wonder just who played on this the last time and what his or her medical history was. DO NOT CONSIDER BUYING THIS MOUTHPIECE if you don’t know the person. Better yet- DO NOT CONSIDER BUYING THIS MOUTHPIECE.
Is it time to replace my current trumpet mouthpiece?
I can answer that very easily if you can answer these questions-
- Who serious will you student be when practicing the instrument?
- How long will they continue on the instrument?
- How proficient will they become on the instrument?
The chances are very good that if the student continues to improve and becomes a better than average player, he or she will look into a mouthpiece change and at that time a professional should be contacted for recommendations.