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Selecting A Brass Mouthpiece
By Dan Jacobi
1/22/2013 2:45:00 AM

A carefully selected mouthpiece can help improve a player’s embouchure, attack, tonguing and endurance.  Learn more about the features of brass mouthpieces and how to pick the one that's right for you.

A carefully selected mouthpiece can help improve a player’s embouchure, attack, tonguing and endurance. Brass mouthpieces consist of the rim, cup, throat, and backbone. Mouthpieces are produced in various combinations of these features to produce a sound that matches the player lip muscle and tooth structure, musical needs, and the instrument being played.

Professional musicians and advanced students prefer the musical results of large mouthpieces which provide a maximum volume of tone with the least amount of effort. The large cup diameter also allows a greater portion of the lip to vibrate, producing a larger volume of tone, and keeps a player from forcing high tones by encouraging the correct function of the lip muscles. Medium-sized mouthpieces are more suited for student musicians.

Younger musicians should consult with their teacher as to specific mouthpiece choice.  Models commonly played by younger players include the 3C, 5C, and 7C models.  Performers, teachers and students will often refer to Bach mouthpiece models for comparison purposes.  The Trumpet Mouthpiece Comparison Chart compares these and other commonly-played brands. 

Diagram of a Brass Mouthpiece

Parts of the Brass Mouthpiece

Rim

  • Wide: Increases endurance
  • Narrow: Improves flexibility, range
  • Round: Improves comfort
  • Sharp: Increases brilliance, precision of attack

Cup

  • Large: Increases volume, control
  • Small: Relieves fatigue, weakness
  • Deep: Darkens tone, especially in low register
  • Shallow: Brightens tone, improves response, especially in high register

Throat

  • Large: Increases blowing freedom, volume, tone; sharpens high register (largest sizes also sharpen low register)
  • Small: Increases resistance, endurance, brilliance; flattens high register

Backbore

Except in general terms, it isn’t possible to identify backbores by size because they also vary in shape. Various combinations of size and shape make the tone darker or more brilliant, raise or lower the pitch in one or more registers, increase or decrease volume. In each instance, the effect depends in part on the throat and cup used in combination with the backbore.

Click here to view all brass mouthpieces!

Text and diagram adapted from Vincent Bach Mouthpiece Manual. Copyright, Conn-Selmer, Inc.




Tags: Brass Product Guide, Brass Mouthpiece Guide, Mouthpiece Guide, Mouthpiece, Mouthpieces
Categories: Band & Orchestra
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