At first glance, the woodwind mouthpiece looks simple in shape and design. The mouthpiece is actually complex and crucial to getting good results. The poor sound of an instrument can improve with the selection of a quality mouthpiece suited for the instrument, the music being played, and the musician.
The mouthpiece structure made up of the chamber, baffle, bore, facing length and tip opening subtly affects musical and acoustical characteristics – sonority, fullness, volume accuracy of pitch, and response. Any structural variation will produce different results.
A mouthpiece varies as each musician varies: selecting the right one depends on the desired musical results, the player’s embouchure, and the instrument. An inferior combination of mouthpiece bore and instrument bore can have an adverse affect on pitch accuracy, tone quality, and response.
Easier-playing mouthpieces are not always ideal. A better choice is one that allows total control of reed vibrations while offering some resistance.
Once the mouthpiece has been selected, the next task is choosing a reed. Always try to adapt a reed to the new mouthpiece’s features; a reed may not produce positive results on two different mouthpieces. See our Reed Buyers Guide for more information on reed selection.
Text and diagram adapted from 2006 Accessory Showbook. Copyright, Conn-Selmer, Inc.