Trumpet Mouthpieces

One of these days, I will get off the trumpet topic a be a little more encompassing in my thoughts, but I am on my pathway through the “King of Instruments” or is it “Instrument of Kings?” I had mentioned in my last post, a thought of trumpet mouthpiece size. I think I may had used the word, ‘generic.’ Students are usually given a used instrument. It could be a closet find, garage sale gem, school horn, or, if the kiddo is lucky, a rental/lease from a local music store. Most often, a Bach 7C or equivalent is provided with a rental. I got to start on an Olds 3 that was in the case of my Dads’ trumpet…More on that story in a later blog…Anyway, there is a mouthpiece involved. Well defined school music programs my ask for certain equipment, depending on the teacher. More often than not, the teacher may be a woodwind or percussionist player by musical gender, and may not really understand what a brass player needs. Back to the mouthpiece…The 7C is a good place to start as it is not extreme in size, Now I can tell you that size does matter… A little bit.
There are multiple parts of a mouthpiece that all makes the whole. There is the width of cup, also known as size, the rim contour, the cup depth, the throat drill and the backbore or inner shank taper. There are many brands of mouthpieces and most are compared to either the Bach or Schilke system. There are some great comparison charts on the web, and I am going to let you advanced players jump into those, as I am going to stick to basic information. So, the width of cup goes from small to wide. The lip and front teeth structure dictates what size would be most beneficial to the individuals sound. The rim contour can be flat to more round, causing the ‘bite’ of the mouthpiece to be more pronounced or soft to the lips. Throat size is generally a mid 20’s, but can be as big as a 19. And finally, backbores can have up to a dozen or more different shapes or tapers. Really!
Why so many you ask? It is all about teeth, lip, jaw and oral cavity variations. Then you factor in the type or kind of music that is being played. My personal opinion on mouthpiece size is:
I don’t like and won’t change mouthpieces used on the same horn just to get some notes better.
I don’t encourage the use of extreme depth sizes just to play high or low notes.
I do change mouthpieces for the different keyed trumpets.
I will use different tapers to get my trumpet to play better in tune through the entire range.
In a nutshell, I don’t believe in extremes, though a little deviation is acceptable, depending on the situation. I have this opinion, because the extremes usually give poor tone quality and/or poor intonation. I think that is enough ink splatter for today from this gearhead. Thanks for reading!
Chris

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