Trumpet Mouthpiece Guide
Know your mouthpiece
Trumpet mouthpieces have many parts that give a variety of results, which are explained on this page. If you are a beginner or intermediate player, it’s best to use a standard mouthpiece unless you truly have a need for a specific configuration. Your teacher would be the best person to advice you on this. You will notice that when you alter a part of your mouthpiece it always comes with a price. Probably the most important aspect of choosing a mouthpiece is remembering that a mouthpiece will not make you sound better, give you more range or drastically improve your playing. Improvement only comes from correct and consistent practice.
The CUP DIAMETER is how wide or narrow the cup is.
When the cup is wide you get more volume, a bit more control and easy low notes. The downside to a wide cup though is that you will get tired quicker. On the other hand, a narrower cup will give you easier high notes (once you’ve already learned to play them of course) and better endurance, but you will have to work harder for volume and projection.
The CUP DEPTH is how deep or shallow the cup is.
A deep cup is going to give you a dark tone, big low notes and power over your horn. On the contrary a shallow cup will brighten your tone, give you more control over the high register and sharpen your articulation, but you will sacrifice volume and general power.
The RIM WIDTH is how thick or thin the rim is.
A wide rim provides a lot of comfort, endurance and easier high notes, but it sacrifices flexibility. On the other hand, a thin rim will provide plenty of flexibility and control, but it will make you tired faster. The rim for you will depend on your physical attributes. For example, if you have thick lips you will want a thicker rim for support and comfort.
The RIM CONTOUR is how round or flat the rim is.
A very round rim, as you can imagine, is comfortable to play on but your attacks won’t be as clean. A flat rim will increase your precision of attack and give you a brighter tone, but you might experience tiredness.
The THROAT SIZE is how big or small the throat is. This section of the mouthpiece comes after the cup.
A big throat will give you more volume and you will feel that it is easier to move air through the trumpet, but it will make the high register sharp and you will need tons of air to make it work for you. A small throat will do the opposite. You will have more resistance and therefore you will feel like the trumpet responds faster to you. It will also give you a more brilliant tone, but the high register will be flat.
The BACKBORE SIZE is how wide or narrow the backbore is. This section of the mouthpiece comes after the throat.
It’s important to keep in mind that the way the backbore affects your mouthpiece highly depends on the other configurations of the mouthpiece. With that said, generally, a wide backbore will give you a darker tone, easy low register and a free-blowing feel, while a narrow backbore will give you more resistance, a brighter tone and easier high notes. Remember that every single mouthpiece change comes with a price!
Most mouthpieces are made of brass and then plated. Your silver mouthpiece for example is brass and plated with silver. Other pieces are also made of plastic.
Mouthpieces can be silver plated and gold plated, and sometimes aren’t plated at all like the Yamaha 925 series. Some companies like Curry also offer a “satin finish” which is a matte finish to either silver or gold plating. Silver plating has a “grip” that allows players that play with dry lips to keep the mouthpiece in place while moving up and down the register. Gold plating is a bit more slippery and doesn’t stick to your lips, which is great for wet-lip players like myself who need to be able to move the lips a little during play. Gold plating also warms-up (temperature) faster than silver.
Some players are allergic to brass, silver and gold and therefore need something else. This is where plastic and rubber mouthpieces come in. Companies like Bob Reeves and Warburton make mouthpiece rims and cups made of “delrin”, which is a super hard plastic. Warburton also makes the “Warbonite” mouthpiece, which is made of rubber and can also be used by people allergic to metal. In general, plastic and rubber are more resistant to temperature, humidity and other environmental issues.
Mouthpiece prices vary depending on your needs, but in general, standard mouthpieces that come with factory specs are around $60. Custom-made pieces, like a standard mouthpiece but with a gold rim, are around $100. If you’d like to change a specific section of the mouthpiece, like widen the rim and make the cup shallower, it will cost you $125-$200. Other companies will charge much more, around $250+ for their mouthpieces, like Monette, who has been designing pieces for some of the best players in the world since 1985.
You can also buy used and save a good amount of money. Simply sanitize, make sure the mouthpiece doesn’t have any dents or kinks anywhere, and you’re good to go!