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Thread: "Old" Wick 4AL vs. "New" Wick 4AL

  1. "Old" Wick 4AL vs. "New" Wick 4AL

    Hi all,

    I have used a Denis Wick 4AL for at least 35 years as my "every day" mouthpiece. My first Wick 4AL (which I still have) came with my 1980 "Boosey & Hawkes" Sovereign (Round Stamp). Of late, I have been playing one or the other of two that I purchased within the last 6 years. The 37 year old 4AL is a very different mouthpiece than the modern version of the same. I was asked by another forum member what the differences are between the two and so I took some pictures.

    Side by Side: Not a lot of difference in this view. As far as the labeling, the new one says DENIS WICK.LONDON while the older says DENIS WICK.LONDON (notice the period in a different location). The "4AL" is a smaller character size on the older mouthpiece.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Rim Size:

    These are both 26mm rims and feel pretty close to the same size, but notice the rim depth difference. The new 4AL has a much deeper lip around the rim.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Cup Depth

    I tried the old "quarter in the cup" test and find a significant difference. I believe that the two mouthpieces have the same cup shape relative to the throat of the mouthpiece, but the thicker lip on the new mouthpiece extends the effective cup depth. As you can see, the quarter sticks up more out of the cup on the old mouthpiece.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Feel

    The shallower effective depth on the old mouthpiece and a slightly sharper edge to the rim of the mouthpiece makes it feel a little more brittle and somewhat less "pillowy" in sound. Articulation is a bit easier, though and slotting might be just a bit better. Also, while I rarely notice any fuzz when playing any Wick mouthpiece, the old mouthpiece definitely has no trace. The new mouthpiece feels softer and the sound is a bit more to my preference. I have to work just a bit harder with it, but it doesn't cut into the lips as much when I get tired and use too much pressure.

    That's it,

    Doug
    Last edited by daruby; 03-03-2017 at 04:43 PM.
    Sterling Virtuoso 1052HS & Adams E3 Prototype 0.70 Top Sprung valves
    Sterling Virtuoso 1050HS baritone
    New England Brass Band
    Winchendon Winds/Townsend Military Band

  2. Thanks for the comparison Doug, I'd always taken it for granted that the design had not changed. I wonder if similar differences exist across the wick al range, and if this was a deliberate design change to add mass/depth or just one of manufacturer/tooling?
    I have heard that in the past wick MP's were inconsistent due to wear on the tooling used, but it imagine in these days of computerised lathes this will not be the case. It would be interesting to ask Mr Wick or his company about all this, but I suppose a desire to protect the brand/company reputation may get in the way of a straightforward answer.

  3. #3
    Yes very inconsistent..... I used to use a 4AL, a 4AM and a 4AY for different instruments until Morgan Griffiths did the, in my case, 2 pence piece test.....all different and I'd owned them all from a similar period! That's what put me on to Doug Elliott so I could have the same rim on all MP combinations. With modern CNC lathes I'm guessing that the modern Wick versions are consistent to each other now.
    Current Euphs:
    Besson Prestige (German)
    York Eminence
    Boosey & Hawkes Sovereign (Round Stamp/ Globe)
    Boosey & Hawkes Imperial
    Plus an attic of old classics in various states of repair!

    Previous Euphs:

    Geneva Symphony
    Wilson 2900 with Eminence leadpipe
    Sterling Virtuoso (300 mm heavy red brass bell)
    Cortios 167 II

    'Gob Iron': Doug Elliott Euph 105 I 9s (plus a few others!)


  4. #4
    Very interesting on the quarter test with the two 4ALs from many years apart (that they are so different). Made me go and see how a quarter looked in the few mouthpieces I use. I came away from that experiment knowing how far the quarter stuck out above the rim in each, but not much more. But my wife was impressed.
    John Morgan
    The U.S. Army Band (Pershing's Own) 1971-1976
    Adams E3 Custom Series Euphonium, Wessex EP-100 Dolce Euphonium, 1956 B&H Imperial Euphonium
    Adams TB1 Tenor Trombone, Yamaha YBL-822G Bass Trombone
    Wessex TE-360 Bombino Eb Tuba
    Rapid City New Horizons & Municipal Bands (Euphonium)
    Black Hills Symphony Orchestra (Bass Trombone), Powder River Symphony, Gillette, WY (Tenor Trombone)
    Black Hills Brass Quintet (Tuba)

  5. I'm probably not going to do this test in case it gives me an excuse for more expensive mouthpiece shopping!
    Just to throw another variable in, I have 4 4al's and one seems to not insert as deeply into the receiver as the others in the same instrument. This may be a plating rather than mp difference though as it only takes a small difference to effect this.

  6. #6
    I could not wait to get home today to check out the pictures on a larger monitor! Very interesting, thanks!
    I play a Wessex Prague
    aka “Pocket Kaiser”
    Stofer Geib Mouthpiece

    My Son plays
    Mack Brass Compensating Euphonium
    Wessex Dolce Compensating Euphonium
    Doug Elliott EUPH SN103, I, I9

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Hidden Valley, AZ
    Posts
    659
    This begs a couple questions/;

    Aren't DW MP's marketed as trombone first, with obvious euph applications?

    Where does the Mead series fit in? Especially the Ultra series...

    There are a bewildering number of good MP's for euph, and if that is not just crazy try vectoring in your chops.

    The silly things seem more like underwear--you find what works and go with it..but what if there were something better?....

    d
    3 notes and the truth.

    1966 Besson 181 highly modified New Standard, early model Wick 4AL
    1918 Hawkes & Son euph 3&1 original
    1917 Conn C/D/Eb mellophone original
    1915 York Bb tenorhorn original, Bach 5GS

  8. Quote Originally Posted by highpitch View Post
    The silly things seem more like underwear--you find what works and go with it..but what if there were something better?....

    d
    Haha - chasing that question is the road to financial ruin and a big bag of mouthpieces!

  9. #9
    Maybe just one more MP? It will be the last one......
    Current Euphs:
    Besson Prestige (German)
    York Eminence
    Boosey & Hawkes Sovereign (Round Stamp/ Globe)
    Boosey & Hawkes Imperial
    Plus an attic of old classics in various states of repair!

    Previous Euphs:

    Geneva Symphony
    Wilson 2900 with Eminence leadpipe
    Sterling Virtuoso (300 mm heavy red brass bell)
    Cortios 167 II

    'Gob Iron': Doug Elliott Euph 105 I 9s (plus a few others!)


  10. Quote Originally Posted by highpitch View Post
    This begs a couple questions/;

    • Aren't DW MP's marketed as trombone first, with obvious euph applications?
    • Where does the Mead series fit in? Especially the Ultra series...
    1. DW originally started out on trombone mouthpieces (and mutes) in the late 1960's since he is a trombone player (as is DE). But by the time the Sovereign came out in 1974, the 4AL became standard issue replacing the truly awful Besson 10 that came stock on earlier medium shank horns. The 3AL/4AL (emphasis on the A cup depth) have always tended toward being euph mouthpieces. They tend to be "tubby" on trombone. I'd think someone wanting a 26mm or 26.4mm rim size on trombone would go for a B sized cup, 3BL or 4BL.
    2. The Ultra series (i.e SM4U or SM4X) generally have thinner, sharper rim lips than the 4AL and are perhaps a bit deeper. They are definitely "euph" oriented mouthpieces.
    Last edited by daruby; 03-04-2017 at 11:49 AM.
    Sterling Virtuoso 1052HS & Adams E3 Prototype 0.70 Top Sprung valves
    Sterling Virtuoso 1050HS baritone
    New England Brass Band
    Winchendon Winds/Townsend Military Band

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