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Thread: Comparison between the Wedge Euphonium and Steven Mead Ultra X mouthpieces

  1. Comparison between the Wedge Euphonium and Steven Mead Ultra X mouthpieces

    Hello, I'm new to the forum and am looking for some advice regarding choosing a new mouthpiece. After doing some research, the two mouthpieces that seem to stand out to me are the Wedge Euphonium mouthpiece and the Denis Wick Steven Mead Ultra X mouthpieces.
    The reviews I have read about these mouthpieces have been very positive but I have been unable to find a direct comparison between the mouthpieces.
    The mouthpiece I currently play on is a Yamaha 51L and I play on it simply because it is the mouthpiece that came with my instrument. I have briefly tried an SM3U mouthpiece and liked it.
    If anyone has experience with both these mouthpieces or recommends a different mouthpiece, I would be very grateful for your response.

    Thanks,

    Ben

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Welcome to the forum. Sorry, but I have no experience with the ‘Wedge’ to make any comparison.
    Rick Floyd
    Miraphone 5050 - Warburton Brandon Jones sig mpc
    YEP-641S (on long-term loan to grandson)
    Doug Elliott - 102 rim; I-cup; I-9 shank


    "Always play with a good tone, never louder than lovely, never softer than supported." - author unknown.
    Symphonic Band of the Palm Beaches
    When the Saints Go Marching In (arr. Mashima) at ACB Conference Ft. Lauderdale
    Cell phone video of : El Cumbanchero:

  3. Quote Originally Posted by RickF View Post
    Welcome to the forum. Sorry, but I have no experience with the ‘Wedge’ to make any comparison.
    No problem, I will wait to see if anyone does have experience with both the mouthpieces and if not, I will probably buy the Wedge mouthpiece since they have a 90 day money back guarantee.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Central North Carolina
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    1,996
    Quote Originally Posted by Benjammin View Post
    The mouthpiece I currently play on is a Yamaha 51L and I play on it simply because it is the mouthpiece that came with my instrument.
    This is not necessarily a bad thing. Why are you wanting to change? And why in particular are you looking at something like the Wedge -- which many people feel is "gimmicky" and maybe not appropriate for a lot of players?

    If you can say why you want to change and what it is you like and dislike about both the 51L and the SM3U, that might provide at least some hints for others to make recommendations. Maybe you'd like a 3AL (I do, though I don't like the SM pieces). Hard to tell.

    I certainly don't want to discourage your trying a variety of mouthpiece in search of what you want. I've probably spent about $2,000 over the years on mouthpieces for several different instruments. Mouthpiece buying and selling is what keeps our GDP high. Just don't end up talking yourself into a specific mouthpiece because it looked good on paper and you think you "should" like it.
    Gary Merrill
    Wessex EEb Bass tuba (Denis Wick 3XL)
    Mack Brass Compensating Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J9 euph)
    Amati Oval Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J6 euph)
    1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba, modified Kelly 25
    Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
    1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)

  5. Quote Originally Posted by ghmerrill View Post
    This is not necessarily a bad thing. Why are you wanting to change? And why in particular are you looking at something like the Wedge -- which many people feel is "gimmicky" and maybe not appropriate for a lot of players?

    If you can say why you want to change and what it is you like and dislike about both the 51L and the SM3U, that might provide at least some hints for others to make recommendations. Maybe you'd like a 3AL (I do, though I don't like the SM pieces). Hard to tell.

    I certainly don't want to discourage your trying a variety of mouthpiece in search of what you want. I've probably spent about $2,000 over the years on mouthpieces for several different instruments. Mouthpiece buying and selling is what keeps our GDP high. Just don't end up talking yourself into a specific mouthpiece because it looked good on paper and you think you "should" like it.
    The main reason for wanting to change is that I am going to have a lot more free time next year than I currently have, and am planning on increasing my practice from about one hour per day to 3-4 hours per day. This is because I'm considering going to music school. In my current state, I would be unable to practice 3 to 4 hours a day due to not having the lip strength to do so. I have heard that the SM3U X and the Wedge mouthpieces are easier to play on from a fatigue point of view and this is the main reason for me wishing to switch.

    A secondary reason for wanting to change mouthpieces is because I've got a good Euphonium, and invested quite a lot of research into choosing it but never really thought about mouthpieces till recently. Considering the amount that the Euphonium cost, it seems a little wasteful to not also buy a mouthpiece that suits both me and the instrument as well as possible, considering that the price of a new mouthpiece is so small in comparison.

    In terms of your advice about choosing a mouthpiece because it looks good on paper, I think I was falling into that trap, so thank you for mentioning it. In terms of the 51L, I do quite like it, it is the only mouthpiece I have properly tried though so I don't have anything to compare it to. I briefly tried an SM3U and it seemed to produce a more powerful sound, was more comfortable to play and reached the high notes more easily than with the 51L. The only drawback I felt it had was being less flexible than with the 51L.

    Thank you for your response, it is much appreciated.

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by Benjammin View Post
    I have heard that the SM3U X and the Wedge mouthpieces are easier to play on from a fatigue point of view and this is the main reason for me wishing to switch.
    Anything that begins with "I have heard that ..." cannot be regarded as a good reason for anything. One reason for this is that you can as easily hear exactly the same thing about at least 200 other mouthpieces -- just from different sources. So let's kick that "reason" to the curb.

    Trying solve what you see as a fatigue problem by chasing it with hardware alteration is generally a very bad idea: the new mouthpiece just turns out to be a crutch to get you a rapid gratification of being able to play longer. This does not result in developing the long-term and persistent skills and habits that you want as a maturing musician.

    Honestly, it's never occurred to me to target buying a new mouthpiece so that I could play longer on it. I'm more concerned with the quality of the sound, flexibility, and range it will get for me over time -- and consistent with proper and good skill development. Stamina will come through that sort of development. Note that this isn't to say that some mouthpieces won't be better or worse for you than others because they'll permit better stamina in the context of your development. But to state as one of your two primary goals an increase in stamina is probably indicative of a misperception of how you should proceed with your development -- kind of like expecting the cart to pull the horse. It's like the people who -- instead of developing their embouchure to play in a higher range just get a smaller mouthpiece. Presto! They're there! Um, yeah, sort of.

    I think that if I were you I would spend some effort with a good teacher and discuss how you want to improve over a particular period of time (whether it's weeks, months, or years) -- and then get some good recommendations of what a good mouthpiece choice would be for you based on his own knowledge of mouthpieces and his experience with your current playing and goals. Otherwise, the danger is that you can pick up some bad habits that could end up taking a long time to correct.

    If you can't get good lessons (from either a euphonium player or a low brass player familiar with euphoniums) locally, there are people (e.g., Doug Elliott) who give lessons by Skype. And you wouldn't need to be committed to a lengthy sequence of lessons in order to learn the best direction for you at this time. More like hiring a really good consultant to help you address a couple of problems instead of embarking on years of lessons. Just a thought.
    Gary Merrill
    Wessex EEb Bass tuba (Denis Wick 3XL)
    Mack Brass Compensating Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J9 euph)
    Amati Oval Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J6 euph)
    1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba, modified Kelly 25
    Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
    1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)

  7. Quote Originally Posted by ghmerrill View Post
    Anything that begins with "I have heard that ..." cannot be regarded as a good reason for anything. One reason for this is that you can as easily hear exactly the same thing about at least 200 other mouthpieces -- just from different sources. So let's kick that "reason" to the curb.

    Trying solve what you see as a fatigue problem by chasing it with hardware alteration is generally a very bad idea: the new mouthpiece just turns out to be a crutch to get you a rapid gratification of being able to play longer. This does not result in developing the long-term and persistent skills and habits that you want as a maturing musician.

    Honestly, it's never occurred to me to target buying a new mouthpiece so that I could play longer on it. I'm more concerned with the quality of the sound, flexibility, and range it will get for me over time -- and consistent with proper and good skill development. Stamina will come through that sort of development. Note that this isn't to say that some mouthpieces won't be better or worse for you than others because they'll permit better stamina in the context of your development. But to state as one of your two primary goals an increase in stamina is probably indicative of a misperception of how you should proceed with your development -- kind of like expecting the cart to pull the horse. It's like the people who -- instead of developing their embouchure to play in a higher range just get a smaller mouthpiece. Presto! They're there! Um, yeah, sort of.

    I think that if I were you I would spend some effort with a good teacher and discuss how you want to improve over a particular period of time (whether it's weeks, months, or years) -- and then get some good recommendations of what a good mouthpiece choice would be for you based on his own knowledge of mouthpieces and his experience with your current playing and goals. Otherwise, the danger is that you can pick up some bad habits that could end up taking a long time to correct.

    If you can't get good lessons (from either a euphonium player or a low brass player familiar with euphoniums) locally, there are people (e.g., Doug Elliott) who give lessons by Skype. And you wouldn't need to be committed to a lengthy sequence of lessons in order to learn the best direction for you at this time. More like hiring a really good consultant to help you address a couple of problems instead of embarking on years of lessons. Just a thought.
    Okay, I will stick with the 51L for now then and put more emphasis on developing stamina during my practice sessions.

    You mentioned lessons with a Euphonium player or a low brass player who is familiar with the Euphonium. I currently have lessons with a trumpet player. Is this is bad thing or do you think that trumpet is similar enough to Euphonium for these lessons to still have a lot of potential benefit?

  8. #8
    In most ways studying with a trumpet player is beneficial. Trumpet players probably have the highest standards among brass players (speaking very generally) because they have a very long tradition of hot-seat playing and gobs of competition. I studied with a trumpet teach for one of my undergrad years and for 3 of my 4 graduate semesters. Both were very senior professors and had a lot to offer. However, neither would have been helpful at suggestions mouthpieces - they just did not know what's on the market. I think either one could have helped me compare two mouthpieces, though, and could have observed the differences they heard. But I would have needed to have a fairly strong idea of what I wanted to sound like.

    A tuba or trombone player would also not be ideal for recommending a mouthpiece (I'm NOT including teachers with substantial euphonium-teaching experience, like Dan Perantoni, etc.)

    Think of the reverse situation. Would an eager trumpet student ask Brian Bowman or Steven Mead what mouthpiece to buy?
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams E3, Denis Wick 4AL (classic)
    Instructor of Euphonium and Tuba
    Twitter: davewerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    YouTube: dwerden
    Owner of TubaEuph.com, DWerden.com

  9. #9
    The Yamaha 51D is on the smaller side of the spectrum but is still perfectly viable. I would only go to a larger mouthpiece if the current one physically hurts me because of the lack of space. And going from a 51D to an SM3 or an equivalent mpc is a gigantic switch that's just... not advisable (Trust me, I've been there. Tried to go from essentially a Bach 7C equivalent to an SM4U... didn't work out at all. Whatsoever.)

    So yeah, focus on improving your basics first, then work from there.

  10. #10
    Echoing what TheJH said, going from your 51L to a large mouthpiece can be tough. I went gradually while in the Coast Guard Band. I started on a Bach 6-1/2AL (that would not do today, but was OK in 1970), then moved to a Bach 5G. I tried to move to a Wick 4AL and found it too difficult, so I moved to a 4BL (shallower version of the 4AL). After a couple years on the 4BL I was able to go to a 4AL.

    The 5G is roughly the same diameter as your current 51L. Here is a recording I made on the 5G with a Besson New Standard (I had not gotten a Sovereign yet):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGNE6WtAOdg

    It sounds OK I think, especially on the smaller-sounding New Standard (compared to the Sovereign I got later).
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams E3, Denis Wick 4AL (classic)
    Instructor of Euphonium and Tuba
    Twitter: davewerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    YouTube: dwerden
    Owner of TubaEuph.com, DWerden.com

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