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Thread: Doubling on Bass Trombone and Euphonium (Mouthpieces)

  1. #1

    Doubling on Bass Trombone and Euphonium (Mouthpieces)

    I play the euphonium as my main instrument and have recently picked up the bass trombone for the California Youth Symphony Orchestra. I thought that doubling on bass trombone would be an easier switch than tenor trombone, but then one of my friends said that the mouthpiece I use is too small for the bass. I use a Bach 4G on both instruments. I noticed that I had been having trouble in the lower register on the bass and when I tried some of his larger mouthpieces, everything cleared up.
    Later, I talked to my teacher about this and he said that playing two different mouthpieces would mess up my embouchure and it would be better just to pick one instrument or just double on tenor. I really love the sound of the bass and would like to keep playing it but I'm afraid my euphonium chops would change for the worse.
    Any advice on switching mouthpieces or in general? Thanks!
    Natalie Colegrove
    Kanstul 975 Euphonium
    Honor Band of America 2019
    @euphieslife

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by mscolegrove View Post
    ... one of my friends said that the mouthpiece I use is too small for the bass.
    People use a wide range of mouthpieces for bass trombone. A pretty common one is the Wick 2NAL. It's a bit small for a lot of concert band or orchestra stuff, but can be very good for dance band. So, yeah, I think the 4G may be a bit small to get a good bass trombone sound, and it will make the lower (and valve) registers more difficult.

    Later, I talked to my teacher about this and he said that playing two different mouthpieces would mess up my embouchure and it would be better just to pick one instrument or just double on tenor.
    Hard to decide what to say about this. I'm going to go with "Nonsense".

    I really love the sound of the bass and would like to keep playing it but I'm afraid my euphonium chops would change for the worse.
    Any advice on switching mouthpieces or in general? Thanks!
    Well, you could try it and see how it goes for you. However, if your teacher has already discouraged it, then I expect he'll continue to complain about it and be critical if you go against his advice. Just out of curiosity, what does HE play? Does he play trombone, for example?
    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)

  3. #3
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    Central North Carolina
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    Wonder how your teacher feels about all those guys doubling on euph and tuba (like, uh, Dave Werden). And all those pros who triple on bass trombone and tuba and euph, not to mention every trombonist who doubles on tenor and bass. Pretty sure they don't use the same mouthpiece.
    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)

  4. #4
    I’ve recently begun playing a lot of bass trombone. I use a Warburton Demondrae on Euph, and a Shires 1-1/4 MD on bass trombone. I played “Pictures at an Exhibition” with an orchestra, playing Bass trombone, and also played Bydlo on euph and had no issues.

    I find the addition of a bass trombone double has actually helped my euphonium playing, where playing a lot of tuba hurt it.

    Don Winston

  5. #5
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    Sturgis, South Dakota
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    I play euphonium in two bands, I play bass trombone in one orchestra, I play tenor trombone in another orchestra, I play Eb tuba in a brass quintet and other small ensembles. I use a different mouthpiece for each of the instruments. You can play two different instruments with two different mouthpieces. Just takes a little practice, but switching instruments and mouthpieces is something that is not uncommon. But, do use a larger mouthpiece for the bass trombone.
    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, Edwards T396-A Tenor 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)

  6. #6
    I'm a big believer in using the mouthpiece that's right for the instrument rather than trying to keep everything with the same size rim. I do like playing rims with consistent shapes and widths, but the rim size I vary depending on the instrument. And, while a 4G would have been a reasonable bass trombone mouthpiece a century ago, it's waaaay smaller than what everyone else is using these days. Heck, even a 2, 1.5, or 1.25 is smaller than what most professional bass trombonists are using for orchestral playing these days.

    I feel like playing different instruments with different size mouthpieces is like cross training. It almost always brings something positive for me, building musculature in ways that practicing on one instrument alone can't.

    However, there's something to be said for what your teacher says. I have the luxury of being an avocational player. I never need to dip into that last 1% that people who are trying to win a professional job or get into a top conservatory have to. If you're trying to get to the point where you can take artistic risks and play extremely musically AND never, ever, ever crack a note, the two mouthpieces will fight each other. That kind of last little bit of consistency with your playing you're only ever going to get if you practice your brains out with a consistent setup.

    But the other thing is this -- as great an instrument as euphonium is, you're limiting yourself musically by a huge amount if that's your only instrument. Some of the very best trombonists and bass trombonists in symphonies and opera orchestras were originally euphonium players. There are just so many more opportunities in a variety of styles of music that you get on trombone that you just can't have on euphonium. It's well worth your time.
    --
    Barry

  7. #7
    I have found that my recent experience playing euph has made me significantly stronger and steadier on trumpet. It probably has less to do with a mouthpiece and more to do with airflow. Is there a size between what you currently use and what would be considered a bass trombone mouthpiece? Perhaps compromise can be struck.
    Clayton M.
    Musician for Fun
    Euphonium Newbie - XO 1270S
    Trumpet Novice - XO 1602RS

  8. #8
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    California
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    I play on a 51D on euph, bach 1 1/2 g and doug yeo (around schilke 60 size) on bass trombone, and a bach 7c on tenor. I'm a professional euph player and a featured soloist in my band, and sometimes get paid to play trombones as well. If trumpet players can use different mouthpieces on the same instrument with success, then we can certainly use different mouthpieces for vastly different instruments. their embouchures are more sensitive to small changes and are less forgiving than ours anyway. It's very hard to play one instrument to the highest level of musicianship and nearly impossible to do two, but people like Ben Pierce can do it and blow most of us mere mortals out of the water on both. It was really cool seeing James Morrison live and hearing him talk about how when he was getting started he just took different instruments home from school and learnt them without anyone judging or telling him it was hard. He's now an absolutely stellar trumpet and trombone player.
    In my opinion, it's easier to get a characteristic sound using a characteristic mouthpiece like a 4-5g on euph and a 1 1/2g maybe 2 on bass bone. You've got a better chance confusing your embouchure by thinking about it too much compared to swapping mouthpieces. Music is all about sound not face tissue. If you continue refining your sound concept on both and put in work towards your ideal sound on both instruments you'll do fine in the long run. It'll be twice the work, but it'll be twice the reward.

    AlexS

  9. #9
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    Location
    Central North Carolina
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    As others have pretty much hinted/indicated at this point, I'd strongly suggest you get a 1.5G size mouthpiece (the Faxx one is fine and cheap) for the bass trombone and use that until you feel you know what you're doing and are comfortable with it -- and then think about moving (IF NECESSARY -- and it may very well not be a good idea). Do NOT decide to get the biggest mouthpiece you can find in order to "make the low range easier". This is a common mistake that tuba and bass trombone players often make.
    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)

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by ghmerrill View Post
    As others have pretty much hinted/indicated at this point, I'd strongly suggest you get a 1.5G size mouthpiece (the Faxx one is fine and cheap) for the bass trombone and use that until you feel you know what you're doing and are comfortable with it -- and then think about moving (IF NECESSARY -- and it may very well not be a good idea). Do NOT decide to get the biggest mouthpiece you can find in order to "make the low range easier". This is a common mistake that tuba and bass trombone players often make.
    Right. I suggested above that a 1.5 is too small for orchestral bass trombone playing, but it's just right for someone who's just getting started with orchestral bass trombone playing. (Of course, back in the day players like Ray Premru sounded fantastic with smaller mouthpieces! But the general trend towards heavier equipment and larger mouthpieces has moved past that approach) I think the Faxx 1.5G suggestion is great.
    --
    Barry

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