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davewerden

Review: Euphonium Mouthpieces from Austin Custom Brass

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REVIEW OF AUSTIN CUSTOM BRASS
EUPHONIUM MOUTHPIECES: #1, #2, and #3



An exciting new line of euphonium mouthpieces brought to us by the fine people at Austin Custom Brass in Kansas City.
Our friends at Austin Custom Brass have been busy! A while ago we learned they produced some nice euphoniums as part of their "Doubler" instrument line. Now we learned that ACB has produced an interesting line of euphonium mouthpieces!

There are three models, numbered simply 1, 2, and 3. However, what is not so simple is the way the numbers relate to each design. ACB says...

#1: This has turned out to be the most popular model. This one has been very popular with euphonium players and trombonists who double on euphonium. The sound stays rich and full but allows for nimble playing across the instrument. Ideal for soloists and ensemble players.

#2: The Euphonium 2 is easy to play with a large and loud sound while producing a rich tone (some have even described it as a "thick sound") in all registers.

#3: This model is a perfect pairing for the Adams E2. It feels quite open and larger than model 1 or 2. The 3 produces a very full sound - especially in the lower register. Bass trombonists who play euphonium, tuba players who play euphonium, and euphonium players who prefer a larger feeling mouthpiece with an open throat have gravitated to this model.

In some ways these measurements are like the Adams euphonium models: E1, E2, and E3. The performance characteristics ACB describes are a little like the descriptions of the E1/2/3 models.

You will find below a chart of measurements I made. I reported the inner diameter at the end of the shank, but as you can see, they are all the same. The weight is a ROUGH indication of the overall interior space, with a lower number indicating a larger interior (bigger cup, and/or throat, and/or backbore, but probably mostly affected by cup width and depth.

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ID:	10663Cup size is difficult to measure, so I used the slider from my old slide rule. It has a finely-notched scale and it is a nice width to give a feel for cup depth (it is wide enough to fit roughly midway between the throat entrance and the outermost part of the cup wall). The numbers I show below work in reverse - the further into the mouthpiece this goes, the smaller the number.


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This photo is an example from the #3 cup. However, I did not get a perfect perpendicular with my camera. When I took down the measurements visually, I tipped the mp until the far side of the rim lined up (became invisible) with the near side. But in the photo you can see a bit of the far side, which makes the number look higher than the 9.3 that I recorded. The photo is just to illustrated the home-brew method I used to compare the 3 cups.




ACB 1, cup 26mm, shank 10.2mm, cup factor 9.5, weight 183g; ACB 2, cup 26mm, shank 10.2mm, cup factor 9.35, weight 167g; ACB 3, cup 26mm, shank 10.2mm, cup factor 9.3, weight 175g


Here is ACB's diagram showing the contours of the 3 models:


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PLAY TEST

I can say that all 3 are very comfortable on the chops and play smoothly. The #3 feels like the rim is more round, although the diagram would say that #1 should be the same, but to me #1 felt less round. As I may have mentioned in some posts, a more rounded rim may feel a little larger (I suppose because the rim falls away more quickly, and you lips don't get to touch the actual cup diameter). Each of us has our own preference for such things. I will mention that a more rounded rim is supposed to give the player more flexibility.

Aside from that difference, the mouthpieces have a very fine feel to the fingers. The finish is smooth and bright, and the shanks all seat perfectly in my Adams receiver. I think the #1 feels the most like my Alliance DC4. None of them feel quite like the DC3, but I'm not sure if that is the rim I'm feeling or the way they accept air as I play.

I was asked about the differences between the ACB mouthpieces and my daily driver (Alliance DC3). For that reason, I did two versions of my "large room" comparison. One has only the ACB mouthpieces and the other has my DC3 mixed in as well. I recommend focusing on the ACB set only. If you are curious about the DC3, just note as you listen that the DC3 is a slightly larger mouthpiece and requires a bit more strength.

For more useless information, I'll mention that of the 3 ACBs, I "feel" the best on the #1, and I like the sound of the #3 the best. That's MY feeling, but of course with mouthpieces the deal is VERY personal and individual!

My conclusion for the euphonium world is that these new mouthpieces are a very good, competitive addition to the existing choices. They all three play very nicely and are comfortable on the chops. My video might help you decide which tonal characteristics are the most like your own concept, but you would naturally want to try one or more for yourself.

Many thanks to Austin Custom Brass for providing the mouthpieces that I tested. ACB has a page (from which I got some of the above) with good information about the mouthpieces:
https://www.austincustombrass.biz/au...m-mouthpieces/

My understanding is that the Adams Artist who consulted on this is European. I have permission to share that much, and I don't have any secret information beyond that.

TESTING VIDEOS

Small room test (low ceiling with acoustic tile). ACB 1, ACB 2, and ACB 3 back to back on 3 different excerpts:


https://youtu.be/TbEFZMZJUts




Large room test (church sanctuary). The 3 ACB mouthpieces on 4 excerpts in an A/B presentation.


https://youtu.be/blBTc7GArgE




Large room test (church sanctuary). My DC3 followed by the ACB 1, ACB 2, and ACB 3 on the same excerpts:

https://youtu.be/ADn_XDO1omQ

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Comments

  1. Pat's Avatar
    It takes a better ear than I've got to tell the difference in sound between the three. I suppose it would all come down to comfort and ease of playing for the individual driving the mouthpiece!
  2. davewerden's Avatar
    Of course the tone starts at the player's mouth, and is strongly set according to each player's concept. Then the mouthpiece enhances it one way or another and gives it more center.

    AND I think some of our impressions when listening will be affected by the player's (me in this case) dynamics, note shape, and vibrato.

    It is also hard for me to review the recording and hear the differences. The key is to listen at the "edges." Ignore the music in this case and try to hear small differences in the sound. Can you hear a bit more/less edge? Also: clarity of attacks may sound different; or the dynamic responsiveness; or the "smoothness" of the tone color; or the amount of "core" to the sound.

    For example, no matter what horn or mouthpiece I am playing on, I try to make "Brisk Young Sailor" sound identical each time I play it. I have a very strong concept of how the attacks, dynamics, slurs, etc. should sound and I can usually get most of that out of the bell on any given horn. The trick is to ignore my ideas and input, even though as a musician I try to make those things compelling!

    You might also hear differences better in the small room sample than the large room samples...or vice versa.
  3. guidocorona's Avatar
    Hi Dave, thank you for your excellent review and recorded samples. I have listened several times to the clips on computer speakers and on my Plantronic headset.
    Am starting to form some very approximate impressions of the tonal contrast between DC3 and the ACB MPs. Never-the-less, for completion's sake, it would be fab if you could also record a clip of DC3 + ACB 1, 2, 3 in your small room environment. This should help to corroborate or disprove my first impressions of their character.

    Best, Guido
    Updated 07-15-2023 at 11:10 AM by guidocorona