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Thread: The Mouthpiece size arms race

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Netherlands
    Posts
    196
    One of my fellow euph players in one of my bands actually went down in size from a 3AL to a 4AL, mostly because it was just that much easier to play on. With the 3AL he had this HUGE, loud sound that would carry over literally everything, but what good does that if you struggle with other things?

    I myself am constantly switching between an SM4 and a 5AL, depending on how in shape I am. If I haven't played for a while - like I haven't played for almost 2 months now, oops - I will play on my 5AL. It's trusty, it's secure, still has that deep cup and large bore, but it's not AS big as an SM4, so I can build up my strength again. I do actually prefer the SM4 in terms of feel, sound and playing, but if I'm out of shape and can't handle it, why even force myself to, right?
    Euphoniums
    Willson 2960TA Celebration
    Mouthpiece: Denis Wick 5AL
    1979 Boosey & Hawkes Sovereign (Globe Stamp)
    Mouthpiece: Denis Wick SM4
    Baritone
    1975 Besson New Standard
    Mouthpiece: Denis Wick 6BS

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Varese,Italy
    Posts
    181
    Over the years I have moved on to using larger and larger mouthpieces, going from the 24,7mm of the Bach 7C when I started with the euphonium, to the current 27,7/27mm of the K&G 1D and 3D, which is the size that best suits me on the 2052 Besson Prestige. I wanted to go up the largest size of the K&G mouthpieces, the 0D, 28,5mm, but I was no able to focus the sound and was lacking in the upper register. On the trombone and baritone, however, going beyond 26mm (K&G4C) is, for me, counterproductive and, comparing it with the most trombone and baritone players, it is already a large size. I have found that a larger size of the rim allows the vibration of a larger portion of the lips and allows me a better sound quality which, however, requires a strong and trained lip musculature.
    Besson Prestige 2052,3D K&G mouthpiece;JP373 baritone,T4C K&G mouthpiece;Bach 42GO trombone,T4C K&G mouthpiece

  3. #13
    Certainly an individualís musculature has something to do with this. Iím currently playing a K&G 3.5D (feels like a wick 4 size) after having played a Doug elliott 106 for most of the last year, and a K&G 3D for a year before that.

    Iím finding that the slightly smaller diameter allows me to focus the sound in a characteristic way, and Iím not working so hard.

    Quote Originally Posted by franz View Post
    Over the years I have moved on to using larger and larger mouthpieces, going from the 24,7mm of the Bach 7C when I started with the euphonium, to the current 27,7/27mm of the K&G 1D and 3D, which is the size that best suits me on the 2052 Besson Prestige. I wanted to go up the largest size of the K&G mouthpieces, the 0D, 28,5mm, but I was no able to focus the sound and was lacking in the upper register. On the trombone and baritone, however, going beyond 26mm (K&G4C) is, for me, counterproductive and, comparing it with the most trombone and baritone players, it is already a large size. I have found that a larger size of the rim allows the vibration of a larger portion of the lips and allows me a better sound quality which, however, requires a strong and trained lip musculature.
    Mike Taylor

    Illinois Brass Band
    Fox Valley Brass Band

  4. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by miketeachesclass View Post
    Certainly an individualís musculature has something to do with this. Iím currently playing a K&G 3.5D (feels like a wick 4 size) after having played a Doug elliott 106 for most of the last year, and a K&G 3D for a year before that.

    Iím finding that the slightly smaller diameter allows me to focus the sound in a characteristic way, and Iím not working so hard.
    For me, it's the opposite. My jaw, teeth and lips worth best together when playing a mouthpiece of the Wick 3 diameter. I started small, as did most everybody of my age (71), and progressed from 6 1/2 AL < Shilke 52E2 < 51D < SM4 < SM3/SM3U - Heritage 3AL - Alliance DC2 - Alliance E2. Along the way I tried a lot of others, but these are the ones I stuck with and played seriously. I can't make anything narrower work with my chops, because when they're fully warmed up and I'm playing strong my high range suffers with anything narrower than the Wick 3 size. Anything wider and my high range suffers again. So the wick 3 size is the goldilocks size for me.

    After a Covid year of light playing, I'm working to build my high chops and endurance back, as the brass choir I'm in hopes to restart in May or June. I'm using the Alliance E2 (which is Wick 3 size), because for a while now I just like my sound the best on that MP. My secondary choice would probably be the original SM3, a great MP unfortunately eclipsed by a famous player's penchant for changing every few years and marketing against the last version.

    Depth, cup style and rim design are important too. I've found some MPs to be too shallow, like the Demondrae Thurman Warburton. I don't like pure funnel designs like the Lehman or Gail Robertson Warburton. I could have happily lived with the SM3U, but it's rim got too uncomfortable on long playing sessions. I find the Alliance E2 very much like an improved SM3U. The most unplayable MP for me was the Bowman BB1, but many pinnacle players use that piece.

    As a guy who posted on the trombone forum used to write, "try everything and use what works."
    Last edited by JTJ; 04-18-2021 at 11:42 AM.

  5. #15
    Hmm, to reply to myself, I left out bore size. Too open and I start to sound tubaish; too closed, too tromboney. But everyone is different.

  6. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by JTJ View Post
    For me, it's the opposite. My jaw, teeth and lips worth best together when playing a mouthpiece of the Wick 3 diameter. I started small, as did most everybody of my age (71), and progressed from 6 1/2 AL < Shilke 52E2 < 51D < SM4 < SM3/SM3U - Heritage 3AL - Alliance DC2 - Alliance E2. Along the way I tried a lot of others, but these are the ones I stuck with and played seriously. I can't make anything narrower work with my chops, because when they're fully warmed up and I'm playing strong my high range suffers with anything narrower than the Wick 3 size. Anything wider and my high range suffers again. So the wick 3 size is the goldilocks size for me.
    Absolutely - again, physiology makes a difference.

    I played a BB1 for a long time, but looking back, it wasn't a good piece for me. I just didn't know enough to figure that out.

    The Alliance E2 does feel more comfortable to me than the SM3U. I played the original SM3 for quite a while also, but something about the articulation on that piece didn't work well for me.


    Quote Originally Posted by JTJ View Post
    As a guy who posted on the trombone forum used to write, "try everything and use what works."
    I've definitely subscribed to this!
    Mike Taylor

    Illinois Brass Band
    Fox Valley Brass Band

  7. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by notaverygoodname View Post
    Unprofessional and Unpopular Opinion: 24mm is big enough.

    There's a lot to say about cup volume, and I consider it the most important thing. Unfortunately, cup diameter does play a part. It's practically impossible to prove, but if you monkey around with enough instruments and mouthpieces, you can definitely feel the difference in how the instrument is reacting to the cup diameter. I tinkered with that whole idea of using the same cup diameter on everything and found out right quick that 24mm on a Euphonium does not feel like 24mm on a Bass Trumpet. Pretty expensive mistake, but YOLO.

    As far as buckets and toilet bowls, yeah it works. A small enough Tuba mouthpiece is viable on a proper Euphonium, and it's hard as heck to play. Why bother? Even if I literally never play in another ensemble for the rest of my life, I want 8 partials.

    My current go-to is a custom JK EU 12B. 24mm, ~5G depth. Big dark sound, but more focused than what I get from anything else on British Euph. Easy to play.
    Unpopular? The word you're looking for is "wrong".

    24mm is small even for a baritone horn let alone a euphonium. There is a sweet spot that allows projection with a full sound that doesn't distort at the daft dynamics composers seem to like writing for euphonium. That is, looking at catalogues from numerous manufacturers, 25.6mm-26.4mm.

    As for eight partials - C, C, G, C, E, G, Bb, C that seems eminently sensible although modern concertos demand twelve or thirteen which is frankly excessive.

    If Lyndon Baglin, Stephen Lord, Morgan Griffiths, Bob Childs, Graham McEvoy et al played like they did on the hooters they did making the sound they did on 4ALs then there's something in that combination that just works (caveat - for brass bands, there may be something different required when having to tolerate french horns or anaemic woodwind bleating).
    1983 Boosey & Hawkes Globe Sovereign
    Vincent Bach 4GB

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Netherlands
    Posts
    196
    Agreed. 24mm diameter is unecessarily torturing yourself. As someome that started out on a Besson 5 mouthpiece, which is basically a Bach 7C with a insanely wide rim, until I was 18; that's what it's good for: a *starter's* mouthpiece. If I were to play a mpc with that size or smaller, my embouchure would literally start cramping up after a couple of minutes. There is a reason why the vast majority of people play on 25.4-26.4mm rims.

  9. #19
    There's a video of Doug Elliott playing trombone with a 12C and his 104 rim set up. He sounds better with the 104, but not as much as you would think.

    Mike

  10. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Magikarp View Post
    Unpopular? The word you're looking for is "wrong".

    24mm is small even for a baritone horn let alone a euphonium. There is a sweet spot that allows projection with a full sound that doesn't distort at the daft dynamics composers seem to like writing for euphonium. That is, looking at catalogues from numerous manufacturers, 25.6mm-26.4mm.
    Players used smaller mouthpieces than 25.5mm for decades. The Conn 3A is 22.5mm. The Besson 10 is 24.4mm (and is super deep). I'm quite satisfied with my sound on the JK EU12B and, for better or worse, that's all that matters. Don't really have anyone else to impress. Honestly, it's the only mouthpiece that has ever gotten me to enjoy the British Euphonium...

    Quote Originally Posted by TheJH View Post
    Agreed. 24mm diameter is unecessarily torturing yourself. As someome that started out on a Besson 5 mouthpiece, which is basically a Bach 7C with a insanely wide rim, until I was 18; that's what it's good for: a *starter's* mouthpiece. If I were to play a mpc with that size or smaller, my embouchure would literally start cramping up after a couple of minutes. There is a reason why the vast majority of people play on 25.4-26.4mm rims.
    I moved to smaller mouthpieces for a reason. I didn't like my sound at 25mm+, and I didn't like how it felt to play. Could I play something bigger? Yeah, I guess. Not going to.


    Now, having said all that, would I go smaller than 24mm on a Euphonium? Absolutely not. And anything shallower than a Schilke 44E4 at this diameter is...unpleasant.


    Somewhat off-topic: The fact that Baritone Horns have managed to get away with the mouthpiece sizes that they have is actually a really impressive feat of engineering. The really dirt old mouthpieces are practically microscopic compared anything modern, and the horns let you know when you tamper with them. My Buescher Bb Tenor's stock mouthpiece (#20) is something like 21mm x 24.5mm. Now that's torture.
    Hobbyist. Collector. Oval rotary guy. Unpaid shill for Josef Klier mouthpieces.

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