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Thread: Upgrade on Schilke 51D

  1. Upgrade on Schilke 51D

    So Iíve been using the 51D for a good while now, and itís quite nice and reliable. Just looking for something a step above it now, an upgrade of sorts if that makes sense. Recommendations are appreciated

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Well, depends what you want from your upgrade.
    I went from my Schilke 51D to the Wick 5AL for a couple of reasons:
    - More open throat to reduce resistance;
    - The rim shape felt better (this is purely subjective, I like flatter rims more than the rounded rims that Schilke have);
    - The rim diameter gave me more room to develop my embouchure, after a while the Schilke started to feel too small for me;
    - The sound of the Wicks (in general) is more open and easier to change, it's a bit more flexible for me.
    The Schilke is a great mouthpiece with a good and very focused sound, but I felt like I needed a mouthpiece that allowed me to push more air through and have a more open sound. I also wanted to work towards a 4-size, and the 5AL was a good step inbetween.
    Willson 2960TA Celebration
    Mouthpiece: Denis Wick 5AL
    1979 Boosey & Hawkes Sovereign (Globe Stamp)
    Mouthpiece: Denis Wick SM4
    1975 Besson New Standard
    Mouthpiece: Denis Wick 6BS

  3. #3
    A long time ago I switched from a 51D to a Wick SM3.5. I played the SM3.5 and the SM3U for quite a while and I think they are really good mouthpieces and might have that kind of "upgrade" feel for you. Any of the Steven Mead mouthpieces (Classic, Ultra, etc...) could be an option for you.

    There are lots of "high end", or at least more expensive, options. I love the sound of Mark Jenkins on his euphonium excerpts album and I'm pretty sure he is playing a Giddings mouthpiece (EXL I believe). I recently listened to a doctoral recital from one of his students and really enjoyed it, I think they were also playing on a Giddings.

    I currently play on a Doug Elliott set up, and there are lots of combinations you could try there for rim size, cup size, and backbore.

    Dave Werden has done a great job documenting his switch from 4AL to one of the David Childs models, so you could listen to those videos and see if that piece interests you.

  4. Does the SM3.5 fit the YEP-321? I should have specified in the post the model.

  5. #5
    My SM3.5 was large shank which doesn't fit the YEP-321. I think some of the SM mouthpieces are available in smaller shank sizes but off the top of my head in not sure which ones.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Anderson, Indiana
    This is always an interesting question. 1st off, I'm an amateur, so other more skilled musicians may have differing experiences. That said, I've found that I get the best sound by matching the mouthpiece to the instrument. I've used a Schilke 51D medium shank on my Besson New Standard for many years and have yet to found another mouthpiece that sounds as good. But a Schilke 51D large shank didn't produce the sound that I wanted on my Adams E2. I'm currently using a Wick 4AL on it. When you try out different mps enlist some musical friends to help give you feedback, since the sound you're hearing with the instrument next to your ear, may not be the sound that others hear when projected out into the room. Good luck.

  7. I think the SM series is great. I keep going back to a SM9B. Small shank.

    1935 Conn 64I Baritone
    Mouthpieces: Too many to list and growing

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny3143 View Post
    Does the SM3.5 fit the YEP-321? I should have specified in the post the model.
    The Wick 4AY was made for the YEP-321.
    Yamaha YEP 321 and Schilke 51D

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Lawrence, KS
    You really need to have a good concept of the "why" and "what" when you make a change like this. Take it from this rando on the internet who has bought way too many mouthpieces over the years: there's no magic bullet that replaces good mechanics and fundamentals. The temptation to experiment is quite the rabbit hole without a sense of the direction that you want to go.

    The Schilke 51D is the choice of quite a few professional euphonium players. It's not my personal choice - I currently play a Griego BB1 on a Shires Q41 and a Yamaha Neo - but it's not a piece that truly requires an "upgrade", so to speak. Plenty of folks that are more knowledgeable and talented than me make amazing music with one of those bad boys on their face.

    Now, I can easily point to things about the 51D (and the similar BB1 that I live with) that I like and dislike. The most succinct analogy I can think of is this: if a larger Denis Wick/Steven Mead variant is a broad flashlight, the 51D/BB1 type is more of a laser. If I'm playing by myself in a large hall, the SM4 I played for a long time (roughly 2007-2016) is more satisfying, but otherwise I like the way I sound (especially when playing with others in a wind band) better on a BB1.

    So, I think you need to pin down exactly what you want to change - be that a wholesale "something completely different" style, or just one of the many variants on the 51D itself. If you have a style or artist that you wish to emulate (all the better if that's a teacher you're working with!), that could be a starting point. Just know that any change will bring with it some elements that you will instantly enjoy as well as sacrifices that have to be made.
    Andrew Easley
    Principal Euphonium, 35th Infantry Division Band of the Kansas Army National Guard


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