If there is one accessory trumpet players are notorious for collecting, it has to be mouthpieces. Any trumpet player who has ever looked at the overwhelming selection of trumpet mouthpieces today knows how difficult it can be to pick the right one to add to their collection. In this guide, we will talk about some general mouthpiece rules to help you choose your next mouthpiece.
What are you playing on now?
It’s important to take a look at your current equipment if you are beginning to look at mouthpieces. What aspects of your mouthpiece need changing? Most players begin by seeking out mouthpieces that feel easier to play on, but are cautioned to make sure that sound is at the forefront. Ideally, the right mouthpiece will sound exactly how you want it to and feel easier to play.
General measurement rules:
Cup Diameter – Generally denoted by a number, many manufacturers use a system where larger numbers represent smaller diameters and vice versa. This is the most common and noticeable measurement when looking for a mouthpiece. Smaller diameters increase the upper range and endurance but decrease the overall resonance and volume of a sound. Larger mouthpieces produce great volume and resonance, but require more strength and tend to lose projection in parts of the trumpet range.
Cup Volume/Depth – Typically denoted by a letter or combination of letters that describes the shape, in most cases, C represents a medium cup depth, which is generally good for all styles of playing. Shallower cups tend to produce brighter sounds aiding the high register. Deeper cups produce darker sounds with a warm core.
Rim Contour – Mouthpieces range from flat to round in terms of contour. The flattest rims provide grip and comfort but reduce flexibility. The roundest rims allow for greater flexibility but reduce endurance.
Back Bore – Generally associated with the airflow resistance level of a mouthpiece, back bores can be made in many different shapes and sizes to create a specific tone color. Tight/small back bores tend to produce brilliant, focused sounds suited for the high register or when projection is necessary. If too small, however, the resulting sound is stuffy and lacks resonance. Large/open back bores offer darker, thicker sound with less resistance. If too large, the sound is harder to control, especially in terms of intonation.
It’s important to note that virtually every manufacturer uses a proprietary measurement system. While there are many useful mouthpiece comparison charts, we recommend getting familiar with each manufactures specific charts. This will give you a clearer picture of what specs are associated with each mouthpiece you look at. We’ve included links to mouthpiece spec sheets and guides from various makers below: