Choosing the Right Mouthpiece

Students are all looking for the right mouthpiece.

This is a difficult topic, because the answer is muddy at best. Finding the right mouthpiece is like finding the right equipment for all players: It depends on you. What works for me, may not work for you. What worked for me when I was 20 DOES NOT work for me now, etc.

When I was in high school and undergrad, I spent a lot of time researching equipment, ideas and methods for producing, and spoke with many many many mouthpiece makers, designers, trombone builders, and players. There are proven methods for why certain designs work better than others. However, at the end of the day, every player must try out equipment before knowing if it works.

Trying equipment is expensive: Unless you have friends with large stocks of mouthpieces, you probably will need to buy several mouthpieces at a time, try them back to back, perform on them, play them for quite some time before you know if you like one or not. This is an investment, and if done correctly and carefully, you’ll find something good.

Trying equipment takes time: Sometimes you play on equipment and you know if it is working or not. However, most of the time at a certain point, it seems hard to know. You’ll have to practice, perform, and hear yourself played back on equipment to really know what you think.

You may change your mind about equipment: At one point, I was totally dedicated to my Bach42 with duct tape wrapped around the throat of the bell for a “darker sound”. Yeah, not so much…

GET HELP: ask someone who knows more than you (I defer to a number of people anymore… the information out there is overwhelming and I need help sorting it out).
– Have friends listen and provide feedback
– Record and listen back
– Speak to reputable resources (even if they make equipment themselves, they can probably provide useful info)

– Larger equipment is not always the answer
– Stay within a budget, its not worth it if you can’t afford it
– Look for used items to try (even if they are close you will get the idea)
– Remember, you still need to practice (I’m heading out to do that now…)

These mouthpiece charts are helpful- from Hickey’s Music Center: