When looking for a mouthpiece, there’s a lot of mouthpiece Jargon. This is because there are many variables that you will need to consider. This can often get confusing. The dimensions and shape of a mouthpiece have a direct impact on its feel, play-ability and sound. We hope to give you a brief overview of the various parts and Jargon used when talking about mouthpieces and their effects on the mouthpiece characteristics.

Mouthpiece Jargon

 

Cup Diameter (Internal Rim)

In general, a small cup diameter makes it easier to play high notes and can increase endurance, however volume is limited. A larger cup diameter on the other hand provides plenty of volume and easy low tones, but endurance may be sacrificed.

 

Rim Contour

Since this is the part of the mouthpiece that comes into contact with the lips, it is a critical parameter for playing comfort. Rim contour also has a large effect on attack and clarity. The majority of players prefer a relatively flat contour with the peak closer to the inner edge.

 

Rim Thickness

A thick rim provides greater lip contact area for easier high notes and extended endurance, but lip movement is limited, reducing tonal flexibility. A thin rim offers plenty of control over a wide range but can quickly cause fatigue. Most players opt for a medium thick rim.

 

Rim Bite

The bite of the rim (the sharpness of the inner rim edge) has a large influence on attack, clarity and pitch control. Sharp bites generally make it easier to produce accurate, stable pitch and a rich tone, however too sharp lip control can become limited, compromise comfort and reduce endurance. A soft bite on the other hand will be comfortable to play at the expense of a clean attack.

 

Cup Depth

Shallow cups produce a brighter tone and are easier to control in the higher register, at the expense of volume. Deep cups offer a dark tone, easy low notes and plenty of power.

Cup Silhouette

Cup shapes range from ‘U’ to ‘V’ shapes. The more ‘U’ shaped a cup is, the brighter the sound and the easier it is to play in the high register. As the cup approaches the ‘V’ shape, the sound becomes darker and the lower register easier to play.

 

Throat Diameter

The throat is the narrowest portion of the mouthpiece bore, and therefore the point of highest sound pressure. The diameter and length of this part of the mouthpiece has a major influence on playing resistance, which contributes to fast response, brilliant tone and enhanced playability in the high register. A wide, short throat is more playable in the low register and is capable of producing great volume – but requires a lot of air and can cause fatigue.

 

Backbore

The backbore is the inner section of the mouthpiece that follows the throat. It has a complex flare that can significantly affect high-register pitch. The diameter of the backbore also influences tibre and resistance. A narrow backbore results in increased resistance, brighter tone and easier playing in the higher register. A larger backbore decreases resistance for darker tone and easier playing in the lower range.

 

Shank

The shank is the outside dimensions of the mouthpiece receiver and is of prime importance in determining if a mouthpiece fits into your instrument. In particular small bore trombones and baritones require a small shank mouthpiece, whereas large bore trombones and euphoniums require a large shank mouthpiece.

See our range of Brass Mouthpieces here.

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Jack is the Sales & Marketing Manager at Normans Musical Instruments and has been in this post since September 2012 after Graduating from University with a degree in Music. Jack's expertise is in guitars, technology and live sound although he does have a very well rounded knowledge of all aspects of Music. href="http://plus.google.com/111953589800702604773/about">Add Jack to your Circles on Google+

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Comments

  • phil green 07/11/2014 at 3:42 pm

    Hello, I need a new trumpet mouthpiece. I have played for some years on Bach 1 1/4 C mouthpiece, which produces a good rich sound I like, particular in the lower register. But is a little hard work for ‘above top C’ playing. Would it be worth switching (Maybe a 1 1/2 C. Is there any significant difference?) or would you recommend sticking with what I know? (I play Yamaha 6335 Bb and 6445 C trumpets)Thanks, Phil

    Reply
    • GeorgiaM 10/11/2014 at 11:01 am

      Hi Phil, Thank you for your comment. Jonty our brass specialist would be happy to help you with this. It might be easier via email, contact sales@normans.co.uk and ask for Jonty.

      Reply