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The Mouthpiece Function
The mouthpiece function of all brass instruments is exactly the same. According to Bruce Chidester, a former professor of music at the University of Northern Iowa, a trumpet mouthpiece is there to help vibrate your upper and lower lip as air passes through them. The buzzing of the lips through the mouthpiece is how the trumpet makes its sounds.
Trumpet mouthpieces are usually made out of either silver and brass or similar metal and have small detailed differences that have great effects on the sound. Experienced trumpeters all have their personal preference. When just starting out, it is recommended to use the mouthpiece that came with the trumpet before upgrading as long as it is the mouthpiece that originally came with the instrument.
Parts of the Mouthpiece
When you are ready to upgrade you will have a plethora of choices for a new trumpet mouthpiece. There are four main parts of the trumpet mouthpiece that you’ll want to keep in mind when buying a new one: the rim, cup, throat, and backbore.
The shape of the mouthpiece contributes greatly to the sound that will be created and much of that is attributed to the cup depth and rim width. The rim, as you can imagine, is the outer rim of the trumpet mouthpiece where you place your lips. The rim width or diameter is the size of the opening of the mouthpiece. It is important to pick a rim that you are comfortable with the size, contour, and bite.
The cup is the opening to the throat and backbore of the trumpet mouthpiece which is the passageway throughout the rest of the mouthpiece that sends the vibration your lips make to the rest of the instrument. If you want your trumpet to make a mellower sound, you’ll want a mouthpiece with a deep cup or a V shape. For a brighter, sharper sound, you’ll want a mouthpiece with a shallower cup or a U shape.
The throat is the narrowest part of the trumpet mouthpiece and the backbore is the end of the throat just before it reaches the end of the mouthpiece. All the air you blow into the mouthpiece is funneled and compressed through the throat and backbore. The size and length of the throat impact the resistance you feel while playing. A long and narrow throat creates a lot of resistance which contributes to a better tone. A wide and short throat makes it easier to play louder and lower notes. Keep in mind a wider throat also requires more air from you.
Trumpet Mouthpiece Options and Reviews
There is an abundance of trumpet mouthpiece options out there for trumpeters. The top 3 mouthpiece options include the Bach 3C, Yamaha Signature Series Bobby Shew mouthpiece, and Paititi Bb 3C Gold Plated Rich Tone.
The Bach 3C is a favorite among intermediate to advanced brass players. This silver trumpet mouthpiece has a medium cup depth and a medium-wide rim shape. Of its average 4.9 star reviews, many say it is a great transition from the 7C or 5C trumpet mouthpieces many beginners start with.
“I started out on a 7c as most trumpet players do. The 3c was the first different sized mouthpiece I purchased. I don’t need to buy another one. It works great. It gives you wonderful tone as all Bach’s do. And the range on it is wonderful. My sound is nice, round, and full. I love it!”
The Yamaha Signature Series Bobby Shew trumpet mouthpiece is designed for lead brass players. It offers a high note clarity and rich tone for lead brass players looking to stand out from the rest of the band.
“When I was going mouthpiece shopping, I definitely did not intend to get this amazing mouthpiece! This mouthpiece produces a VERY brilliant and bright tone. This will also aid you in your high register. I was able to play my F scale up an octave! To warn you, this is a fairly shallow cup. If you play mainly 4th or 3rd trumpet, it isn’t the best mouthpiece for you. But, you can pop those really high notes like nobody’s business! And for it being a shallow cup, it has a very open and comfortable feel in the upper range and midrange. This mouthpiece is DEFINITELY worth it!!”
The Paititi Bb 3C Gold Plated Rich Tone Trumpet Mouthpiece is a great mouthpiece for a low price. It is low key, low maintenance, and compatible with the most popular trumpet manufacturers. Its medium cup depth offers a fuller sound similar to what the Bach 3C also offers.
“I know what you’re thinking. Surely this can’t be a good mouthpiece. After all, the Bach equivalent is around $130.00. Well, let me tell you these mouthpieces are incredible! I bought two of them out of sheer curiosity. I played a Bach megatone for all my legit playing throughout college. As someone who has a music degree, as well as taught a trumpet applied studio in grad school, let me tell you, these things are the real deal. I have this mouthpiece for about 2 days now, and I might be driving my wife crazy because I can’t put my Bb down. I actually think these play better than the Bach. Very free blowing and the sound quality is incredibly smooth. For $27 bucks, you could have to replace it every 3-4 years, and it would take you 12-16 years to equal the cost of one megatone. I’m sold. I’m playing this mouthpiece on a gig next weekend.”
While there are many more trumpet mouthpiece options on the market, I believe these three are a great place to start if it’s your first upgraded mouthpiece. The more you play and test different mouthpieces, the more you’ll understand your preference and be playing like Satchmo in no time.