How To Choose The Right Mouthpiece
By Terry Warburton
While there is a lot of information out there concerning trumpet mouthpieces,
I find that the general level of knowledge about mouthpieces to be very low.
Hopefully the following will be of assistance to both beginners and pros,
There are several parts to a brass mouthpiece which when put together properly,
will avail each player the best mechanical advantage over the trumpet.
Just as each player is different, so should their choice in mouthpieces be.
One size does NOT fit all.
What follows is a breakdown of the major components of a mouthpiece and how
they affect the playing characteristics, and the player.
The Rim: Even within the topic of the rim there are several considerations
to take into account. One of the most critical and least understood, in my
opinion, is the inside diameter of the rim. Playing on a very large diameter,
while producing a big tone, will always be more tiring than playing on a
While many teachers promote the playing of ever larger diameters as a player
matures, I believe this practice to be incorrect. The right thing to do is
to find and choose the "optimum" diameter, for your facial and dental structure.
It is this diameter that will prove to be the most efficient as time goes
on. The next part of the rim to consider is the "bite" or "inner edge". The
best attacks will be had with a sharp inner bite, while the most comfort
will be with a softer bite. Your lips and your playing demands will decide
which is best for you. The width of the rim is also to be considered. A thin
rim will give the best flexibility, but endurance will suffer. A wide rim,
while comfortable, initially will often shut off circulation of the blood
to the lip muscles. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, a standard
rim should be chosen as the best choice.
The Cup: There are thousands of cup shapes to choose from in the trumpet
From ridiculously shallow to stupidly deep, some company is making them.
As a general rule, the shallower cup designs will be a better choice to play
the upper register with.
The deeper models will of course be better suited to the playing of concert
band or symphonic music. That said, it should be noted that the relationship
of the backbore comes into play here. Combining a shallow piece with a large
backbore will, for a lot of players, give both a good high register and a
tone quality to please an orchestra conductor. Take advantage of a system
where these choices can be tried out.
The Bore: The bore is the smallest part of the mouthpiece, yet can
have the largest effect on the playing characteristics. The "standard" size
is a #27 , or .144" ( this is a number drill size where #1 is the largest
and #60 the smallest ). The reason this has been the standard size is that
through the years, it has been proven to be the most efficient with the greatest
number of players.
Does this mean it is right? Not hardly! As each person's ability to produce
the necessary air pressure differs, so too does the comfort of blowing against
a certain resistance. I was never happy as a player till I put a #25 reamer
into my piece. It produced the same volume of sound with less, not more,
Again, some experimentation is needed by each player, if they seek to optimize
The Backbore: Probably the least understood component of a mouthpiece
is the backbore. Many different shapes and sizes are available today, that
were not available to players of yesteryear. A tight backbore is going to
restrict the sound, but when pushed with a lot of air will give a very bright
A very large backbore will produce a large volume of sound but take a lot
of air. So much so, it will tire out most players if it is too large.
While there are other finer points of mouthpieces, I hope this has helped
you get a basic grasp of their importance.
ABOUT TERRY WARBURTON -
Born in 1950, Terry started trumpet playing at age 15. At 19, he started
working for a music store in his hometown of Toronto. In 1974, he started
manufacturing trumpet mouthpieces. In 1979 he ran the Giardinelli mouthpiece
shop in New York.
In 1980 he moved to Florida, where he resides today. He is currently building
a factory in Belize, Central America. Where he intends to re-locate and start
manufacturing trumpets. More info can be found at his web-site at
USA or Canada: (800) 638-1950
Local and Worldwide: (407) 366-1991