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 How To Choose The Right Mouthpiece

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, alike.

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 smaller diameter.

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 industry.

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, effort.

Again, some experimentation is needed by each player, if they seek to optimize their playing.

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 sound.

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.


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


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