Advise please!

Advise please!

Advise please!    18:21 on Sunday, February 03, 2008          

(180 points)
Posted by Le_Tromboniste

I'm currently shopping for a new mouthpiece, I'm tired of my old Bach 6½AL : It doesn't help my high register, it ruins my articulations and attacks, and it gives me somewhat of a airy tone, so change is needed.

I tried a couple of mouthpieces at my local music store (Schilke 51D, Bach 3G to 5G, Wick 3AL to 6AL, Yamaha Alain Trudel Signature, Yamaha Canadian Brass Signature and Christian Lindberg 2CL). I liked 3 of them better than the others : the Schilke, Alain Trudel and Lindberg. I've tried each of them for a week (This week it's the Schilke's turn) and I have a problem choosing the right one.

The problem is, both the Schilke and the Lindberg improve my playing, but they help on different aspects, while the Alain Trudel is a bit of a compromise between the two of them.

The Lindberg mouthpiece gives me a more concentrated and brilliant tone, a bit more airy than the Schilke. It also improves my attacks and articulation a lot and my endurance is better than with my 6½AL.

The Schilke 51D gives me a dark tone, and surprisingly, it helps stabilizing my high register better thant the Limdberg. I think it's also a little bit better for my endurance. But it's not very good for my articulation, and my flexibility is not very good.

The Trudel is a bit between the tone is less brilliant than the Lindberg but not as dark as the Schilke. articulation is average. High register is average (both the Lindberg and Schilke are better). Flexibility is also average.

Something I remembered is that many people told me that with any equipment, my tone will come back to what is natural for me, so maybe I should not consider the quality of tone as a deciding factor.

What I'd like to do is try a 4CL (which should be better for high register than the 2CL) but they dont sell them at my local music store.

So what do you think? What should I do?

Re: Advise please!    23:13 on Tuesday, February 05, 2008          

(25 points)
Posted by puffycheeks

Two people in our studio use the 4CL. They both love it. It is a smaller mouthpiece though, like a 6 1/2. Christian Griego makes great custom mouthpieces (and works for Edwards) I've worked with him before. It'd be more expensive, but he could make you the exact m/p you want...

Re: Advise please!    14:12 on Wednesday, February 06, 2008          

(5 points)
Posted by MarkJames

everyone in my studio plays on a Schilke 51D. They are really GREAT mouthpieces. I play on a 52D, more for euphonium playing, but it suits me. as far as those flexibility and articulations problems go for your experience, that is just going to take you some time to get used to playing on them, and working out technical exercises and whatnot, eventually, you will reach your desired range and articulation.

Re: Advise please!    17:12 on Wednesday, February 06, 2008          

(820 points)
Posted by DanTheMaster

I like the Bach 5g.

Re: Advise please!    19:31 on Wednesday, February 06, 2008          

(180 points)
Posted by Le_Tromboniste

Well I did try the 5G (and the 4G) and and did not like them so much. They were not terrible (Wicks were the worst) but they were not the ones I liked the most. And most of the things I hate about my Bach 6½AL is also present with them, which makes me think maybe it's something in the general features of the Bachs that bothers me. For now I'm trying the 51D, which is very nice, but I'll have to retry the Lindberg one last time to compare and make a choice. I would have liked to try the 4CL and maybe 5CL, but I can't find any. The only way I could get one would be to order it, and then purchase would be final...

Re: Advise please!    19:41 on Wednesday, February 06, 2008          

(820 points)
Posted by DanTheMaster

To each his own, I guess. Just use whatever is comfortable for YOU.

Re: Advise please!    09:48 on Friday, February 08, 2008          

(1279 points)
Posted by JOhnlovemusic

Initially, I would suggest the compromise (the Yamaha Alain Trudel Signature), or if you have the money you can have someone make a mouthpiece with the Schilke 51D rim and the body of another.

Check out this website, there are lots of links. You can probably call any one of them and tell them what you are trying for and what you like. Then get a 3 part mouthpiece they think is closest to your wants. If you don’t like something instead of buying a complete mouthpiece you can change just the rim, etc.

When a friend of mine was looking to try new mouthpieces he sent an email to all his music friends with a list of the mouthpieces he wanted to try and asked if anyone knew people who had some he could try. Within 2 weeks he had about 20 mouthpieces borrowed from others. He ended up picking one he liked and instead of buying new, the person loaning it to him sold it for $5 because they were never going to use it again.

Re: Advise please!    15:45 on Friday, February 08, 2008          

(457 points)
Posted by Steve

everyone in my studio plays on a Schilke 51D.

I just have to wonder why this is the case? Is this something the teacher requires? I just have a hard time believing that this particular mouthpiece is the right mouthpiece for so many different players. I have heard of bone profs requiring everyone in their studio to play the same mouthpiece (and sometimes even the same horn). Is that what's going on here, or is it just a huge coincidence?

Re: Advise please!    16:18 on Saturday, February 09, 2008          

(180 points)
Posted by Le_Tromboniste

Thanks everyone for your advice on this.
After a week of playing with the Schilke, I found that my sound was not very well centered, and my attacks and articulations were poor, so I went back to the store today and tried the 3 mouthpieces again. I finally chose the Alain Trudel Signature, it was the best combination of quality of tone, high register, articulations and comfort.

Re: Advise please!    16:54 on Tuesday, February 12, 2008          

(820 points)
Posted by DanTheMaster

Oh yeah, I forgot. When I play jazz, I play with a King 12b.


Oh geez, I just realized that I miswrote this. It's a King 12c.

Re: Advise please!    23:04 on Tuesday, February 19, 2008          

(81 points)
Posted by euphobone

I have heard of a Saxophone Studio...(I thinks its at the University of Texas) in which the professor requires all his students to play on a Selmer Paris Mark VI and a C* Soloist Mouthpiece. I think the whole thing is rather's like all of a sudden you become a photo copy of your professor. Whatever happened to finding your own sound?!?!?

Re: Advise please!    02:05 on Friday, March 21, 2008          

(36 points)
Posted by Carter6

honestly just practise!!!!!!!
any mouthpiece you play on will bring back your original sound but, if you practise you can develop your sound and work on your range and articulation.


Re: Advise please!    06:17 on Friday, March 21, 2008          

(457 points)
Posted by Steve

You do have a point to an extent. However, I think all of us at some stage of our journey go through a period of equipment envy/anxiety. Yes, the player ultimately has the most control over the sound. But all other things being equal, it certainly does make things easier if the mouthpiece is the right size for you, and if the equipment is comfortable, and if it matches well with your horn.
Different aspects of the mouthpiece (rim size, contour, bowl shape, etc) will certainly lend themselves to different aspects of playing at the expense of others.
I just switched mouthpieces on my alto because I felt that I wasn't getting the sound I was looking for. Could I have stayed on my old piece and worked really hard to make it happen? Sure? But why? The mouthpiece I went to made it much easier to get the sound I want. It was just more suited for the job.
I won't begrudge young players the time to explore equipment. I'm sure you're probably not on the same mouthpiece you started on when you first started are you? If you found what works for you, great! Let them do the same.

Re: Advise please!    13:45 on Friday, March 21, 2008          

(1279 points)
Posted by JOhnlovemusic

Practice is important and necessary. No one will argue about that. If you don't practice then it doesn't matter what mouthpiece you have.

But the right equipment for the right job is also important. A good musician can produce almost what they want on any decent mouthpiece. But that is an almost. And the more experience you have, the better your hearing and your perceptions are the more difference you will hear, even when others don't.

The rim shape and contour alone does affect your playing stamina. And it also affects your tone, sound, and pitch (GR technologies has spent millions of dollars researching and proving this). Also, as Steve says, "why would you work harder than you need to?" There are lots of other things to pay attention to and work on. And as we change and develop our embouchre through practice we will have different mouthpiece needs.

I use a different mouthpiece for each of the different horns I play. Many of my musician friends do not. And every so often (every 5 years or so) I get anxious and start trying out different mouthpieces. I don't truely know why. I spend $300 -$500 in mouthpieces or mouthpiece work and I find myself always returning eventually to the same mouthpieces on the same instruments. I picked these mouthpieces in 1984 after playing for 10 years. It truely takes lots of playing to determine if that is the correct mouthpiece for you.

In the begining you should use basic common mouthpieces which a private teacher can guide you on. At the intermediate level you should still be using common pieces perhaps with common adjustments. Then as you progress you can make changes as needed. But you need to have a good foundation before you start changing mouthpieces. And you need to have a fallback mouthpiece you can retreat to if you don't like the new one you are trying. When you get into customizing you need to be playing every day and be solid in your embouchre, and I mean SOLID. You also need to be working with someone who understands the physics of your instrument.

A great mouthpiece maker will send you a piece that you almost like. Then through dialogue will make some changes and have you try it again. And then again. When I wear out a mouthpiece and have another one made it goes back on the lathe probably four or five times until it is correct again.

Long Story Short:
Your private teacher should be able to guide you in choice of mouthpieces. They should be standard when you are young and begining. Common adjustments when you are intermediate. If you do not have a private teacher you should invest your mouthpiece money in a teacher before you invest it in a mouthpiece. Also many teachers often have lots different mouthpieces you can try for free.

ONE EXCEPTION :: There are people with physical differences that do require a specialty mouthpiece from the begining. Again, a good private teacher will know how to work with this.

(sorry did not mean to babble so much)

Re: Advise please!    13:55 on Friday, March 21, 2008          

(218 points)
Posted by Erik

I've got to go with Steve here. Actually, I have to go a bit further.

Mouthpieces make a HUGE difference on the sound that your horn puts out. You want to find a piece that feels great for you, and compliments your playing style. As well as one that compliments and works well with your horn.

For example. I am a large guy, 6-1 210lbs, and I've been a cyclist for 20 or so years, so I am in great shape, and my lungs are ultra powerful. I put out a massive sound, so I need equipment that will not break up in the loud registers. I used several pieces in college, looking for the right fit. I started on a Bach 6 1/2, too small. Bach 5G. Still too small. Bach 4 was closer, but still just did not feel great. Then I took on an experiment, and tried out a Marcinkowicz George Roberts Custom bass piece, around a 1.5 or 1.75. Even on principle work, I liked the sound, but realistically, it was too big, and my endurance suffered. Switched to a Warburton 5, which felt good, much better than the Bachs, and gave me a little more control over my sound.

It still felt a bit small, and I felt like it was holding me back in the loud sections in orchestral playing. ESPECIALLY after I got my new Edwards. Better control, sound quality, and clarity in projection than the Bach, but still I needed something a bit larger. So I went with the Warburton Modular system, and used a 7ST with the ST backbore. A larger piece than the 5, and the ST backbore was more open, leading to better flow all over. I liked that a lot, but the rim just did not feel right. The rim and bowl just never really felt awesome.

So a friend of mine was testing Griego mouthpieces, and let me blow on one. In 1 minute I was in love. I went the next weekend to Peninsula Music in Palo Alto (I think, maybe Mountain View) and tested Griego sizes 3, 3M, and 3 1/2. The 3 1/2 felt good, very free in the upper register, but did feel a bit on the small and congested side. I played on the other two back and forth for about an hour at the shop, and the deciding factor came down to two pieces. I played the Prelude from Bach's Cello Suite No. 2 on each, and the 3 felt much better than the 3M. Then I went through my excerpts, and when I got to Mahler 3, the 3 just filled up the room with sound with hardly any effort, and could control my sound output without breaking up. And above all else, the sound was equally free in all registers, from the low C to the high G in the Prelude, as well as that pesky low A in Mahler 3.

Long story sort, we should not put too much faith in the equipment we play, in the end it really is up to us to put out that sound, but once you reach certain levels in your playing, you sometimes make physical or mental changes that require equipment changes. The mouthpiece is the microphone of the sound. (If you imagine it like I do, the sound/pitch starts from your lip buzz, carried forward by the moving air. The the mic/mouthpiece picks up the sound, and sends through to the amplifier/trombone, and finally out the loudspeaker/bell.) You want this mic to be something that you are happy with. Something that not only feels good and comfortable, but also puts out the color of sound that you want, and that is appropriate for the group you play with.

On a side note, I've often wondered what guys like Joe Alessi would sound like if he stuck a Bach 12C into his Edwards. It would probably still be amazing, but nothing like the Big Joe we have all gotten used to.


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