De-Mystify Mouthpiece Size and Function: A Free Guide

One ‘piece to rule them all!


The One Ring–I Mean Mouthpiece


Nothing is more important than the right mouthpiece. What “right” means depends on a lot of things: some players have a bevvy of ‘pieces to choose from, others use only one. Are you a beginner? Do you want a fat tone or lots of range? No mouthpiece is a fix-all or some magical device like the One Ring from Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. A mouthpiece won’t give you special musical powers, but it can help. If you’re looking to improve you tone, do long tones and really really listen; if you want more range, focus on your air.

That being said, it’s a good idea to have the right ‘piece, too. This is both easier and harder than it sounds. How deep down the rabbit hole do you want to go? The easy way is to sit down with a bunch of mouthpieces and try them all. Listen carefully (record it if you really want a good assessment), and get a feel for them. Choose the one that feels/plays the best. That’s the easy way, but it might be a challenge to get a music store owner to allow you to try all the mouthpieces. Some will let you try a few. Some won’t.

But if you want to go deeper, learn more about mouthpieces and how they can help or hinder your playing, you’ll need to know what the parts of the ‘piece are and what they do. Here’s a quick start:


Scheme of trumpet mouthpiece in crossection: I...
(1) Inner rim diameter. (2) Rim width. (3) Rim contour. (4) Rim Edge. (5) Cup. (6) Throat. (7) Backbore. (8) Shank (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The link to the ‘piece above will show you a gold Bach 1.5 c. So, what does that “C” mean? And what does the number mean? It can be confusing to understand everything about mouthpieces. One of the chapters in Sound the Trumpet: How to Blow Your Own Horn helps demystify the function of each of the parts of the mouthpiece and help you understand the sizing numbers and letters. This info so important to know that I’m giving away that part of the book for free right here. Find the link under the “Free Chapters” heading about halfway down this page, at the end of the list.  Hope you find it useful!


Back-To-School Specials On All Formats:

The Practice of PracticeBasic Music Theory: How to Read, Write, and Understand Written Music, by Jonathan HarnumSound the Trumpet: How to Blow Your Own Horn




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