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The Trombone ForumHorns, Gear, and EquipmentMouthpieces(Moderators: BGuttman, Doug Elliott) Started on Conn 12C small shank, need advice for choosing new moutpiece
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The Dutch Guy
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« on: Jun 28, 2017, 08:02AM »

So, I started playing the trombone about half a year ago (playing about an hour nearly every day), after playing the trumpet for over 15 years. I got a trombone and mouthpiece through a friend of mine, and have been playing on that ever since. That's a Courtois 150 with a small shank Conn 12C. I didn't really try out other mouthpieces, I just got that one sort of with the horn.

I'm probably going to try some mouthpieces soon, but I'd like to have some idea of what I can expect and what to look for.

About my playing: I can play the high C (4th ledger) on it fairly well at home (when practicing the blue bells of scotland :) ) but it doesn't sound that great, but especially after longer playing sessions, I start to get difficulties on hitting even high Fs (2nd ledger) if i'm playing around that height for too long.

The low end: Pedals are a no-go, and the notes below the staff are difficult to impossible if I've played too high above the staff for some time already. During warming up and the first 15 mins I can hit the low F without issues, but after going through the blue bells 3x, I can't hit it anymore.
Articulation of low notes is more difficult than high notes, but I guess that's normal.

What I'd be looking for in sound: faster/sharper articulation (if that makes sense? not sure what the right word is) of the notes, bit easier higher and lower register
What I usually play: 1st trombone parts, usually not higher than F/G, and very rarely up to Bb. Usually not lower than the Bb in the staff, but plenty of C's just above that. Only rarely as low as the low F. Most of the playing is above or in the top of the staff though.

So, I'm wondering, are there aany general suggestions that can help me find a better fitting piece?
Should I try bigger or smaller diameter or cup size? Are there any common pieces that may already probably be better than the 12C ?

I've been looking at Denis Wick mouthpieces. I have one of those on my flugel as well, and I like them a lot. Any ones in particular I should try?
And does anyone know what exactly the difference is between the regular pieces and their 'heritage' line?

Thanks! I hope that I can educate myself a bit with your help before going to the store. That should make finding a better mouthpiece a bit easier.
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harrison.t.reed
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« Reply #1 on: Jun 28, 2017, 08:08AM »

I would have started you out on a 6 1/2 AL
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The Dutch Guy
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« Reply #2 on: Jun 28, 2017, 08:17AM »

Thanks Harrison.
I'm quite unfamiliar with mouthpiece sizes.
What would the 6 1/2 AL do exacly, when compared to a 12C? (and what do those letters mean?)

I added the following to the original text:
What I usually play: 1st trombone parts, usually not higher than F/G, and very rarely up to Bb. Usually not lower than the Bb in the staff, but plenty of C's just above that. Only rarely as low as the low F. Most of the playing is above or in the top of the staff though.
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BGuttman
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« Reply #3 on: Jun 28, 2017, 09:06AM »

Bach mouthpieces have nominal sizes where the lower the number the larger the diameter.  The letter goes from A to E on small shank mouthpieces where A is the deepest cup and E the shallowest (I believe this system is also on the trumpet mouthpieces).  The 6 1/2 mouthpieces don't fit this depth standard, though.

It used to be the standard small shank mouthpiece was a 12C, but tastes have changed and we like a fuller sounding instrument.  The next popular size was 7C which is about the same depth but a larger rim.  6 1/2 AL was originally a symphonic sized mouthpiece, but it has become the de-facto standard now.  There are equivalents in most of the major makers.

If you go to a 7C or 6 1/2 AL, your high range will take a temporary setback but you can regain it by aggressive rangebuilding exercises.  You will find that the lower range is much easier and sounds better.

Given what you posted, I'm not sure a mouthpiece change is going to be a "magic bullet".  You need to work on consistent embouchure to get from low E  to high F (2 ledgers up) and beyond.  I also think you may not be ready to play Blue Bells of Scotland (or I'm Getting Sentimental Over You) quite yet.  I must confess I kept trying to play them when I wasn't ready as well.  And if I'd get an embouchure set that let me play high, I couldn't play lower notes either.

Do you have a teacher or coach you can ask?  Somebody who can listen to you will be much better able to tell if a mouthpiece change is called for than somebody 4000 kilometers away typing into a computer screen.
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Bruce Guttman
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« Reply #4 on: Jun 28, 2017, 09:15AM »

I'm in exactly the same position as you. I'm a trumpet/cornet/flugel player who has been playing trombone now for 6 months.  I started on a DW 12C with a small bore Getzen(I also use Wicks on cornet and flugel), but have been playing a DW 6Bs now for a couple of weeks. The Wick comparison chart puts it at the equivalent of a VB 61/2AL.  I notice a slightly more openness in my sound, and there hasn't been any reduction in my range (pedal Bb to high Bb). It doesn't require the pin-point slotting of the 12C, which I like because I can bend the notes to centre and develop the best sounding tone I can get, but without losing intonation. I will be staying with the 6Bs for awhile and see (hear) where it goes.

K22
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The Dutch Guy
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« Reply #5 on: Jun 29, 2017, 03:19AM »

@ BGuttman:
Obviously I need to practice practice practice :)
I was just hoping that there was a logical mouthpiece to trade my more-or-less random mouthpiece that I got with the horn for.
Not that it isn't a good mouthpiece, but more because there probably is one that is better for developing tone / range / embouchure etc. From these posts, I'd guess that would be the 6 1/2?

And about the blue bells: I've got the whole piece memorized already. I've been practicing that piece every day for a few weeks already. I can't play it at the speed of most youtube recording yet, but I'll get there eventually.

On trumpet, I used the following 'trick'. Because I play both the trumpet and flugelhorn, I need to practice both. In one of my bands, the trumpet parts are quite high; most notes above the staff, with plenty of high C+ notes in nearly every piece. On the day before each rehearsal or gig, I only practice on my flugelhorn With a deep DW3FL mouthpiece on it. Then, the next day, I have no problem playing al the high notes on my 3C trumpet mouthpiece.

I could do the same with the trombone. Practice on a 6 1/2, play rehearsals on it, and when I need the extra range and endurance for a gig, switch to the 12C. Although hopefully I can get to the point that I don't need to do that anymore.
I just want to make sure I learn to play on a 'proper' mouthpiece. Like every trumpet comes with a 7C, but I'd recommend switching to a 3C as soon as possible.

@Ketch22:
Did you try out any of the other DW mouthpieces? I'm considering getting the 6 1/2 DW equivalent too, but am not sure which variant exactly. They have this 'heritage' line of mouthpieces that are currently on sale. They look amazing. Just they don't have a specific 6 1/2 piece. They have a 6 'AL' 'BL' and 'BS'. From what I can see, the L and S mean large and small shank. That would mean only the BS can fit my trombone. They don't even have a 12C, although their 9 is apparently for alto trombone.

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« Reply #6 on: Jun 29, 2017, 04:42AM »

@ BGuttman:
Obviously I need to practice practice practice :)
I was just hoping that there was a logical mouthpiece to trade my more-or-less random mouthpiece that I got with the horn for.
Not that it isn't a good mouthpiece, but more because there probably is one that is better for developing tone / range / embouchure etc. From these posts, I'd guess that would be the 6 1/2?

And about the blue bells: I've got the whole piece memorized already. I've been practicing that piece every day for a few weeks already. I can't play it at the speed of most youtube recording yet, but I'll get there eventually.

On trumpet, I used the following 'trick'. Because I play both the trumpet and flugelhorn, I need to practice both. In one of my bands, the trumpet parts are quite high; most notes above the staff, with plenty of high C+ notes in nearly every piece. On the day before each rehearsal or gig, I only practice on my flugelhorn With a deep DW3FL mouthpiece on it. Then, the next day, I have no problem playing al the high notes on my 3C trumpet mouthpiece.

I could do the same with the trombone. Practice on a 6 1/2, play rehearsals on it, and when I need the extra range and endurance for a gig, switch to the 12C.
Although hopefully I can get to the point that I don't need to do that anymore.
I just want to make sure I learn to play on a 'proper' mouthpiece. Like every trumpet comes with a 7C, but I'd recommend switching to a 3C as soon as possible.

@Ketch22:
Did you try out any of the other DW mouthpieces? I'm considering getting the 6 1/2 DW equivalent too, but am not sure which variant exactly. They have this 'heritage' line of mouthpieces that are currently on sale. They look amazing. Just they don't have a specific 6 1/2 piece. They have a 6 'AL' 'BL' and 'BS'. From what I can see, the L and S mean large and small shank. That would mean only the BS can fit my trombone. They don't even have a 12C, although their 9 is apparently for alto trombone.


That's an interesting albeit controversial concept. A danger I see is a tendency to over-shoot higher notes on a smaller mpc. That could be most troublesome during a performance!

...Geezer
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BGuttman
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« Reply #7 on: Jun 29, 2017, 05:23AM »

You can only use Wick BS mouthpieces on a small shank trombone.  I play a 4BS on my small shank instruments, although I usually use a Bach 4C when I play jazz (it's a little shallower).

The Wick 6BS is a good mouthpiece to try if you like the rim shape.

Note that the Wick 10CS is similar in size to a Bach 12.  And I know a very fine jazz player who uses one.

There are a variety of Bach 6 1/2 mouthpieces.  You may prefer a 6 1/2 A or 6 1/2 AM, but I doubt you will see the differences at this point in your development.

There are other choices as well.  Schilke 50 and Yamaha 48 are the same size, and I'm sure there is a Klier as well (Klier mouthpieces aren't common in the US and I'm not familiar with the sizes).

Good luck.
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The Dutch Guy
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« Reply #8 on: Jul 03, 2017, 12:47AM »

Thanks BGuttman,

I took a Yamaha 48 home with me from a colleage to try out, and played on it during the rehearsal as well. As you said as well, the comparison chart places is around a 6 1/2.
My observations: Up to a Bb just above the staff, I seem to have a much better tone, and much more power with the 48. Above the C/D, especially after a while of playing above the staff my notes become flat and fuzzy.
I do like the bigger rim size, and if feels uncomfortable to switch back to the 12C after a few minutes on the 48.
I guess I'll need to practice some more on the 48 to see if it is what I'm looking for.
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wgwbassbone
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« Reply #9 on: Jul 03, 2017, 05:06AM »

Yes. More practice time. Check back in a few months.
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« Reply #10 on: Jul 03, 2017, 10:25AM »

I would have started you out on a 6 1/2 AL

Me too.

S.
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« Reply #11 on: Jul 04, 2017, 01:31AM »

A 12C mouthpiece is great for someone wanting fast/sharp articulation while mostly playing above the staff on a small horn. Other C cups with slightly larger rims are also good for this situation. I am less enthusiastic about the large 6 1/2 AL on small horns. If someone wants the deep sound produced by the 6 1/2 AL on a continued basis, they would probably be more satisfied with a larger horn.
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« Reply #12 on: Jul 04, 2017, 06:59AM »

A 12C mouthpiece is great for someone wanting fast/sharp articulation while mostly playing above the staff on a small horn. Other C cups with slightly larger rims are also good for this situation. I am less enthusiastic about the large 6 1/2 AL on small horns. If someone wants the deep sound produced by the 6 1/2 AL on a continued basis, they would probably be more satisfied with a larger horn.

In my opinion (having been a student who's switched back a forth from 12C to 48 before settling on the 48) the 12C is great for playing laser beam, stuff from F in the staff on up, but for less-specialized applications the 48 wins out.
I struggle to get a big sound or rich warm tone on that mouthpiece. At the expense of a couple high notes and needing to work a little harder, the 48 delivers, for my playing, the sound/feel of a small bore with a mouthpiece that provides for much better tone quality.
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« Reply #13 on: Jul 04, 2017, 08:58AM »

A 12C mouthpiece is great for someone wanting fast/sharp articulation while mostly playing above the staff on a small horn. Other C cups with slightly larger rims are also good for this situation. I am less enthusiastic about the large 6 1/2 AL on small horns. If someone wants the deep sound produced by the 6 1/2 AL on a continued basis, they would probably be more satisfied with a larger horn.

I am generally in agreement here, except for one aspect. Young players usually have only one horn...and would likely be confused by learning how to play two horns initially...yet they are asked to play parts that would be better on smaller equipment and other parts that would be better on larger equipment. The 6.5 AL and 6.5A m'pces are great compromises on a .500 or .508 bore instrument. There's plenty of time later on to get more focused, but...except for really high level undergraduate work in fine conservatories...a 6-ish m'pce can pretty much cover all of the bases required of most high school and even college-level players.

12C? Nasty down low when played by all but the real pros. 11C? 7C? Better, but no cigar. 6-ish m'pces? Maybe a little strenuous past the 9th partial even if you are a pretty good player, but usable through 2.5 octaves or so, with a good, rich sound up and down.

Thus my recommendation.

S.
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