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Author Topic: My mouthpiece travels  (Read 1990 times)
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sabutin

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« on: Jul 06, 2017, 03:40PM »

I recently received a PM from someone who asked:

Quote
I know you play exclusively on Shires, but after lots of search I don't find what mouthpieces you use.

What have you tried that you like?

I answered, and then thought that pethaps it might be useful to post that answer on the site.

So...here it is:

=====================================================================================

Currently:

A very small 12C Mt. Vernon on my .485 bore. For swing band styles, mostly. Especially melodic lead.

A Minick that is sort of like an 11C/7C on steroids on my .500 bore. No model name. Very deep cup for its size, fairly normal rim size, very tight backbore. It works...for me... as a good, aggressive, acoustic jazz/latin lead and solo horn. Locks great w/trumpets.

A Mt. Vernon Bach 6.5A on my .508 bore.The closest thing to an "all around" tenor I own.

A Doug Elliott D4 shank/LT D cup/LT 101 rim on my .525. Great for inner parts and solos in large and small jazz groups, also orchestral-style chamber music.

A Benge Marcellus on my .547. Standard orchestral size. If I need more volume, a Parke Jay Friedman. There are a number of them...this one has no marking. Deep V cup, 4-ish rim.

A Ferguson Jeff Reynolds L on my bass.

For a long while I played a NY 11C on the .500 bores, and before that a Bach 6.5A. On my .508s...a King Silver 3B from the early '60s, then a Bach single bore 16...I originally played a  6.5 AL and then switched to a 6.5A On my .525s for many years I played a 6.5AL, then a N.Y. Bach Clarke S...the original 6.5AL only a little bigger throat, I think. On my bass...originally a Holton like the ones Dave Taylor played...I used a Benge 1 1/4 for a long while.

But...all m'pce choices should be individual. These are all pretty much mainstream m'pce sizes for the instruments on which I play them in certain idioms.

I hope this helps...

S.

<Edit: Fixed quote>
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« Reply #1 on: Jul 06, 2017, 04:55PM »

Thanks Sam,
I`ve tried just about everything under the sun mouthpiece-wise
here`s what I`ve settled on for me

Bach Lt12G and Lt16MG & King 2B+ - Mount Vernon 7C`s
Bach 36 - Doug Eliott 98/E/E or Bach7C (in case I have to play lead) sometimes a Mount Vernon 7
Bach 42BO or Getzen Canadian Brass Straight - Doug Eliott 98/F/F8 or Custom Bach 7 (with bass Shank and enlarged Throat)
Bass Yamaha 321 - Yamaha 58
Alto Weril - Custom Giardinelli Copy of Warren Covington`s mouthpiece in Sterling Silver (as far as I know only 3 were ever made

Tuba, Euphonium and Bass Trumpet are a story for another day
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Graham Martin
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« Reply #2 on: Jul 06, 2017, 06:27PM »

For many years I have followed Sam's mouthpiece travels and also his information about other New York trombonist's preferences. Thus I was very happy with a Vincent Bach 6 1/2 AL for a long time and then moved to a Vincent Bach 11. They served me very well playing Big Band lead trombone and Traditional Jazz on my Bach LT16M.

Recently I have been experiencing some lip decline - mainly a case of old age, unfortunately - and I have found that a Schilke 47B is the most comfortable and reliable mouthpiece. Especially when I play my King 2B. Actually, this mouthpiece was sent to me many years back by an old forum member Evan, who from memory said it was the mouthpiece used by Tommy Dorsey with his King.

I am just an amateur but I have always found Sam's advice on this forum very helpful. 
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« Reply #3 on: Jul 06, 2017, 06:58PM »

For many years I have followed Sam's mouthpiece travels and also his information about other New York trombonist's preferences. Thus I was very happy with a Vincent Bach 6 1/2 AL for a long time and then moved to a Vincent Bach 11. They served me very well playing Big Band lead trombone and Traditional Jazz on my Bach LT16M.

Recently I have been experiencing some lip decline - mainly a case of old age, unfortunately - and I have found that a Schilke 47B is the most comfortable and reliable mouthpiece. Especially when I play my King 2B. Actually, this mouthpiece was sent to me many years back by an old forum member Evan, who from memory said it was the mouthpiece used by Tommy Dorsey with his King.

I am just an amateur but I have always found Sam's advice on this forum very helpful. 

I don't know how old you are but I am very alarmed for you at this statement! I am 68.5 years old and am still building up not only my range, but my endurance, tone, etc. If you practice every day, I don't see why you should be in a decline - unless your peak was extremely (as in world-class) high to begin with. Please don't let old age beat you up!

...Geezer
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« Reply #4 on: Jul 06, 2017, 10:38PM »

I play with a number of excellent players  , one trumpeter in particular, plays his ass off 5 or 6 days a week at 90.
The others are in their late `80`s - mid `90`s
But they all stay musically active
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Graham Martin
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« Reply #5 on: Jul 07, 2017, 02:26AM »

I don't know how old you are but I am very alarmed for you at this statement! I am 68.5 years old and am still building up not only my range, but my endurance, tone, etc. If you practice every day, I don't see why you should be in a decline - unless your peak was extremely (as in world-class) high to begin with. Please don't let old age beat you up!

...Geezer

Well, just over ten years older than you and I am trying to stay musically active by practicing every day and working on some home recording projects. However, I had to stand down from the bands I was playing with due to not being able to properly lead the sections anymore. Moving down the line was not a solution because my embouchure had just become so unreliable all over the range.

Unfortunately, I have a long list of medical conditions, some of which are typical of old age, and they have impacted on my embouchure. This is due mainly to declining skin and muscle tone and very soft bones, the latter causing a 3-degree tooth movement. This is not imagined and I have seen other older brass players 'lose their lip' under conditions similar to mine. Believe you me, I am not giving up but I am also not seeing any improvement, and my doctor is not coming up with many successful treatments either. And I am bloody fed up with long tones! :D

The changing of mouthpieces was some help for a while because I find that giving your embouchure a challenge tends to concentrate the physical and mental factors that are so important to a reliable pitching of notes.

Sorry Sam, let's get back to your great advice on mouthpiece choice. It served me very well in the past. Good!
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Grah

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« Reply #6 on: Jul 07, 2017, 04:10AM »

Well, just over ten years older than you and I am trying to stay musically active by practicing every day and working on some home recording projects. However, I had to stand down from the bands I was playing with due to not being able to properly lead the sections anymore. Moving down the line was not a solution because my embouchure had just become so unreliable all over the range.

Unfortunately, I have a long list of medical conditions, some of which are typical of old age, and they have impacted on my embouchure. This is due mainly to declining skin and muscle tone and very soft bones, the latter causing a 3-degree tooth movement. This is not imagined and I have seen other older brass players 'lose their lip' under conditions similar to mine. Believe you me, I am not giving up but I am also not seeing any improvement, and my doctor is not coming up with many successful treatments either. And I am bloody fed up with long tones! :D

The changing of mouthpieces was some help for a while because I find that giving your embouchure a challenge tends to concentrate the physical and mental factors that are so important to a reliable pitching of notes.

Sorry Sam, let's get back to your great advice on mouthpiece choice. I served me very well in the past. Good!

 :cry:

Best of luck to you!

I think what I highlighted in red is on topic if I interpret "My" in the thread title broadly. I have sometimes found it useful to go from my regular size mpc to a very small mpc for a short period of time to get my embouchure development off a plateau and advancing again. Maybe it is - as you suggested - the added task of focusing that is stimulating. I consider it part of my personal mpc travels, or should I say travails. lol

But if this thread is all about Sam's and no one but Sam's personal mpc travels, then I guess it will be a short thread and we do digress.   Don't know

...Geezer 
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« Reply #7 on: Jul 07, 2017, 08:21AM »


---snip---

But if this thread is all about Sam's and no one but Sam's personal mpc travels, then I guess it will be a short thread and we do digress.   Don't know

...Geezer 

That was not necessarily my intent. Discuss on. Please.

S.
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« Reply #8 on: Jul 07, 2017, 08:30AM »

That was not necessarily my intent. Discuss on. Please.

S.

Sam mentioned playing on a 12C.

I believe it was on another thread that he mentioned it being a lot of maintenance to make work and that only a seasoned pro could sound nice on lower-register notes.

I wonder if anyone else shares this sentiment, especially it taking a lot of work to make nice with. That's my experience with a 12C. I can play it and there are advantages, I just don't want to constantly have to dog it to make it work right. But for some odd reason, I can not share the observation that nice lower-range notes are darned difficult. I find them very mellow, but okay - not powerful, as on a 6.5AL or the like.

...not asking for advice; just musing and wondering what others' observations are...

...Geezer
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« Reply #9 on: Jul 07, 2017, 09:09AM »

Small mouthpieces in general don't sound full in the lower register.

Notice that Tommy Dorsey rarely played solos down in the bass staff.  But his upper register was superb.

Concert band and orchestral music requires playing down in the bass staff and a 12C makes that harder than it needs to be.  So does using a very small bore horn like a King 2B or (heaven forfend) a Conn 2H.
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« Reply #10 on: Jul 07, 2017, 09:30AM »

Small mouthpieces in general don't sound full in the lower register.

Notice that Tommy Dorsey rarely played solos down in the bass staff.  But his upper register was superb.

Concert band and orchestral music requires playing down in the bass staff and a 12C makes that harder than it needs to be.  So does using a very small bore horn like a King 2B or (heaven forfend) a Conn 2H.

That's a meme everyone passes on and I believe they do so b/c it is generally true for most people. However, I believe it is the player who makes the difference and has the final say. Arthur Pryor anyone? Now, the "makes that harder than it needs to be" statement I wouldn't argue with at all.

...Geezer
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« Reply #11 on: Jul 07, 2017, 04:48PM »

Dorsey wasn't paid to play in the low register. He played in the style that paid. And for the record his "warm up" consisted of knocking back a water glass full to the brim with straight rye whisky.

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« Reply #12 on: Jul 07, 2017, 05:20PM »

Small mouthpieces in general don't sound full in the lower register.

Notice that Tommy Dorsey rarely played solos down in the bass staff.  But his upper register was superb.

Concert band and orchestral music requires playing down in the bass staff and a 12C makes that harder than it needs to be.  So does using a very small bore horn like a King 2B or (heaven forfend) a Conn 2H.

Yep, I agree with that, which is why I was using Sam's recommendation of a 6 1/2 AL for many years when I was still playing in concert bands. Also very good for the full range you need when playing Traditional Jazz, which is my favourite genre to play. When I started to concentrate on the big swing bands and was quickly promoted to playing first, I again followed Sam's advice of using an 11, which was necessary for the high range of typical big band arrangements. I will admit that my lower register suffered but fortunately 1st does not get too much of this written into the parts. Pedal notes were certainly a problem. Eeek!

From my observation Tommy Dorsey was very careful about choosing the keys for his beaut melody solos. I think he selected mainly C#6 as the top note, with whatever key resulted. As a result, most of the well-known tunes contained a key change in the arrangement to get back to a range suitable for the vocalist - with Sinatra particularly. I adopted this method for choosing the key for my Band-in-a-Box repertoire of tunes when I wished to sound like TD. Also switching to the King 2B and Evan's Schilke 47B helped to get that special TD sound.

I don't know how old you are but I am very alarmed for you at this statement! I am 68.5 years old and am still building up not only my range, but my endurance, tone, etc. If you practice every day, I don't see why you should be in a decline - unless your peak was extremely (as in world-class) high to begin with. Please don't let old age beat you up!

...Geezer

I was not really being critical of your first post and I thank you for your concern. Aside from the loss of embouchure, I am not letting old age beat me up and am still averaging over 7500 steps each day on my two walks (some running included) daily. But Maggie is getting really slow, being 15 years old, and I am starting to add cycling to the daily exercise routine.

   
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« Reply #13 on: Jul 07, 2017, 06:13PM »

Small mouthpieces in general don't sound full in the lower register.

Just work at it. In general it may be more difficult but its a silly thing to post that, and it will make young people reading this think they have to change equipment. I know many players who play 11Cs and 12Cs who have excellent low registers. If you practice it, the small mouthpiece can shoot out those notes like a nimble cannon.
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« Reply #14 on: Jul 07, 2017, 06:44PM »

Just work at it. In general it may be more difficult but its a silly thing to post that, and it will make young people reading this think they have to change equipment. I know many players who play 11Cs and 12Cs who have excellent low registers. If you practice it, the small mouthpiece can shoot out those notes like a nimble cannon.

This seems right to me.  When I switch between sizes, the issue for me seems to be ease of getting between registers, rather than making the register itself speak, and this I find easiest on slightly bigger mouthpieces (6 3/4-ish).  Usual caveats, YMMV, etc, etc.
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« Reply #15 on: Jul 07, 2017, 06:53PM »

This seems right to me.  When I switch between sizes, the issue for me seems to be ease of getting between registers, rather than making the register itself speak, and this I find easiest on slightly bigger mouthpieces (6 3/4-ish).  Usual caveats, YMMV, etc, etc.

That is my experience as well. I can sound good from very low to as high as I can make, it's getting around with crisp articulation that is the challenge.All-in-all, it's just too much work for what I gain.

...Geezer
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« Reply #16 on: Jul 07, 2017, 07:39PM »

I had an odyssey with bass trombone mouthpieces.

Started with a 1 1/2 G.  It was a Mount Vernon (that's where Bach was when I bought it).  Thought it was a little too small.

Went to a Schilke 59.  Better, but still a little small.  At the time I tested Bach 1G and Schilke 60.  Both WAY too big.

Got a Warburton 3B cup and 3B shank.  Much better, but still not quite right.  The Warburton setup wound up being magic for my Euphonium (Conn 19I).

Tried a Marcinkiewicz 105 for a while, but gave it up.  It's now my go-to mouthpiece for my 125 year old Eb tuba.

Met Doug Elliott at a NYBCFS conference.  He fitted me with the DE setup in my Profile.  Used it for many years when I played only bass trombone.

I wound up playing more tenor trombone and spent a lot more time with a Wick 4B (L on my symphonic tenor and S on my medium bore).  Suddenly the Doug Elliott mouthpiece was a little big when I needed to double on bass.  I found a Marcinkiewicz GR (it's between the Model 1 and Model 3).  Works great on bass when I'm mostly playing tenor.

Now it seems the bass playing is predominating over the tenor playing.  I'm back on the Doug Elliott.  The rim needs plating, though.  And I think I need a little smaller rim.

The evolution continues...
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« Reply #17 on: Jul 08, 2017, 07:04AM »

Just work at it. In general it may be more difficult but its a silly thing to post that, and it will make young people reading this think they have to change equipment. I know many players who play 11Cs and 12Cs who have excellent low registers. If you practice it, the small mouthpiece can shoot out those notes like a nimble cannon.

Indeed, Nick. But...some players need a shift to get those notes on a small rim. Britt Woodman certainly did. Take a look at the YouTube vid of Britt playing "Hank Cinq" w/Ellington on his 11C/2B equipment. Plain as day.

A short story:

When I first started doing jingles in NYC I was playing 6-ish rims on .508 bore equipment. One day I was called to play a jingle along with two other trombonists...truly world-class players. Hall of Famers. I was playing third. At the end of the jingle we had a unison 2nd partial F whole note marked FF. We played it, and the producer asked for more. We did it again and he still wanted more. So we played a real FF...maybe even FFF. I had noticed that the other two players were not sounding particularly strong on the previous two takes, but my sound was pretty much carrying the show live in the room. One was playing a .485 horn and the other a .500, both with smallish m'pces. That was OK by me...it's all about the results, not who produces them. But when we played the FFF version they both sounded like dive bombers at full throttle!!! WRAAAAAAACK!!! In tune, but nasty!!! Nothing against either of them...they were my models as much as anyone else in NYC, actually. (P.S. The producer loved it. No elling what was being eard in the control room, of course.)

I didn't understand the embouchure mechanism that produced those kinds of effects until many years later, as I started to learn how to play smaller rims. Depending on rim diameter and embouchure formation...lip size and mass goes into the equation, too...certain apertures widen in the low range until they are bumping up against the rim. Apertures widen as one plays lower and they also widen with volume. Their relative weakness at say MF or F had to do with their regular embouchure/aperture system beginning to run out of room in the rim. They could play loudly down there, but they had to make a shift to do so...the aperture had to widen up and down as well as sideways...usually a jaw drop kind of thing, just like many bass trombonists around pedal G/Gb playing 1/5G-ish rims. Same mechanism is in place with that one, too.

Thus Jimmy Knepper's sole tenor trombone m'pce advice:

Quote
Choose the smallest m'pce that gives you a good-sounding low E.

Of course, a corollary to that advice might be:

Quote
If that m'pce gives you fits in the high range...especially endurance, timbral and volume fits...try some smaller rims/mpces and learn the necessary shift(s).

It can be done.

Later...

S.
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« Reply #18 on: Jul 08, 2017, 07:33AM »

I am sold on the "one rim to rule them all" theory. When I was growing up I had started on a 12C and, looking back on it, it probably should have just been a 6.5AL. It's easy to develop a nice and open, full sound concept on a 6.5AL, even if you are just beginning. I had a few young students (6th graders) years ago that I lent 6.5ALs to use at the end of their first lesson. All of them said that the piece just felt better. It was more comfortable, they could get a (comparatively) huge sound out of it without really changing up how they approached the trombone, and when I would have them try things like increasing the volume of air or playing "with a chest voice" to help them see that they weren't even close (yet) to playing with a full sound on even a .500 bore instrument, the 6.5AL actually made that possible. With a 12C, they couldn't even grasp the potential, because it requires finesse and a fair but of control to play that kind of mouthpiece. So, for the longest time and even to this day, that became my ace in the hole to get my students over the hump and out of their slump.

Why then, is it impossible for me to play a 6.5AL very well any more? I'm sure I don't even own one. Wouldn't I recommending what I play on on a day to day basis instead? Why recommend a 6.5AL right off the bat? Well, here's what I think:

The 6.5 rim is a nice medium in-between size for almost anyone and the examples I've seen have had a relatively rounded inner rim. Most 12Cs have a pretty sharp inner rim. So even when you're starting out, the 6.5 will be in the ballpark size wise, and if you've played on a 12C, the nice round rim is an instant improvement, comfort wise, over the sharp 12C rim. I've never had a student complain about the switch. Usually the first couple of notes is something like "This feels different. It's bigger". And then by the end of a few exercises it's "oh yeah, way better".

So, what is really going on? It's simple! All that happened is that the student switched from a small specialty mouthpiece for playing laserbeam stuff to a much more comfortable all around tenor piece. The 12C is not and should not be used to start out on. The cup and backbore of the 6.5AL encourage the student to play in a way that fills the piece up, and it gets them thinking about what they are doing when they are practicing because they can feel and hear the results of what they are changing up.

What does this have to do with "one rim to rule them all"? Well, I've realized that the rim has little to do with range and mostly to do with feeling comfortable. The old logic of thinking "bigger rim tends towards the lower register and smaller rim tends towards the upper register" is wrong. A comfortable rim helps me not blow my chops out and allows me to access the entire range of the instrument. What my students were mostly noticing on the 6.5AL was not the rim, but the way it felt to play. Sure, the rim was more comfortable, but that comfort mostly let them not have to think about the rim any more. Their reactions were mostly to response, how the air felt, and the sound. What a great place for a beginner to be at, mentally. Duh!

So getting the rim out of the way and out of mind, for the playing you do, is a great goal. I've done it for me. Purely by chance, buying a mouthpiece on a whim, but it's awesome to not have to think about the rim any more. At all. Having different cup sizes and shapes, and different backbores and shanks built off of the same rim is a GAME CHANGER! Every mouthpiece I use feels different to play, but it's not the rim that I'm feeling, it's the blow. So on my day to day trombone with my day to day mouthpiece, I just blow and go, and I'm good for any kind of regular playing in a BQ or trombone section. The range is full and easy consistently from D5 down to pedal Db. Sure, I can muscle out and F5 a few times, but that kind of range never crops up in day to day playing. I'm OK with that.

I have an "A" mouthpiece for my day to day horn with an interesting cup and backbore. The cup starts out with a shallower profile than my "C" piece, but then S's back so that the opening to the throat is bigger. I believe the reamer was also bigger. To play it, it feels like there is much more resistance. It projects a lot more but the lower register  ( on down ) is not rich like the "C" piece is. The same notes are all there but they're thinner. In the upper register, it sings. Slurs up to F5, F#5 and G5 happen easily. Same rim, same feel on the face - totally different blow. Is it easy to just enter in on an F5? Nope, still not easy, BUT! Entering on a D5 below it (as happens in some orchestral excerpts) feels like regular every day playing. So I have a piece that works well for some solo and very high orchestral playing.

I don't play my 3B nearly enough, but when I have to do a big band show, or if I wind up in brass band, I've got my small bore "A" piece with the same rim on it. Unlike the large bore "A" this piece doesn't get backed up. Nice upper register and it can cut.

On alto, you guessed it, same rim. Or essentially the same rim. The Doug Elliott XT105 rim feels like all my other pieces, anyways. Super shallow cup, medium ish throat. Does it make playing alto easy? Nope. But it sure feels comfortable and lets me focus on sound and intonation, rather than whether or not I can hit a note or my lip will go. I feel like that's where we'd all rather be musically, on all our horns.

Anyways, that was probably long winded, but I think the concept really works. Get yourself and your students on something that feels good. These days you can change the blow to suit the playing and instrument after the fact. Viva la CNC.
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3B/F Silversonic - Griego 1A ss
pBone (with Yellow bell for bright tone)
Geezerhorn

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Location: PA
Joined: Feb 9, 2012
Posts: 5510
"Lego My Trombone"


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« Reply #19 on: Jul 08, 2017, 08:06AM »

BRILLIANT! ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT! AM I SHOUTING? YES I AM!!!!!!!!!!!!

Way to be a Meme Buster, Bro!

The Bach 7 is that way for me. A straight 7 with my King 3B/F for church ensemble work blends in perfectly. A 7C for solo jazz ballad work is awesome. And I now have a vintage 7C previously owned by a fabulous player who had the bore professionally opened up. It's a screamer and you will literally have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands.  :-0

Here again, same rim but far different blows for different purposes.

...Geezer
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