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Author Topic: My mouthpiece travels  (Read 1511 times)
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harrison.t.reed
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« Reply #20 on: Jul 08, 2017, 08:37AM »

One thing I wish I could test is whatever the biggest cup and backbore is for the piece I'm playing on a bass trombone to see if it holds for that. I think it's the "F" cup. I have the bass trombone notes but definitely not the characteristic sound on my tenor. If I could get 90% of the ideal sound out of a 1F, as just a tenor player on a bass, that would be great news for doublers.

I wanted to note that for what I was talking about in my last post, I have to be an all around player for work. If I only played lead trombone or only played alto trombone, I'd probably be using different everything. In reality, I mostly play large bore tenor trombone, so the other mouthpieces are chosen to work with me with that as a starting point with the goal of getting me as close to where I dream the sound and feel would be for that setup before I start prepping for the gig. So if I randomly pick up my alto and I'm feeling like I'm 80% there having only been playing tenor recently, I can practice my way up to be closer to where I want to be until the performance.

I'm not a Sam Burtis, who can extract 99% of what he needs out of really different pieces and equipment straight away. If I tried that, I'd be getting almost nothing out of a 12C, like 5%. Getting 80% of what I want out of my 3B without having played it for a long time and then practicing my way up to 95% over a few days is good for me.

Hats off, Sam. I'd be interested to see what you have to say sbout switching from your .547 setup straight into your smallest tenor setup. If there is any difference or if you just practiced switching. Your approach and perspective is so unique.
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« Reply #21 on: Jul 08, 2017, 10:09AM »

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.

I see the point, especially the reason marked in red. It does make it comfortable FOR THE LIPS to have ONE rim. It is true. I agree fully on that, and if the awkwardness of a switch affects your playing then this method is the method for you. Don't switch, because it makes things easy.

What I discovered (for me) is the rim ALSO has an impact on the sound too. It is not only the cup that makes the difference and the smaller rim can be MORE right for the smaller trombone.

Since I own too many trombones to know better Good! I have discovered it is a complex issue to find the match rim/cup because to me they respond/play different with different bore sizes.

For example:
I have a Karl Hammond 12 ML (Bach 5-ish) mouthpiece with a quite wide rim (to me it is). That one works very well with my .547 horns (read: Conn 88h, Bach 42, Kanstul 1570, Benge 190C, Schilke ST20). The response and sound just feel right. It is a good combination. A wider 11 ML (Bach 4G-ish) also works. No problem with that combination.

...but

I also have a SMALL shank Hammond 12 ML that I played for long period with my .525 horns. It is ONE rim, SAME cup but different SHANKS. I also have the Hammond 12 M with both shanks. I thought owning these mouthpieces just have to cover ALL my needs on the .547 horns and the .525 horns.

It fits the theory "One rim fits all", and YES anything goes, BUT when switching to a Hammond 13 ML - a kind of a Bach 6 with smaller rim compared to the 12 ML - something happens with the .525 horns (read: Conn 79H, Bach 36, Benge 175f). The horns get more alive, they get easier to play, they responds better and it is easier to get the timbre I want from them.

This goes against the "One rim fits all" theory. Because the smaller rim on the 13 ML is, to me, a better match to a smaller trombone.

This experiment has convinced me that the combination rim/cup/bore is a lot more complex.

My set up is I play Bach 11 C's or a 6 3/4 C on small bores when playing lead in a big band. That is a great combo. I can, but would not use a 6 1/2 AL or a Hammond 13 ML or not even a 13 M (shallower cup) because the timbre would not be right.

If playing classical stuff on the other hand I could use those on a small bore. This would give another sound, and could then be useful.

I do understand the advantage to have just ONE rim. It IS comfortable for the lips that way, naturally, but as Sam does is about what I do also. I do recognize a lot of the experience Sam shares. I may not be a NYC-freelancer but I can play, and I'm not worse on another mouthpiece.

Is switching rims good for ALL players?

This is another question. When younger I could not switch, but now I can. I don't know. I think you have to practice A LOT on the mouthpieces. I do switch daily and it works alright.

Is changing trombones depending on mood and work good for ALL players? When I was young I could not do it. I could not find the positions on the new horn, but now I can. It may take a couple of minutes when I switch to remind me of the horn (5 min), but give me an hour and the new horn feels completely at home.

/Tom
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« Reply #22 on: Jul 08, 2017, 10:22AM »

---snip---

Hats off, Sam. I'd be interested to see what you have to say about switching from your .547 setup straight into your smallest tenor setup. If there is any difference or if you just practiced switching. Your approach and perspective is so unique.

I play my .547 least often of all of my horns, and almost never in combination with any others. I am least comfortable on it as well. I feel as if my chop falls into the m'pce no matter how well balanced I start out. On the rare occasion when I play it several days in a row, that feeling goes away. But...I cannot remember the last time I used it more than one day at a time. Pretty much ditto my .485/12C combo in terms of frequency of use. But this several days I am practicing on 5 different tenors for upcoming gigs over the next couple of weeks (starting tomorrow) where I will have to use each one. The horns + m'pces are:

1-A '30s Conn 24H (485) w/a NY 11C. (I spent a couple of hours yesterday trying m'pces on it...I must have 20 historic era m'pces of all kinds. The 11C won, proabably because I am used to it. It's for a Historic Brass Society concert of James Reese Europe's Hellfighter concert/marching band from WW I. Sousa with Harlem influences. Great stuff. The lead player is playing a tiny 2H and I'm going to try to match him as well as I can.)

2-My own Shires .485, also with that same 11C. I usually play it with a NY 12C, but that's when I am playing Dorsey-style lead. I may use this horn if the 24H doesn't feel good at the rehearsal.

3-My regular Shires .500 lead horn w/a Minick m'pce that's like an 11C-ish/7C-ish rim hooked up to a fairly deep V-ish cup and a very tight backbore. My contemporary lead/big band solo horn. I do maybe 50% of my work on this horn.

4-My Shires .508 w/ a Mt. Vernon 6.5A. My section/lead/solo/whatever everything horn these days.

5-My Shires trigger .525 w/a Doug Elliot LT 101 rim and matching LT D cup + shank. Maybe about a 5-ish rim size. I'm going to play a concert and some rehearsals on it with some really difficult music in early August, and I want to be right on it by then.

Here's how I practice them:

I use a deck of cards to choose which horns in which order, and I use my Caruso-influenced exercises on the horn, on the mpce, rim buzzing and freebuzzing, also chosen with the deck of cards.

Today:

24H-Just get a good balance

Shires .500-Really practice...maybe an hour including finding a good balance.

24H again-find a balance, then practice for maybe 1/2 hour

Shires.485-Same as the .500 above (I'm on a short break from that now.)

Shires .500-Really practice...maybe an hour including finding a good balance.

Shires .508-Just get a good balance

24H-Really practice...maybe an hour including finding a good balance.

Shires.500-Just get a good balance

Shires.485-Just get a good balance

24H-Just get a good balance

Shires.525-Just get a good balance

Maybe 5 hours total.

I had yesterday off and did a similar thing only in different order. I had a rough chop week until two days ago...a recording session where at the last minute they wanted my .547 w/a Benge Marcellus (Or maybe Parke Friedman if the going got tough in the trigger ranges.) as a quasi-bass and then the next day an outdoor swing band lead gig (Shires .500), all preceded by 8 days teaching at a jazz camp where I hardly played and had absolutely no time to practice. I was flying in the dark. On yesterday's practice things felt a little shaky to say the least, especially on the 24H and .525. Today is already much better on everything.

Tomorrow I have an outdoor lead gig w/The Mambo Legends in a terrible, horribly loud and distorted  situation. I'll play my .500 after a good warmup, but probably won't have much chop left to practice when I get home. The next day is a night gig with a wonderful big band in a good acoustic situation where I get to play my .508. Again...probably just take the day off until I warm up and leave for the gig. The day after that is an afternoon rehearsal w/the Historic Brass group. I'll warm up on the 24H and Shires .485 and then go to the rehearsal and figure out what works best. The I have a day off...probably do the whole cards thing again or maybe just practice the horn I'm going to use on the Historic Brass thing...followed the next day by the Historic Brass concert. Then I have a couple of light weeks...so far...where I'll try to simplify my practice thing down to maybe 3 axes...my Shires .500, .508 and .525, which so far are all I'll need right on into early August. If they feel good, maybe I'll throw  the Shires .485 into the mix. My bass is in the shop until early August, so that's something I don't need to worry about.

That's how I do it, week by week, month by month and year by year. The freebuzz is consistent, I just make it fit into the various rims and hope for the best. I almost never get a tuba call that's without much warning, so I leave that for when I need it. Ditto the bass and .547, really. Life's complicated enough. I took that .547 call this week because the gig promised to be easy and the band was stuck. I usually play lead on that band but there was another good lead player on the gig. I was wrong. It was not easy. I kept falling into the rim the whole recording, but I made it through without much in the way of serious mishaps. Then the next day my chop was too big to fit well into the .500. So it goes. I made it through that one, too.

One adventure after another...

S.
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« Reply #23 on: Jul 08, 2017, 11:46AM »

I feel your pain. Last night was a trio gig (Trombone/Bass Trumpet, Piano & Bass) so I was on The Bach 12G /7C
Monday - Bass Trombone  & Tuba for a 10-tet rehearsal
Tuesday - gig with a Bossa/Latin Band (2 trombones, tenor sax & Rythmn) - Bach 36 (we`re both on 36`s), 2 rehearsals both using my Bach 42BO
Wed - Back on the Bach 16MG

I`m trying to find enough practice time to keep everything in shape. But I do like the variety
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« Reply #24 on: Jul 09, 2017, 06:36AM »

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 seem to remember Buddy Morrow telling me that Tommy Dorsey played an Almont mouthpiece. Because of TD, Buddy played one for many years before going to an Olds 3. Warren Covington played on an Almont also. The custom Giardinelli mentioned in this thread was a copy of Warren's Almont. When I was working with Warren Covington, I had Giardinelli make me a copy of Warren's mouthpiece, but because it was too small for me, I had him make it a bit bigger in all dimensions. It was a really nice mouthpiece, deep V and comfortable rim.  Somebody stole it when I was in the Army. (back in 1812) I miss it. (not the Army, the mouthpiece) I used a Bach NY 6-3/4C for many years. (BTW, I sent it as a present to Greg Waits) I've had some health problems in recent years and I'm not playing very much anymore due to medicine side effects. I made a change to a Bach NY 6-1/2A about 4 years ago and I find it very good for me, so that's what I'm using now.  For lge bore tenor, I use a Bach 4G and for Bass trbn, a Bach 1-1/2G. They all work well for me.
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« Reply #25 on: Jul 09, 2017, 06:46AM »

I seem to remember Buddy Morrow telling me that Tommy Dorsey played an Almont mouthpiece. Because of TD, Buddy played one for many years before going to an Olds 3. Warren Covington played on an Almont also. The custom Giardinelli mentioned in this thread was a copy of Warren's Almont. When I was working with Warren Covington, I had Giardinelli make me a copy of Warren's mouthpiece, but because it was too small for me, I had him make it a bit bigger in all dimensions. It was a really nice mouthpiece, deep V and comfortable rim.  Somebody stole it when I was in the Army. (back in 1812) I miss it. (not the Army, the mouthpiece) I used a Bach NY 6-3/4C for many years. (BTW, I sent it as a present to Greg Waits) I've had some health problems in recent years and I'm not playing very much anymore due to medicine side effects. I made a change to a Bach NY 6-1/2A about 4 years ago and I find it very good for me, so that's what I'm using now.  For lge bore tenor, I use a Bach 4G and for Bass trbn, a Bach 1-1/2G. They all work well for me.

Olds 3. I have seen where they compare in measurement to somewhere around about a Bach 12C. I can see the cup is different, but how does the rim shape compare to a typical Bach mpc?

...Geezer
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« Reply #26 on: Jul 09, 2017, 01:41PM »

Olds 3. I have seen where they compare in measurement to somewhere around about a Bach 12C. I can see the cup is different, but how does the rim shape compare to a typical Bach mpc?

...Geezer

Apparently, there's a huge amout of variation amongst these mouthpieces, but the one I have is about a 12 size as you say (maybe a hair bigger), with a wide, flat rim, a sharp bite and a shallow, V-ish cup.
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« Reply #27 on: Jul 09, 2017, 01:47PM »

Apparently, there's a huge amout of variation amongst these mouthpieces, but the one I have is about a 12 size as you say (maybe a hair bigger), with a wide, flat rim, a sharp bite and a shallow, V-ish cup.

Hmmmm. That sounds a little different from a typical Bach rim, although the 7C does have a sharp bite. I'm very liberal about switching mpc sizes within a manufacturer's line, but ultraconservative about switching mpc manufacturers due to differences in rim shapes. There doesn't seem to be any shortage of Olds 3 mpcs on eBay - cheap.

...Geezer
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« Reply #28 on: Jul 09, 2017, 01:52PM »

Hmmmm. That sounds a little different from a typical Bach rim, although the 7C does have a sharp bite. I'm very liberal about switching mpc sizes within a manufacturer's line, but ultraconservative about switching mpc manufacturers due to differences in rim shapes. There doesn't seem to be any shortage of Olds 3 mpcs on eBay - cheap.

...Geezer

Yes, very different from a typical Bach rim, and sharper even than a 7C.
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« Reply #29 on: Jul 09, 2017, 01:54PM »

Yes, very different from a typical Bach rim, and sharper even than a 7C.

Okay. Thanks! Whew! There's 25 bucks saved. I'll treat you to lunch someday.  :D

...Geezer
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« Reply #30 on: Jul 10, 2017, 10:55AM »

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.

Totally.  His sound is so great down there though!  Small mouthpieces can still get great sounds in the low range, just wanted to correct the record when Bruce said that.  
....I think we go too big too early in the education process on all parts of equipment, and there is really so much that can be done and gained by using a smaller piece on a smaller horn, even learning how to live with those shifts.

Here's Sonnet to Hank Cinq

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVIxhM8E1WY&ab_channel=DukeEllington-Topic

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.

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