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Author Topic: Criteria for jazz mouthpiece  (Read 1528 times)
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reedman1
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« on: Sep 10, 2017, 07:31PM »

I'm on mouthpiece safari, and being a jazz player, I'm looking at what people and manufacturers suggest for jazz. I note that most of the suggestions are on the smaller size, which is fine for me. And I know that whatever mouthpiece someone is happy playing jazz on is a jazz mouthpiece. But I'm curious as to the intended use for the mouthpieces that manufacturers suggest for jazz. Examples might include  Wick 10CS, Schilke 47B, Yamaha 46C2, G&W Choclatero... Can anyone offer insight into what kind of jazz playing these mouthpieces are designed for? For example, are they thinking high and fast like bop? Or do they include older styles like swing or Dixie? What takes priority - flexibility, articulation, tessitura, range, timbre...? Any thoughts?
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« Reply #1 on: Sep 10, 2017, 07:58PM »

Lots of jazz players wear size 10 shoes.  Do they fit your feet, too?

What kind of mouthpiece do you use on a saxophone for jazz?  What kind of reed?

It's the same with trombone mouthpieces.

Many jazz players use shallower mouthieces with smaller apertures to play high.  Now you look for what kind of jazz you want to play.  What mouthpiece gives you the sound you are looking for.  We generally don't change out mouthpieces based on the style we are playing; we switch the "soft machine" (i.e. your embouchure and how you blow).  Find one that gets you close to where you are going and learn to play everything on it.

Note that a Jazz Mouthpiece is a mouthpiece you play jazz on.  It may be any size.
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« Reply #2 on: Sep 10, 2017, 08:35PM »

Only the Griego 1A will do for jazz. There can be no other mouthpiece, of course.  :D
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« Reply #3 on: Sep 10, 2017, 08:39PM »

Lots of jazz players wear size 10 shoes.  Do they fit your feet, too?

What kind of mouthpiece do you use on a saxophone for jazz?  What kind of reed?

It's the same with trombone mouthpieces.

Many jazz players use shallower mouthieces with smaller apertures to play high.  Now you look for what kind of jazz you want to play.  What mouthpiece gives you the sound you are looking for.  We generally don't change out mouthpieces based on the style we are playing; we switch the "soft machine" (i.e. your embouchure and how you blow).  Find one that gets you close to where you are going and learn to play everything on it.

Note that a Jazz Mouthpiece is a mouthpiece you play jazz on.  It may be any size.

Thanks for your suggestions. I agree - the mouthpiece you like is the one you should use, regardless of idiom. I'm looking for one I like, and I'll sort it out pretty soon.

What I was asking is what assumptions likely go into recommending or designing a mouthpiece for jazz?


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Doug Elliott
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« Reply #4 on: Sep 10, 2017, 08:59PM »

I design, make, and play my own brand of mouthpieces... And I'm mostly a jazz and commercial player who was trained classically and still plays in orchestras occasionally.  I think of mouthpieces more in terms of what size horn they would likely be used on, not what kind of music, because people use all different horns for jazz.
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« Reply #5 on: Sep 10, 2017, 09:02PM »

I design, make, and play my own brand of mouthpieces... And I'm mostly a jazz and commercial player who was trained classically and still plays in orchestras occasionally.  I think of mouthpieces more in terms of what size horn they would likely be used on, not what kind of music, because people use all different horns for jazz.

Thank you! Good info.
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« Reply #6 on: Sep 11, 2017, 06:04AM »

I design, make, and play my own brand of mouthpieces... And I'm mostly a jazz and commercial player who was trained classically and still plays in orchestras occasionally.  I think of mouthpieces more in terms of what size horn they would likely be used on, not what kind of music, because people use all different horns for jazz.

Thanks for this Doug. SO TIRED of people asking what's a great mouthpiece for jazz or for any other genre. But yet someone asks this here every week or so.
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« Reply #7 on: Sep 11, 2017, 06:22AM »

The answer to this one is ridiculously simple:

Go down to your local jazz club, you know, the one that has jam sessions and real "old time cutting contests" six nights a week. Maybe drop by any time during the day on weekends where they'll have non-stop jam sessions. There should be a line of trombonists offstage, patiently waiting their turn to blow. Maybe a dozen or more trombonists waiting to get some beebop out of their systems.

Ask THEM what mouthpiece they play.

bwa ha hha haha hahhahahahahhahahhahahahahhahahhahahahhhahahhahah ahahaah

While you're down at the jazz club take a minute and ask the pianists what pianos they like to play jazz on.
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« Reply #8 on: Sep 11, 2017, 06:39AM »

A few years ago, I switched from a Bach 5 to a Warburton 7M for playing lead in my big band. The Warburton has more of a cone shape, with about the same (or slightly larger) rim size as the Bach. I have found that it really helps with the upper register and in getting a good clean sound for playing lead parts. It was expensive ($170), but I am glad I made the switch.
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« Reply #9 on: Sep 11, 2017, 02:04PM »

Thanks for this Doug. SO TIRED of people asking what's a great mouthpiece for jazz or for any other genre. But yet someone asks this here every week or so.

Because some people are ignorant - which is not a bad thing.  They ask the question to become less ignorant.
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« Reply #10 on: Sep 11, 2017, 04:30PM »

Reedman, you're on the wrong track with your question.
Trombone mouthpieces are not designed for a particular music genre; bop, dixieland, ballads, ska, gospel etc. They are designed to complement the unique embouchure of a player, allowing him to most efficiently produce the sound that he wants to hear. There is no magic formula for this. A beginner needs to start with a mouthpiece that a mentor might deem to be appropriate for the student. The student must then learn to use that mouthpiece to develop enough skill to judge with the help of his mentor whether a different mouthpiece  would be of benefit. From then on, it's trial and error, and the "ideal" mouthpiece may change as the player develops. I'm sure that many who are reading this have several(or more) mouthpieces that they accumulated while searching for the "right one." It's part of the journey.
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« Reply #11 on: Sep 11, 2017, 05:11PM »

All kidding ( and sarcasm) aside:

There are unscrupulous makers out there who sell mouthpieces marked JAZZ, and even Schilke in their advertising for their PDF catalogues list the 47B as for jazz, or lead playing.

As a matter of fact, most makers list a "lead" mouthpiece to differentiate size.

As for the quite needed appeal for a FAQ ( frequently asked question) part of any board, it would be useless. As we've seen here too many times, the entire universe is created the moment a 15 year old picks up the horn and discovers the internet on the same day. Nothing happened before that kid picked up a horn, and for the most part, there is nothing in the universe aside from that kid's personal experience until after they get their M.Mus. and then find out that there have been generations of unemployed trombonists who have gone before them.......

FAQs that get attention? You have to play the tuba to read the FAQs completely.
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BGuttman
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« Reply #12 on: Sep 11, 2017, 06:29PM »

Heck, Marsh, Jerry Callet even made a TROMBONE called "Jazz" (it wasn't -- had a nice classical sound).
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« Reply #13 on: Sep 11, 2017, 07:43PM »

Glad to see no one has any strong feelings on the topic...

To these who gave serious answers, thank you.

For the rest, I'll figure it out eventually. Sorry I asked the Forbidden Question.

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BGuttman
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« Reply #14 on: Sep 11, 2017, 08:48PM »

No question is forbidden (except snarky ones).  The answer is that there are lots of other reasons to select a mouthpece than "I play jazz".
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Bruce Guttman
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« Reply #15 on: Sep 11, 2017, 08:54PM »

A few years ago, I switched from a Bach 5 to a Warburton 7M for playing lead in my big band. The Warburton has more of a cone shape, with about the same (or slightly larger) rim size as the Bach. I have found that it really helps with the upper register and in getting a good clean sound for playing lead parts. It was expensive ($170), but I am glad I made the switch.

Interesting.  I'm playing with a bunch of Warburton parts myself.  I'm normally a Bach 4 size player (4C for jazz, Wick 4BS for concert band, 4BL for large bore). Supposedly the 8 rim is the same, but I've found the 8s to be a tad small.  A 7D is working nicely for me; may be able to replace the 4BL.  Had no low register on the 8ST.
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« Reply #16 on: Sep 12, 2017, 04:38AM »

Reedman1,

Perhaps keep in mind that playing "jazz" doesn't necessarily mean playing as high as possible, although a lot of high tenors do. Some of the best jazz I have heard is not pitched all that high; it's just darn interesting and musical.

So choose a mpc that gives you the sound concept and nimbleness you want on a given horn. And that doesn't also necessarily mean a peashooter of a horn. Some fabulous trombone jazz can be played on a medium-bore horn, a large-bore horn or a double-trigger bass trombone. As long as you are coming across nicely, it really doesn't matter to the listener as much as you might think what equipment you are using. Usually, the only people who might care about that are other 'bone players. Don't try to impress them b/c you might not anyway. Try to impress yourself and your audience.

You will have to experiment to see what equipment gives you your own voice that is nice, but that is all part of the fun. And you do not need anyone's permission to either fit into a certain mold or break it if you can. It's all up to you. But whatever you do and in any way you choose to do it, make it sound nice.

Good luck!

P.S. Something else to consider when selecting a mpc and/or horn is how your jazz group sets up. If everyone is mic'd or there is a mic nearby you can play into, you can probably play in whatever range and on whatever equipment suits your fancy. But if you have to compete against everyone else in the group and you want to play in the "lower" ranges, then you might need the co-operation of your conductor to keep everyone else hushed down a bit. Good luck with that! It's one reason a lot of jazz trombone players tend to play in their upper ranges; it projects out above the sound level of the group and the audience noise a lot more, unless you have the kind of chops where you can "peel paint" in your lower range!

P.P.S. (lol) Like you, I'm an amateur. But on the occasions I have had for a jazz solo, I have picked a small-bore horn with an 8" bell and a 12C mpc, specifically so I could play up a bit and cut through all the crap around me to be heard. But if I had 100% control, I would step up to a decent mic with a large-bore horn and a similarly-sized mpc to play with as lush a tone as possible in whatever range I thought I could come across the best for the given selection. 

...Geezer
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« Reply #17 on: Sep 12, 2017, 05:23AM »

Glad to see no one has any strong feelings on the topic...

To these who gave serious answers, thank you.

For the rest, I'll figure it out eventually. Sorry I asked the Forbidden Question.




All of the answers were serious. You just might not like what we have to say.
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« Reply #18 on: Sep 12, 2017, 05:44AM »

Re: criteria for a "jazz" mouthpiece.

As you've no doubt sussed from the replies here, a "jazz" mouthpiece is just a mouthpiece you play jazz on.

Some players (Sam Burtis comes to mind) can match iconic mpc sizes to the horn they play. There are a range of rime sizes and accompanying cups that were ostensibly designed for specific horn sizes. 11 or 12 size for a king 2B for example, 9-7 for a King 3B, 6.5Al for a Bach 36, and so on.

Some players favor one rim for everything (the Doug Elliot approach) - I'm one of those people.

Most traditional jazz and swing era trombonists played on small stuff in the 15ew-11c range. Most played on small bore horns like the King 2B, Bach 6, Conn 4H and similar sized horns in the .485 range (some going back played on even smaller equipment.)

During the bebop era, J J Johnson blew everyone's mind. The horn he's probably best known for playing was a King 3B bell section with a 2B slide. He played on a King mouthpiece (M31 if I remember right). I have one of these kicking around somewhere, it feels to me much like a Bach 11, a relatively small piece. Small horn, small mpc... JJ's sound, however, was HUGE. In theory, his influence started the large horn trend in jazz as players scaled up their equipment in an effort to sound like JJ.

Curtis Fuller played on an Olds Opera for a while (not sure of the mpc) and Slide Hampton eventually moved to large bores as well, playing a bass trombone with no trigger for a while and using a pretty big mouthpiece if I remember right. I think he was on something near a 1.5 for a bit but I could be wrong.

Jimmy Knepper played on equipment very representative of the freelance scene for a while during his era: 6.5AL with a medium bore horn.

Julian Priester played big equipment too, not sure of his mouthpiece size but I'd guess something similar.

There were still guys playing smaller stuff during this period of course: Urbie Green, Carl Fontana, Frank Rosolino, but those guys surely did not have small sounds.

Sound concept makes a larger difference than size. Size is important for fine tuning, but ultimately the size you use is probably best matched with your physiology first and your horn second.
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« Reply #19 on: Sep 12, 2017, 07:16AM »

Interesting.  I'm playing with a bunch of Warburton parts myself.  I'm normally a Bach 4 size player (4C for jazz, Wick 4BS for concert band, 4BL for large bore). Supposedly the 8 rim is the same, but I've found the 8s to be a tad small.  A 7D is working nicely for me; may be able to replace the 4BL.  Had no low register on the 8ST.

I ended up buying a 7ST for my big horn and then ended up not liking it as well as the Schilke 53 I have played for years. Of course, I waited until after the 30 day trial period to decide this, so I am stuck with a $170 mp I can't sell to save my life.
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« Reply #20 on: Sep 12, 2017, 07:21AM »

I am stuck with a $170 mp I can't sell to save my life.

small shank m'pcs make good funnels to fill a flask.  Just sayin'.  Evil
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« Reply #21 on: Sep 12, 2017, 08:04AM »

Thanks, everybody. Doug Elliott, I really appreciate knowing more about your thought process in designing mouthpieces. Exzaclee, that was a terrific history lesson and helps fill in the gaps. Geezerhorn, good thoughts about ensembles.

I'm pretty new to trombone, as you guys have clearly guessed. But I'm not new to playing, or to mouthpieces. I played reeds for years. I had a long hiatus when I didn't play anything. Then at the age of 57 I picked up cornet, then trumpet. I've had a few safaris before, and I know that the goal is to fit my face, my horn, my style and my playing situation. And my budget, btw.

The only thing I really wanted to know was what mouthpiece makers mean when they say a mouthpiece is good for jazz. The answer seems to be "well suited for playing with agility," which seems to translate to "a little on the high side" because the slide doesn't have to move as far, which translates to "kind of small." Is that about right?

I'll just mention that in my first post, I did say "I know that whatever mouthpiece someone is happy playing jazz on is a jazz mouthpiece." I meant it. And if I have to play something that isn't jazz, I'll use the same mouthpiece unless the sound is somehow totally unsuitable.

Thanks again for sharing your knowledge with me.
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« Reply #22 on: Sep 12, 2017, 10:04AM »

I ended up buying a 7ST for my big horn and then ended up not liking it as well as the Schilke 53 I have played for years. Of course, I waited until after the 30 day trial period to decide this, so I am stuck with a $170 mp I can't sell to save my life.

Wanna swap even up for an 8ST cup? (cup for cup)
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« Reply #23 on: Sep 12, 2017, 10:14AM »


All of the answers were serious. You just might not like what we have to say.

My answer was, in fact, not serious.
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« Reply #24 on: Sep 12, 2017, 03:16PM »

My answer was, in fact, not serious.
But you are always serious.  Don't know
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« Reply #25 on: Sep 12, 2017, 03:18PM »

 :D
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« Reply #26 on: Sep 17, 2017, 06:37AM »

Thanks, everybody. Doug Elliott, I really appreciate knowing more about your thought process in designing mouthpieces. Exzaclee, that was a terrific history lesson and helps fill in the gaps. Geezerhorn, good thoughts about ensembles.

I'm pretty new to trombone, as you guys have clearly guessed. But I'm not new to playing, or to mouthpieces. I played reeds for years. I had a long hiatus when I didn't play anything. Then at the age of 57 I picked up cornet, then trumpet. I've had a few safaris before, and I know that the goal is to fit my face, my horn, my style and my playing situation. And my budget, btw.

The only thing I really wanted to know was what mouthpiece makers mean when they say a mouthpiece is good for jazz. The answer seems to be "well suited for playing with agility," which seems to translate to "a little on the high side" because the slide doesn't have to move as far, which translates to "kind of small." Is that about right?

I'll just mention that in my first post, I did say "I know that whatever mouthpiece someone is happy playing jazz on is a jazz mouthpiece." I meant it. And if I have to play something that isn't jazz, I'll use the same mouthpiece unless the sound is somehow totally unsuitable.

Thanks again for sharing your knowledge with me.

Well then, keep playing and listening.  From inside a trombone section you'll get an idea whether your sound is adequately contributing.  This may indicate a change in piece.  Realize, though, that "The Trombone Sound" as per Kai Winding basically wrapped up around 1965 and since then it's been kindof loosie goosie.  But if you're in a band playing older charts and are among people who care, you'll end up with a smaller horn and a small Bach piece, generally. 

If you get into improvisation, you may seek out a piece that helps the horn do what you want. 
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« Reply #27 on: Sep 17, 2017, 08:37PM »

Wanna swap even up for an 8ST cup? (cup for cup)

Bruce - sorry I just saw this. Looks like the 8 is actually a bit smaller than the 7 and I need to go bigger. But if you're interested, I would give you a good deal or. Ay e you have something else to trade. Thanks.
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« Reply #28 on: Sep 17, 2017, 08:54PM »

Bruce - sorry I just saw this. Looks like the 8 is actually a bit smaller than the 7 and I need to go bigger. But if you're interested, I would give you a good deal or. Ay e you have something else to trade. Thanks.

8 is supposed to be exactly like a Bach 4G, but I find it feels smaller (I regularly play a Wick 4Bx).  The 7D seems to work fine on my Bach 36 for concert band and I thought the 7ST might work for orchestra.  But my Wick 4BS is working pretty well.

I'm not sure you can go much bigger than a 7 in Warburtons without going into the bass range.  We're talking 6 or lower for the size.  I played a 3B in place of a 1 1/2 G (still use it on my Euphonium).  I have a 25 year old 3 (now the 3B) that needs plating that I can trade perhaps with a bit of cash (me to you).  We can take this off-line.  It's not helping the OP.
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« Reply #29 on: Sep 18, 2017, 01:22AM »

In my reality I want a m/p/horn combination that plays broad when at a lower volumes and the "points" at higher ones. Also how it blends or leads is important; so I've found that a smaller horn and larger V cup m/p works for me. The Wick 9BS is a good alternative to a VB 6.5AL not being an air hog and having a clean upper register.
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