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The Trombone ForumHorns, Gear, and EquipmentMouthpieces(Moderators: BGuttman, Doug Elliott) Bass Trombone Mouthpiece for Big Band
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mattino37
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« on: Nov 26, 2016, 11:30AM »

First off, I apologize for beating a dead horse here, but I can't seem to figure out what I want and what I need. I'm currently a junior in college and have been playing trombone for 11 years and bass trombone for 7. I have been playing a Stork 1.5 Heavyweight for probably 5 years now, and I love it, I still use it in a wind ensemble/orchestra setting. When I then got into jazz, I bought a schilke 59 off eBay to be my daily driver for jazz and big band. I still currently use the 59 and I hate it. There not a lot of core to the sound and the rim just feels too narrow and I get tired out. What I really want is a mouthpiece that I can just hammer out lows and pedals (think Jeff Cortazzo or Ben Polk) as that's a strong point of my playing ability, while being able to keep my upper register there. I know a lot of people say go smaller, rather than larger, but when playing a Bach 1.5, I just can't hit those pedals. It feels like trying to play bass trombone on a 12c. I also play tuba in pep band on a Loud lm-12 which essentially the tuba version of a Maynard mouthpiece, and I love the sound of a shallow cup, however I don't know how well that transfers to bass trombone mouthpieces. What do you guys recommend for my situation?
-Matt
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sonicsilver
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« Reply #1 on: Nov 26, 2016, 12:22PM »

So why not just use the Stork, if you like it?

Laskey 85md is a similar size to a Schilke 59, with a bit more zip in the sound.

However, if you want a really good low register and a really good high register, only practice will give you them. A mouthpiece doesn't play itself. Better to pick one that helps you make the sound you want in your meat-and-potatoes register and then work on extending that sound into the extreme registers. More fun too.
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« Reply #2 on: Nov 26, 2016, 12:42PM »

Okay Matt, this is not just for you, but also for all the young guys asking similar questions.... first, and this may get me flack... the Schilke 59 is not a great mouthpiece.... how many pros do you see using them ? So you are right on that count.
Next... the big one... there is NO mouthpiece that will help you play high and low with a classic bass sound. You are asking for a piece of metal to replace hours of work... it won't.
Smaller pieces get the old classic sound, bigger ones get the modern sound. With hours of work you can get either kind to do everything.... I know... I have done it. You work with the gear and learn how to make it work for you. I think many in-between pieces simply offer the worst of both worlds, rather than  the best. I would advise a young player to select a popular smaller bass piece and work at it. Classy bass playing takes time and effort... sorry.

Chris Stearn
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« Reply #3 on: Nov 26, 2016, 12:48PM »

I should point out that I am not a fan of heavy mouthpieces.  In most cases they suppress all the frequencies that give the sound its character.  They also make you work harder for the same output.

You might want to find a regular weight Stork 1 1/2.

I often use a Marcinkiewicz 3 or 2GR for a lot of bass playing -- seems to work pretty well for me as a more casual bass player than I used to be.
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« Reply #4 on: Nov 26, 2016, 01:23PM »

I have had some success with a Yamaha 60B. It is slightly shallower than the usual bass piece and has a wide-ish rim. It can also give the required edge when necessary.

It works for me.

Cheers

Stewbones
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mattino37
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« Reply #5 on: Nov 26, 2016, 01:47PM »

In response to the "don't just play bigger", I completely agree, It took me a while to understand that and comprehend it, but now I do. concern with playing I bigger mouthpiece is it has felt more comfortable to me. My range on tuba is pretty large, right now it's about pedal range up to high B flat, like the 4 ledger line B flat. Give me a trumpet, I may have a 2 partial range. I know this may not be applicable, but what im trying to say is I work better with larger mouthpieces (I think). The only larger bass trombone mouthpiece I've  ever played was the 59, which I can agree, is not a good mouthpiece.

So to refine my question, I'm not looking for necessarily "how big can I go" but what's a mouthpiece with those characteristics. I just feel like with my mouth anatomy, I may do better with a larger mouthpiece, but I'm not entirely sure, that's why I'm here.

And also, I'm not saying I want a mouthpiece to give me a larger range, I want a mouthpiece that I can work with to practice and keep my range solid and help me become a better player. I know "it's not the equipment, it's player". Trust me, I've heard that plenty of times over the years, but you can't become Joe Alessi on a elementary rental school horn.
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mattino37
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« Reply #6 on: Nov 26, 2016, 01:58PM »

Also, I play on a dual bore Edwards bass bone with the middle lead pipe, assuming that's going to effect choosing the right mouthpiece.
-Matt
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« Reply #7 on: Nov 26, 2016, 02:09PM »

If you like the Stork 1 1/2 you have no problem. Maybe you shold try the medium weight? Donīt know, maybe you like the sound of the heavy weight? The Stork is a good mpc, keep it. Why do you think you should change a working game?
Laskey 85 MD is also a very good bigband piece with some real trombone overtones.
Some well developed players can get a really nice trombone sound on very big mpc, I did play some big pieces when I was younger with great succes, the piece I play today is about the same size as Laskey 85  MD witch today is kind of medium.
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« Reply #8 on: Nov 26, 2016, 02:24PM »

In response to the "don't just play bigger", I completely agree, It took me a while to understand that and comprehend it, but now I do. concern with playing I bigger mouthpiece is it has felt more comfortable to me. My range on tuba is pretty large, right now it's about pedal range up to high B flat, like the 4 ledger line B flat. Give me a trumpet, I may have a 2 partial range. I know this may not be applicable, but what im trying to say is I work better with larger mouthpieces (I think). The only larger bass trombone mouthpiece I've  ever played was the 59, which I can agree, is not a good mouthpiece.

So to refine my question, I'm not looking for necessarily "how big can I go" but what's a mouthpiece with those characteristics. I just feel like with my mouth anatomy, I may do better with a larger mouthpiece, but I'm not entirely sure, that's why I'm here.

And also, I'm not saying I want a mouthpiece to give me a larger range, I want a mouthpiece that I can work with to practice and keep my range solid and help me become a better player. I know "it's not the equipment, it's player". Trust me, I've heard that plenty of times over the years, but you can't become Joe Alessi on a elementary rental school horn.

I find it easier to play wider rim too... the last four years I have done everything a pro is required to do on bass using Doug Elliot's 116 rim and various backparts. If you want to go big I would go with Doug's stuff.... so flexible. Could you play all day on a 116 rim? I suspect you will not be developed enough.... you already admit that you cannot play fluid pedals on a 1 1/2G... so your lip tissue is not yet flexible enough for that.

Chris Stearn
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Doug Elliott
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« Reply #9 on: Nov 26, 2016, 03:06PM »

... your lip tissue is not yet flexible enough for that.
That right there is really the essence of the situation.

That's largely why there are two camps, those who practice more to learn how to play low on small mouthpieces, and those who use larger mouthpieces to get there.  Chris has done it both ways, and seen that both can work, but with different sound quality.  It's partly preference and partly a physical issue of what works for your particular chops.
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mattino37
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« Reply #10 on: Nov 26, 2016, 04:35PM »

My comment of the 1 1/2G was kinda hyperbolized. I think my concern with that is the last time I played a 1 1/2G, I had been playing tuba for 2 hours before hand, and previous to that was when I first started. And I do play my Stork, I've been kinda leaning on that for jazz recently, but it's still just not right. I think my concerns are I've just been having a hard time finding a mouthpiece that just feels right, everyone I've tried has always had something bad about it. Regarding flexibility, I know compared to most people on the forum, I'm pretty young in my playing and I definitely have room for improvement, but I don't think lip flexibility is too much of a problem, but I could be wrong, I just don't know; no one has ever mentioned it to me. My pedals are solid and definitely strong, albeit, I could definitely work or lowering my shift pitch from where it is now at an F, but I do feel like the mouthpiece could have some effect to help me lowering this (with practice ;-)).

Sometimes I wish there was one kind of mouthpiece and that was it, only if it was that simple hahaha.

Also thank you guys for all the advice, it may not seem like it, but I'm definitely taking your advice, and appreciate a lot!
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mattino37
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« Reply #11 on: Nov 26, 2016, 04:40PM »

I find it easier to play wider rim too... the last four years I have done everything a pro is required to do on bass using Doug Elliot's 116 rim and various backparts. If you want to go big I would go with Doug's stuff.... so flexible. Could you play all day on a 116 rim? I suspect you will not be developed enough.... you already admit that you cannot play fluid pedals on a 1 1/2G... so your lip tissue is not yet flexible enough for that.

Chris Stearn

I have actually been looking at Doug's mouthpieces for a couple years now, but have never pulled the trigger on it, because I've had so much concern over what I really want. I know I'm going to have to learn to adapt to any mouthpiece I play on, so do you think there's any pro or con to adapting to a bigger mouthpiece like the 116? And vice versa, and pro or con to a smaller mouthpiece. I've just seen so much about how young people about playing mouthpieces too big, but I've never actually seen an analytical reasoning to that, so I've never really understood it entirely.
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« Reply #12 on: Nov 26, 2016, 05:29PM »

I have actually been looking at Doug's mouthpieces for a couple years now, but have never pulled the trigger on it, because I've had so much concern over what I really want. I know I'm going to have to learn to adapt to any mouthpiece I play on, so do you think there's any pro or con to adapting to a bigger mouthpiece like the 116? And vice versa, and pro or con to a smaller mouthpiece. I've just seen so much about how young people about playing mouthpieces too big, but I've never actually seen an analytical reasoning to that, so I've never really understood it entirely.

You can do a Skype session with Doug to help you chose what works for you. I asked my wife for this for my Christmas present...
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« Reply #13 on: Nov 26, 2016, 06:44PM »

Also, I play on a dual bore Edwards bass bone with the middle lead pipe, assuming that's going to effect choosing the right mouthpiece.
-Matt

IMHO this may be part of your issue,  just too much horn making you work WAY too hard!  Especially in jazz band where you want some snort & sizzle to match the lead player.

As for your mouthpiece?  LOTS of good advice here!!  Much more knowledge than I posses.  But if you're comfortable with the Stork 1.5,  maybe try a Marcinkewicz 1.5. Probably a bit thinner in the sidewall area and more V shaped making the response quicker & sharper.

But if you're going to continue playing jazz & commercial,  probably a good idea to find a smaller/lighter horn more suitable for that style of playing.

Eric
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« Reply #14 on: Nov 27, 2016, 02:12AM »

I have been through about the same confusion as you. There is no simple answer. I thought a bigger mouthpiece was right for me, but when I made a home recording with a 1 1\2 size I was surprised because it just sounded better in my ears. So maybe make a recording with a zoom or something similar. It's surprising how you think it sounds and then listen reality.

Leif
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« Reply #15 on: Nov 27, 2016, 03:20AM »

Completely agre with all that has been said above.
I wanted to pick up on the following commeNt by the OP....

What I really want is a mouthpiece that I can just hammer out lows and pedals (think Jeff Cortazzo or Ben Polk) as that's a strong point of my playing ability, while being able to keep my upper register there.
-Matt

You can hammer out lows and pedals all day on pretty much any mouthpiece.
What you really want is a mouthpiece which gives you the flexibility of going in and out of that register, at all dynamics, with as little effort as possible.
I see a lot of big band charts from all eras, and there are plenty that have big juicy low Cs marked ff where the bass trombonist can let people know he is there.
However, 95% of your time is spent from  to  .
The parts I find most challenging are those where you have to run up and down from low C to F (in the staff), with lots of valve work going on, at a volume around mf to f.
What you really want is a mouthpiece which helps you get through the challenging stuff as easily as possible.
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« Reply #16 on: Nov 27, 2016, 11:30AM »

To the OP....
When I was your age, I knew everything about how to play bass trombone and just needed to find the right horn and mouthpiece...
Now I am old, I realise that I know very little about how to play bass trombone but the few things I know have turned out to be quite useful.

Chris Stearn
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« Reply #17 on: Nov 27, 2016, 12:03PM »

Also, I play on a dual bore Edwards bass bone with the middle lead pipe, assuming that's going to effect choosing the right mouthpiece.
-Matt
I play on a Getzen 1062 with dual bore slide with a fixed lead pipe which is basically the middle lead pipe as well.  I'm going though a similar situation as you.  Just see what works best and you'll be good to go. :)
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« Reply #18 on: Nov 27, 2016, 12:06PM »

IMHO this may be part of your issue,  just too much horn making you work WAY too hard!  Especially in jazz band where you want some snort & sizzle to match the lead player.

As for your mouthpiece?  LOTS of good advice here!!  Much more knowledge than I posses.  But if you're comfortable with the Stork 1.5,  maybe try a Marcinkewicz 1.5. Probably a bit thinner in the sidewall area and more V shaped making the response quicker & sharper.

But if you're going to continue playing jazz & commercial,  probably a good idea to find a smaller/lighter horn more suitable for that style of playing.

Eric

I found this to be true for myself.  I started out playing a Getzen Custom for big band work.  It took a lot of effort to get the sound I was trying to reproduce.  I found that sound in a Duo Gravis.  It just flows out of the horn.

(Coincidentally, there is one for sale cheap right now in the classifieds.  I have no affiliation with the owner of that horn.  And I have no idea if this would make a difference for you.  So caveat emptor.  ;-))

--Andy in OKC
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« Reply #19 on: Nov 27, 2016, 12:20PM »

As we all know, there are many very good contributors on this site. There countless variations of mouthpieces, you can't reasonably try them all. I like the idea of talking this thru with your instructor, someone who knows and can see whether you are playing correctly, help you correct bad habits. I started with a Schilke 58 when first playing on my Conn 73h, on advice switched to a 60. That gave me almost instant access to my lower low register, which worked okay for much if the big band library I was playing, but much practice never really allowed me to regain control and confidence in the upper register.

In college, my teacher (John Kitzman, DSO), put me on the "standard" Bach 1 1/2G, and I sounded like a trombone again. The upper register was there and with much improved intonation. Altho the pedal range dropped off and the trigger range seem "thinner" by comparison, I could tell that my overall playing sound improved - and in the end, the sound is what we're after. Not honking (usually) but full, rich, centered, "ah." The 60 allowed me to hit the lower notes (pedals in particular) but without much control. Some obviously can do it and some very well. Presently, I use a Bach 1 1/4G. It seems to be the best for me, the sound I am looking for in jazz and symphonic settings, the full range I need and use. Key in on thru the trigger range to anchor the section. Take a lesson from someone who can truly help and advise you, one on one. Practice. Then decide what you like.
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