High note problems & Mouthpiece queries

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Justamirage, Feb 3, 2016.

  1. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    I'm going to approach this a bit differently than some others have, because I see a different issue here, although I'll echo what others have said about excessive pressure.

    I've highlighted what I feel to be relevant parts of this post.

    What trumpet are you using? The reason I ask is because I've played trumpets where the E above high C just doesn't want to slot. I can drill the Eb and F around it, but the E doesn't want to slot or center - it just squirrels all around.

    I've also had an interesting kind of thing in that register where sometimes I can punch the E, but then the F doesn't want to slot. If the F is slotting, then the E doesn't seem to want to center.

    Keep in mind, for me that's creeping toward the top of what I can hit - notice I didn't say "play" - my usable gig range ends at about Eb.

    So, a couple of questions:

    1.) What trumpet are you using?
    2.) Have you tried other valve combinations to get the E to slot such as 1&2, or 3rd valve?
    3.) Have you tried other people's trumpet and had the same issue?
    4.) Have you tried other people's mouthpieces to see if the issue is better or worse with them?

    I don't think a different mouthpiece is going to be the answer here. Reducing pressure will certainly help you to find the center of the note, but if the horn has a problem slotting it, that's a different issue altogether. There are going to be some who read my post who want to naysay - they'll run this whole thing back to pressure, but if you're getting everything up to A, I don't see pressure as being the overriding concern. If pressure was the full problem, you'd get cut off long before you got to G or A. That's just this guys opinion though, and you know what they say about opinions. :-)
  2. MusicianOfTheNight

    MusicianOfTheNight Pianissimo User

    Jan 24, 2016
    New York/Austria
    Pressure is your issue, a mouthpiece will not resolve it. Do you have a teacher?
    If you do decide to get a mouthpiece and have the money, Monette is definitely worth trying. But you need to also try other brands. Monette has helped me get my notes much more in tune. I have weird silver allergies, so I can only use other materials. Whenever I play on a silver mouthpiece my lips get all red and stay like that for a while. I decided gold was the way to go since plastic looks like ****. I tried numerous Schilke and Yamaha models. Eventually I saw a Monette mouthpiece in a store at NYC, so I tried it out and fell in love. As for a new Trumpet I can not help you.
  3. Peter McNeill

    Peter McNeill Utimate User

    Jan 30, 2009
    Melbourne Australia
    The Monette mp is not the secret bullet to help you.

    Question: From the High C up: How many of those notes do you play open? How many can you play open?
    What fingerings do you use for the notes up to the etc.. I have a problem getting the etc myself.
  4. rufflicks

    rufflicks Pianissimo User

    Dec 9, 2009
    Nor Cal
  5. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

    Aug 7, 2013
    Lagos, Nigeria
    ...more of a 5th/10th harmonics issue.

    On every slotty instrument I've played, open E is in tune for C and F scales, and only then when not accompanied by keyboards (who play a sharp E in these keys)

    Just about every other key open E is quite flat and needs to be sharpened by some means or other. I routinely play these notes 3rd valve in slow passages. I know that isn't everyone's choice, but it is mine.

    My Yamaha gives the same issues on D and Eb (less so on D#!). But they're overcomable. I think Rowuk posted something about many designers trimming the length of the first slide as a compromise (hence quite a few instruments are a bit sharp on F).
  6. Brasseria

    Brasseria Pianissimo User

    Jan 10, 2016
    I find it interesting that everyone jumps to the conclusion "You must be using too much mouthpiece pressure".

    Go tell that to pretty much any of the lead-trumpet pros and they'll probably laugh at you and tell you to go away.

    There's a good article here:

    Mouthpiece Pressure Myths

    Also, I listened just the other day to a lecture by William Adam that someone put up on SoundCloud:


    In it somewhere, he makes a comment along the lines of "You know, I really don't think there's anything you can do to damage an embouchure".

    David Hickman refers to the "Four Ps": Air Power, Lip Pucker, Mouthpiece Pressure, and Tongue Placement...

    Claude Gordon wrote:
    There is no such thing as "no pressure," and it is beneficial to dismiss the subject from your mind and let proper practice and development take care of the amount of pressure.

    Lynn Nicholson mentions all the "scar tissue" he has on the insides of his lips in the video he put out "Got High Notes"

    Wayne Bergeron mentioned in a clinic on youtube how he's often cut the insides of his lips open.

    Mouthpiece pressure isn't a cause or playing problems, at worst, it's a symptom of something else.

    However, the reason you're all saying he's using mouthpiece pressure is because he is suffering from cut lips. Lips get cut because teeth are sharp, and the mouthpiece is pushing the lips onto the sharp spots. You can be using the correct amount of pressure and still get cut lips. Plenty of lead players have had this problem if you read interviews and stuff with lead players.

    There is only two reasons really that you get lip damage like the original poster mentioned...

    You have a teeth-rim conflict, in which case you need to find a different diameter or a different rim shape. Or you could try puckering a little more before you place the mouthpiece to get the rim off the teeth more. But it requires times for those muscles to build up.


    Your teeth are fine, and your amount of pressure is fine, but you're not resting enough... Lip abuse is overuse, not using lots of pressure, it's using lots of pressure when your embouchure has already fatigued and the pucker can't support the mouthpiece properly. It's playing higher longer than your face can support.

    The answer is not to use less pressure, it's to rest more and more often, and allow time for the muscles to build so that you can go longer between rests. It takes a long time though...
  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006

    Pressure is a problem. Denial does not get anyone close to a solution. No one advocated "none". We have to look at the symptoms reported and know a little about how the instruments work. When our range stops at a specific note, we have a mechanical issue: we are clamping off the lips with pressure and the muscles can no longer do their thing. If our problem is only breath support, our sound just gets thinner the higher we go until it is just a squeak. My comments about pressure have nothing to do with damage. That is a separate issue - out of place in a school band setting but very important for a professional player.

    Our breath support blows open the lips and they produce vibration by opening and closing like a switch. More pressure than our breathing can handle means that the lips stop working. A very simple and common issue that I have been fixing in trumpet lessons with my students for over 40 years.

    In this thread, there are more things wrong. Double G, Ab and A are above double C - I don't buy that these notes are part of the OPs useful range. An E is not a weak partial (the 10th). It can be sightly flat. We are talking about marching band - this time of year, every year we get the same questions from school kids with common issues.

    I consider the Vizzutti mouthpiece to be a specialty mouthpiece and also wrong if excess pressure is applied. IF we play with "too much" pressure, do NOT have a good routine and do not practice enough, our lips can swell and then nothing comes out.

    To help this player, a proper teacher must evaluate all of the playing parameters in a real lesson and propose a course of action. That for sure will start with a daily routine of long tones and lipslurs. and a practice session of proper etudes and musical pieces to bring the players abilities forwards in a balanced way. A quick internet range fix is not possible. Increasing breath support qualities, reducing body tension are all things that lead to better playing hygeine. These changes are very difficult with a school marching band program that puts players out of their range.

    Seth, older trumpets had a longer first valve to make 1+2 better in tune. The F was then flat.
  8. Brasseria

    Brasseria Pianissimo User

    Jan 10, 2016
    Exactly... Pressure ISN'T the problem. Not directly. Saying "use less pressure" is not really useful. Read that wilktone article. The important points from that - 1 pros use a lot of pressure, justcaa much as an amateur. 2. Pros aren't AWARE of quite how much they actually use.
    3. Pros can't identify what too much pressure looks like visually. (And so, I doubt they can via the Internet...)

    The problem isn't pressure. It's probably an embouchure that is still in development and stretching more than it should too soon. The pressure isn't the problem, it's the symptom.

    And neither of us ccan provide the proper help that a teacher should. How ever, I can suggest that the cutting issue is a feature of a bad mouthpiece choice that conflict's with teeth.
    The vizzuti has a narrow and very rounded rim.

    The best solution is to go buy something less extreme as an easy first step, with a gentler rim shape. I also find that mouthpiece very tight above high C, but that might just be me. Vizzutti himself doesn't even play on it.
    The first thing is to deal with the damage. The two options here are:
    1. Stop playing high
    2. Find a piece that doesn't cause cutting.

    If he's in high School and has Double As (I think he means above High C, not above Double C) he's doing fine. Out of his comfort zone, sure but doing fine. The first thing is to fix what's causing the cuts.

    I'd probably suggest just trying a Schilke 14B or a Yamaha 14b4 or a Bach 3C. All are similar in size and have more forgiving rims, and a better resistance I think.
    It may be all he needs.

    And the E is likely a jaw position thing,.or he's type switching as he gets up there and should be playing the higher set all the way down, not the lower set all the way up. Again, great info on Dave Wilken's site about this
  9. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    I see this as somewhere in the middle. There's a simple fact that when it comes to playing high and loud, due to the amount of compression in that seriously complex setup we call an embouchure, there has to be enough pressure to keep the air from escaping and blowing out the sides.

    I've always used a fair amount of pressure, and yes - I recognize that it can be a problem. I have to consciously spend time in the practice room working fundamentals down low - very soft long tones and articulation exercises help to prevent me from getting to a point where I need the extra pressure just to form the seal and get the chops to focus, or else I have issues on the gig.

    When I read the OPs original post, pressure was not the first thing that came to mind, and the reason for that is because we're talking about a player who is playing Gs and As above that. If pressure was the problem, they'd likely be having issues with anything above the E, which to me suggests that there is a slotting issue with the horn, and if I had to lay a wager on it, I'd guess that the Justamirage is playing on a Bach.

    For me, E has always been one of the more squirrely notes when it comes to things above 2nd ledger C. I've been in the practice room where I'm just pasting the Fs, F#s and Gs to the wall, but just can't get the E to center, or at least that's how it always was on my Bach Strad - I never really had that issue with my Schilke B6, or with my Jupiter 1600i Ingram. The B6 had other issues where slotting in general was a bit loose, but on that horn, the E was no more or less focused than the F, or Eb below it.

    It's hard to know though because Justamirage has been absent for the last two days and hasn't given us any more feedback from our inquiries.
  10. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

    Aug 16, 2009
    Jackson NC
    To this alluded to problem, I'll reiterate what I've stated before: All the mouthpiece pressure as is needed is just enough to make an air seal between the lips and mouthpiece.

    As has been pointed out, some instruments are difficult to slot on E and the best answer I've heard to correct this is lipping it in whereas instrument adjustment for it tosses other note slots out of tune.

    Too, there isn't a "magic" mouthpiece solution to this problem, Monette or other brand. Too, not many instruments other than Monette are compatible with a Monette mouthpiece, and even some I have aren't very compatible with many instruments I have.

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