Interesting Experience with Assymetric...

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by oldlips48, Mar 20, 2009.

  1. tunefultrumpet

    tunefultrumpet Pianissimo User

    Apr 9, 2008
    New Zealand
    Great its working out for you....just goes to show there is more than one way to skin a cat, so to speak.
  2. willbarber

    willbarber Piano User

    Nov 22, 2008
    Medina, NY
    Let me remark that making a John Lynch MP out of Silly putty and a Yamaha 11 does NOT work. At all.
  3. sinofian

    sinofian Pianissimo User

    Nov 17, 2008
    Central Florida
    I received the 342 I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, but haven't really had a chance to spend much time with it. It feels a little weird at first, but I acclimated to it within a few minutes of playing.

    My initial thoughts are that it seems to thin out my sound and things get really slippery above high C... both of those could be a result of not spending enough time with it yet. I also didn't see any difference in my range, but I'll give it some more time before giving up on it.

    I did try it 'upside-down' and found everything got really raspy or airy... didn't work for me that way at all.

    On the other hand, I've been on a bit of a 'mouthpeice safari' lately and also just received one of the modular XStream mpc's (an X5 cup & a XXX backbore, I think). I noticed immediate improvement over my old Schilke. Slotting above high C feels much more stable & I managed a solid G above high C for the first time in years without much effort at all.
  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    I thought that I would wait and see where this went before commenting. Pretty interesting stuff!

    The idea of the assymetric is appealing. On all of the people that I have ever looked at, the lips themselves have not been symmetrical. It seems logical that this could work. Whether it is better, or worth the additional manufacturing effort, I have yet to see any compelling evidence though. The problem is that there is a little truth everywhere. Nobody tells the whole story, perhaps nobody even knows the whole story................

    The act of playing the trumpet is an extremely complex event. Most players that I have worked with, placed way to much value in what the mouthpiece can accomplish. It is often considered to be more important than practice. This could not be further from the truth.

    The mouthpiece inside rim diameter only determines the vibrating area of our lips. Its shape determines how comfortable it feels and how much freedom for movement (flexibility) is available. The width of the rim determines how much cushion and area is available to make an "airtight seal". The volume of the cup acts as an air buffer and high frequency filter. A shallow cup filters less highs out of the vibration and therefore sounds brighter. A deeper cup filters more highs and sounds darker.

    Once we initially blow into the horn, the standing wave in the horn (and in the room) actually sustains the sound. We then only need to pump in enough energy to keep the standing wave alive. If the horn/mouthpiece combination is efficient, we save a lot of work. This is called "slotting" and assumes that we have bought a horn that produces the character of sound that we want. When we buy a bright sounding trumpet and pick a mouthpiece to make it sound dark, we sacrifice efficiency (we have to "destroy" some of the high frequencies to make it sound darker). The reverse is also true.

    When we play outdoors, the standing wave of the room is gone and that support for our sound is no longer present. That is why it is more work! This is also why I post that marching ensembles should play brilliantly with more efficiency. A dark sound there just means that we work harder and accomplish less.

    A mouthpiece that is "more efficient" could make high notes easier to play and increase endurance, IF the horn and player matches. There are no specifications can that tell us anything about efficiency. Very few of the trumpet players that I know have actually done any measurements on energy expended to play the trumpet vs acoustic output (I lose about 4 pounds on gig for international dance competitions. We play 45 minutes of competition and 10 minutes of audience dancing from 8 to 12 and then 45 on 15 off from midnight to 2:30). Calculating this may be something for our own Nick Drozdoff, the physics teacher and trumpeter par excellence! The results will probably just show that we are all working WAY too hard and focussing on all of the wrong things AND that truly efficient playing produces results that few audiences are willing to listen to for any length of time!

    Looking at the assymetric, there is less cup volume for a given rim diameter and depth. That makes it harder to compare them to conventional mouthpieces. To have equal cup volume, we need a bigger rim or deeper cup.

    What do I think happens when you flip the assymetric mouthpiece over? You immobilize more of the upper lip. That means less vibrating area and that could help the high range at the expense of flexibility. The larger cushion means probably less pressure on the upper lip, so it could even help endurance.
  5. oldlips48

    oldlips48 Piano User

    Mar 1, 2007
    Robin, thank you so much for the very thoughtful response. I agree that there are many more factors involved in optimizing the trumpet/mouthpiece/player setup than most people realize. I also agree that too many people look for the "hardware" versus the "software" solution (where have I heard that before? :D )

    I have also thought quite a bit about your comments on efficiency. As you say, part of the equation is optimizing the equipment and (the larger) part of the equation is practice, to "optimize" yourself as a player. I believe this is where the endurance aspect also comes into play. I believe you need the endurance to take full advantage of the efficiency of the equipment, and optimal equipment can only help your endurance.

    I remember the story I read on this forum where Arturo Sandoval was teaching a master class and a student made a comment about being able to play as well as Arturo if he had as good of equipment. Arturo grabs the student's horn and proceeds to rip off some blistering solos. Arturo's sheer experience, musicianship, and hours of practice allows him to do something like that, not the epuipment. The epuipment simply serves to maximize the efficiency of Arturo's playing, allowing him to play nonstop for, say, four hours instead of two.

    I continue to play the asymmetric "upside-down" and I continue to be pleased with the results. Lack of flexibility doesn't seem to be an issue (at least not at my level of playing). I continue to show slow, steady improvement in both endurance and range, but then, how much of that is mental and simply a response to my initial positive results? Hmmm....

    Anyway, it doesn' t seem to be hurting my embouchure, and I'm enjoying it, which is the main point. I seem to have fallen into an unusual solution to improving my own efficiency, and at least for now I ain't gonna argue with the results:-P.

    Thanks again for your input,
  6. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    If I remember the instructions on my assymetric, its 1/3 top lip 2/3 bottom lip with the big part of the rim at 6:00.
    While I can not support this claim, I suspect most people play with the majority of the lip on the mouthpiece being the bottom lip.
    You just happen to play 2/3 upper lip and 1/3 bottom lip.
    Turning the mouthpiece upside down (since the majority of your lip on the mouthpiece is the top lip) seems to make sense. Now that's creative!! I like it.
    As for me, I can scream till the cows come home on my assymetric, but can't figure out how to get it to sound musical in the lower range (A failure on my part I'm sure).
  7. oldlips48

    oldlips48 Piano User

    Mar 1, 2007
    Hi Markie,

    You're right, I do play a 2/3 top, 1/3 bottom lip on a conventional mpc. When I talked to John Lynch, he said the design of his mpc helps support the lower lip, which he considered to be the primary vibration source for most players. He suggested that with me, most of the vibration comes from my upper lip and that may be why the mpc works for me upside-down.

    I'm still liking the results, so I'm not gonna mess with this gift horse (at least not yet).


Share This Page