mouthpiece gap and intonation

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by brownspeck, Feb 9, 2008.

  1. brownspeck

    brownspeck New Friend

    Feb 9, 2008
    I'm curious about the effects of gap on intonation.
    I'm aware of the sound/stability issues,
    small gap=zingier, notchier possible splits/instability of attacks if too small
    big gap=darker, woolier, wider notches/loss of response

    is it possible to dial in a trumpet's intonation perhaps?
    or does is just change timbre, response, and width of notches/slots.
  2. mattdalton

    mattdalton Pianissimo User

    Apr 30, 2005
    Newcastle, WA USA
    Specific to intonation, my experience has been that increasing the gap tends to widen intervals somewhat -- lower notes drop in pitch and higher notes rise in pitch. If your octaves are too narrow, then a bit more gap might bring them into alignment.

    I also believe that there's no perfectly correct gap for a particular horn, but a correct gap for the particular mouthpiece/horn combination. Get that right and intonation will be easier.

    Hope this helps.
    Vulgano Brother likes this.
  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    The gap is the least significant of all mouthpiece parameters. M experience has proven that claims of "night and day" are gross exaggerations.
    The effect of gap depends on the trumpet and mouthpiece. A Schilke trumpet and mouthpiece have no gap and play just fine. A Bach with a Bach mouthpiece will have a gap all over the place depending on the age of the horn and mouthpiece. Other mouthpiece manufacturers have a specific formula for calculating desirable gap. If you want to believe that a generic setting is good, fine.
    There is NO possibility to dial in anything slotting, intonation or response with gap. You can improve a working setup slightly by optimising the gap. What changes depends on the mouthpiece, receiver and leadpipe.
    Changing mouthpieces can change many response factors though. That has more to do with cup depth, throat and backbore.

    I have never experienced your woolier/zingier regardless of gap change.
  4. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Welcome to TM, Brownspeck! Some french hornists do claim that the gap can play a large role in intonation, so I tend to believe Matt. (My horns don't notch all that well, and I can play out of tune and miss notes on any horn made!) Your descriptions, however, do apply to mouthpiece mass. I've played around with gaps and have never found a perfect combination, despite the adjustable-gap leadpipe on my C trumpet.
  5. brownspeck

    brownspeck New Friend

    Feb 9, 2008
    cheers guys, i am trialing a schagerl c trumpet with a gap adjustment on the receiver. My head is into the trumpet now and the intonation is settling, and everything seems to be in the right place. blows a little differently from my old bach 25h 239.
    I have noticed a big difference in attacks and timbre when changing the gap but we might just be disagreeing on semantics really. There seem to be so many ways to get different results on a trumpet, m/piece, gap, leadpipe, tuning slides but thanks for the help. I might buy this trumpet...

    I'm kinda keen to keep my mouthpiece the same to restrict the variables, v. easy on this trumpet to adjust gap, hence the question...
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2008
  6. tatakata

    tatakata Mezzo Forte User

    May 29, 2007
    WOW! I'm very surprised to read this from you ruwuk. I have found the mp gap to have a very large influence on articulation. have you ever tried reeves sleeves on your mps?

  7. Bay Area Brass

    Bay Area Brass Piano User

    Mar 2, 2007
    San Francisco
    I agree that the gap can make a real noticeable difference in how your horn plays. In my experience it can effect changes in slotting, access to some of your higher notes and openness of tone. It's not a panacea or excuse for other issues or deficiencies with one's playing, but it can be significant with certain players and equipment.
  8. iiipopes

    iiipopes Pianissimo User

    Aug 27, 2014
    I play a @ 40+ year old King Super 20 trumpet - a standard silver plated S2 model from just before the cyborg era. I purchased it to come back to playing trumpet, in addition to, and to have fun, on top of (pun intended) my regular tuba playing in community band. As a comeback trumpet player, I did the usual mouthpiece safari. I found a mouthpiece I thought I liked, but I had intonation issues. I didn't give it much thought, chalking it off to it sorting out as I worked on rebuilding my trumpet embouchure. But after some period of rebuilding, the inconsistencies were still there. It turns out the receiver is probably a bit worn, because when I reverted to the old stand-by and put a single non-overlapping piece of plain masking tape on the shank, thereby increasing gap, tone and intonation centered. It wasn't bad before, just not completely to my liking. And it was not "night-and-day," but it was noticeable. So, to experiment, I put another wrap on the shank to see what an effectively even larger gap did. Intonation stayed about the same, but response suffered. Now, that could simply be due to the damping of the receiver/mouthpiece connection by too much tape, but when I went back to a single non-overlapping wrap I had my best results.

    I had my results verified by a friend of mine who has a music ed degree, was a high brass major, taught beginning band, including fitting of instruments and foundations of tone production to beginning students, which I essentially was starting over, and he confirmed that it was a noticeable, but not a huge difference, after we both played and listened to each other with and without the tape on the mouthpiece shank.

    In any event, a roll of masking tape is less than a dollar, and we all know what Reeves sleeves or a replacement receiver costs. As an occasional player, I'm good with that.
  9. Dennis78

    Dennis78 Fortissimo User

    Feb 1, 2015
    I know nothing, but I know if gap is huge then playing is a chore. My only reference is my 48 came with a Selmer no number that only inserted maybe a 1/2" and it was terrible. Popped in my 5c that sunk right in and it sounds terrific
  10. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Yikes! A Zombie Thread on Halloween!


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