The Difference a Mouthpiece can Make

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by lakerjazz, Sep 10, 2010.

  1. lakerjazz

    lakerjazz Mezzo Piano User

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    So I've been getting into jazz, and I play lead every once a while. I currently play a 3C My band director (a trumpet player) suggested that I get a jazz mouthpiece for more zip. My private teacher thought it was ok as long as I used it only for jazz. I tried out a lot of mouthpieces, including Schilkes, Yamahas, Kanstuls, and every piece from a set of mouthpieces provided specifically for dealers (I forget which company). Anyway, none of them really made a difference in sound, ease, range, or endurance, so I basically forgot about it. I know there are a lot more out there, but I was beginning to be discouraged. I then stumbled upon Al Cass mouthpieces. These are pretty much a no risk investment, as you can sell them for the same price or more if you don't like them. After doing some research and studying my embouchure, I found that I fall under the category of having an "efficient" buzz. I wanted no bite, so I went for an Al Cass 2-28, 2 meaning medium rim diameter and 28 meaning a size 28 throat (I've always preffered resistance anyways). I wasn't really sure if the hype was justified; were people just imagining things? Well today I got my mouthpiece, and I was so impressed that I made a recording so that you can very clearly hear the difference. I've recorded 4 takes of the West End Blues Cadenza, one after another, first try, unedited so as to reduce the possibility of a fluke attempt on the Al Cass. The first and third takes are on my 3C, and the second and fourth are on the Al Cass. These are done one after as fast as possible to reduce any other variables. Here you go (please listen to all the takes): YouTube - Al Cass West End Blues

    The third take was so tough on my 3C that I basically just gave up, missing pretty much everything after. The cool thing is that I use considerably less pressure on the Al Cass. In fact, I use almost no pressure.

    This was not intended to be an Al Casses are the best for everyone thread, even though I do believe that Mr. Cass was on to something and that his pieces are worth a try. It's just to show that it's important to find the "right" mouthpiece, whatever that may be, and it's worth the effort. I've always struggled with getting a big sound from g# above the staff, and with the right mouthpiece, it's not very hard at all, and there is no sacrifice to the lower register. The sound is better, there is ease of play. Maybe you shouldn't go looking for the "magic" mouthpiece to solve your problems, but you should try to find one that fits you.
     
  2. Brekelefuw

    Brekelefuw Fortissimo User

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    I suggest playing an excerpt you are a little more fluent with when testing out new things.
    No reason to go flying through the solo faster than you can play it.
     
  3. lakerjazz

    lakerjazz Mezzo Piano User

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    I can't play the whole thing with my 3C, but I can with the Al Cass. That's the point, but if that's still not up to your standard, I've given you a relative comparison at least. The whole point was to actually show the difference a mouthpiece can make rather than just describing it
     
  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    There are many facets to playing WITH the music instead of conquering it. A zippier mouthpiece can make life MUCH easier for certain types of music. Removing the massive, dark can really bring things to life.

    I don't believe the mouthpiece has anything to do with what one "can play". If you can't play this with the 3C, there is another problem that has NOTHING to do with hardware. The notes that are high are simply out of range for you regardless of mouthpiece - even if you do manage to "squeek" them out. As far as the "usefulness" of the lick in a musical context, there is no difference between any of the 4 cuts. One of your problems is breath support, there may be other issues

    I used to use a Schilke 14A4A for lead. Now I can play that mouthpiece for 15 minutes in a rehearsal and then nothing more comes out. The reason is that my lips swell now after playing a while, but didn't 20 years ago. I have a slightly deeper piece and that works for me. Judging ANY mouthpiece takes 1-6-12 months. Then you really find out if it works. A couple of licks says nothing. Isolated licks should not be an issue with any sized mouthpieces - IF the chops/body/breathing are working properly.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2010
  5. lakerjazz

    lakerjazz Mezzo Piano User

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    Rowuk,
    I've included 4 tracks for a reason. I can't play this with the 3C (or my old 7C for that matter), and you can clearly hear that. Despite having worked extremely hard for 4 years, I've always struggled with volume on anything g# up. These mouthpieces will literally stop at Bb, skip ahead to a squeaky E and leave everything in between to a point where it's almost impossible to slot. The Al Cass slots every note from G# to however far I go equally. It also makes it so that I don't have to use additional pressure to achieve the same volume of tone in the upper register. This is what I've experienced. This is what I've recorded so that I avoid simply describing it. Once again, 1 and 3 are on the 3C, and 2 and 4 are on the Al Cass.
     
  6. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    The difference in the mouthpieces is audible without the road map.

    Range stops at a particular note when you do not have the breath support and use pressure to compensate. The pressure clamps off the lip vibration.

    The Al Cass versions are not better than the 3C versions, the tone is only brighter. The high notes are not more usable than with the 3C version.

    I do not believe that you can switch mouthpieces and instant no pressure. Pressure is a reflex reaction from your body. It is possible that the AC piece has a more rounded rim and does not cut your sound off as quickly when using pressure. The proof is when you have a gig if the chops can get along with that rim for any length of time. Less rim definition means more has to be handled by the chops.

    Without better support and more synergy with the chops, the AC piece only makes what you do own brighter. With that stuff, brilliant things can happen.

    It is possible to travel from Washington DC to New York by going south. It just takes longer and there are other obstacles to conquer. 4 years of hard work is not as productive if you are going south. I have never heard you personally, the internet does not allow enough clues to zero in on everything. Breathing is pretty easy - and yours needs some work.

    I see no real musical difference except tone - which is what you said you wanted in the first post.
     
  7. lakerjazz

    lakerjazz Mezzo Piano User

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    I never said that the range stopped at Bb- I know what you mean when you say the sound gets cut off after putting too much pressure. This is not what happens. It simply jumps from Bb to E and it's very hard to find anything in the middle. The slots are paper thin. Pressure may be a reflex if you are using the same or similar mouthpiece. However, as soon as I sensed the feel of the AC, I approached it differently. I did "hit" a D with the 3C, but it was very weak, and it was very obvious that I was using a lot of pressure. If what you said were true, then I would get the same weak D on the AC but I just wouldn't feel that I used pressure. This is clearly not the case. The entire upper register is clearly fuller, meaning that I'm not cutting off the note like I was on the 3C. The high notes are always usable, but at least they are there on the AC.

    I don't think my breath support is particularly a problem- I always take a full breath and control the air properly. This doesn't mean that I couldn't become better at it; it's just not a problem specifically. You can't really play anything without good breath support. In situations like these, the problem isn't that I don't have the air or the air support- you will just have to take my word on it. The problem is just what I have described above. What it feels like is that all the years I worked on my chops when they improved at a dreadful pace have been unleashed in an instant. The mouthpiece must have some effect other than making the tone brighter (which it did). What about the slotting in the upper register, the QUALITY of tone in the upper register, and the overall ease of play? I don't think you are being open-minded to the idea of a mouthpiece helping anything not related to tone. This mouthpiece isn't even a super-bright lead mouthpiece. It isn't even that shallow- in fact, it's the second deepest in the AC line discluding the symphonic series. How much of an effect does the quality of the mouthpiece itself have on the playing? How much of an effect does the throat size and overall fit to a player have? You can't just say that they don't do anything but make the sound darker or brighter.
     
  8. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    LJ,
    if you have this all figured out, why post? You didn't have to say anything about pressure, range cut off and weak breath support. Your audio examples demonstrate it perfectly.

    You don't have to listen and you can make all of the excuses in the world. This will not change reality, will increase your frustration and decrease your market value for people looking for PLAYERS. Your playing is rhythmically and support wise not even close to optimal. Only YOU can make the decision to fix those things. Arguing with me just shows that you are not ready for that next step yet. Not because I know everything, but because you have obvious playing issues but claim to have things sorted (the problem isn't that I don't have the air or the air support- you will just have to take my word on it). I have a 15 year old student with a 3C (also on a 1 1/2C too) that can solidly play that solo an octave higher - in time. It is not the hardware. If what you believe was even half right, this thread would have stayed "sound" instead of "range" or "getting through" coming into it.

    Solid slots need solid breath support. Paper thin slots is further proof of what is in front of you.

    Turn the transmitter off, the receiver on and you may see the light.



    As far as mouthpieces go, all factors are related to one another and to the player. The cup depth and volume determine how much of each players personal brightness get through. The rim determines comfort and definition, the throat and backbore affect the blow, efficiency and certain aspects of intonation. An excellent research paper on this can be found here:

    Examination of the Influence of Different Mouthpiece Forms on the Resonance Behavior of Trumpets

    At the end of the day, HABITS are what determines what reliably comes out of the front of the horn. What and how we practice determines what works and how easily we can move from one level to the next.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2010
  9. Moshe Mizrachi

    Moshe Mizrachi Pianissimo User

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    Lakerjazz, I know what you mean, I believe you, I agree with you.

    There are some mouthpieces that just are not compatible with a particular player's embouchure, while there are other mouthpieces that are compatible with a particular player's embouchure.

    Each player must do something of a short mouthpiece safari to find which mouthpieces work best for himself.

    Furthermore, because a player's embouchure matures over the years, you might have to re-do the mouthpiece safari every 10 years or so, or the mouthpiece might continue to work for you for the rest of your life.

    If some people tell you "It's not the hardware", don't bother to argue with them.
    They think they are right,
    you know you are right,
    and arguing with them will just get you banned from TM, as has happened with many other people over the years.

    So, if it is any comfort, I agree with you about mouthpiece selection helping.
    Thanks for posting the message.

    "if you have this all figured out, why post?"

    Because he has as much right as you do to express his beliefs here?

    .
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2010
  10. Moshe Mizrachi

    Moshe Mizrachi Pianissimo User

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    They are called the "Trumpet Master archives".

    I also know what was being posted in Trumpet Herald in 2003,
    long before I ever even knew there was a Trumpet Herald site.
     

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