Playing the trumpet can be a fun hobby for adults or a great way for children to broaden their education and become more musically inclined. Novice trumpet players might not know that all mouthpieces are not created equally. Beginners of all ages need to know how to choose the best trumpet mouthpieces for their specific needs.
Choosing a trumpet mouthpiece can be a tricky thing. There are many things to consider, especially as a beginner trumpet player as you start your journey toward becoming a master. Read on to find out all about trumpet mouthpieces and how you should go about choosing the right one for you.
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While it is not completely necessary for beginner players to know all the parts of a trumpet mouthpiece for beginners, it can be good to learn more about them and how they affect the trumpet’s sound. This is especially true for a beginner player or someone who is interested in playing for the first time.
There are four distinct pieces in the mouthpiece, and each works together to create the trumpet’s sound.
- Mouthpiece rim
- Mouthpiece cup
- Mouthpiece backbore
- Mouthpiece throat
An essential part of the mouthpiece is its rim. That is where a trumpet player places their lips when playing, and the form and design of it can alter the sound that the instrument produces.
If your goal is to easily reach those high notes and play for longer periods, then you want to go for a wider and thicker rim with a flat top. The downside to this kind of mouthpiece rim is that the trumpet’s flexibility for tone is limited.
The opposite rim style is narrow and thin with a round top. It gives the player more tone flexibility at the cost of endurance and comfort.
The mouthpiece cup refers to the round inner part of the mouthpiece that the player does not put their lips on. There are two different shapes to trumpet mouthpiece cups:
- U-shaped cups
- V-shaped cups
The U-shaped cup makes for a brighter and higher sound, while the V-shape gives the trumpet a lower, darker tone.
There are also mouthpieces that combine the two shapes by starting with a U-shape before tapering off into a V-shape as it goes deeper into the mouthpiece.
The backbore is the last piece of the mouthpiece. It connects the mouthpiece to the rest of the trumpet. The backbore starts at the narrow part of the mouthpiece’s throat, gets bigger, and goes to the end of the mouthpiece.
Just like the rim and cup of the mouthpiece, the backbore can affect how the trumpet sounds depending on its size and shape. If the backbore is narrow, then the notes will be higher. If the backbore is wide, it will create lower and darker sounds.
The mouthpiece throat is the smallest part of the mouthpiece and connects the cup to the backbore. Its length and diameter are what affect the trumpet’s sound.
Wider, shorter throats are best for making lower tones but require more effort from the player. Narrower, longer throats are easier to play and create brighter and higher sounds.
Now you know more about the separate parts of the mouthpiece and how they affect how the trumpet sounds. You can use that new information to make a more educated decision when choosing your preferred trumpet mouthpiece.
Now that you know more about the actual mouthpiece, you can move on to the fun stuff. The best way to choose a trumpet mouthpiece as a beginner is to listen to trumpet songs.
Once you find the music you like listening to the most, you can better decide what type of music you want to play. Make your decisions about buying a mouthpiece from there. Here are some famous trumpet players to get you started:
- Adolph Herseth
- Dizzy Gillespie
- Miles Davis
- Louis Armstrong
- Maurice Andre
If you can determine what kind of mouthpieces your favorite trumpet players use, you can emulate their sound. However, even if you do not know exactly what mouthpieces they use, listening to their music is still helpful.
You know what different sounds and tones the different mouthpieces make, so you can choose a mouthpiece that creates similarly-sounding music.
Beginners must think about the size of the mouthpiece they need. It will help them choose by using the tone and style of music they like to play. The best way to choose your equipment is by thinking of the music that you enjoy listening to and want to play.
A mouthpiece with a shallow cup works best if you want to play jazz music or focus on solo performances. A deeper cup in the mouthpiece makes for a lighter sound and works better for playing in an orchestra.
Usually, beginners benefit the most from a mouthpiece sized somewhere in the middle. One medium-sized mouthpiece trumpet is perfect for beginners learning about the trumpet and how to play. This mouthpiece lets players experiment without committing to one style and can lead to a preferred sound.
The way the mouthpiece feels on the trumpet player’s lips is crucial to comfort while playing and to the sound that comes out of the trumpet. There are five different materials that beginners should know about that affect the mouthpiece’s feel:
- Stainless steel
Brass is usually the best material for mouthpieces because trumpets are usually made of brass. It makes for a great all-around sound. Stainless steel mouthpieces are nice because they do not stain from all the use, and they work especially well during lead and solo performances.
Silver mouthpieces work well if you are looking for darker and lower tones, but they are not totally compatible with every brass instrument. Mouthpieces made of titanium can work well for beginners who struggle with allergies and want a stable, bright sound. Plastic mouthpieces do not give a solid sound, but they are more customizable.
Each different mouthpiece material also makes a difference in quality. Brass and silver mouthpieces are the most common mouthpiece materials and are generally high enough quality to last an extended length of time.
Stainless and titanium mouthpieces are also high quality and will last even longer than the brass and silver mouthpieces because they are more resistant to rust and stains.
Mouthpieces that are made from plastic are of the lowest quality and cannot be expected to last long. But, to get a different sound or to show off some color while keeping costs down, plastic mouthpieces can be a fun option.
Depending on how serious you are about playing the trumpet and how long you think you will keep it up, affordability is a very important thing to consider. The nice thing is that trumpets are such a popular instrument that there are affordable mouthpieces made of all the materials listed above.
Brass and silver mouthpieces can be expensive, but if you are a beginner, you can easily find viable options in each material for under $20. Stainless and titanium mouthpieces are more expensive, but they are best for people with metal allergies. Specialty metals like these cost a bit more.
Plastic mouthpieces are the cheapest option. If you are not sure how committed to playing the trumpet you are, and you would like to test it out, you can buy a plastic mouthpiece without spending a lot of money.