Tips Posts

Step Up Your Instrument With Step Up To Yamaha

Now that school has been back in session for a few months it is a great time to talk about the benefits of an upgraded instrument.  Manufacturers build student level instruments to be durable and easy to play. This is great for a new player but it can become a detriment as the individual progresses.  Some of the benefits that you gain with an upgraded instrument can include: better tone, improved range, new features and even different materials that are used when making it.  Here is a video that our Retail Staff made a few months ago that explains some of these benefits.

Another great time about this time of year is that it is rebate season and the most popular one is Step Up to Yamaha!  The Step Up to Yamaha rebate promotion provides great consumer offers on some of the finest quality instruments from one of the most recognizable brands in the music industry.  This is an opportunity to get a great instrument and receive either a $50 or $100 rebate back from Yamaha. To kick things off, we are offering a double rebate this Saturday, October 10th.  Just come in and pick out your new horn and your rebate will be worth twice as much!  If you have any questions give us a call!

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Should My Bridge Look Like This? – FAQs

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Your bridge is an important component on your stringed instrument.  It is critically important to the sound, and playability.  It is a beautiful thing when it is right and an obstacle when it is not.  A warped bridge is not correct.  Even a slight warp will cause intonation problems.  The front of the bridge gives the impression of a lean toward the tailpiece.  It is shaped this way to give it the correct thickness, weight and to add to the beauty of the instrument. The back of the bridge should be perpendicular to the top of the instrument.

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The bridge can become warped over time, mostly due to the pressure of the strings and the drag of the strings across the bridge when tuning.  It is important to pull the bridge back into the correct position after tuning.  This is especially important when you change strings or when the strings have come completely loose, but straightness should be checked frequently and corrected when it has been pulled out of place.

Straightening a warped bridge is possible up to a point.  A very warped bridge will need to be replaced.  It is preferable to learn how to pull the bridge back into place.  The bridge notches must be smooth and preferably lubricated with pencil lead.   Brace the instrument against your body, grasp the bridge with both hands and pull gently back until it is straight.  The bridge feet should then be flat against the top.

 

If it is difficult to move the bridge, then there is a problem with the string or bridge notches.  Consult your technician to correct this.

Good care will greatly benefit your instrument.  If there are problems, the technicians at Paige’s Music are uniquely capable and happy to help you maintain your instrument in peak playing condition!

Trombone Mouthpieces

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Did you know that something that is smaller than the palm of your hand can have a huge effect on a player’s tone, articulation, projection, and range? All of these things are completely possible to achieve by just changing one part of the instrument. That part is the mouthpiece. For trombone players, the mouthpiece is a crucial element of being able to play the instrument. Without it the instrument is nearly unplayable.

The construction of a trombone mouthpiece consists of several different parts and many different kinds of variations depending on the players needs. On the mouthpiece there is the rim thickness, cup depth, cup diameter, rim diameter, throat, and the shank. Each of these parts has a different effect on the players sound. The rim thickness and the shape or contour of the rim has an effect on the comfort of the mouthpiece against your embouchure. The cup diameter and the cup depth each have an effect on the articulation, tone quality/color, and the range the player could achieve. The shank has an effect on the air flow through the instrument and has an effect on the color of the sound that you produce.

For example I have played on a trombone mouthpiece that is a 6 ½ AL with a large shank and this mouthpiece worked for me but it did not do what I wanted it to. I went into the market looking for a mouthpiece to increase my tone quality, give me a better lower range (that was what I was specifically looking for in a mouthpiece), and to help me have a better articulation. From the 6 ½ AL I went to a Bach 5G mouthpiece again with a large shank because that was the kind of trombone that I was playing on. Once I played on the Bach 5G I instantly fell in love with the mouthpiece because it helped me to achieve all the desires I wanted out of the mouthpiece.

When you are in the market for getting a new mouthpiece there are a couple questions you need to ask yourself.

  1. What kind of sound do I want to go for?
    1. Do you want to go for a sound that is dark and mellow or a sound that is bright?
    2. If you said that you want a sound that is dark and mellow then you want to look for a mouthpiece that has a deeper cup and a wider cup diameter. The deeper and wider cup will allow for your lips to vibrate a little more freely and allows for the air flow to have more depth to go through which then effects the sound to be darker in tone color.
    3. If you want to have a sound that is brighter then you want to have a cup that is not that deep (maybe even a 12c mouthpiece) or a cup diameter that is not quite as wide.
  2. What part do I want to play the most i.e. First, Second, Third, or bass?
    1. With each part it asks you to play in different registers of the instrument more than others. Which means you may want to have a mouthpiece that matches. For first parts they play in their upper register often so you want to have a mouthpiece that has a shallower cup where it will help you to play those higher notes more comfortably. The same with the others the third and bass bone parts ask the player to play in their lower register. With this you would want to have a mouthpiece with a deeper cup.
  3. How comfortable is this mouthpiece on my face?
    1. You may be wondering “why does this matter?” In actuality this is one of the important aspects of finding a new mouthpiece. If you have a mouthpiece that does not feel good on your face then, it is going to make your chops ware out much quicker than a mouthpiece that is comfortable. The rim thickness and even the plating of the mouthpiece will have an effect on the comfort and the endurance a player may have with their mouthpiece. This thickness is something that you will have to experiment with. It is typical that a gold plated mouthpiece allows for more endurance than a mouthpiece that is not gold plated. Gold is a much finer material than a silver plating and it is a lot “smoother” than a silver plating.

You always should try out as many mouthpieces that you can and spend some time on them. The time that you spend on the mouthpiece will help you to better understand the sound that you are producing and the benefits of upgrading your mouthpiece. If you are a student and you play on a student instrument you can improve your sound in one easy switch and I am not talking about switching your instrument but by switching your mouthpiece. One day you too will find the mouthpiece that you fall in love with!

Musical Instruments and “Super” Glues – Never Ever!

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CA glue is an ingenious product for certain applications. It is commonly called Super Glue or Krazy Glue, among other labels.   For orchestral or any musical instrument, it is dangerous and strictly taboo. A recent violin repair came in with bridge problems. The bridge was “loose” and had been superglued to the top. The result was a poor bond that failed and left a hard mess on the bridge and the violin finish. The bridge had to be replaced. Before this could be done, the CA glue on the finish needed to be removed. This is a tediously complicated and expensive task that is nearly impossible to accomplish without damage to the finish.

The bridge is meant to be held in place with string pressure and must not be glued to the top. CA glue, used anywhere on instruments will cause damage that is nearly always permanent, and is unnecessary. Please never, ever use CA glue on your instrument.

We also have band instruments come in quite often that have been super glued back together. Never a good idea! Super glue will never hold a post on or fix a tuning slide that has come apart. They must be soldered back together. Super glue is dangerous to remove and will also damage the finish on the instrument. Again, please never, ever use super glue on your instrument.

The technicians at Paige’s Music are here to help you solve playing condition problems professionally, enhancing the sound of your instrument and playing. Bring it to us. We are happy to help!

Tips On Clarinet Mouthpieces

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One of the greatest things about being a woodwind player is the numerous ways that we can personalize our instrument’s sound by changing reeds, mouthpieces, and ligatures.  The combinations are nearly endless and allow players to develop a set up that expresses their musical personality.  This having been said, the task of selecting a new mouthpiece can seem daunting so hopefully adding a little information about the differences in construction and resulting sound will make the process easier.

The basic material that is used in the construction of the mouthpiece varies from brand to brand but is generally divided into hard plastic or hard rubber.  In general, beginner mouthpieces are made of plastic and most of the advanced ones are hard rubber.  However, it is not always true that if a mouthpiece is hard rubber it is an advanced model or automatically better than a beginner mouthpiece. Many players notice a warmer sound from the hard rubber but the physical construction and dimensions of the various parts of the mouthpiece have a much greater effect on the sound produced than the materials it is made of.  In addition, the actual chemical composition of the rubber or plastic can vary greatly from one manufacturer to another so it is not wise to make assumptions about a mouthpiece’s sound based on the concept of “plastic versus rubber.”

The basic parts of a clarinet mouthpiece are shown in this illustration:

clarinet-anatomy

Although many factors influence the timbre and response of a mouthpiece, most players focus on the measurement of the tip opening which is distance of the space created by the curvature of the facing.  This opening has a large impact on the overall sound and responsiveness of the mouthpiece and the relationship between the strength of reed and tip opening is paramount.  A good general rule is that the bigger the opening at the tip of the mouthpiece, the softer the reed needs to be to create a good sound.    Other factors that influence the overall sound and playability are the facing, chamber, baffle, and throat.  The facing is the part of the mouthpiece where the reed is placed and creates a seal with the back part of the reed and allows the front of the reed to vibrate.  The length of the curve that creates the tip opening varies greatly and is an important part of how the mouthpiece responds.  The chamber is the section inside the front portion of the mouthpiece and directly affects the amount of air flow in the mouthpiece.  The baffle and the throat also change how the air flows into the instrument and how resistant the mouthpiece feels.  Although the general shape of the outside of mouthpieces is fairly standard, some manufacturers adjust the narrowness of the “beak” and this changes how the mouthpiece feels when it is played but has little effect on the overall sound.

All of the various parts of the construction of the mouthpiece are important to how it plays and the sounds.  Ultimately, every player is going to have a different opinion about what is ideal.  In addition, the reed and ligature combination used will greatly affect the overall sound and response so these factors are important to figuring out what works best for the particular player.  The best way to upgrade the mouthpiece that you are using is to try many of them and make a decision based on the characteristics you are looking for.  This can be a really fun day at the music store and allows the player to try many different mouthpieces without committing to the purchase until the decision is certain.

Should I Lubricate The Tenon Joint On My Woodwind Instrument – FAQs

One of the questions we get quite frequently is “Should I lubricate the tenon joints on my woodwind instrument?”

If the tenon has a cork, then yes, it should be lubricated with cork grease.

If the tenon has a cork, then yes, it should be lubricated with cork grease.

If the tenon joint has a cork then YES it should be lubricated with cork grease. Just a small amount will do from time to time. Too much can cause the cork to fail. (most clarinets, some piccolos and flutes, oboes)

If the tenons are metal-to-metal (like a flute), then no, they should not be lubricated.

If the tenons are metal-to-metal (like a flute), then no, they should not be lubricated.

If there is no cork and therefore is metal to metal then it should NOT be lubricated. Then tenons are designed to be a slip fit and work without lubrication. They sometimes become damaged, out of round or just become worn and need to be properly re-fit. If you try and use lubrication it will eventually pick up some dirt or a metal fragment and when you put it together can cause serious damage to the tenon. They do need to be cleaned off from time to time by just wiping them off with a clean cloth. If you experience a problem with this type of tenon you need to send it in for repair. (saxophones, bass clarinets, flutes, piccolos)

Tips on Trumpet Mouthpieces

L to R: Bach 5C, Yamaha Bobby Shew Lead, Bach MegaTone 3C, Schilke 10A4a

L to R: Bach 5C, Yamaha Bobby Shew Lead, Bach MegaTone 3C, Schilke 10A4a

Budding trumpet players can often improve their sound and playing experience by simply changing the mouthpiece they use. It’s such a small part of the instrument as a whole, but playing the correct model is incredibly important. Now, we could write an encyclopedia about all the different models and measurements mouthpieces come in, but in today’s blog post we are going to focus on helping young musicians understand how the components of their mouthpiece can affect their trumpet playing.

Firstly, there are five main components to a trumpet mouthpiece:

mouthpiece

The mouthpiece and its dimensions you choose are going to affect many aspects of your trumpet playing such as intonation (the ability to stay in pitch), ease of attack, range, volume, flexibility, tone, and comfort.

Secondly, it’s important to understand that most beginner-level trumpets come with mouthpieces that have shallower cup depths and medium cup diameters (such as a Bach 7C or Bach 5C). A shallower cup is a bit easier for inexperienced players to produce a sound. As the student progresses in his or her musicianship, they may consider going to a deeper cup such as a Bach 3C. Why consider a deeper cup depth? A deeper cup allows more air flow. More air flow means a warmer, richer tone as well as increased volume and range. On the flip side, a mouthpiece such as the Yamaha Bobby Shew Lead mouthpiece has a very shallow cup depth and a narrow backbore. This provides the musician with an extra bright sound and upper register which is ideal for serious jazz trumpeters who need to hit those screaming double-G’s!

Also, it does not hurt to consider the plating of the mouthpiece. Most mouthpieces will be silver plated since silver produces a brighter sound. However, there are a variety of trumpet mouthpieces where the rim, cup, and even the entire mouthpiece, are gold plated. The reason for considering gold plating can vary. Some like the softer feel of the gold plating against the embouchure while others like the warmer sound gold plating provides. There are even musicians with silver allergies, so the gold plating is a great alternative.

Helpful Hint!
When trying new mouthpiece models, start on a mid-range note, such a G on the staff, and go up chromatically to see if there is an improvement in range and if those higher notes are easier to hit with a good sound. Do the same going down chromatically into the lower register.

Lastly, it is a common misconception among young trumpet players that as the years go by they need to keep changing mouthpieces and go to a deeper and deeper cup depth (similar to how young woodwind players feel they need to keep changing to a harder reed every year). This is not necessarily the case. If you are advancing well and meeting your goals with your current mouthpiece, there is no need to change. However, if you do find yourself trying new models, ask yourself these questions:
1) Is my range increasing (upper and lower)?
2) Am I producing the kind of sound I want (classical, jazz, big band, etc.)?
3) Has my intonation improved?
4) Do I have better attacks at the front of my notes?

You are welcome to bring your instrument into Paige’s Music to try a variety of mouthpieces in one of our practice rooms! Your band director or private teacher may have suggestions for particular makes and models they would like you to try, but if you are not sure where to start in your mouthpiece journey, our Sales Associates can help you pinpoint your current ability and have you try models which may help you meet your musical goals.

Do You Have Back-To-School Hours? – FAQs

Back-to-school season is upon us and it always brings up the question of our store hours during the months of August and September.

We don’t have extended hours during back-to-school season, however, we do make some staff adjustments during this time.  We’ll have extra people in-store both during the week and on the weekends to serve our customers more efficiently.  It’s a very busy time at Paige’s but we’re prepared to serve you as fast as we can so the music making can begin smoothly.

Our normal store hours are:
Monday – Friday: 10am – 6pm
Saturday: 10am – 4pm
Sunday: Closed

If you don’t have time to make it to the store, you can always take care of your rental instrument by visiting our website.  You can read all about our online rental on our post from a couple of weeks ago.  It tells all about our Debut Rental Plan and how you can access it from pretty much any device.

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As always, if you have any questions you can contact us by email at sales@paigesmusic.com or by phone at 1-800-382-1099.