Mouthpieces and how to choose, “Unpopular Opinion Edition”

Raise your hand if you’ve had a band teacher or private instructor tell you that you needed to go from your 7C to a 5C, then to a 3C, then to a 1-1/2C and so on and so forth. Ok, now that we’ve all put our hands up, let’s get down to my unpopular opinion: There is no set progression for mouthpieces. They are not like shoes where you start with a size 5 and eventually get up to a size 12.

As discussed earlier on October 3rd, 2019; we talked about some factors that help us choose mouthpieces. Today we will briefly discuss a couple of those and other things to think about when testing mouthpieces.

Physiological Structure

How are your lips shaped? Are they fairly large or are they thinner? Are your teeth perfectly straight, do you have an overbite? These are all important things to be thinking about because if your teeth and lips are shaped exactly right, then perhaps a 7C or similar mouthpiece would be just fine for you. We can continue on this path by asking whether or not you are physically a large person, as that can determine your lung capacity and over all musculature.  So we probably all can’t play the Phil Smith special (essentially a Vincent Bach 1B with a 22 throat and 24 backbore. It’s massive, folks.)


Believe it or not, sometimes the instrument itself can make a difference when choosing a mouthpiece. Here at the store lately when a student has asked to test a 3C I always give them a Bach 3C and a Yamaha 14B4, which is very similar in diameter and depth. Why am I doing this? Because there may be slight variations in the size of shank or your instrument’s mouthpiece receiver that allows a mouthpiece to go or stick out further. While these mouthpieces are similar in feel, the actual dimensions of cup shape and backbore taper might also be ever so slightly different enough to make these two mouthpiece behave differently in their instrument. Heck, even two Bach 3C mouthpieces might behave differently. This is why it is important to come and test things out!

Sound Concept

This plays a huge role in helping us determine what we should play on. Shouldn’t it? If we want a huge, dark sound shouldn’t we all be playing on the most massive and deepest mouthpiece we can find? If we as brass players are not using the appropriate sound concept for our given instrument it doesn’t matter what mouthpiece we are using; it just won’t sound nice. While there are differences between the sounds you can achieve with a Yamaha 14A4a and a 14D4 based upon their designs, if you aren’t performing with the ideal concept in your mind they won’t end up being helpful! You want equipment that will help you enhance your sound and make it easier to achieve your goals.


For more reading about how to choose a mouthpiece based on structure and other illusion shattering information, please check out the links below or come in to the store and get fit for a mouthpiece by either of the brass specialists!

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