By: Greg Pate, Low Brass Specialist (Bass and Tenor Trombone, Contrabass Trombone, Tuba, Euphonium)
Selecting a brass mouthpiece can be a challenge for many players. A mouthpiece that is too large or too small can have a detrimental effect on the players sound, embouchure, and ultimately their sound.
I will try to give some clarity to this process based on what I have learned over 45-plus years of playing experience.
The rim of the mouthpiece should be comfortable on the face. Rims can be narrow or wide, sharp or round. Brass players may prefer one shape over another. The diameter of the rim must feel comfortable as well.
The mouthpiece takes the vibration and airstream from the embouchure and transfers it to the horn. The input that the player gives must make the instrument respond properly. If the mouthpiece is not correct for the player, it will feel like the sound and pitch of the instrument is unstable.
The correct mouthpiece will help the player to get the best sound. It is always a good idea to have another musician listen while the mouthpiece is being tested and give feedback on the sound quality.
In summary, selecting the right mouthpiece will give the player optimum results in all three of these areas. Be patient though. Sometimes it may take a long time to find the right one.