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Continuing on with my “mouthpiece safari”…

I have been playing my Bach 3C for most of the past year–I loved the sound of some of the bigger pieces I posted about above, but planned on developing my range and figured going that big would make range development more difficult, eventually.

Plus, I wondered a bit if the fact that playing a 1.5C or 1.25C felt and sounded freer to me was an indicator that I was playing less efficiently than on a 3C or shallow mouthpiece.

I did feel like I got better by learning how to play the 3C better and my playing got to a point where it felt consistent, reliable, etc. So I figured 2021 might be the year to push my range development a bit and explore again with shallow mouthpieces, etc.

Recently, I experimented a bit with my Bach 3E and Bach 3MV (“Commercial”) mouthpieces, but felt like those were going to take me a bit of time to adapt to and I wondered if I shouldn’t try something else. They didn’t seem to feel that good–especially the 3E. Strangely, although it was shallow

Despite worrying that I was just adding another paper weight to my already sizeable collection, I decided to order a Bobby Shew Lead (Yamaha) mouthpiece–I had read a lot of good things / recommendations about that. I believe Greg mentioned he likes that piece as well.

I’ve been playing it for a couple days now, and it immediately felt “right” despite being very shallow–I believe it’s actually even shallower than the 3E. I actually thought it was just going to be confirming that I can’t play shallow mouthpieces–I bottom out too much.

But, while I’m still getting used to it, it instantly felt good and I felt like I could play well on it. The slotting is good.

One thing that appears to be a factor is the rim on the Bobby Shew appears to be a bit thicker than the 3E and the “alpha angle” appears to be much steeper on the 3E–I’m no mouthpiece expert, but my understanding is that the “alpha angle” is the steepness of which the cup falls from the top of the rim to the bottom of the cup. The Bobby Shew, perhaps in part due to the rim shape, appears to have a more gradual “alpha angle” and I don’t feel like my lips protrude as much (I have thin lips) and I don’t bottom out. The 3E actually feels wider than the Bobby Shew and my 3C due to the fact that the rim is thinner and “alpha angle’ is sharper.

Anyway, bottom line is that the Bobby Shew Lead MP feels and sounds great (thus far…2 days in…) and I’m looking forward to learning how to play shallow mouthpieces–it is amazing how much easier it sometimes feels, when things are going good. I can’t really hit higher notes than I could before, but they feel a little easier, much brighter and louder/more full/resonant with less air.

The challenge will continue to be learning how to achieve a faster vibration (higher pitch) without overblowing (less air is required the higher we play) and without unecessary engagement of muscles I shouldn’t engage.

It’s interesting that I feel like I’ve migrated now to 2 specialized pieces–the 1.25C and the Bobby Shew Lead. I tried playing my 3C yesterday, and it just felt like it was so inefficient and the sound wasn’t as good as the bigger mouthpiece. It now feels like it’s unecessary / redundant, and I’ll just play either the 1.25C or Bobby Shew Lead… We’ll see… 2 days in… 😉 But that’s where my head’s at for now.

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