Tagged: Mouthpiece safari
I ordered a Bach 1 1/2C because I wanted to experiment with one–I had never played one and was curious what it would be like.
I have been playing a 3C since about May. I thought the 1 1/2C would look / feel like a dinner plate on my face, but was surprised to see that it didn’t.
The first thing I did was just buzz the mouthpiece, and it seemed easy/effortless.
The mouthpiece does seem, as expected, open and free compared to my 3C.
I played a little in the morning on my 3C before getting the 1 1/2C. I felt ok, not great; I kind of overdid it yesterday.
I thought it was more likely than not that I would just “check the box” after trying the 1 1/2C, that I would conclude that it wasn’t useful and I should stick with the 3C or find something else.
I was surprised to really like the mouthpiece a lot. Such an open blowing mouthpiece, and a lot of sound comes out.
What really threw me for a loop was my range–I have been satisfied with my progress thus far, able to get better and better High F’s and starting to get consistent double G’s more and more. But my sound above the staff at times is thin, airy and I feel like I need to tighten up the aperture more, which sometimes makes the sound worse, not better.
With the 1 1/2C, the notes above the register were fuller and felt more certain, secure–like they were easier than on the 3C, which seems counter-intuitive. I was able to play my full range and it felt actually better than the 3C.
I actually switched back and forth a bit and did note that the 3C felt a bit better too and I was playing above the staff better and more secure on the 3C; but I think the 1 1/2C felt and sounded even better, which I was surprised with. My 3C is 35+ years old and it and my horn need a cleaning, whereas the 1 1/2C is brand new–but it didn’t feel that much bigger to me.
Has anyone else experienced this–a bigger mouthpiece feeling better? Am I just in some sort of honeymoon period with trying a new mouthpiece? I’ve switched here and there before in the past year or two, but don’t recall a mouthpiece feeling and sounding as good to me.
It’s strange, because my lips aren’t that big and I have felt that my top lip feels a bit thin at times, like I need to get more meat into the air column and/or a better seal to make the notes above the staff fuller and more secure, etc. But the 1 1/2C made things sound and feel better. I would have thought going to a 5C, 7C or 10 1/2C would have made more sense–at least when trying to push my range / help my playing above the staff.
How funny. I lined up four mpcs today, cause I’m still confused about which might be best for me right now. A Monette B2 (88!), a Yamaha 16c4gp, a galileo M6C and a standard bach 1.5C.
The Bach was the surprise. Tone, range and ease of playing was the best on that…
Thanks Eckleberg. Played a bit today. I think that answer is that the 1 1/2C is a great mouthpiece, but endurance is probably where the issue lies… If we try to play much above High C for very long on the 1 1/2C, it’s harder than smaller / shallower mouthpieces.
Switched around amongst 1 1/2C, 3C and 3E today a bit. I could play all of them. But it still did seem that above the staff was clearer, less airy than the 3C. Above high C was easier on the 3E, but I have to play that a bit differently not to bottom out on it.
I think I’m starting to get it. I knew each MP had it’s pros and cons, but I think I’m starting to understand the nuances of playing each.
I switched from the 1.5C noted above to a Bach Commercial 3MV, which has a shallow cup, a couple months ago. I thought I would try to find a brighter mouthpiece that might be easier to play high on to complement the 1.5C, which I would use for other stuff.
I didn’t like the 3MV, but liked it better than the 3E I tried before, which is even shallower, and figured it would be good to learn how to play on it–perhaps it would help me play more efficiently. I played it exclusively for a month or two, then recently switched back to the 1.5C and just feel and sound a lot better on that. It is a different sound and I do like the bright sound for some things as well, but the 1.5C just has a great sound.
For some reason, I felt like experimenting a bit more recently so I ordered a Bach 1.25C and Bach 1. Like when I ordered the 1.5C, I was pretty confident that this would just be an experiment and that the result would be my trying to return one or both and confirming that they are way too big.
I received them yesterday and played them yesterday for a good while and again today and I like them even more than the 1.5C. The 1.25C and 1 have different rims, one is sharper than the other but I like them both even more than my 1.5C.
And I’m pretty sure the 1, the biggest, is my favorite–I found myself playing that one the most today. I didn’t do a range study or anything or try to hit high notes; it’s obviously not built for that, but even my range seemed better on it.
Sometimes when playing above the staff, my sound was getting thin occasionally on my prior mouthpieces but on the 1 the notes above the staff felt easier, more assured and were fuller and more resonant than I think I’ve ever played them.
This seems counter-intuitive to me again, like my experience above. I was jokingly thinking in my mind that perhaps I need to try Greg’s Trombone mouthpiece on a trumpet idea…
I suspect what may be happening, is that the larger diameter and cup are somehow allowing me to get away with manipulating my embouchure somehow that the smaller diameter mouthpieces don’t let me get away with. And, the larger diameter MP probably have more open throats which perhaps tolerate over-blowing more–perhaps I’m over-blowing the smaller mouthpieces.
Has anyone else experienced this or have any ideas regarding what I’m experiencing?
Today, I brought out a number of mouthipeces and alternated amongst my Bach 1, 1.25C, 1.5C, 3C, 3MV, 3E and even a 10.5C. I didn’t do a thorough test, but was able to play low F# up to High C, D or E on them all. The shallower pieces did feel a little more efficient on the high notes, but the 1.25C and 1 allowed me more sound/resonance–I haven’t played that loud since my marching band days, they are really open.
I did notice when trying to play a full song (Star Spangled Banner) on the Bach 1 that I did start to “feel it” towards the end even though I wasn’t playing high–I played it straight. Whereas when I was playing little snippets of songs / screwing around, I felt and sounded better than perhaps ever. I didn’t try to play too high much, but did get up to a G or A above High C once even on the Bach 1 just doing harmonic slurs; it seemed easier than its felt on the 1.5C or 3MV lately.
I figure I’ll just enjoy the mouthpieces and use them–if they work for me, then they work I guess, even if it doesn’t seem to make sense. Plus, playing a washtub mouthipece will probably make me stronger for when I do play a smaller/shallower mouthpiece, which I do plan on alternating with–I think I recall Greg recommending playing WW on the biggest piece you can…
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.
Record yourself on good equipment and listen carefully. It sounds different out there. I have been through the safari many times and have a huge collection. Initial impressions are deceptive. I recently was happy with one set up. A friend offered me a trumpet to try and I recorded it but found some issues I had not expected. After an evening of trialling various options I reverted to a trumpet I was considering selling with a mouthpiece I had dismissed some time ago. Two months down the line it has settled well. Watch Wayne Bergeron talk about his Japan experience.
On your point re shallow pieces. I bottomed out quickly and had little stamina. Since doing this course I can now play a Shew 2( not my regular piece) as I feel much more efficient but still tend to over work. Once I completely back off things start to happen. I will never be or want to be a lead player but it is nice to know you have the range when required.I have gone from a nothing above the stave player to consistent high C and above in two years but still nowhere near fully efficient. Post Covid will reveal the true value when I start playing with other people again.
Thanks PHK! I really appreciate your input!
I was just thinking about recording myself yesterday as I realized that part of the difference is that my perception of the sound I’m making is changing. I was alternating playing the 3C, 1.25C and Bobby Shew Lead yesterday and the 3C and 1.25C just seemed so dark–which I used to prefer, but yesterday it sounded and felt like I was blowing through a mute almost.
It occurred to me that the Bobby Shew might sound shrill and unpleasant from the other side of the bell–I have heard some reviews stating as much.
Can you recommend any equipment? I started poking around into that, but never figured it out. I was thinking of just buying a USB microphone and using my laptop to record myself as I play in my home office.
It is interesting experimenting with these different tools and how different my experiences have been versus my expectations and learning more about how the instrument, the mouthpiece(s) and my embouchure work, effect sound production, etc.
I’ll need more time experimenting–and will definitely add recording the sound and perhaps asking my wife and daughter (my only audience…) their feedback FWTW.
Congrats on your progression! I had the same experience–could never play above the stave, but now can do so musically and consistently and can do so for a considerable amount of time; my range no longer quickly decreases as I play and I’m not killing myself anymore. I do hit a limit up there still and need to figure out how to increase my range, but no what to do…WindWorks has been a great help with that.
I don’t want to play professionally, but I would like to see where I can go with this. My effective range has gone from a G above the staff to a D or Eb above High C, musically, an E or F and occasional Double G at my limit. The highest I would probably want to ever get to “musically” would be a Double C, but would be thrilled if I could consistently play the Double G.
Although, I still get a kick every day at how easy it is to play above the staff up to about the High C or D, where it starts getting a little more challenging. Like you, I still struggle with my efficiency as I get up there–I need to figure things out a bit more to progress further.
Not overdoing it in practice and being consistent with practice is perhaps my biggest challenge/hurdle to overcome. I tend to swing between not getting to practice enough to overdoing it. But, I’m having a blast anyway.
Thanks for the thread. I’ll add my 2 cents…
I also have done the safari thing. Once I started studying with professional orchestral players/ teachers (45 years ago), I played exclusively on a Bach 1 1/2C (pre-Selmer acquisition) because that’s what they did and recommended. Since coming back to playing, I have experimented as you describe. My goal (this year) is to play the Brandenberg #2 on Bb piccolo without straining. Which means I need consistency around G above High C. For those of us who have subscribed to the Ultimate level and viewed the related videos, Greg acknowledges not only switching mouthpieces moving through the Windworks stages, but also switching horns! Nice to be a Yamaha sponsored artist! So…while the mouthpiece is important for aperture setting, there is more to the sound equation above High C. My axe is a Bach Strad Bb/ 25A leadpipe (again pre-Selmer acquisition) which for the orchestral literature was the gold standard back then. I just ordered the Bobby Shew Lead mouthpiece based on this discussion. I note its inner diameter is similar to a Bach 2 which I also own but dont really prefer. Again it’s going to be based on cup dimensions.
Related to the later-stage videos, Greg mentions starting to fool around with bigger gear to see if it affects/ improves his upper range. I believe his logic is similar to weigh lifting- work harder in practice so that in performance (on smaller gear) it will be ‘easier’. With that logic, I have been playing for the last 3 months on a Bach 1B and have seen improvement on my 1 1/2C. I also do mouthpiece buzzing as warmup on both a trombone and/or tuba mouthpiece thinking it will make me work harder the muscles that set the trumpet aperture corners. My thinking it’s similar to lip free buzzing as the rims are so wide. It definitely helps the facial muscles feel loose. I sometimes even use them when resting during trumpet practice if I feel lactic acid building up.