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Brass Instrument Mouthpieces Explained (11 Common Questions)

Do you want to upgrade your brass instrument but can’t afford to?

Another option is to get a new mouthpiece, so you should learn about your options:

Here Are the Basics of Brass Instrument Mouthpieces:

Brass mouthpieces can come in silver, gold, and even plastic, varying in size and cost. Be sure to consider your playing style and other needs to help you choose the one you’ll want to play. Also, look into your allergies and anatomy to help find your ideal setup.

1. What Are Brass Instrument Mouthpieces Made Of?

Brass instrument mouthpieces typically use brass as the base material. However, many have a layer of silver plating on top, so that’s the material that will touch your lips.

Some more expensive mouthpieces have gold plating, which can offer a warmer tone than silver. Both metals are nice choices, so you can get the sound you want.

You can also look at plastic mouthpieces if you’re on a strict budget. While they aren’t as popular, they’re another material to consider when choosing a mouthpiece.

2. How Do You Choose a Brass Mouthpiece?

Choosing a brass mouthpiece can be very subjective.

There are hundreds of choices on the market, and the best one for you could differ from that of other players.

If you’re shopping for a new mouthpiece, consider the following factors. That way, you can choose the right model based on your needs.


Of course, you must think about the specific brass instrument you play.

You can’t fit a tuba mouthpiece on a trumpet or vice versa, which can easily narrow your search.

However, you might also want to consider the brand and model of your instrument. Some mouthpieces sound good on brass instruments of any brand, but others may work better with some makes and models.

If possible, try the mouthpiece you want with your instrument. Try a few options to increase your chances of finding a combination you love.


You could play the same brand and model of trumpet as someone else but need a different mouthpiece. Be sure to consider your anatomy, including the shape and thickness of your lips.

It also helps to look at the position of your teeth and jaw. Then, you can look for mouthpieces that will feel better for you to play, and the best mouthpiece could change over time as you advance.

Other things to consider include your endurance and the strength of your lips and embouchure. Some mouthpieces are more resistant, so they’re better for experienced musicians.


Another thing to think about is the sound you want out of your instrument.

Consider if you want a brighter, more soloistic sound or if you’d prefer something darker.

You can get a few mouthpieces for different settings if you want both. Gold is usually more mellow than silver, and a larger rim can help you play louder.

A large throat can also help you play loud more easily, and a deeper mouthpiece cup will offer a dark tone. Be sure to consider everything from the material to the shape.


If you need to buy a new mouthpiece now, you should consider how much money you have. Some mouthpieces cost over $350, while others cost less than $20.

Think about what you’re willing to spend on your new mouthpiece. If you want to buy multiple, keep that in mind as well so that you can account for the total cost.

When you’re on a small budget, that can limit your choices for you. That’s not necessarily bad, and it could help you choose a mouthpiece that works well.

How Much Do Trumpet Mouthpieces Cost? Find out more here!

3. What’s the Difference Between a Trumpet and Cornet Mouthpiece?

Many trumpeters play the cornet and vice versa.

However, the instruments feature quite different mouthpieces, so you can’t use a mouthpiece for one instrument on the other.

A trumpet mouthpiece has a shallow bowl shape, whereas a cornet mouthpiece is a deeper V shape. The deep shape helps give the cornet a warmer tone to sound good in many brass groups.

On the other hand, you can easily hear a trumpet thanks to its mouthpiece. That makes it a popular choice for classical, jazz, and other genres of music.

4. Are Metal Mouthpieces Good?

For most players, metal mouthpieces are the best you can get. It doesn’t matter if you choose a silver-plated or gold-plated mouthpiece, though the materials can have different tone colors.

Metal options are the most prevalent, so you’ll have plenty to choose from. However, some players might prefer to use a plastic mouthpiece for cost reasons or due to allergies.

If you’re sensitive to silver, you could use a gold mouthpiece. But if you can’t afford one, plastic is a suitable option, and you can get a nice unique sound from the material.

5. Are Gold Mouthpieces Better Than Silver?

Gold and silver mouthpieces are easy to find for various brass instruments. Neither material is always better than the other, and it can depend on the player and the situation.

For some players, gold is a much better material. However, others might prefer the sound and response they get from a silver mouthpiece.

Here are a few factors to remember when choosing one metal over the other.


Many people know that silver can tarnish over time. Fortunately, you can remove the tarnish at home or take your instrument to a professional technician.

Gold can also tarnish, though it’s not nearly as common as silver. If you don’t want to deal as much with tarnish, gold is probably the better material for you.

However, both can tarnish, so you might want to go with whichever material has the sound you prefer.


It’s not the most common, but some people are allergic to silver. When you contact the metal, you can develop contact dermatitis, which can be a significant issue when it affects your lips.

Your lips could swell, or you could develop a rash. Either way, playing would be almost impossible, so gold is the better choice if you have a silver allergy.

On the other hand, some people are allergic to gold. This allergy is slightly less common than silver, but it still occurs, so you may need to use a silver mouthpiece.

You may need to use a plastic mouthpiece if you’re allergic to both metals.


Cost can be a major factor in choosing your instrument setup. Gold-plated mouthpieces are almost always more expensive than silver-plated mouthpieces.

Even adding a bit of gold to the rim can double the price of a mouthpiece with only silver plating. Be sure to look at your finances and decide how much you want to spend.

Then, you can narrow your search based on those metrics. You may be able to try gold and silver options, or you might only have access to silver if your budget is very small.

6. Do Trumpet Mouthpieces Come in Different Sizes?

You can find trumpet mouthpieces in a few different sizes, though the difference isn’t massive.

You should consider the model number when you look at a few models.

For example, Yamaha uses numbers and letters to differentiate things like the rim, cup, and backbore. Bach has its system for mouthpiece sizes, so you can’t easily compare the sizes across brands.

You may want to familiarize yourself with the sizing for one brand of the mouthpiece. Then, you can choose which model might work best for you based on your current gear.

Wondering How Trumpet Mouthpieces Work? Check it out!

7. How Long Do Brass Mouthpieces Last?

Brass mouthpieces can last as long as 100 years, but you’ll need to take good care of them for that to happen. That means you must polish the mouthpiece and store it safely and with climate controls.

If you don’t take care of a mouthpiece, it may not last more than a few years. However, with some care, most mouthpieces should last close to 30 years or so.

The exact timeline varies based on the brand and materials of the mouthpiece as well.

8. How Do You Know When a Mouthpiece Is Worn Out?

You can tell if a mouthpiece is worn out if it’s no longer playing as well as it used to.

If you know you haven’t changed your embouchure or any other factors, but the mouthpiece doesn’t respond, you may need to switch.

Another way to tell is if the color has changed. If it looks more like copper than silver, you can use silver polish to see if you can get the silver color to return.

However, polishing it might not work, and that’s a sign the plating has worn off. The mouthpiece might still work, but it won’t necessarily be the best choice for your future performances.

9. Do All Brass Instruments Have a Mouthpiece?

Pretty much all brass instruments use a mouthpiece of some sort. The shape and size can differ between members of the brass family, but you’ll rarely see people blowing directly into an instrument body.

Now, not all brass instruments you buy will come with a mouthpiece. Especially when shopping at the professional level, you can expect to purchase a mouthpiece separately.

That way, you can get the sound and response you desire. If professional brass models came with mouthpieces, it would increase the price, and you might not even like the mouthpiece you get.

10. What Brass Instrument Has the Smallest Mouthpiece?

The cornet is the brass instrument with the smallest mouthpiece. While it’s deeper than a trumpet mouthpiece, that doesn’t mean it’s larger.

11. What Brass Instrument Has the Largest Mouthpiece?

The tuba has the largest mouthpiece out of all of the brass instruments. Of course, it’s also the largest of the brass family, so it makes sense to have the largest mouthpiece.


Sweetwater: Brass Instrument Mouthpiece Buying Guide