Sometimes a $25 mouthpiece works better for a player and their trumpet than a $350 one does.
Here we’ll explore what makes for a good, price-worthy beginner (or professional) mouthpiece and what to look for:
Popular Trumpet Mouthpieces for Beginners
Bach 7C. This is the most popular and most copied mouthpiece in the world.
It comes standard with Bach trumpets, and copies of it come with most other trumpet brands.
It has medium characteristics in all regards and works in all styles.
Adolph Herseth, considered by many to be one of the finest principal orchestral trumpet players of all time, won his seat in the Chicago Symphony, playing a 7C mouthpiece, $59.00:
- Schilke 11—A copy of Adolph Herseth’s Bach 7C. $63.00
- Yamaha 11—A copy of the Schilke 11. $39.99
- Blessing 7C—A copy of the Bach 7C. $21.74
What are Mouthpieces Made of, and How are They Made?
Almost all mouthpieces used by both beginners and professional players are made of brass and plated, usually in either silver or gold.
There are wooden, titanium, pure silver, and plastic mouthpieces too, but these are much rarer.
The external and internal shapes are made using a lathe and special cutting tools. These tools will wear over time, and resharpening them changes the shape, so two mouthpieces made 20 years apart (say 1950-1970) can “feel” different.
With the aid of computers, when tools get dull, manufacturers can now make exact copies of the original tool rather than change the shape by sharpening it.
Some do it more often in others, and that can be reflected in the price.
Is it Important to Buy a New Mouthpiece?
Used mouthpieces are easy to sterilize, so there are no health issues involved, but things can happen to a mouthpiece over its lifetime.
Many mouthpieces get dropped, which can sometimes nick the rim where our lips touch, or dent the other end, things we want to avoid. If mouthpieces are not regularly cleaned, mineral deposits will form, affecting the way the mouthpiece plays.
Sometimes the silver wears off on the rim where we place our lips, and the bare brass can cause an allergic reaction.
Look carefully at a used mouthpiece. If there are no silver wear or physical damage signs, look through the mouthpiece at the small end. If it is shiny on the inside, that is a good sign that this is a gently used mouthpiece.
New mouthpieces, with the advent of computer-controlled milling and machining, are very consistent. (The difference between a “huge” rim diameter and a “tiny” rim diameter is about 5/100ths of an inch—even beginners can feel and tell the difference!)
(There is some concern about the higher lead levels in Chinese mouthpieces—the $10.00 ones online,)
Please let’s not forget the joy of getting something really new! We tend to practice more with a new mouthpiece, and more practice is a great thing!
How Important is it to Have the Right Mouthpiece?
The right mouthpiece will make the trumpet sing; the wrong mouthpiece will make it a struggle to play.
How do we know if a mouthpiece is “right?” There are 2 things to check for.
Mouthpieces have what we call the “bite,” the main point of contact between the mouthpiece and our lips.
A “sharper” bite can help clarify the beginning of the tone, but a sharp bite can cause our lips to hurt when we play, depending on our dental structure.
The Bach 7C has a quite pronounced bite, so many players prefer one of the copies.
2 things to check for here. The 1st test is to see if the mouthpiece plays in tune with the trumpet.
With a tuner, play C below the staff, G in the staff, and C. If they are in tune with each other, the mouthpiece is a perfect match to the trumpet.
The 2nd test is to play a crescendo on those same notes. For a perfect match, the pitch will remain constant.
Perfect matches are rare, so look for the comfortable, in-tune mouthpiece that doesn’t change the pitch too much during a crescendo.
Why Are They So Expensive?
Made of a brass rod and silver-plated, the materials for a mouthpiece are relatively inexpensive.
Precision machining and milling of brass stock involve skill and expensive tools.
Since there are so many variables in a mouthpiece, many makers spend a lot of money and effort trying to make their mouthpiece even better, reflected in their prices.
How Much Do Mouthpieces for Professional Trumpets Cost?
Professional mouthpieces cost the same as “beginner” mouthpieces.
The only difference is that professionals are playing them!
We only call them beginner mouthpieces because they work well for just about everybody for just about everything.
A professional will often specialize in a particular style and then seek out a mouthpiece that gives them the sound and feel they want.