There are regular mouthpieces, and then there are heavy mouthpieces like the Bach Megatone.
Then you have mouthpiece boosters, which go over a standard mouthpiece.
Mouthpiece boosters will improve the response of your mouthpiece and help you slot notes into place. Aside from all that, they look pretty cool and can give your trumpet a striking new look.
While you might like the overall feel and response of your current mouthpiece, there are times when you’re looking for a different sound or want to add some extra oomph to it:
Here’s What Trumpet Mouthpiece Boosters Do:
A mouthpiece booster is an attachment that slips over your standard mouthpiece and converts it into a heavy mouthpiece. This gives it characteristics of a heavy-style mouthpiece like a Bach Megatone or a Dennis Wick HeavyTop. Boosters can add more color and depth to your sound.
Do Professional Players use these Boosters?
Trumpet players are notorious for experimenting with gear, so it’s not surprising to find professionals who use trumpet boosters.
The legendary Arturo Sandoval has been an endorser for these boosters. In a video on the KGU Brass Youtube channel, he noted when testing the booster that “when you play fast, everything is more clear.”
Jay Jennings from Snarky Puppy has also been seen using a booster for his trumpet.
When Can a Mouthpiece Booster be Helpful?
Boosters can be a great option for someone who wants more substance to their sound.
A mouthpiece booster can be a great way to change up your sound. They can provide more core to the sound, bring out more overtones, and improve the responsiveness of your instrument.
Some would argue that you can get the same result with a heavy-walled mouthpiece.
While that’s true to a certain extent, there are some things to consider:
- There’s a difference between a mouthpiece made with extra mass vs. a mouthpiece with mass added onto it.
- You might like the feel and playability of a standard mouthpiece more than a heavy mouthpiece but still want the extra color from the heavy mass.
Choosing a mouthpiece and setup is highly personal. What works for some players might not work for others.
If you get the chance, be sure to try out different mouthpiece setups. You might be surprised at what you find.
Different Sounds for Different Gigs:
If you’re a serious trumpet player, you might find that certain setups work better for different situations.
Symphonic musicians may want to darken up their sound by using a booster. Doing this might help with their orchestral and classical playing.
In contrast, some players may want to brighten up their sound a bit. In this case, a booster might not be the best option.
Home Recording and Recording Studios:
We live in an age where recording is more accessible than ever.
You don’t have to be a professional musician to hear high-quality recordings of yourself.
Sometimes you’ll want to record multi-tracks of yourself on the trumpet. When recording, try adding and removing the mouthpiece booster on different tracks.
The result is you’ll create slightly different-sounding tracks that sound more like an ensemble of trumpets playing together. Without changing the setup, the tracks can seem a little too blended.
If you’re unhappy with your current setup, you might feel the need to buy a new trumpet or a new mouthpiece. However, both of those options can quickly get expensive.
While the best mouthpiece boosters aren’t cheap, they cost much less than your other options. So if you’re on a budget and are specifically looking for a heavy mouthpiece sound, a booster might work for you.
It’s also a nice choice because you might be able to sell your heavy mouthpiece and get a more affordable one. Then, you can use some of the money from the sale to buy your new booster.
Trumpet mouthpieces don’t take up much room in your case, but the space adds up. Some trumpet players may have a few mouthpieces in their case for different uses.
Instead of having multiple regular and multiple heavy mouthpieces, you can have a few regular ones. Then, you can look for a mouthpiece booster that’s compatible with all of your gear.
You can cut down on the amount of gear you have to carry, which could free up room in your case. If you tend to lose extra mouthpieces, it makes sense to reduce your stock and use a booster to help change your tone.
What Are the Most Popular Boosters out There?
KGU Brass makes some of the highest-rated mouthpiece boosters out there.
They have six different models to choose from, each with different a different shape, weight, and characteristics:
- Classic – A great all-around booster that’s compatible with most popular mouthpieces.
- Radius – More lightweight than others and has an elegant design.
- Cone – The middle-weight booster with a steady taper from top to bottom.
- Rocket – This one has a unique design with different weight distribution.
- Heavy – As the name suggests, it’s the heaviest one. Helps produce a big, warm sound.
- Radiator – Has a more geometric design with balanced weight and characteristics.
Each of these mouthpiece boosters is available in a variety of finishes, including raw brass, copper brass, silver-plated, and 24k gold-plated brass.
Many reviewers on Amazon notice an instant improvement in their sound. They love the extra color and edge it gives to their sound.
Some users even noticed their endurance improved after using these boosters. With the booster, they could practice and perform for more extended periods of time.
Denis Wick also produces a mouthpiece booster for the trumpet. This gives your mouthpiece some characteristics of their more popular HeavyTop series of mouthpieces and is also worth looking into.
KGUBrass Trumpet Mouthpiece Booster:
The KGUBrass Trumpet Mouthpiece Booster is one of the most common models on the market.
You can choose from five different styles:
- Custom Classic
- Custom Come
- Custom Heavy
- Custom Radius
- Custom Rocket
Depending on the style, you can also get the booster in raw brass, bronze lacquer, copper lacquer, silver-plated, and gold. That way, you can get more of the sound or tone colors that you desire.
Installing the booster is easy, and so is taking it off your mouthpiece. You can use the accessory on most mouthpieces and trumpets, so you can take it with you as you upgrade.
Playing it can make practicing more enjoyable, and it can help you play higher notes more consistently. However, it doesn’t offer a huge change for everyone, so you need to try it to know if it’s for you.
Denis Wick Heavytop Conversion Booster:
Another option to try is the Denis Wick Heavytop Conversion Booster. It works particularly well with Denis Wick mouthpieces, but you can try it with mouthpieces from other brands.
This booster can help improve your stability and projection as you play. It might also help you focus your tone and play higher notes more easily.
The booster is an excellent alternative to a heavy mouthpiece, so it’s great for players on a budget. However, it uses a rubber washer to stay in place, and that could deaden your sound.
Your response might depend on your mouthpiece and trumpet, so give it a try. That’s the best way to know if the booster is a good fit for you.
How Common are these Mouthpiece Boosters?
Mouthpiece boosters seem to be a pretty recent trend, only gaining in popularity the past few years.
They’re also a real niche product, making them hard to spot in the wild.
In many cases, it’s easier for someone to find a heavy-walled mouthpiece than to find a mouthpiece booster.
What Else Can you Do to Get Better/More Control on the Trumpet?
There are a few things you can do to get better control of your instrument.
The first and most obvious thing is practice. It won’t cost you any extra money, and it’s something you should be doing anyway.
Here are some things you should work on for better control:
- Use more air and practice proper breathing
- Check your embouchure
- Flexibility exercises
- Playing scales, patterns, and music precisely with a metronome
For trumpet gear that helps your playing, here are some other things you can look into:
A good mouthpiece can arguably do as much for your sound as the trumpet itself.
Spend some time checking out different mouthpieces to see which one is a good fit for you.
A great trumpet mouthpiece should be comfortable to play while still producing your desired sound.
Heavy Valve Caps:
These are similar in concept to mouthpiece boosters.
You can replace the caps on your current trumpet with these heavy valve caps, which add extra warmth and power to your sound.
Changing Finger Buttons:
These can increase or decrease the valves’ weight, changing the pistons’ travel speed and giving you more control over each when playing fast.
One of the best things you can do is to practice your trumpet consistently. You don’t have to practice every day or for multiple hours a day.
However, you should follow a regular practice schedule. Then, you can work on your embouchure and improve your breathing, both of which can help with control.
If you don’t have a trumpet teacher, consider finding one and taking a few lessons. A teacher can evaluate your playing specifically and suggest ways to help improve and meet your goals.
Try a lefreQue
The lefreQue sound bridge is a product that you can attach to your mouthpiece and the leadpipe on your trumpet. It helps the vibrations move into the body of your instrument.
That can make it easier to get a better response and to project your sound. Like a mouthpiece booster, you can take the sound bridge on and off as you need it.
The sound bridge also comes in a variety of materials to help you get the specific sound you want. Some players swear by their lefreQue and won’t play without it, but like a booster, you should try it for yourself.
A behind the scenes look at mouthpieces with Jay Jennings of Snarky Puppy
Arturo Sandoval. Test of KGUBrass Classic mouthpieces booster. p.1 – YouTube