Types of Trumpet Mouthpieces and How to Choose the Right One
The trumpet is a highly versatile instrument that requires a lot of skill and attention to detail. One of the most important aspects of playing a trumpet is having the right mouthpiece. The type of mouthpiece you choose affects your sound, response, intonation, and even range.
Different Types of Trumpet Mouthpieces
There are three main categories of trumpet mouthpieces: cup depth, rim shape, and backbore shape. The cup depth affects the sound quality by changing the “volume” of the air column. The rim shape affects how the player’s embouchure is formed and how comfortable or uncomfortable the mouthpiece feels. The backbore shape affects the volume of the instrument and the way the sound projects.
Cup depths range from shallow to deep and can be found in many different shapes. Shallow cups tend to produce a bright, focused sound while deeper cups produce a warm, mellow sound. The rim shape can be round, semi-round, or square and affects the comfort of the player’s embouchure. The backbore shape can be tapered or straight and affects the volume of the instrument and the way the sound projects.
Mouthpieces come in various weight and visual characteristics:
Lightweight mouthpieces for band leaders. These mouthpieces are aimed to play in the upper register. They usually have a shallow cup and a small choice of rim sizes. They produce a bright sound with a sharp articulation and comparatively not rich timbre.
Standard mouthpieces in a classic design. The most popular type of the mouthpieces, with the widest selection of sizes and modifications. Due to their universal design, they are suitable for any music style. Standard mouthpieces provide an accurate intonation and a rich timbre, which you can change by using a booster.
Heavyweight mouthpieces (megatones). They are characterized by the brightest and heaviest timbre among the other models. However, they demand a bigger air flood to produce this rich sound. Heavyweight mouthpieces do not need boosters. They are not so commonly produced and available not in all modifications as a classic version.
The KGU booster is an attachment that improves the tone and depth of the sound without the need to switch between various mouthpieces. It’s made of a bronze with a high copper content and has a well-thought-out geometry. In a few seconds, the booster can turn your standard or lightweight mouthpiece into a megatone. If you pair a standard mouthpiece, available in many sizes and brands’ versions, with the booster, you get a really comfortable and universal combination for experiments with the sound during gigs, recordings at home or in the studio. The principle of the booster functioning is the following: you insert the mouthpiece into the booster, screw it in order to fix it inside the booster without gaps, and then place it on your trumpet.
How to Choose the Right Mouthpiece
Choosing the right mouthpiece for your trumpet can be difficult and overwhelming. It is important to experiment with different mouthpiece combinations in order to find the one that works best for you. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
- Try different cup depths. Start with shallow cups and gradually move up to deeper cups.
- Experiment with rim shapes. Try round, semi-round, and square rim shapes and see which one feels most comfortable.
- Test out different backbore shapes. Straight backbores produce a brighter, more focused sound while tapered backbores produce a warmer, more mellow sound.
- Listen to recordings of yourself. Compare your sound with different mouthpiece combinations and see which one produces the sound you like.
Choosing the right mouthpiece for your trumpet can be a daunting task, but with some experimentation and practice, you can find the one that works best for you.