Choosing The Best Trumpet Mouthpiece For The Job The well-known musical instrument called the trumpet dates back as far as 3,000 years B. C., with the Central Asian civilization called the Oxus. Constructed out of a single sheet of metal, these were a sophisticated technical achievement for the time. The tomb of King Tudankhamun of Egypt yielded trumpets fashioned out of bronze and silver. As they were in the 15th century, today’s trumpets are mostly made of brass. Their shape resembles that of a huge, tube-shaped paperclip with a wide mouth at the end. The best trumpet mouthpiece plays a large part in getting the best sound out of the instrument. Of the entire family of brass instruments, the trumpet is said to have the highest register. This refers to the range of pitch produced by the different sound wave patterns that result from blowing into the mouthpiece. A higher register can be achieved by a simple technique known as overblowing. A characteristic called the ‘embouchure, ‘ meaning the position of the musician’s lips and their use of the muscles in the face, is one important contributor to the quality of sound that emerges from the business end of the instrument. The other critical factor is the construction of the mouthpiece. The anatomy of the instrumental contributor to the emboucher is made up of several parts: the rim, the cup, the throat and the backbore. The shape of the rim controls the freedom of the lip muscles. A sharp-edged rim will produce a metallic tone; whereas, a rounded rim will yield a fuzzy sound. Too wide, and the rim interferes with flexibility. Too narrow, and it impedes slurring by digging into lip muscles and cutting off the circulation. While comfort and quality do not automatically go hand in hand, a medium wide rim gives the most comfort, endurance and flexibility. The size and shape of the cup influence the color, or timbre, of the sound. A deep cup mellows the high tones and enriches the lower register. A shallow cup, on the other hand, promotes a higher register by achieving higher frequencies leading to a bright, brilliant tone. However, the lower register will be less prominent. For general purposes, a medium gives the best result for both low and high registers. As for the throat, the size of the hole and the funnel shape control air resistance. Too small a throat will lose the higher register; too large and the player’s lips will get drawn into the cup and tiring them out. Goldilocks said it best. The middle is just perfect. The purpose of the backbore appears to be to cover up deficiencies in either the embouchure or the other pieces of the mouthpiece. The decision of how to make this piece is best left to the skilled instrumentalist who makes it. The musician is able to select the best trumpet mouthpiece for their purposes by manipulating each of the factors described above. Fr example, a small cup will favor rock or dixieland music. A larger cup will be more suitable for jazz or concert bands.
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Published on Oct 3, 2012