A Basic Guide to Woodwind Mouthpiece Testing

by Andrew Blanco

Materials you needs (besides mouthpieces):

·    Protective patches (to prevent teeth marks)

·    Sanitizing spray and soft cloth, preferably cotton or micro fiber (tissues are not acceptable)

·    Extra reeds

Materials the student needs:

·    His or her instrument

·    NEW reeds

** Reeds that are already broken-in often conform to the old mouthpiece and may not play well on a new mouthpiece.

Mouthpiece testing tips

·    Important note: When trying a new mouthpiece, a student should NOT play sheet music.  Instead, he or she should play from memory.

Something simple – a scale or even part of a scale is fine, so long as it covers the entire range of the instrument (crossing the break for clarinetists)

When testing a mouthpiece consider three things:

1. How does it sound?

  • Is it round and warm
  • Is it too bright

2. How does it feel? 

  • Are you comfortable playing this mouthpiece?

3. Is it in tune? 

Other thoughts: 

  • If the student wishes to look at multiple mouthpieces, they should try no more than three at a time. It helps the student stay focused. When the favorite of the three has been selected, exchange the two others for more (if desired).
  • If the student sounds better but you feel the sound could even be better, try different reed strengths to see if you can close in on the desired sound.
  • Clean each mouthpiece before a different student tries it.

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