The 5th Dimension of Mouthpieces

By Mary Galime, Denis Wick USA

When you search for a mouthpiece, what measurements do you look toward to make sure you will find the perfect fit? Our suggestion is to always start with diameter. From there you might look at cup contour (B cup, C cup… shallow or deep?) or rim width/contour. The sizing you will see on nearly every mouthpiece manufacturer’s website is diameter, rim width, throat, and backbore. Each of these measurements will give you an idea about what level of comfort and support the mouthpiece will offer your individual needs.

You’re missing one though. Though you think you can see it, it only truly manifests once you start playing the mouthpiece. The shape and mass distribution in the mouthpiece have some of the most profound affect on how your mouthpiece will resonate in your instrument. It creates the environment your mouthpiece will resonate in. You could have all the best running gear designed specifically for your body, and then you walk outside and it is 100 degrees and humid. Though you have the right conditions for everything, the environment has turned your run into a struggle. Similarly, you could choose all the right mouthpiece measurements, but the weight of the mouthpiece will drastically affect how your mouthpiece resonates in the instrument, and what sound is produced.

The sound that is immediately produced as you blow your first note will affect your comfort, what level of fatigue you’ll feel, your flexibility…. Just about everything! How does it affect so many areas of your performance? As you blow air and initiate your first sound on a mouthpiece, the first thing your ear hears will cause your body to react in one of 2 ways: relaxation or manipulation. If your ear does not hear the right sound immediately, your body will react to manipulate the right muscles that will attempt to create the sound you want to hear. However, when you hear the right sound immediately your body relaxes, and you feel like you are playing the best mouthpiece in the world (a Denis Wick mouthpiece of course!).

If the mass of the mouthpiece has such a profound effect on how your sound is produced, it then must be considered in your mouthpiece trial selections. Denis Wick mouthpieces uniquely offer you a wide variety of weight options on the most popular sizes of mouthpieces. As a trumpet player, I can try a 3C out in 5 different varieties that use the same diameter, but different shape and weight distributions as well as rim contours for comfort.

How do you know what’s right for you? You have to try it out! No matter how perfect the measurements are, you will not know how it will work for you until you test the environment. This is why we suggest starting with the right diameter and then try all the styles (i.e. Classic, Heritage, HeavyTop, Ultra, etc.). The Denis Wick 5ABL trombone mouthpiece might be the perfect size for you, but you may find after trying them out that the Classic style allows you to sound better than your competition, but the Heritage allows you to sound like your idol. Both 5ABLs share the exact same sizing but the mass placement and overall weight is different in each mouthpiece, so they resonate totally different from each other, thus creating 2 different sounds for you.

To get a closer look the different shapes and sizes of Denis Wick mouthpieces and why they were created, check out this video:  

By all means, know what sizing means, and what it does for you, but keep in mind that the perfect sizing is only a reality when it is paired with the perfect environment. If this article made you realize that you now understand mass distribution more than sizing, download the Denis Wick app, go to instrument product page, and you’ll find a variety of videos and articles to help you learn more about every dimension of your mouthpiece.

By all means, know what sizing means, and what it does for you, but keep in mind that the perfect sizing is only a reality when it is paired with the perfect environment. If this article made you realize that you now understand mass distribution more than sizing, download the Denis Wick app, go to instrument product page, and you’ll find a variety of videos and articles to help you learn more about every dimension of your mouthpiece.

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