Mouthpiece sizes

What about those little peashooter mouthpieces?

The idea of what a peashooter mouthpiece is dependent on several factors.

1. The size of the players lips
2. The muscle strength of the players embouchure
3. The actual embouchure type used. (This means lip curl, lip pucker, as these things require different amounts of cup room to do the same job.)
4. The resistance between the players embouchure and his trumpet. (If I play my old .472 bore NYC Callet I can use a Schilke 14A4a, or a Jet-tone (Roman) mouthpiece. If I play on a horn with more resistance like a Bach 37 Ihave to use a more open mouthpiece. LIke a Schilke 14 with a bored out throat.)

There was a question about mouthpiece depth and range. It is more a factor of endurance than range. It has to do with acoustical load. The lips buzz as they try to resist the air stream. With no mouthpiece they buzz without the aid of feedback (impedence) from the mouthpiece. A mouthpiece with a large cup VOLUME (a variable of diameter, depth and cup conture) gives less feedback to the lips than a mouthpiece with a small cup volume. However this is usually offset by slight embouchure changes.

If I play the Stevens with no pucker then my lips do not protrude into the mouthpiece and I need a smaller cup volume. If however I employ a lip pucker (& I do sometimes) then my lips do go into the cup and make the useable amount of cup volume less. Afterall the space that my lips occupy is no longer useable cup space. In this case I need a mouthpiece with more cup volume.

Cup volume is a measurement of how much water the cup of the mouthpiece can hold. They used to close off the throat and fill the cups with water to determine the total cup volume.

The MF 1,2 & 3 mouthpieces are all measured by Jet-tone as 19/32, 20/32 and 21/32. Jet-tones are measured above where the bite should be. (There is no bite on the MF models.) Other companies measure at a different spot. Therefore J-T mpc tend to run smaller than stated. MF 1 is a convex v and is rounded all the way from the rim to the throat. It would take a microscope to find THAT cup. The buzz has to be centered into the throat as any error would make the buzz touch the inside of the mpc and kill the buzz. I’ve played each of these mpc and I assure you that as far as actual cup measurements go the MF1 is about 1/2 of the cup volume of a Schilke 6A4a or a Bach 20e. It requires an embouchure that does not protrude into the cup at all and most people who buy them are very displeased with the end result.

Now what is actual cup volume?
It is not the depth as a Schilke 6 could be cut with a E cup and it would have depth. It is not diameter as one could also cut a Schilke 24 with a super shallow cup. In the old days (before computer design) cup volume was measured by plugging the throat hole with wax and measuring how much water the cup could hold. This is still 100 times more accurate than picking by diameter or depth alone. The actual curve (shape) of the cup can really throw some unexpected twists into the logic. ie C cup, V cup, CV cup, convex cup, double cups….

This is not the only measure as the backbore/throat combination can also add to or subtract from the USEABLE cup volume. It gets a little tricky when you look at all of the picture. The throat and backbore DO affect both the blow (resistance) and the tone. However the discussion was about CUP SIZE.

In measuring cup size (for the purpose of finding a mouthpiece that fits your lips) then it is only the part of the mouthpiece from the rim to the throat.

I think that mouthpieces should be thought of as 3 parts.
1. The rim shape. This will affect comfort, endurance and flexibility.
2. The cup. Here I include diameter, depth and shape. This is what we were referring to as cup volume. It affects endurance, tone, and to some extent range (by feedback to the lips).
3. The throat / backbore. This is a system and they need to be matched, For example if a throat is bored out then the backbore should be altered to match it. This affects the blow (resistance) and tone.

If we find a rim shape that works well for us then we can look for a cup volume that works for our needs. This will be different for different players and different types of music. (It is possible to play 1 mouthpiece for everything. However it requires extensive use of aperture shapes and floating mouthcorners. This takes a long time to learn. So most players change mouthpieces, horns. to accomplish this.)

After the first two are chosen then we go to the throat / backbore. Here we can alter the tone some and the blow a great deal.

I know of players who chose from the backbore up. It is the same idea.

Change 1 thing at a time when looking at mouthpieces.

I get letters and emails telling me a list of mouthpieces tried this year. I had 1 list last year where the player bought a Schilke 6A4a . He didn’t like it so 2 weeks later he bought a Schilke 24. 2 weeks later it was a Bach 10.5 e followed by a Bach 1c. This was the most extreme case I’ve seen. But lots go from Bach 1.5 to Giardinelli or Schilke. Too many changes at one time to be of any real value.

I like Schilke rims so if a 12 (about a Bach 7) were too small I’d try a 14. Same rim, same throat and backbore. Different diameter. If I liked the diameter but it was too bright or dull I could change cup depths. If it was too tight I could change the throat and backbore.

A big sound can be had on any trumpet or any mouthpiece. Most problems arise because of a mismatch in resistance. If I play a small bore trumpet AND a peashooter mouthpiece then I have to back off (A lot) on the amount of resistance that my lips are providing. If not a small thin sound will be the result. If I play a big bore horn with a peashooter then I back off a little on the amount of resistance that my lips create. If I play a big bore trumpet AND a bathtub Schilke 24 then I have to increase the amount of resistance that my lips make to reach the high range.

We have already discussed how the horn and mouthpiece give feedback. We need to balance 4 things to play with a full sound. They are:
1. The resistance or lack of in the mouthpiece. (This is controlled by cup volume, throat and backbore. Cup volume is the combination of cup diameter, contour and depth.)
2. The resistance or lack of in the trumpet. (This is controlled by the leadpipe taper, leadpipe construction ie standard or reverse, The tuning slide bow 90 degree curves or open radius curve design. The bore of the instrument. The bell taper and lots of other little factors. Things like projection because of weight, material used, bracing used……
3. The resistance in the chops provided by lip compression, lip curl, mpc pressure (it is part of the total picture), moving corners…..
4. AIR, AIR, AIR, AIR, AIR, AIR, AIR…………… Breath support / Control which is needed to overcome all of this resistance and produce the MUSIC.

There are too many variables for anyone (who has not heard you play or know how you use your embouchure) to tell you what is or is not a good mouthpiece for you. You would get the same results by throwing darts (while blindfolded) at a mouthpiece chart and using the one that you hit.


Posted in Equipment.