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Euphonium Mouthpieces —

A Teacher's Guide David R. Werden
t is generally accepted that the mouthpiece is
[most important piece of equipment a brass
^er owns, yet most teachers invest very little
: helping the student select this relatively inexisive item. Choosing a proper mouthpiece
n't have to be a burden. However, it is
essary to have good comparative specifications
well as an understanding of mouthpiece charleristics. This article is designed to help the
her guide the student toward selecting a propnouthpiece.
ertain variations in a mouthpiece's design will
predictable relative effects for any player,
start by looking at some of these general
dencies.
rim

) Diameter

he student should use the widest diameter he
i manage; it permits more of the lip to vibrate,
ducing a larger sound, A wide cup needn't limit
Hurance. It will discourage the player from usj excessive pressure for high register playing,
ereby encouraging proper use of the lip
Uscles.
There is no need to select a very small cup for
s beginning player. It will only lead him into bad
|bits. Consider 24.5-26 millimeters as a good
nge for the young student. Most advanced
Bayers will use diameters of 25.4-26.4
lillimeters.
• Depth

Cup depth is critical and may have a greater imct on a mouthpiece's characteristics than cup
ameter. A deeper cup will give a darker tone and
ill improve low register response. However, it
ay flatten the high register and could lower the
erall pitch of the instrument. It may also
ssen endurance. A shallower cup will have the
asite effects. A cup with a more V-shaped boti will produce the same results as a deeper cup.
|The beginner will probably be most comfortable
nth a medium or medium-shallow cup. The more
ilvanced player will want to select the deepest

cup appropriate for his needs. The shallower cups
would only be chosen for players needing a
brilliant high register.
Throat Diameter
The throat is the narrowest part of the mouthpiece's interior, and may be specified in millimeters, inches, or drill bit sizes (the letter designation of the bit which fits most snugly through the
throat). A large throat offers the player a bigger
sound and makes the low range play easier; it may
also make the extreme high register easier to attain. However, it could diminish endurance and
make the high range too sharp. A small throat
could restrict the high range and make it flat, as
well as make the low register difficult to play.
For the beginner select a medium throat
(6.5-7mm). Encourage the more advanced student
to try a larger throat (7-7.5mm).
Backbore
The backbore lies between the throat and the
end of the shank. It is difficult to describe
numerically, as design variations occur only in its
shape. A tight or closed backbore is one in
which the inner walls of the shank are more convex; an open backbore is one in which the inner
walls are more concave. To think of it another
way, an open backbore is one which increases in
size rapidly beyond the throat. A tight backbore
increases in size very little beyond the throat until
about halfway down the shank where it opens
more rapidly to meet the end of the mouthpiece.
An open backbore offers a darker sound and
greater volume potential, but lessens endurance
and ease of response. A tight backbore may flatten
the high register and make the low register stuffy.
It will also brighten the sound.
With the major mouthpiece brands, you can probably ignore the backbore in your process of selection. A mouthpiece chosen carefully for its other
characteristics will generally have an appropriate
backbore.
Rim Width and Shape
Rim width and shape can affect endurance, flexibility, and sharpness of attacks. Most players
should use a medium-wide rim, which will allow
optimum comfort and endurance by distributing
mouthpiece pressure over a larger area. A wide
rim (known as a cushion rim) might be necessary
for players with very thick lips if they find the
David R. Werden is principal and solo euphoniumist with the U.S. Coast Guard Band and was
named 1980 "Euphonium Player of the Year" by
Sounding Brass magazine. He is a clinician for
Boosey and Hawkes, and euphoniumist with the
Atlantic Tuba Quartet and the U.S. Coast Guard
Tuba Quartet.
MAY IW1/1HI INS1KUMENIALISI

23

medium-wide rim uncomfortable. However, for
most players the wide rim will limit flexibility and
may encourage the use of too much mouthpiece
pressure. A narrow rim increases flexibility, but
its tendency to cut off the circulation of blood in
the lips will decrease endurance.
The rim should be relatively flat for good
pressure distribution. One that is too rounded will
offer more flexibility at the expense of endurance,
and will make the mouthpiece feel as though it has
a larger cup.
The rim should have a relatively sharp inner
edge to promote cleaner attacks. There should be
just enough curvature of the rim to keep the inner
edge from digging into the lips.
Plating
Mouthpieces are made of brass and plated with
silver or gold. The gold is more expensive, but may
allow a little more flexibility because it has a
smoother surface.
Once the plating wears off the rim, the mouthpiece must be replated or discarded. Bare brass
against the lips could cause a serious infection.
This is a problem the teacher must help keep an
eye on, as most young players are not aware of the
danger.
Shank Size
Insist that your student buy a mouthpiece with
the proper shank size for his instrument. Using an
adaptor is never satisfactory. It will degrade tone,
intonation, and response.
Baritones and euphoniums require one of three
shank sizes: 1) small, tenor trombone size (all
Yamahas, all true English-style baritone horns,
and most American bell-front instruments), 2)
middle, or euphonium size (pre-1974 Besson and
Boosey & Hawkes euphoniums, Willson euphoniums, and Conn model 24 and 25 euphoniums),
and 3) large, or bass trombone size (newer Besson
and Boosey & Hawkes euphoniums, Hirsbrunner
euphoniums, and new King euphoniums). While it
is fairly easy to find models with large or small
shanks, it can sometimes be difficult to find one
with the middle size shank. If your student can't
find this middle size on the mouthpiece he wants,
have him buy the large size. It is then a simple
matter for any good repair shop to shave it down
to fit correctly. The proper technique is to shave
the shank just enough so that it extends about one
inch into the receiver.
Detachable Rims
Some manufacturers will prepare their mouthpieces with a removable rim (called a screw rim)
for special needs. If your student is sometimes required to play outdoors in cold weather, you
might have him consider a screw-rim mouthpiece.
He can then obtain a lucite rim for his coldweather playing. This type of rim will never feel
cold and won't freeze onto the lips.
Another option is for the player to use his
regular rim on two or more different mouthpiece
bodies. This practice is useful when the player
doubles on another instrument that requires a different size cup, such as trombone or baritone
24

Till INSTRUMENTALIST/MAY 1'IBI

horn. It is also useful when the player needs tou You'll probabl>
different shank sizes for different instrument or most players f
With either of these examples, your student ne jf the available si:
change only what is required, always keeping t jy with the very 1
same rim he is accustomed to playing.
.akes only a sma
slement to prodti.
General Advice
pie if the studei
Remember that each student is an individu nouthpiece but fi
with a unique physical makeup and his own co lim try a model
cept of tone. The mouthpiece that works well f|nore open throat,
one student may be the wrong choice for anothf A mouthpiece's
Always have each student try the mouthpie|ind a very small
under consideration on his own instrument.
^performance. Ins.
It is very important to match the mouthpiecefnouthpiece each
the instrument. For example a deep cup or a larjjjave him buy a n
throat and backbore will probably prove unsatjuse to clean the
factory when used with a small-bore instrumeident may polish :
Conversely, a shallow cup or tight backbore mfsionally if necess
keep your student from gettirtg the most out of Since gold plating
large-bore instrument.
be polished.
Offer to go with your student when he tries oi If you wish to n
mouthpieces. Even an advanced player finds a semouthpieces, ge
ond opinion valuable. It may also be helpful \bouchure and Me
take along an electronic tuner to assess the intoB Division of Selme
tion of the mouthpiece in the high and la According to
registers. Encourage your student to cover a euphonium play
aspects of his playing — high and low, loud alBritish Isles, the
soft, tongued and slurred.
brands in use are
Some Instrument/Mouthpiece Combinations No |
In Use In the United States
Player: Instrument/mouthpiece
• U.S. Army Band
David Cobbs: Besson/Lehman bowl, Wick rim
Lee Dummer: Besson/Lehman 2
Gary Schumaker: Besson/Schilke 51D
• U.S. Marine Band
Lucas Spiros: Yamaha/Giardinelli Spiros
Glenn Call: Boosey & Hawkes/Lehman 1, 2, & 4
• U.S. Navy Band
John Hadderly: Willson/Schilke 51D
John Bowman: Willson/Schilke 5ID
• U.S.A./F. Band
Brian Bowman: Willson/Schilke 5ID
• U.S.C.G. Band
David Werden: Boosey & Hawkes/Wick 4BL
Roger Behrend: Willson/Schilke 5ID
• U.S.A. Field Band
Carlyle Weber: Yamaha/Perantucci 3
Don Burleson: Besson/Lehman 1
•West Point Band
Arden Norton: Besson/Wick 4AM
Buddy Baker: Yamaha, Conn/Remington (Conn)
Larry Campbell: Hirsbrunner/Perantucci 3
Paul Droste: Yamaha/Schilke 51D
Karl Humble: Boosey & Hawkes/Custom design
Arthur Lehman: Boosey & Hawkes/Lehman 3
Earle Louder: Hirsbrunner, Besson/Bach 9,
Bach 5G
Michael Mamminga: Boosey & Hawkes/Wick 6BM
Rich Matteson: Yamaha/Giardinelli Matteson
Dick Nash: Yamaha/Bach 11
Denis Winter: Willson/Perantucci 3

t South I
I Oak,

25,0
26.0

> Older J

JM31

si-Kup (B8H)

lesson G70
nington

ou'll probably find that the best mouthpiece
Host players falls somewhere in the mid-range
he available sizes. Very few players will be hapvith the very largest or smallest sizes. Often it
only a small change in a particular design
fient to produce noticeable results. For qxamif the student is basically happy with his
uthpiece but finds his high register is flat, have
try a model with similar dimensions but a
: open throat.
mouthpiece's inner dimensions are critical,
I a very small build-up of dirt could affect its
jformance. Instruct your student to clean his
uthpiece each week with soap and water. Also
: him buy a mouthpiece brush, which he can
i to clean the throat and backbore. Your stu|t may polish a silver-plated mouthpiece oc'cajially if necessary, using a mild silver polish.
jgold plating is relatively soft, it should never
olished.
f you wish to read a more detailed discussion of
iithpieces, get the booklet entitled Emchure and Mouthpiece Manual (Vincent Bach,
|ision of Selmer, Box 310, Elkhart, Indiana).
ccording to questionnaires filled out by
j)honium players in North America and the
itish Isles, the three most popular mouthpiece
nds in use are Bach, Denis Wick, and Schilke.

I'll refer to those brands to recommend a few
models as good basic mouthpieces. Use these if
your student doesn't know where to begin in
choosing a proper mouthpiece. Your beginning
students could try a Bach 6'/2AL, a Wick 6BY (or
6BM for medium shanks, and 6BL for large
shanks), and a Schilke 51. After the student's embouchure is well-developed, encourage him to
change to a larger mouthpiece. Your more advanced students could try a Bach 4G or 3G, a Wick
4AY or 4BS (or 4AM for medium shanks, and 4AL
or 4BL f or large shanks), or a Schilke 51D.
As a teacher, you should know which brands are
available at your local music stores, and may want
to ask dealers to carry some of the more common
models so your students will have the opportunity
to test-play them.
Specifications are included here for most of the
commonly used mouthpiece brands. Most figures
were obtained from the manufacturers although
some are the result of direct measurement. Following the tables is a list of instrument/mouthpiece combinations used by some of the prominent players in the United States, based partly on
information obtained from questionnaires. The
list is admittedly incomplete, but is included as a
matter of interest, not for the purpose of making
specific recommendations.

Mouthpiece Specification Tables
|11 dimensions are; given in millimeters. Cup
|ih designations:
S""= shallow
; •
;
= medium shallow
—medium
—medium deep
'.D=deep • .
;•••
'.
.
;
ik size designations:
T = small, tenor trombone size
£= middle, "old Besson" euphonium size
B = large, bass trombone size
CCi Mouthpiece*
t Music Company
4 South Main Street
I Oak, Michigan
521-6380}

:

Model

12

nc
11

Cup
Diameter

throat
Dlam»t*r

Cup
Depth

:
Shank

25.0
26.0

7,2
7,4

MD
MD

T-I-B
T-i-B

t Older Models for Comparison

Cup
Throat
Cup
Diameter
Diameter Depth
24.1
24,5
25.0 :
25.15
25.75

$16-20
Middle-size shank or screw-rim by special order

12C

:

I plating not available

MllM
ig M31
si-Kwp (B8H)
sson G70
mington

Vincent Bach
Division of the Selmer Company
Box 310
Elkhart, Indiana
(800-348-7426)

6.0
7.2
6.7
7.5
6.1

MS
MD
M
MD
MD

Net*

Shank
T
T
E
B
T-B

9
8 ViBW
8
7C
7
6%C
6V4A
6'/»AM
o'/iAL
6
5
5GS
5O
5GB
4C
4
4G
3
3G

Cup
Throat Cup
Diameter Diameter Depth
24.5
24.5
24.7
24.7
24.72
24.75
24.75
24.75
24.75
25.4
25,4
25.4
25.4
25.5
25.5
25.5
25.5
25.5
26.0
26.0
26.0
26.26
26.26

5.85
5.85
5.85
5.85
5.85
5,85
5.85
S.85
5.85
5.85
5.85
6.53
6.63
5.85
5.85
6.63
7.0
7.0
5.8S
5,85
7.0
6.63
7.0

M
M
MS
MO
MD
MS
M
MS
M
MS
MD
MD
MD
M
M
MD
D
D
MS
M
D
MD
D

Shank

Note

T;
T
T
T

T
T
T
T
T
T
T-B
T-B
T-B
T
T
B
B
B
T
T
B
T
B

#1

#3

#2
12

*. cushion rim
#2-Robnded rim
#3-Very rounded rim

MAY ]>mi/IMl INSIKUMtNlALISl

25

Glordlnelli Band Instrument Company
IS1 West 46th Street
New York, New York
(212-575-5959)

Lehman Mouthpiece
Robert J. Pallatised
2808 Wood lawn Avenue
Fatls Church, Virginia
(703-532-0137)

$23-One-plece (gold-$35)
$27-Screw-rim (gold-$47)
Also stocked: Bach and Denis Wick

Model
6M
6D
5M
5D
4M
40

Sym, t
3GM
3G
3M
3D
2GM
2G
Spiros
Sym, B

$40-One-p!ece
$55-Screw-rim
Custom model. Usually made with customer's own

Cup
Diameter

Throat
Diameter

Cup
Depth

24.5
24,5
25,0
25.0
25,4
25,4
25.S
26,0
26.0
26,3
26.3
26.5
26,5
26.5

5.7S
6.0
6.0
6,0

M
MD
M
MO
M
MD
MO
MD
D
M
MD
MO
D
D
D

26,7

6.4
6.4

6,4
6.75
7.0
4,4
6.4
6,75
7.15
7,4
7,15

<

rim copied on Lehman bowl.
No gold plating ottered.
Shank

Note

T-E
T-E
T-E
T-E

Model

T.E

T-E /
T-E
B
B
T-E
T-E
B
ft
T-E
B

#1

Cup
Diameter

Throat
Diameter

Cup
Depth

25.4
25.4
25.4
25,4

7,6
7,6
7.6
7.6

very deep T-E-B
deeper
T-E-B
deeper T-E-B
extremely T-E-B cup;
deep

Shank

Denis Wick
Boosey & Hawkes
P.O. Box 130
Oceanside, New York
(S1M78-2SW)

The following
nany excellent
(elected to demc

All mouthpieces gold plated
$27-32

#l-Very deep, V-shoped cup

The I
t<

>LI uuiciii 111 vail.

>aroque to jazz, "
Schtlke Music Products, Inc.
529 S.Wobosh Avenue
Chicago, Illinois
(312-922-0570)

Model

$25-32, $37.44 In gold.
Middle size shank $5 extra (thank will be bare brass)

Model
40B
40
42B
42
43A
44E4
45B
45
46
460
478
47
47C4
50
51 B

51
510
52
52D
52E2
53
57
58

Cup
Diameter
22.51
22.53
22,99
23.22
23,57
24,28
24.3
24.38
24.54
24.76
24.87
24,99
25.1
25.4
25.43
25.43
25,63
25.44
25,44
25,5
2l».24
26,52
27.68

Throat
Diameter
6.35
6.35
5.94
5.94
6.15
6.35
6,15
6.15
6,35
,6.35
6.15
6.15
6,15
6,75
7.04
7,04
7.04
6.75
6.35
7.04
6.35
6,75
7.54

Cup
Depth

S
MS
S
MS
S
0
MS
M
M
D

MS
M
M
M
MS
M
D
M
0
D
MD
MD
0

#1-T, Ddfsey model
#2-Very deep cup
13-Rourtdad rim
#4-far beginner
15-Recommended for baritone/euphonium
if6-Cushion rim
f7-Recommended for euphonium

26

I N S I K U M I N I A I I S I / M A Y I'ffil

Shank
T-B
T-B
T-B
T-B
T-B
T-B
T-B
T-i
T-B
T-B
T-B
T-B
T-B
T-B
T-B
T-B
T-B
T-B
T-B
T-B

T-B
B
B

Note

11
12
t3

12CS
IOCS
9BS
6BS
6BY
6BM

Cup

Diameter

24.4
25.0
25.0
25.4
25.4
25.4

6BL
5BS

25.4
25.75

561
SAL

25.75
25,75

4BS
4BL
4AY
4AM
4AL

26.0
26.0
26.0
26.0
26.0

3AL
2AL

36.4
27.0

Throat
Diameter

Cup
Depth

medium
medium
medium
7.0
7,0
7,0
1.0
7,25
7.25
7.25
7.5
7.5

MS
MS
MS
M

7,5

M
M
M
MO
MD
D
MD
MD
D

7,5

D

7.5

0
0
D

N/A
N/A

14
#5

#1 -Good for baritone horn
12 -Recommended for Euphonium

f6

Yamaha International Corporation
Box 7271

trass instrumen Shank

Not<

vhich are a vit£

T
T

#1 '

T
T
E

#2
#2

ire a part of a pu

#2:;

B
T
B
T

it 4
#2";
«.j

E
B
B
B

#2 I

n '•!
#2;

"

';'
j

'';;!

#7
#2

$18.
Gold not available

Meaet

42B
47
48
51 B
52D
57
51

Cup
Diameter
23.0
25,0
25,4
25.4
-JHU
26,5
27.7

1
Throat
Diameter

Cup
Depth

Shank

5.94
415
6.50
7.04
6,35
6.75
7,54

MS

T

M
M
MS

T
T

D
0
D

T
T
T
T

ecordings can hi
Three fine albi

ire available to t!

B

T
B

Grand Rapids, Michigan
(616-942-9223)

•adios, the euphc

o students of t.

T

;

service bands.

Soloists and Cl

iuard Band, M>
Ihepard, David V
lamsoe, Buttei
Juartet.
This Was the
JuardBand, The
Verden, soloist.
"Spotlight" - The U.S. Air
ioccalari, Brian
', Other albums
». Young, Barita
Jrest Records), i:
lamentals of b
Icjuipment, and
luphonium. Mas
laritone: Larrj
..eonard), is avail
vith printed mus
:adelt, Vittoria!
ind Minuet: Har
illegro: Handel.
Classical Them
Wilson. The tape
L soloist, allowir
>art.
There are man