Wayne Bergeron is one most well respected musicians alive today and is currently setting the standard for how to be a consummate studio and live player. I could use up all my space here just listing his stunning resume, but instead I’ll refer you to his website waynebergeron.com. I had the chance to interview Wayne and ask him about the gear he’s using these days.
TG: I decided to leave your mouthpieces to their own article, since mouthpiece choice seems to be most trumpet players favorite subject. What are you playing on these days?
WB: Well, I’ve been working with Gary Radke of GR Technologies. I basically stumbled on one of his mouthpieces after I went through some lip issues. The mouthpieces I had was hurting my lip and once I found his mouthpieces we connected, that’s how our relationship started. So, we’ve made a custom mouthpiece. I think it’s going to be called the Studio Standard. There’ll be four different mouthpieces – that one, plus a deeper version, then a flugel piece, and there’ll be a piece called the FD, which is basically the same rim as a trumpet mouthpiece, but is basically a flugelhorn mouthpiece for the trumpet. It will basically create a cornet kind of sound. It should be great for exposed solo-ish kinds of things.
TG: Wow - that sounds interesting!
WB: Yeah! So, that’s what I’ve been playing for the past couple of years.
Since we have a lot of newer players reading, how about telling our audience what they should be looking for in a mouthpiece.
I’m kind of particular about mouthpieces for young players. There’s a reason that a 7C comes with every new trumpet and that’s because it’s a size that’s right about in the middle of the extremes. When a student gets to a place where they’re getting some results on the trumpet, then their lip size, their physical build, all of that has to do with the size rim they should have and how deep the cup should be. I’m kind of against the idea that, “you have to play this to play lead, or this to play classical.” It’s not an across the board thing. If someone has really big, fleshy lips and they put a lot of lip in that mouthpiece, it’s going to take up a lot of that cup volume, so that deeper mouthpiece becomes shallower. There’s more compression created. And that same person may not be able to play a real shallow mouthpiece.
I’ve always sort of gravitated to a middle-of-the-road mouthpiece, something I could get a good sound on in all registers, but still have enough compression to play in the upper register. If all I did was play high notes, and I have yet to find a job that only required that, then I might choose something that would just make that easier.
A young player should always look first for what sounds best - what am I getting the nicest sound on? And what feels best. If something feels overly large - someone has really thin lips and their trying to play a “1” rim - it might feel gigantic to them.
I’m kind of against teachers who just say “you have to play this”. I was at a Master Class one time and this young girl approached me and said, “Mr. Bergeron, our teacher says we all have to play 1-1/2C Bach Mouthpieces because that’s orchestral standard.” And I’m looking at this little girl, she’s like four feet tall, with a real tiny face and little thin lips and I’m thinking to myself, “That thing is going to cover her whole face!” I would have put her on a 10-1/2C, you know?
So, that’s my basic thought on mouthpieces. It’s always about what’s going to give you the best sound in most situations. And if you’re at a place where you have to switch between, say, playing in a brass quintet and playing lead in a jazz band, and it can’t be done on the same mouthpiece, then I would just find the right tool for the job. Something with more vibrancy and color for the brass quintet, then something with more zap for the lead chair to get over more players.
I assume you have a particular mouthpiece that you favor most of the time?
Yes, the one I’m playing kind of does all that stuff. I can cover a lot of ground on my main mouthpiece. If it gets real extreme I’ll pop one of my other mouthpieces in. Maybe I need something a little deeper or broader sounding.
Thanks again. If I don’t see you soon, I have no doubt I’ll hear you somewhere!
You’re welcome, see you later!