Whether you are picking up a trumpet for the first time or you’ve been playing for years, your trumpet mouthpiece has a huge impact on your sound and your instrument's playability. And as with almost every other aspect of playing music and selecting an instrument and its accessories, there is not one answer that will work for everyone when it comes to picking your first trumpet jazz mouthpiece.
So, how do you know which trumpet mouthpiece is the best one for you? If this truly is your first trumpet jazz mouthpiece you’re selecting (or helping a student select), then you want to focus on the important aspects for a beginner.
Your lip thickness and embouchure formation are important for any level of trumpeter. Once you understand what those elements are for you, you can start to look at the elements of the mouthpiece. For beginners, you should carefully consider cup depth and cup diameter. Keep in mind that deeper cups have a dark tone while shallow cups make it easier to hit higher notes. A wider cup diameter will have a stronger impact over a larger area but will require stronger facial muscles to play and may tire out young players. Trying many different mouthpieces is likely the only way to figure out which is right for you or your student.
Of course, your beginner trumpet will most likely come with its own mouthpiece. While most intermediate and advanced trumpet players will want to upgrade their mouthpiece right away, there is nothing wrong with trying out the mouthpiece and seeing how it works for you. If it feels comfortable and allows you to play with the tone, range, volume, intonation, articulation, endurance and flexibility you desire, then stick with it!
However, if you’re not a fan of the mouthpiece that came with your horn, it’s time to start exploring other options. As we’ve just noted, you need to find a mouthpiece that allows you to play your instrument easily (the wrong mouthpiece will make playing much harder than it needs to be, and this can discourage a beginner).
If you’re looking for some advice on great beginner jazz trumpet mouthpieces, here are a few to check out that are very popular among beginner trumpet players:
These are some of the most popular mouthpieces in the world for students. Bach categorizes them from large to small diameters numerically, and from the deepest to the shallowest cup alphabetically. So, the Model 1 Bach Standard Series mouthpieces are the largest cup diameter, and letter A cups are the deepest. The cup diameters get smaller as they progress through number 20 and cup depths get shallower through letter F. Some of the most popular beginner styles are 5B, 5C and 7C.
Yamaha is well known for making incredibly high quality instruments and accessories and this trumpet mouthpiece is no different. Yamaha produces its mouthpieces with advanced computer design and manufacturing technology which result in precision, smooth attack and easy playability. This mouthpiece is the ideal weight for all-around use and, like the Bach mouthpiece, this one is available in a variety of configurations. The 14B4 is a popular one for beginners.
This is another group of mouthpieces that uses numbers and letters to indicate the differences in the various elements such as the cup diameter and depth, among other things. Schilke is a well-known brand in the brass world so as you’re trying out mouthpieces, make sure you give this brand a try.
In conclusion, since every trumpeter has his or her own unique abilities, physical characteristics and playing style, you’ll need to try a variety of mouthpieces to see what fits you best. Be sure to keep a mental catalog of what you do and don’t like, and when you find that jazz trumpet mouthpiece that’s right for you, you’ll know it!