HOW DO I TEST THE TWO PIECE MOUTHPIECES?
STEP #1 FIND YOUR PREFERRED RIM
Ideally test mouthpieces on your own horn. We do have used horns that can be borrowed for few moments if you don’t have access to your own horn.
Start with one of our underparts (preferably H1 if it’s available) and the smallest rim (17.25) then go up in rim size until you find the one that is MOST comfortable. If you go too large, the sound will get unfocused, tubby or dull sounding. If you are on too small of a rim, you may feel excess tension in your embouchure or throat or not be able to get the volume you desire. It also may not incorporate enough of your lip to easily vibrate.
STEP #2 FIND YOUR PREFERRED UNDERPART
Try all the underparts in the same metal (stainless steel or raw brass) if possible.
This is when you compare and contrast the different underparts. Play the same short thing on each of them to narrow it down to two, and then play something loud, soft, high, low, technical and lyrical to determine your favorite.
- H1 - High Volume Bowl - Bore #14 - Medium Backbore
- H2 - Standard Bowl - Bore #14 - Medium-Wide Backbore
- H3 - Medium-Deep Bowl (Based on 1960’s era Farkas mouthpiece) - Bore #17 - Specialized Backbore
- H4 - Medium Funnel Bowl Combination Cup (A shallower version of the 1960’s era “Block-letter” Farkas mouthpiece) - Bore #16
The H3 and H4 have a smaller bore (than H1 and H2) and may be able to handle a slightly larger rim size without compromising range.
All Houghton underparts are available in two shank tapers: American (Morse/Standard) and European. Our entire line of two-piece underparts are equipped with the standard Giardinelli threads and a .660’ junction, making them compatible with one another and the vast majority of rims and cups on the market.
STEP #3 TEST RAW BRASS vs. STAINLESS STEEL
Test your preferred mouthpiece underpart in raw brass and stainless steel to pick your favorite color/sound. You may want to have one in both raw brass and stainless steel.
STEP #4 ORDER YOUR MOUTHPIECE
Order your mouthpiece (or multiple mouthpieces). Once you have the new mouthpiece in your hand, you will have 15 days to trial it. If you choose not to keep something, you can go to our website to request a return/exchange.
These mouthpieces are wildly successful and the manufacturer has trouble keeping up with the supply and demand. If we do not have your mouthpiece choice in stock, it’s best to order it today so you can be in the queue to receive a new one. It will be worth the wait!
What do the numbers on the rims mean?
The rim numbers refer to the measurement of the inner diameter of the rim in millimeters.
How do I know what rim size is right for me?
You have to test them from smallest to largest, playing the same short thing on every one.
If the rim you are testing is too small, your sound may be tight or small; if the rim size it too large for you, the sound gets dull and can be exhausting to play.
The optimal rim allows you to play the full range of your instrument with minimal fatigue and a resonant sound.
How does my mouthpiece placement impact my choice?
To answer that, we need to consider “Einsetzen” VS. “Ansetzen”
These terms refer to where the mouthpiece sits along your lip line. Einsetzen means “set in” to the red of the lip. Ansetzen means “set on” (below the lip line). People that set in their bottom lip, might find the small-medium rim sizes (17.25, 17.5 and 17.75) more comfortable depending on the size of their upper lip. If you have a larger upper lip, you may need a larger rim diameter regardless of lower lip placement. From a pedagogy perspective, it’s optimum to incorporate your entire upper lip into the mouthpiece. People who set on, might prefer the larger sizes (17.75 and up). This is not always true since age, experience, horn brand, embouchure strength etc will all impact the experience.
What is the difference between the black rim and the stainless steel one?
Our black H-Kote rim has a thin titanium coating deposited on it that is ideal if you have a metal allergy. It also has a soft, comfortable feel that some people prefer. It can sometimes help increase your endurance because of the comfort. The black H-kote is a little more expensive than stainless steel. We can also gold-plate any mouthpiece upon request but that would be considered a final sale.
What is the difference between the H1, H2, H3 and H4?
Understanding the differences in the underparts is not necessary to determine your favorite. With any mouthpiece (or horn testing), we recommend that you just experience it for yourself by testing. Ideally you should be testing mouthpieces on your own horn. We do not recommend changing horns and mouthpieces at the same time. Although our mouthpieces are compatible with any horn, there is not one style that is drastically better for any brand of horn.
What do the numbers for bore sizes mean?
The bore (or sometimes called the throat) of the mouthpiece is the opening on the inside just below the cup. It’s the most narrow place on the inside of a mouthpiece. The larger the bore number, the smaller the opening. The backbore is the way the inside opening in the lower half of the mouthpiece opens up as it goes to the shank of the mouthpiece. A wider backbore produces a more free-blowing experience.
Do I need a Morse (Standard) shank or a European shank for my mouthpiece?
The difference in shank size between the European shank and American (Morse) is not perceivable to the naked eye. The main difference in the rate of taper. It leads to a slight difference in how the mouthpiece fits into the receiver. 99% of American and even European horns being made today need an American shank. If you are unsure, you can always test both to see which one gives you the best results. When the mouthpiece is put into the horn gently, it should fall in about 1/2 an inch and not rock around.
Alexander horns (and horns that are copying Alexander horns) need a Euro shank. Some horns have a dual bore which can take either one (like Yamaha horns).
What is the difference between raw brass and stainless steel underparts?
If the mouthpieces are the same size, they should play similarly. The raw brass mouthpiece has a warm, buttery, traditional sound compared to the the stainless steel, which projects nicely, has a more direct sound and has good clarity. Why not own one of each?
Which mouthpiece is best with my horn?
There is not one mouthpiece that is best suited to your horn. All of our mouthpiece styles will work with your horn. It’s best to find out which one sounds the best gives you the kind of response and experience you desire for the type of playing you do.
The bottom of my own mouthpiece shank is bent and not a perfect circle, does that matter?
YES! A badly dented shank can impact the pitch, sound, airflow etc on your mouthpiece. We have a trueing tool here at our booth and can repair your mouthpiece upon request, free of charge. In a pinch, if you do not have that tool, you can use a metal-tipped pen like a Zebra pen to round the end of your shank. Or you can buy a trueing tool for yourself.
Will getting a new mouthpiece increase my range?
Developing range takes time, sometimes years. If you struggle to play high or extremely low, no horn mouthpiece will drastically improve this. Different size mouthpieces can give you a richer sound in the low register or a more brilliant sound in the upper register, but the success of the mouthpiece relies heavily on the ability of the person using it. Choose a mouthpiece that makes you feel secure and comfortable regardless of your age and playing ability. Then, keep practicing!