Converting to a Wedge? Here's an Overview of Euphonium Mouthpieces
The mouthpieces used on euphonium fall into two categories.
- Dedicated euphonium mouthpieces
- Mouthpieces that do double duty as trombone or euphonium mouthpieces
Some of the best known examples of dedicated euphonium mouthpieces are those offered in Denis Wick SMU line.
Examples of trombone mouthpieces commonly used euphonium include Bach 6-1/2AL at the smaller end of the size spectrum, and the larger Bach 5G, 4G and 3G. Others include the Schilke 51 and 51D.
According to Schilke the 51D is designed mostly as a euphonium mouthpiece and has a deeper, more bowl shaped cup, similar to the Wick euphonium lines. The deeper mouthpieces produce a more characteristic broader euphonium sound.
Wedge Euphonium Mouthpieces were developed at the request of euphonium players who wanted a Wedge mouthpiece made specifically for their instrument.
- Rim inner diameter (ID) is measured at .05 inches into the cup
- Rims are named according to the ID (a 101 rim has an ID of 1.01 inches)
- Easily correlated with sizes of Denis Wick SM Ultra mouthpieces
Are you thinking that you need a different size?
Do you want to do your own research on what size might be better for you?
Assessing Your Sound Profile
You will find that we talk a lot about range and endurance in this fitting guide. Why do we focus on them so much? It is because range and endurance are the two things most players say they are looking for in a new mouthpiece. The key is to improve range and endurance along with getting a better sound. Although they can be addressed separately, range and endurance are often linked. Range becomes much bigger issue when we are tired. That, basically, is the definition of endurance.
You can get good information about possible ways to improve your range and endurance by doing an honest assessment of your sound. That means asking yourself if your sound quality in all registers is ideal or at least acceptable, and if your range is ideal or at least acceptable.
Most players have one of the following three sound profiles, and very few have the "Ideal Sound Profile".
1) Do you have a "Pyramid Sound Profile"?
The most common problem players report to us is a sound that is big and fat in the mid to low register, but small, strained, and limited in the upper register. Their sound is shaped like a pyramid. It has a broad base, but does not extend as high as they would like, as depicted in the "Pyramid Sound Profile" graphic. Compare the breadth of sound between the lower and upper register, and note their range.
You can see that there is an imbalance. The sound is broader than what is expected or required, and their range is not optimal or even acceptable.
2) Do you have an "Ideal Sound Profile"?
A far more desirable sound profile is shown in the "Ideal Sound Profile" graphic. The breadth of sound and range are both in the ideal range.
3) Do you have a "Balanced Sound Profile"?
Unfortunately, there are few things that are ideal when it comes to brass playing, and especially when it comes to mouthpiece selection. Rather than playing the "perfect" mouthpiece we play the best mouthpiece possible based on a series of decisions we make and compromises we accept in the playing characteristics of a mouthpiece. Our goal should be to arrive at the best balance of sound and other playing attributes in a mouthpiece. The result is a sound profile that looks like the "Balanced Sound Profile" graphic.
Players switching to a Wedge mouthpiece will often get a more even response between the registers. In many cases players with a pyramid sound profile can balance their sound even more with a slightly smaller mouthpiece.
Wanting to Improve a Specific Aspect Of Your Playing?
Better Range and Endurance
Better Range and Brighter Sound
I want better range and endurance without changing my sound.
Most players will get better range and endurance with a similar sound when they switch to a Wedge mouthpiece. However, range is usually more of an issue when you are tired compared to when you are fresh. For that reason a good way to get an extra boost in range is to try a mouthpiece with a similar cup depth and slightly smaller diameter.
The smaller diameter will usually increase endurance, and therefore range when tired, without having making the sound significantly brighter. A smaller diameter has more of an effect of reshaping the sound, making it a little less broad at the base and bigger at the top. Imagine changing the shape of your sound from a broad based pyramid to a narrower, but still strong based column that reaches higher.
One other disadvantage of switching to a smaller diameter can be a loss of flexibility. The Wedge rim usually increases flexibility, so a slightly smaller size is usually not a problem.
I want a darker sound and better low register without giving up range.
A darker sound can be achieved a few difference ways:
1) Deeper Cup
2) Heavier Mouthpiece
3) Plastic Mouthpiece
1) Deeper Cup
Using a deeper cup will produce a darker sound and bigger low register, but the upper register gets harder.
One way to minimize the loss of range that comes with a deeper cup is to reduce diameter at the same time. You might change from medium to deep cups and an 18 mm rim to a 17.75 mm rim.
2) Heavier Mouthpiece
We do not make heavy weight Wedge horn mouthpieces. However, you can increase the mass of the mouthpiece by adding a brass tone modifier. The extra mass dampens the brighter overtones, makes slotting more secure, adds core to the sound, and makes it slightly darker.
3) Plastic Mouthpieces
Plastic mouthpieces can produce a darker sound. However plastic mouthpieces also feel sticky on the chops, which can reduce flexibility. They are easy to play softly, but the start of the note is not as clear as with a brass mouthpiece. Plastic mouthpieces do not feel as secure as brass, with less defined slotting and less core in the sound. For more details about plastic visit our Brass vs. Plastic page.
I want more range and am happy with a brighter sound.
Getting more range with a brighter sound is usually easy. It just means trying a shallower cup, and sometimes a smaller diameter.
Note: Depending on the type of playing you do, it often makes sense to also go to a smaller diameter when more range is desired along with a brighter sound.
Euphonium Mouthpiece Specifications
- Larger throat for more open blow and bigger sound
- Deep bowl shaped contour, similar to other popular dedicated euphonium mouthpieces, similar to the Wick SMU cup depth and contour
- Unique oval cup shape, larger from top to bottom than side to side, extending right down to the throat
- Oval cup amplifies the effect of the Wedge rim, providing greater responsiveness in all registers and a bigger, fatter sound compared to a conventional round cup of similar depth and volume
The following image shows the cup profile of a Wedge 103G trombone mouthpiece and a 103E euphonium mouthpiece.