Converting to a Wedge? Here's What You Need to Know
Choosing the Right Mouthpiece Size
Are you fairly happy with your current mouthpiece?
If you are happy with your current mouthpiece and just want to know what the Wedge design can do for your playing you can simply select a mouthpiece using one of our French Horn Mouthpiece Comparison page.
Wanting to Improve a Specific Aspect Of Your Playing?
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 "Good 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 "Good 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.
What mouthpiece should I choose for a darker sound?
There are three ways to get a darker sound.
1) 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) Adding Mass to the 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) Using a Plastic Mouthpiece
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.
About One Piece French Horn Mouthpieces
- Diameters range from 17 to 18.25 mm in .25 mm intervals measured at .04 inches into the cup, measured in the vertical, long axis of the oval
- All rim widths measure 4 mm (.158 inches)
Standard Bore Sizes
- #14 drill, .182 inches or 4.62 mm in S to D cups
- #12 drill, .189 inches or 4.8 mm in XD cups
Shanks are available in American and European. The European shank is slightly larger and has a slightly different taper. It is designed for some German-made horns (Schmid, Hoyer, Alexander, etc.) that are made with the slightly larger receiver.
An American shank mouthpiece will fit in a European receiver, but go in quite far, and possibly bottom out on the lead pipe before it seats properly. The European shank mouthpiece will fit in an American receiver, but not go in far enough. The difference is usually about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch, depending on the receiver.
A horn made to take a European shank mouthpiece will generally play better with the appropriate shank. It improves the sound, increases the quality of attack and improves intonation and response.
- Similar to Laskey J cup
- Brilliant tone with excellent upper register
- Unusually full lower register for a relatively shallow cup compared to a traditional design
- Similar to Laskey G cup
- Most popular depth for general use
- Very even response in all registers
- Best choice for most playing situations
- Similar to Laskey F cup
- Deeper cup for very fat low register
- Excellent range for a relatively deep cup
- Similar to Laskey E, Farkas MDC, Denis Wick Paxman cup
- Extra deep cup for a huge lower register
- Available in silver or gold plated brass, and black Delrin.
About French Horn Screw Rims
- 750 x 35 "Giardinelli"
- 800 x 36 "PHC" or "Metric"
- 17 mm to 18.25 mm measured at .04 inches into the cup, in the long, vertical axis of the oval
- Range from XXN (3.5mm) to W (5 mm)
Giardinelli Screw Rims
- Diameter of Giardinelli Rim Joint
- 16.5mm (.650 inches) for the 17mm to 17.75mm rims
- 17mm (.669 inches) for the 18mm rims
- 16.5mm joint diameter work best with most 750-36 threaded cups from Moosewood and other manufacturers, can also be used with larger cups with slight overhang
- 18 ID mm rims have a 17mm joint diameter
- Work best with Osmun wide cups and Moosewood BR and BW rims
- Giardinelli Rim Height
- 0.11 inches or 2.79mm on the 750-36 rims
Metric/PHC Screw Rims
- Diameter of Metric/PHC Rim Joint
- Varies slightly as the ID gets smaller
- 17.5mm (.689 inches) on the 18mm, 17.75mm, and 17.5mm rims to match PHC cups
- 0.666 inches for the smallest 17mm ID rims
- The smaller rims have a slight overhang, similar to PHC US1 and US2 rims
- This allows players to use a rim with a smaller ID on the larger PHC cups
- Metric/PHC Rim Height
- 0.130 inches to correspond with the design of PHC rims
- Available in silver or gold plated brass, black delrin, or clear acrylic plastic