Isn't the key to improvement more practice, not better equipment?
There is NO substitute for practice, but better equipment does make a big difference.
If equipment didn't matter we would all be playing $100 trumpets and poor quality mouthpieces. Elite athletes would not bother using state of the art equipment. Surgeons would shun technology and perform operations with same instruments they used 100 years ago. The truth is that technology can - and does - improve performance in many fields of human endeavour. Why would a brass mouthpiece be any different?
The basic design of most brass mouthpieces has not changed in decades. Why would anyone believe that brass mouthpieces were perfected 40 or 50 years ago? I don’t accept that as true, and I have spent the last 10 years developing better and better versions the Wedge. Basically, there is no such thing as perfection, only excellence, and to believe in perfection only leads to stagnation.
Having better gear does not mean you practice less. In fact, if you get better results and have improved comfort and endurance, allowing you can practice more, most players will do that. So why not get a better a mouthpiece AND practice more?
Haven't there been oval mouthpieces before?
The short answer is: yes, there have been oval mouthpieces before. However, the rim design of those mouthpieces followed the shape of the lips, increasing contact with the mouthpiece. The long axis of the oval was oriented side to side and curved around the embouchure sideways.
This is exactly the opposite of the Wedge. The Wedge oval goes up and down while the rim curves away from the corners of the embouchure, not around them. The idea is to decrease pressure and surface contact at the corners of the mouthpiece. The result is better circulation to the lips within the mouthpiece rim, greater comfort, less swelling, and a greater ability to adjust the central embouchure aperture.
Have there been oval mouthpieces before? Yes. But there has never been one like the Wedge, which offers a completely new approach to the oval mouthpiece.
Is the Wedge a "cheater mouthpiece"?
No, the Wedge is not a Cheater Mouthpiece
Most people think of a "cheater mouthpiece" as one that is used as a shortcut to better range and endurance while greatly compromising things like sound, low register, and flexibility. These mouthpieces are usually small and shallow. There is nothing wrong with small, shallow mouthpieces for some players and some situations. The problem arises when the mouthpiece is used for a type of playing other than for which it was not designed in order as an alternative to practice. That is when it gets labelled a “cheater” mouthpiece. So there are no “cheater” mouthpieces, just poor mouthpiece choices.
Choosing a balance between playing characteristics is always part of mouthpiece selection. When done wisely these choices mean the player is using the right tool for the right job. When done unwisely they do not serve the player well in the long run, because overall performance suffers, and players do not develop proper skills. That is NOT a good idea, and not what the Wedge is about.
The Wedge is not designed to make up for poor range and endurance with a smaller, shallower mouthpiece. It comes in a full range of diameters and depths with models to meet every player and playing situation. We take great care in providing personalized fitting advice by email, phone, or in person at no charge, for any player who needs it. We don’t care if you are a young beginner or a seasoned professional. Everyone gets treated the same. We want to make sure you get the best mouthpiece for you.
It is true that for many players the Wedge gives an advantage over players using a conventional rim. Is that cheating, or is it just smart?
How do I position the Wedge?
Some players have difficulty figuring out how to position the Wedge when they see it for the first time.
This is because it is completely different from anything they have experienced before.
How is the Wedge Oriented?
- The Wedge is always played with the sloping shoulders at the sides as shown, never top and bottom.
- This orients the long axis of the slightly oval shaped cup up and down, not sideways like other oval mouthpieces.
- We place a small indentation on the outer aspect of one or both rims in order to help with orientation.
- The dot is positioned top and bottom as shown in the photograph, never side to side.
What do I have to do to adjust to the Wedge?
- It takes very little time to get used to the Wedge.
- Most players do not have to make any adjustment to their approach.
- If you are having difficulty adjusting the trick is to get the feel for the more centrally focused embouchure and go with it.
- Think “pucker” and “gripping” the sides of the mouthpiece with your chops.
- This seems to encourage a more focused, central set up with the mouthpiece.
How Does it Feel?
- You may note a sensation that the corners are not supported, and may initially even notice some leak of air there.
- This indicates that you have been relying on your mouthpiece for corner support.
- The leak will go away as you get used to the mouthpiece and as it works on your chops over a few days to produce a more closed setup with lots of natural vertical compression.
- Performance will improve as a result.
Do I have to change my embouchure?
You don't have to intentionally change your embouchure, but some players find that the Wedge fine tunes theirs.
Many players have reported that after as little as one practice session on the Wedge they play better and sound better on their usual mouthpiece. This is true of players who eventually convert to the Wedge, and even in cases where they choose to stay with their regular mouthpiece for most of their playing.
It seems that the Wedge design promotes a more forward, aperture-controlled set up that translates into better performance on both mouthpieces. In this way the Wedge can be used as a teaching tool to improve the player’s embouchure.
Changing back to a conventional rim is not a problem after using the Wedge, but it can take a short time, usually a few days, to adjust back to a round, flat rim if you have been using the Wedge for a while.
Can the Wedge screw up my chops?
No, the Wedge cannot screw up your chops.
Anyone who spends a long time fighting an unsuitable mouthpiece, or who keeps changing mouthpieces in search of the holy grail that will solve all of their playing challenges, is bound to have, or develop, some issues.
On the other hand, trying any new mouthpiece few days will not cause permanent chop problems any more than trying out a new pair running shoes will permanently injure you for life.
There is no credible evidence that playing a rim that is not round and flat will ruin your embouchure. What possible scientific explanation is there for such a thing? Are we genetically programmed and designed to only play on flat, round mouthpieces?
Thousands of players have used the Wedge for many years without problems. In fact, we believe that by reducing pressure at the vulnerable points of the embouchure at 10 and 2 o'clock, and by discouraging the use of excessive pressure, the Wedge has the potential to decrease embouchure injuries.
How long does it take to adjust to the Wedge?
Many players describe an immediate improvement in performance when starting with the Wedge. Improved sound, flexibility and endurance are generally recognized straight away, along with a modest improvement in range, which progresses over time. Players have reported these improvements continue to progress over a period of a few weeks, or even several months.
How long does it take for the Wedge rim to stop feeling 'different'? The Wedge rim usually stops feeling unusual within a few days though for some players the acclimatization period is a little longer. For others who have generally found that a conventional rim is uncomfortable, the Wedge feels 'normal' before the end of their first practice session.
Is there a honeymoon period?
The 'honeymoon period' refers to a well recognized phenomenon experienced by many players when changing mouthpieces, especially to one that provides an initial improvement in performance. After a number of days - or weeks - the initial benefits diminish and the player returns to his or her original baseline range and endurance.
It has been suggested that this might result from the chops getting accustomed to the 'crutch' provided by the changed characteristic that provided the initial improvement (often a smaller or shallower cup), and becoming weak or 'lazy'.
The Wedge does not seem to have much of a honeymoon period. This is because of the unique way in which the Wedge improves performance. The Wedge works by freeing your chops to respond without being restricted by the unnecessary contact between the mouthpiece and lips at the corners.
This is a fundamental difference between the Wedge and some other range enhancing mouthpieces. Because of this, the improvement seen with the Wedge is sustained and actually increases over a matter of weeks.
Can I play a Wedge AND a regular rim?
Some players do mix the Wedge rim with others and go back and forth without difficulty. This works well as long as you spend a reasonable amount of time on both rims. However, most players who convert to the Wedge rim eventually change all their mouthpieces because -although they can still play on a conventional rim - they find the Wedge rim works so much better for them.
Do I need the optional angled rim?
- A very low horn angle that makes it difficult to project your sound.
- Too much pressure on your top or bottom lip.
- Neck discomfort from tilting your head forward or back trying to correct your horn angle.
- TMJ (temporomandibular joint) pain from thrusting your jaw forward.
- Difficulties forming and embouchure because of severe dental malalignment.
- Angled rims are available as a stock item for trumpet, cornet, and flugelhorn.
- The angle can be 5° or 10°.
- The 5° angle is enough for most players.
- If you are uncertain what angle you need, Dr. Dave can give you personalized advice based off of a photograph of you playing, taken from the side.
- Angled rims are also available as a custom order for trombone, euphonium, tenor horn, and tuba.
- The degree of angle possible with low brass mouthpieces is between 3 and 5° in most cases.
Is the Wedge good for players with braces?
"I just wanted to send you an email that I have tried my new wedge S6A4A plastic mouthpiece and I love it! Even with my braces, at the end of a rehearsal I'm still able to play with my full range like I am at the beginning. I will be looking into buying a metal mouthpiece. It is much more comfortable and I have less cuts in my mouth after playing, even if I'm playing a little bit of a higher part." –Chris Hanks
The Wedge is the most comfortable mouthpiece made for players with braces. The contoured shape of the rim fits over the braces, decreasing the pressure directly over the metal.
This greatly increases comfort, and may decrease the need to use wax over the braces. The player will have increased endurance and a clearer tone than with traditional mouthpieces. All of these factors encourage students to play for longer periods of the time on the Wedge, meaning that braces are less of a barrier to continued progress on the instrument.
Kids with braces instantly can feel and hear the difference when they try a Wedge for the first time. The difference is usually dramatic. Students and educators have been raving about the improvements with Wedge mouthpieces and braces. Students do so well on them that they keep playing the Wedge even after the braces are removed.
To get advice on the best choice of mouthpieces for a player with braces please contact Dr Dave by email. He will personally assess your needs and make some suggestions about what mouthpiece to try.
Should I choose plastic or brass?
Why does the Wedge cost more than some other mouthpieces?
The Wedge costs more than some other mouthpieces and less than others, the reason for the higher price point being it's high production cost. The complex rim and cup shape require more sophisticated equipment and far more time to machine and polish than a conventional mouthpiece.
In the end one has to distinguish between price and value. For most players the investment in a Wedge mouthpiece will not only provide better results than a comparably priced conventional mouthpiece, but also better results than most players experience from a much more expensive mouthpiece upgrade.
What would it be worth to you to add 2-3 notes to your range and 30% to your endurance, along with better sound?
We understand that that paying over $200 for a mouthpiece you have never tried seems risky. However, with free shipping options, our 90 day return policy, and our life time trade-in program, we endeavour to make trying a Wedge as risk-free as possible.
What's the wait time for an out of stock mouthpiece?
GOOD NEWS! We have found a way to maintain our production capacity during the COVID 19 pandemic in a way that keeps our team safely separated in satellite locations at home. The only downside is that working at three different locations, separated by a ferry no less, has added to our current production time.
Plastic mouthpieces are made to order and ship 1-2 weeks after the order is placed.
Brass mouthpieces take approximately 4-5 weeks to make from start to finish.
If Your Brass Mouthpiece is Not In Stock:
We send mouthpieces to and receive mouthpieces from the silver plating company every week, with many of those mouthpieces made for stock/inventory. Your order number will be assigned to the next available mouthpiece, which means normally it will ship in 1-3 weeks, depending on if that that model is in the production cycle already or not.
Angled mouthpieces and gold-plated mouthpieces are made to order and ship approximately 3-4 weeks after the order is placed.
Your order notes are updated and you will receive email notifications as your order moves through the production cycle: In production, Sent for Plating, Shipped.
Wedge mouthpieces are made from brass and plastic blanks which are purchased from a local machining and fabricating shop.
In our shop, the blank is engraved with the model number and runs through a series of processes in our CNC mill. This machine will cut the programmed rim, cup, and angle.
After machining, the mouthpiece is picked up by the polisher and taken to their location for polishing and cleaning.
Plastic mouthpieces are ready to be inspected and shipped at this point.
Machined and polished brass mouthpieces are sent in bulk to a local plating company every Friday. They arrive back in our office about 2-3 weeks later.
The silver and gold plated brass mouthpieces are unpacked, hand polished, and inspected for stock or orders.
If you have any questions about your order, please email Daniel at firstname.lastname@example.org