Trumpet Mouthpiece Overview and Fitting Guide

How Do I Know Which Wedge is Right For Me?

Picking the right mouthpiece can be a complicated process. Below we've detailed the systematic approach Dr. Dave takes when fitting players one on one. If you would like Dr Dave to go through this with you personally please feel free to schedule a phone call or Zoom video chat directly in Dr Dave's calendar.

Do you think you are close to the right size with your current mouthpiece?

In order to answer this, ask yourself two questions:

    1. Is the mouthpiece I am using designed for the type of playing I am doing?
    2. Is my current mouthpiece basically working well for me most of the time?

If the answer to both these questions is "YES," you are probably using something close to the optimal size, and can likely head directly to our Comparison Tables to select a Wedge mouthpiece size comparable to your current mouthpiece.

*Please note: If you mouthpiece doesn't appear in our comparison tables, you can often get a good match by finding a mouthpiece that is similar to yours and choosing the corresponding Wedge.

If the answer to one - or both - of these questions is "NO," ask yourself the next question.

What would you like to gain from changing your mouthpiece size?

If you are finding you are having some more serious playing issues, you may be playing the wrong size altogether.

Establish what it is you are looking to gain, such as:
* Better range
* Greater endurance
* A different or generally improved sound

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.


Once you have established what you are looking to change, you are ready to select your mouthpiece based on those goals. Below is all the information you should need to make your selection - simply click on your goal to read more.

  • Better Range
  • Better Endurance
  • Darker Sound

What mouthpiece should I choose for better range?
 
Most trumpet players would like to have better range, and most players will have better range on a Wedge that is similar to their conventional mouthpiece. Most players find that they gain notes, and some do not add notes by find that the top of their range sounds bigger and better, and is easier to reach.
 
You might gain more even range by switching to a slightly smaller diameter or shallower cup. A slightly smaller diameter can improve range, especially when you are tired, without having much effect on the sound.
 
You might also have better range with a shallower cup, but that usually comes with a brighter sound. A brighter sound can be a good thing in some situations, like playing lead in big band. However you might not want a brighter sound for other types of playing. How much shallower you want to go is therefore a trade off, and depends on the depth of your current mouthpiece and what it is used for.
 
If you are playing lead on a medium depth cup going to a shallow cup makes sense. If you are playing in an orchestra with an extra deep cup, like a Bach 1-/2B , you might have room to use a slightly shallower cup and gain some range while still having an acceptable sound that blends well with orchestra. These decisions are always often a trade-off.

What mouthpiece should I choose for better endurance?
 
Most players will have better endurance with a Wedge similar to their current mouthpiece. One way to get an even more endurance is to change to a slightly smaller diameter.
 
This is especially effective if you are starting currently using a fairly large diameter like a Bach 1-/1C or similar .670 inch (17 mm) rim diameter. Changing to a slightly smaller diameter usually does not have a significant effect on your sound. It will not make the sound significantly brighter, but can make it a bit more compact, or not as big and broad in the middle to low register at maximum volumes. However, as trumpet players we don't usually have a problem being loud enough. We do sometimes have trouble with endurance, so a slightly more compact sound at maximum volumes can be a good trade off for better endurance.
 
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.
 
Endurance in the upper register can sometimes be improved with a shallower cup. However, unlike using a smaller diameter, this does make the sound brighter. This may or may not be desirable, depending on the playing situation. As usual, we are dealing with a series of trade-offs or compromises in selecting mouthpiece options.In order to find a mouthpiece with an ID smaller than yours visit our Comparison Tables.

What mouthpiece should I choose for a darker sound?

There are three ways to get a darker sound.

1) Using a deeper cup - Here are a few point to keep in mind

    • Sound is mostly determined by cup depth and shape.
    • Increasing rim diameter without changing cup depth does darken the sound very much.
    • Using a deeper, more V-shaped cup will darken the sound and produce a bigger low register.
    • The disadvantage of a deeper, more V-shaped cup is that it can reduce range and endurance.
    • One way to preserve better range and endurance with a deeper cup is to use a slightly smaller diameter.
    • Using a smaller diameter with the Wedge mouthpiece is especially effective, because it does not have the usual effect of decreasing flexibility, and players still get a bigger sound from the smaller mouthpiece when using the Wedge design.

2) Adding Mass to the Mouthpiece

You can add mass by using a heavy backbore or adding a tone modifier to a regular weight mouthpiece.
 
The added weight dampens the brighter overtones and makes the sound darker. It also makes slotting more secure. Heavier mouthpieces are slightly less responsive, so articulation is not quite as crisp, especially with multiple tonguing.

3) Using a Plastic Mouthpiece

You can add mass by using a heavy backbore or adding a tone modifier to a regular weight mouthpiece.
 
The added weight dampens the brighter overtones and makes the sound darker. It also makes slotting more secure. Heavier mouthpieces are slightly less responsive, so articulation is not quite as crisp, especially with multiple tonguing.


Choosing a Mouthpiece Based on Size

Which Rim Diameter Do I Need?

The current Gen 2 Wedge trumpet rim is named according to the inner diameter (ID) of the rim measured in the long, vertical axis at a depth of .04 inches into the cup.

For example a 66 series rim measures 0.660 inches at that specific point. Keep in mind that manufacturers measure their rim sizes at different points, so the ID often does not translate between brands.

The following rules are not a code written in stone. More of a guideline really.

Diameters 66 to 68 are the sizes most often used for "legit" playing. These correlate roughly with Bach 7 to Bach 1-1/4 rim diameters (See comparison tables for details). The larger sizes of 67 and 68 are for strong players with well developed embouchures and good range and endurance.

Diameters 65 to 63 are mostly used for more commercial playing, pit, pops, salsa, and piccolo trumpet. The 65 and 64 rims can also be good for players who have some challenges with endurance, but still want a dark sound.

Which Cup Depth Should I Choose?

There are 9 Wedge cup depths. You can see them and hear how they sound on the Cups Comparison Page.

You will note that the different cups sound very similar in the middle register. The low register is fuller on the deeper cups. One remarkable characteristic of the Wedge design is the exceptional sound of the shallow cups in the low register when compared to conventional mouthpieces.

ES Cup

    • Similar in depth to a Schilke 6A4A or 13A4A cup.
    • Provides maximum brilliance, projection, and slotting in extreme upper register playing.
    • Most suitable for playing lead.
    • Better sounding low register than any comparable extra shallow cup.
    • Works best with Gen 2 rim 66 or smaller (.660 inches or less).

LV (Lead V) Cup

    • Double cup design with a shallow upper cup and a second deeper XV cup.
    • The oval shape of the Wedge rim extends through the shallow cup and into the second cup all the way to the throat.
    • Low alpha angle to prevent bottoming out and a cup volume similar to the Gen 2 S cup.
    • Upper register performance of the ESXV is very similar to the Wedge S cup.
    • More open blow, similar to what players would experience with a larger #25 throat.
    • Bigger, broader middle and low register than the S cup, with no loss in upper register performance.

S Cup

    • Similar to a Schilke 14A4A cup.
    • Excellent projection, slightly less support in upper register than the ES cup.
    • Less prone to bottoming out than the ES cup.
    • Most popular choice for lead when a solid mid to low register is also desired, marching band.
    • Works well to piccolo trumpet when players prefer a brighter sound with more projection.
    • Works best with Gen 2 66 or smaller rim (.660 or less).

M Cup

    • Versatile medium cup for jazz, concert band, pit, and pops, marching when a lead mouthpiece not needed.
    • Works well for piccolo trumpet.
    • Good balance between upper register support and a balanced sound with solid low register.
    • Works best with Gen 2 67 or smaller rim (.670 inches or less).

MV Cup

    • Intermediate between M and MD cup.
    • Modified V shape at bottom of cup leading into throat.
    • Slightly darker sound than M cup.
    • Better upper register support and more projection than MD cup.
    • Similar in depth to Bach 3C cup.

MD Cup

    • Excellent all round bowl shaped cup for concert band, orchestral, chamber, and other playing requiring a dark sound.
    • Excellent balance between upper and lower register.
    • Good choice for C trumpet when a little extra brilliance is required, or for orchestral players wanting to add some sparkle to their sound.
    • Works well on all rim sizes, but most popular with rims 65 (.650) and larger.
    • Comparable to many C cups.

MDV Cup

    • Similar to MD cup with a slightly modified V shape at the bottom of the cup meeting to the throat.
    • Slightly darker sound and smoother transitions from note to note.
    • Excellent choice for an orchestral mouthpiece when a slightly darker sound is desired or for players with a naturally bright sound.
    • Our most popular cup for orchestral players.
    • Works well on all rim sizes, but most popular with rims 65 (.650) and larger.

D Cup

    • Deep cup suitable for players who like an extra dark sound.
    • Similar to a Bach B cup.
    • Popular with players using large cup volume Schilke or similar mouthpieces.
    • Huge sound and low register.
    • Obvious trade off is less upper register support.

RT Cup

    • Well-balanced V shaped cup for Rotary trumpet.
    • Very efficient despite the deep V shape the cup.
    • Produces a well-balanced, rich sound on Rotary trumpet with ample brilliance at loud dynamics.
    • Also works extremely well for orchestral or jazz players looking for a darker sound and very smooth transitions from note to note.

Which Throat Size Should I Choose?

We offer most of our trumpet mouthpieces #27 (.144 inch, 3.66 mm) and #25 (.1495 inch, 3.80 mm) throat sizes.

M Series mouthpieces (made from a Monette Length blank) have #23 (.154 inch, 3.91 mm) throat.

Larger sizes are available by special order.

Effect of Throat Size - Throat size is the major determinant of blow resistance.

Larger Throats:

      • Feel more open.
      • Have wider slots.
      • Produce a broader sound.
      • Make it easier to bend the note.
      • Produce a more resonant low register.
      • Cause some players to go sharp in the upper register.

Smaller Throats

      • Feel more restrictive or stuffy.
      • Provide more compression.
      • Produce a more compact, focused sound.
      • Have narrower slots.
      • Produce a less resonant low register.

Which is the best throat size option?

The answer to that question depends on the player.

      • Players tend to like a slightly larger throat on the Wedge because the oval rim and cup adds compression.
      • If your current mouthpiece feels at all stuffy you will probably prefer a larger throat on your Wedge.
      • However, you need to have strong breath support to get the advantages of the larger throat.
      • Players who do not generate enough power sometimes find that a larger throat makes the upper register harder.
      • Players who have lots of power and good breath support often find that the larger throat makes the notes they already have in the upper register sound bigger, and may actually add a note or two to their range with a larger throat.

Choosing Other Mouthpiece Options

Angled Rim Options and Benefits

Do I Need an Angled or Non-Angled Rim?

The Angled Rim is an option feature added to the basic Wedge rim. It is not an essential element of the Wedge design.
 
Most players do not need an angled rim. Angled rims are designed for players who have a specific problem related to an overbite (top teeth in front of lower teeth) or an underbite (top teeth behind lower teeth). The angled rim is only necessary to help with specific issues:

    • 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 Do the Following:

  • Avoid distortion of inside of mouthpiece caused by bending a backbore
  • Correct horn angle up or down depending on orientation
  • Balance pressure between top and bottom lip
  • Reduce strain and discomfort from pushing jaw forward.

One Piece vs. Modular (Two Piece) Mouthpieces

One piece mouthpieces are great if you just want a mouthpiece that works and is as simple as possible. They also cost a little less than a modular mouthpiece ($210).

Modular mouthpieces consist of a top ($155) and separate backbore ($105). The backbore can be a Wedge backbore or a backbore from another manufacturer such as Warburton, ACB, Pickett Brass, or any other product that uses the common 3/8-40 thread.
 
Modular mouthpieces can be fine tuned by using different top and backbore combinations. Once the parts are screwed together there is no loss of efficiency or sound transmission compared to a one piece backbore.
 
The throat size of the top has to match the throat size of the backbore. We offer a #27 or #25 throat. Warburton standard backbores have a #27 throat.

Backbore Options 

What's The Best Backbore To Match My Top?
In choosing a modular backbore you have to decide on a size (interior contour), weight and length.

Backbore Size

    • We make backbores in 6 sizes.
    • Some cup depths tend to work better with certain backbores, but to a large extent this is also a matter of personal preference.

A good guide to what backbore to choose for a modular mouthpiece is the backbore size used on one piece models.

Small

      • Similar to Schilke A, Warburton 5*, Reeves 629
      • Best matched with ES, LV, and S cups for lead trumpet
      • Compact sound and good upper register support

TT

      • Similar to Warburton KT*
      • Slightly more open lead backbore
      • Works well with ES, LV, S, M cups
      • Sound between S and M backbores

Medium

      • Similar to Schilke B, Warburton 7
      • Well matched to M, MV cups, or MD and MDV when a more compact sound and better upper register support desired
      • Medium broad sound suitable for a wide variety of playing situations, very versatile

Medium Large

      • Similar to Bach 10, Warburton 8, 8*
      • Well matched to MD, MDV, RT, D cups
      • Broad, resonant sound
      • Suitable for orchestra, solo, quintet

Medium Large-Large

      • Similar to Bach 24, Warburton 9* to 10*
      • For use with MD, MDV, RT, D cups in an orchestral setting when an extra broad, resonant sound is desired

Large

      • Larger than Bach 24, similar to Warburton 11 to 12*
      • Extra broad, resonant sound

The following combinations are used with our one piece mouthpieces because they work well for most players:

    • ES, LV, S Cups - Small (S) backbore
    • M, MV Cups - Medium (M) backbore
    • MD, MDV, RT, D Cups - Medium Large (ML) backbore
    • Our Medium Large-Large backbore (ML-L) and a Large (L) backbore are good options for players who want a broader sound with the deeper cups, or when using a C trumpet or rotary trumpet.

How do I choose the backbore weight?
Heavy weight backbores dampen the brighter overtones, producing a darker sound. They add core to the sound, make slotting more secure, and reduce cracked notes. Heavy backbores also make the mouthpiece slightly less responsive to soft articulation, although this is usually not an issue, since Wedge mouthpieces are more responsive than conventional designs. You might notice that articulation is not as crisp when doing multiple tonguing with a heavy weight backbore.
 
Regular weight backbores provide greater responsiveness, brilliance, and projection. Choose a heavy weight backbore if you want a darker sound and more secure slotting.
 
Choose a regular weight backbore if you want more brilliance and projection or cleaner articulation when multiple tonguing.

Backbore Materials

Silver backbores are the most popular option and offset gold tops nicely.

Gold backbores
sound exactly like silver backbores but are preferred by those who like the look of an all gold mouthpiece. The shanks scratch easily and therefore gold backbores cannot be returned.

Stainless steel two piece backbores
brighten the sound of any top they are used with. They make a stainless steel top project more than any other backbore, but the sound is difficult to darken and the mouthpiece can be prone to cracked notes. Stainless steel works extremely well with Delrin and acrylic plastic tops to make them sound almost the same as brass, but with a very fast response to soft articulation.  

Should I try a stainless steel backbore?

Advantages of Stainless Steel Backbores

      • Stainless steel backbores producer brighter sound with more projection compared to brass backbores
      • They are especially good at brightening the sound of plastic trumpet tops
      • They are more responsive than brass backbores

Disadvantages of Stainless Steel Backbores

      • Stainless steel backbores produce somewhat less core in the sound compared to brass
      • They are somewhat prone to causing more cracked notes compared to brass

Consider a heavy weight stainless steel as the best way to add more core and brightness to the sound of a plastic top.

Consider a regular weight stainless steel backbore if you want more projection and brilliance in your sound without using a shallower cup. Just be aware of the possibility of more cracked notes.

Gap Adjusting Shanks
We also make shanks that are longer or shorter in 1/16 increments so that the mouthpiece gap can be increased or decreased by up to 1/8th inch.
What are the advantages of a C length backbore?
    • Adding a C length shank to any Wedge backbore upper of the same size (S, M, ML, ML, L) makes it a C length backbore
    • C length backbores shorten the mouthpiece by about .25 inches, making it about the same length as a Monette Bb mouthpiece
    • The shorter length improves some of the pitch issues with some C trumpets by raising the pitch of the 4th space E and surrounding notes, reducing the need for alternate fingerings
    • Most players find that the C, D, Eb, and E are better in tune as a result
    • The shorter overall backbore length also make the mouthpiece have a slightly more open blow and broader, more resonant sound
    • Slotting is slightly less defined with the C length backbore
    • Some players find that the shorter backbore will also make the G at the top of the staff sharper than usual, which can be an issue on some instruments

Material Options

Should I consider a plastic mouthpiece?
The “entry-level” Wedge mouthpiece is made of either delrin ($90 for a top, $100 for a one piece mouthpiece) or acrylic. Delrin and acrylic both have the advantage of always feeling warm to the touch. Delrin is softer than acrylic and feels as though it has a little give. For that reason it is great for players with braces. However, the surface of delrin is quite sticky and some players find it slightly abrasive when they first start playing it. Acrylic has more grip than silver plated brass but less than delrin. The stickiness of delrin can reduce flexibility somewhat.
 
Delrin is very tough and resistant to chemicals. Acrylic is far more brittle and can crack if dropped on a hard surface. Delrin would just bounce. Acrylic can craze or crack if exposed to some chemicals, such as solvents or alcohols. That is why you should never clean an acrylic mouthpiece with alcohol.
 
Delrin has a very dark sound which lacks brilliance and core. The sound is less resonant than brass. Notes do not slot as securely as with a brass mouthpiece. Acrylic has playing characteristics intermediate between delrin and brass. Plastic mouthpieces speak very quickly. It is easy to start a note very quietly with either delrin or acrylic. However, the point of the note with delrin’s indistinct and lacks pop. Acrylic is also very responsive and has more point on the front of the note, sounding almost like brass.
 
Adding a brass tone modifier to a one piece plastic mouthpiece, or in the case of a trumpet, cornet, or flugelhorn mouthpiece, using a plastic top with a metal backbore, greatly improves the playing characteristics of plastic. In fact, an acrylic mouthpiece with a brass tone modifier or backbore is very difficult to distinguish from brass in terms of sound.
 
The next step up in the Wedge line is a silver plated brass mouthpiece. In most cases a silver plated brass mouthpiece is the best way to compare the playing characteristics of a Wedge mouthpiece to a regular mouthpiece since the only variable is the rim and cup design, rather than the material. Adding gold plating to a mouthpiece does not affect the way it sounds, nor does it affect its thermal characteristics. Adding gold does make the rim more slippery and smoother feeling.
 
French horn rims are available in delrin, acrylic, or brass. Trombone screw rims are available in delrin or brass. Plastic rims added to a brass cup have a somewhat darker sound than an all brass mouthpiece.
 
Plastic is a good alternative for players with allergies.
 
What is the bottom line? For most players a silver plated brass mouthpiece will give the best performance. Some players actually prefer to play on a plastic mouthpiece, either because of allergies or because they prefer the characteristics of the plastic rim. For players on a budget a plastic mouthpiece or plastic mouthpiece with a brass tone modifier is a great way to try a Wedge.