Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

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Macbone1
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Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by Macbone1 »

Has anyone on this forum addressed the influence of aging on mouthpiece selection? The face starts to sag after age 50, and in men at least, facial skin can thicken and toughen. A mouthpiece from HS band days may no longer do the job. That's a good reason to keep a few choices around and not to sell off a bunch for a few quick bucks. My preferences are notably different than they were 20 years ago. Still need a good match to your horns though.
Last edited by Macbone1 on Tue Apr 12, 2022 10:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by Doug Elliott »

Frequently I find players preferring larger rim sizes as the get older. In many cases I attribute that to finally realizing that's what they should have been on all along.

Less often, players move to smaller sizes, maybe due to dental changes more than anything else.
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Re: Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by hyperbolica »

I'm 57. About 8 years ago I switched from the std tenor setup 5g to DE 104 size rims. I probably should have done this before. I haven't had the desire to change again since then. But, I am playing euph, bass bone and tuba on bigger mouthpieces.

I do worry about the embouchure muscles starting to deteriorate. I've got friends into their 70s playing well. One friend who is probably 80+ is showing signs of slipping. I knew a trumpet player who played past 100, although probably should have stopped doing it in public in his 90s. I'd be happy to do that well.
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Re: Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by BGuttman »

I think you may need to abandon the "toilet bowl" bass mouthpiece in favor of something smaller as you age -- I find that I am more liking my Marcinkiewicz GR now (but that's maybe because I don't play bass much and my Doug Elliott setup is comparable to a Yeo).

I wouldn't be surprised if as you age you need a different mouthpiece. Maybe for the reasons Doug mentioned and maybe because you have changed.
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Re: Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by Bach5G »

Does your sense of pitch go as you age?

I don’t know if my high range, which was never great, is deteriorating, but I’m lucky to squeak out an Eb these days.
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Re: Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by Macbone1 »

Good input here. Not changing mouthpieces at a certain point could make playing a little frustrating going forward.
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Re: Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by Kingfan »

Could the (perceived) need to change mouthpieces as we age be due more to less air support and not due to changes in the embouchure?
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Re: Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by Doug Elliott »

Definitely in some cases.... but everybody's different.
Another big cause is weight loss.
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Re: Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by MTbassbone »

Doug Elliott wrote: Mon Apr 11, 2022 4:17 pm Definitely in some cases.... but everybody's different.
Another big cause is weight loss.
Doug, what happens when weight loss occurs?
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Re: Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by Bach5G »

Weight loss not an issue for me. Unfortunately.
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Re: Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by Kingfan »

Bach5G wrote: Mon Apr 11, 2022 7:50 pm Weight loss not an issue for me. Unfortunately.
Me, too! My six pack abs turned into a pony keg :D
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Re: Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by Macbone1 »

I attended a clinc by Carsten Svanberg once; he addressed embouchure considerations related to aging.
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Re: Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by robcat2075 »

For most of the trombone players I have performed with, it is hard to imagine that losing weight... would be a bad thing. :idk:


But, anyway... In my advancing age I am pleased that high range is actually easier.

When I was taking lessons in college I could barely squeeze out a G above the staff. Now I can hit that and on up to Bb fairly well and even C D and... Eb?... if I'm fresh. Still using the big Schilke 60.

What changed? I certainly haven't spent hours on high range etudes. Somewhere in that last ten years I made the connection between the vowel the tongue is shaping and ascending in range.

ahh-eee-ick

It is a rare case of me playing smarter, not harder.

I wish any of the many teachers I've had had gotten me on that 40 + years ago instead of preaching nonsense about "diaphragm" or "intensity" or "column of air".

In the intervening decades I did occasionally experiment with smaller mouthpieces but didn't see a high range advantage from them and they impeded my low range.

ahh-eee-ick was the solution i needed.
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Re: Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by Macbone1 »

"Ick"?? :???:
Those with well-formed embouchures and comfortable with their range (like me) who notice new struggles as time goes by should consider at least a slight mouthpiece change at a certain point, IMHO. And that's not necessarily a plug to give Doug Elliott more business! :lol: :lol:
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Re: Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by BGuttman »

Alan Raph used to use the syllable "SSS" for very highest range. I like it better than Ick.

As we get older the muscles aren't as strong as they used to be so sometimes a change in mouthpiece can compensate. I don't know enough about embouchure to say which way to go. Doug indicates that most of his contacts (customers / students) seem to go larger; maybe this is because they became more corpulent with age (unlike me, who was always corpulent). Whatever Doug or Dave Wilken says about this, I defer to their better knowledge.
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Re: Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by timothy42b »

robcat2075 wrote: Mon Apr 11, 2022 9:43 pm
What changed? I certainly haven't spent hours on high range etudes. Somewhere in that last ten years I made the connection between the vowel the tongue is shaping and ascending in range.

ahh-eee-ick
There's a complication here. The vowel may make a difference but remember we can do an ahh on a variety of pitches - the mouthshape can change pitches in the oral cavity independently of the vowel.

Also, the vowel implies vocalizing to some people, but it is possible to get the pitch without that.
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Re: Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by ithinknot »

timothy42b wrote: Tue Apr 12, 2022 9:04 am There's a complication here. The vowel may make a difference but remember we can do an ahh on a variety of pitches - the mouthshape can change pitches in the oral cavity independently of the vowel.
Not exactly... we're altering resonant frequencies, not pitch.

In singing and speech, the fundamental pitch and its harmonics are generated by the vocal folds, and varied by the tension thereof via the laryngeal muscles, as well as by air pressure. The resonators (pharynx, oral cavity, nasal cavity, etc) separately determine formant frequencies. These are the 'signature resonances' of given vowels, which exist independently of pitch (and when the fundamental frequency is higher than the first formant, then we lose the sense of the vowel, which is why sopranos' vowels get very approximate above a certain point).

For brass playing, the situation is (sort-of-) simpler, because (special effects like the 'faux muted' trick aside) the goal is a single optimised resonance for a given pitch.

Re the vowels/tongue position, in singing you're covering the ah-ee range, beyond which you run into 'closed ng', where pitch is maintained, but airflow is only directed through the nose. If maintaining airflow through the lips is the priority then there's the whole voiceless fricative (tongue-controlled air leak, basically) spectrum between German 'ch' - I'm assuming that's what 'ick' more-or-less represents above - and ss. (There are plenty of other voiceless fricatives, of course, but many aren't compatible with tongued articulations or buzzing - 'th', for example.)

(There are also plenty of 'extras' not used in classical singing, like a pitched zz, where air leaks through a front-of-tongue ss shape. If you try this while intermittently pinching your nose - and, really, why not treat yourself - you'll find there are multiple versions of this sound, some of which involve the nasal cavity as a resonator and some of which don't.)
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Re: Vowels

Post by robcat2075 »

English is awkward for discussing this since the spelling and pronunciation of sounds varies quite a bit, among regional variations and even in standard dictionary English.

These "vowels" are not something that is sung or audibly spoken. The vocal cords are not active in this.

Calling them "vowels" is all I've got, however, short of delving into technical phonetics jargon.

These vowels are shapes the tongue makes inside your mouth when you speak these sounds... we are borrowing these shapes for the non-speaking purpose of tuning our vocal tract to best produce a resonant sound on our horn.

This is an alternate way of explaining common advice like "raise the back of your tongue for high notes..."

If I were to roughly map out where in the trombone range I feel myself making these different shapes as I play over the trombone range it might be like this...
Range Vowels2 sm.png


I've placed each one on a note where I feel it is purest in form. In between those notes the form is in gradual transition. The whole range is a continuous spectrum of gradually morphing tongue shape.

I speak un-accented Midwestern American English. Those spellings are how I imagine they should be represented. Below each one I've listed several words that rhyme with the vowel.

The last one... k... is hardest to describe. It's not much of a vowel. The German ch can be similar but German speakers vary, none-the-less. It is NOT like JFK's Berlin accent, "eeshh bin ein Berliner"

Imagine whispering "kiss". Then leave out the ss and just say "ki...".

Then leave out the stop that is the initial k sound and do only the hiss of air over the back of the tongue that is between the "k" and the "ss" of "kiss".

My experience is that if I use the wrong vowel in the wrong range I get a congested and un-resonant sound. When I do lip slurs, changing the vowel is a big part of that.

Notice there is no "oo" or "uh" among them. Advising beginners to tongue with "too" or "tuh" is a crippling mistake.

I presume most players of any proficiency are already doing some or all of this, though perhaps unaware of it.

Consciously recognizing the use of these vowel shapes has been the key to getting my range and flexibility to what it should have been decades ago. Too late for any serious trombone activity, but at least now I know what was wrong.
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Re: Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by musicofnote »

My CHF 0.02 (equivalent US$ 0.022)

Skipping my previous life as a high-note specialist trumpet player on piccolo/baroque trumpet.

Started seriously playing trombone in 1991 at age 39, got a teaching diploma here in Switzerland (Basel Konservatorium) in 1996. Used pretty large Slokar mouthpices. Right after getting my diploma I decided to switch to bass trombone, fairly exclusively. Because the common knowledge here at the time was, that pros only play Bach, I had a 42GO tenor and a 50GO bass. I hated both. Again, because of common knowledge at the time, I used the biggest Slokar pieces.

Then around 2013 I took about 2 years off playing for various reasons. When I got back to playing again, I also decided to finally play the horns -I- wanted to and sold my Bachs to Edgar Manyak who is now trombone prof in Basel. He thought they were terrific. So everyone was happy. I bought my present Yamaha Xeno 822g. And in 2017 I also switched to Wedge mouthpieces which solved a small problem I had still hanging on from my trumpet days, namely too much pressure in the upper register. I tried a Wedge 2G - too small. The Wedge 1.5G was better, but still a bit too small. No real pedal range on those. Despite that I kept the 1.5 but settled on the Wedge S59 (28.12 / 7.57 (.298“)). It was a tad too large, so I had to struggle above g (2nd line treble staff), but my lower range was better.

Then the beginning of 2021 I took a semi break, only playing once every two weeks or so. And was getting less and less satisfied with the Wedge S59. In January I was offered a gig with some really high-powered folks here (ex-Munich, ex-Basel Sym) in May, so decided I'd "do it right" and started a new regime, concentrating on the low range and expanding upwards. But ... that S59 was still too large so went to a Wedge 108 2nd gen (27.43 / 7.11 (.280”)) so it's slightly smaller than a Bach 1 1/4. Wonderful feel on the chops and as I practiced, my tone improved and my security in pedal range improved. The only thing I didn't enjoy any more with the Wedge, was the care I needed in inserting the piece into the receiver to be sure the orientation to face was 100% correct. After so many years, this was getting old.

For the last few days I've been warming up on the Wedge 108, which activates muscle memory concerning corners. When I feel I've got my basic range and flexibility (each day getting shorter and shorter in time), I switch to my new Greg Black 1 1/2 "medium" (27.25 / 7.14 (.281”)) which is between a 1 1/2 and 1 1/4. Slightly smaller still, but doesn't feel smaller. Slots better than the Wedge, much ballsier sound when I push it, but also a nice singing quality when I want. Only downside is the endurance took a slight hit. I'm curious to see, if that'll come back. Also, the regeneration time with the Wedge was amazing. 10 minutes break and I could start all over and go for another hour or more full range, full dynamics. I'm also curious to see how that'll be with this new Greg Black.

So at 69 years of age and still learning, my bass trombone history to date has been going from humongous to rather on the small side while increasing range (now usable down to e-flat below pedal b-flat up to high c 3rd space treble staff).
Last edited by musicofnote on Sat Jun 18, 2022 9:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Very seldom:
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Re: Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by musicofnote »

robcat2075 - I think what you're speaking about is more tongue position relative to range and not actual vowel sounds. Whilst saying those vowels, if one notices what the tongue and glottis are doing, that's what is a big help.

Very interesting MRI films of various players and how their mouth cavities act (not react) while playing:
Doug Yeo intervals:


Sarah Willis:
Mostly:
Yamaha Xeno 822G with a Wedge 108G 2nd Gen (new GB 1 1/2 medium)
Very seldom:
Rath R400 with a Wedge 4G or a Hammond 11L

"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person who is doing it."

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Re: Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by musicofnote »

Mostly:
Yamaha Xeno 822G with a Wedge 108G 2nd Gen (new GB 1 1/2 medium)
Very seldom:
Rath R400 with a Wedge 4G or a Hammond 11L

"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person who is doing it."

~*~Chinese Proverb~*~
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Re: Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by Basbasun »

Thankyou musicofnote for sharing your traveling through the mpc size hunt, and the very fascinating youtube clips.
I am a bit older than you , changed from tenor to bass in 1969 with a Holton 1 1/2 G mpc, I was using bigger mpc to get a bigger low range, the largest was a Black 1G. Latter I was going the other way to what I play now a Bach 1 1/2G. I practise all pedals, and a few double pedals. And the high range. Actually after 70 I started downsizing. It works.

(as you all know there are different ways to pronounce vocals, I sweden the vocal "ooo" is often used in teaching trombone, and with good result)
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Re: Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by Basbasun »

About weight. 2018 my weight was 83, now it 76. It was 70 for some time. Actually I trie for some time get to 83 again.
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Re: Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by robcat2075 »

musicofnote wrote: Fri Jun 17, 2022 5:49 am robcat2075 - I think what you're speaking about is more tongue position relative to range and not actual vowel sounds. Whilst saying those vowels, if one notices what the tongue and glottis are doing, that's what is a big help.
Yeah. I said that...
robcat2075 wrote: Sun Jun 05, 2022 3:04 pm These "vowels" are not something that is sung or audibly spoken. The vocal cords are not active in this.

Calling them "vowels" is all I've got, however, short of delving into technical phonetics jargon.

These vowels are shapes the tongue makes inside your mouth when you speak these sounds... we are borrowing these shapes for the non-speaking purpose of tuning our vocal tract to best produce a resonant sound on our horn.
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Re: Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by Bach5G »

Since my mid-50s, I have progressed from a 5G to DE 101, 102 and, recently a 104. A few years ago, C Griego recommended his 4C which is very close to the 104.

I am 67 now. I struggle to play above a C and although I work at it, it doesn’t seem to be improving, although conventional wisdom might attribute that to the larger mouthpiece.

The takeaway from the videos for me was raising or arching the tongue. Use whatever syllable that works for you.
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Re: Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by harrisonreed »

Somehow Jay Friedman be hitting high Fs on a 3G at 83.
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Re: Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by Bach5G »

I wonder what Jay has to say about hitting high Fs at age 83?
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Re: Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by Posaunus »

Bach5G wrote: Sun Jun 19, 2022 10:39 am I wonder what Jay has to say about hitting high Fs at age 83?
Well - he does it! ( I think.) But he's a freak of nature! (And one of my T-bone heroes.)

I can barely squeak out a high F these days - and not on Jay's large equipment.

I'm a bit younger than Jay, and have also gravitated to slightly larger mouthpieces over the years, but am certainly not part of the "bigger-is-better" crowd. Long-gone is the time when I could play a credible high F on my 88H!
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Re: Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by Doug Elliott »

Jay didn't play on a big mouthpiece until about the time Charlie got there and I'm sure that's no coincidence.
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Re: Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by Chatname »

Doug Elliott wrote: Wed Jun 22, 2022 9:43 pm Jay didn't play on a big mouthpiece until about the time Charlie got there and I'm sure that's no coincidence.
Which piece/sizes did he use before that, would you happen to know?
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Re: Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by Doug Elliott »

I think the Schilke 51B was the Friedman model.
Not big and not deep.
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Re: Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by Bach5G »

I’ve heard the 51B was Jay’s “Bolero” mouthpiece.
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Re: Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by Chatname »

I don’t know the 51B but it’s not very different from a 51C4, or?
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Re: Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by Burgerbob »

Chatname wrote: Thu Jun 23, 2022 12:32 am I don’t know the 51B but it’s not very different from a 51C4, or?
Much shallower
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Re: Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by dukesboneman »

I was having some chop problems in 2018. My Mount Vernon 7C just plain hurt to play after playing since 1978.
I switched to a Schilke 51B - NO pain at all. I played the 51B exclusively for almost 2 years. Loved the sound, hated that I`d lost my extreme upper range. I went back to the 7C and , BINGO no problems since.
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Re: Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by Bach5G »

Any thoughts about Jay Friedman/Brass Ark masterclass DVD? Any insights into playing after age 65?
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Re: Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by BurckhardtS »

I've watched the Friedman DVD when it came out back around 2019. There is a lot of really good stories and information there, but like anyone speaking in open documentary fashion (as opposed to a direct private lesson) it's hard to say that his advice is going to work well for someone else.

I am trying Doug's SYM mouthpieces on my large bore right now and I'm a fan. Of note, I actually sized down to a N105 rim from N106 and I actually am liking it a lot. I need to try the N106 a little more to commit to the 105 but I've only had positive things with Doug's new designs.
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Re: Vowels

Post by baileyman »

robcat2075 wrote: Sun Jun 05, 2022 3:04 pm ...
This is an alternate way of explaining common advice like "raise the back of your tongue for high notes..."

If I were to roughly map out where in the trombone range I feel myself making these different shapes as I play over the trombone range it might be like this...

Range Vowels2 sm.png


I've placed each one on a note where I feel it is purest in form. In between those notes the form is in gradual transition. The whole range is a continuous spectrum of gradually morphing tongue shape.
...
I'd be interested what you think. This part is certainly true for me. Though I think I perceive a second dimension related to "chop tension", whatever the heck that is.

That is, I find mouth volume has a rather limited range purely by itself, perhaps an octave. And i find for any note in that range I can vary the mouth volume as usual, but hold the pitch steady. I think it is "chop tension" wthti that compensates to hold the pitch.

As a result, it seems to me that "chop tension" wthti takes the pitch into different ranges where mouth volumes then manipulate the pitch in the range. If it were possible to graph this, put "chop tension" wthti on the y-axis and mouth volume on the x-axis and then there are paths to follow representing combinations of the two in order to get the pitches needed.

As I continue to live with this scheme, I think for general playing I am converging on a certain combination of the two to do things like full range slurs. But i am aware that the combination I am using is only one of many possibilities.
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Re: Mouthpiece choices and Father Time

Post by Bach5G »

I’ve been working on a Griego-Alessi 4C (as well as a DE104) recently. Big mpc but I thought it might fix a few issues (double buzz, air escaping from my corners) that I’d been dealing with. But this aft I noticed a post from Islander in which he mentioned working on a 5G model with mixed results. On a whim I got some of my 5G mpcs down from my shelf: a 5G, 5GL, Conn 5G, and a Schilke 51.

After a bit of adjustment, the Bach 5Gs were delightful. The problems I was working on along with new stuff from the bigger mpc improved or disappeared. We’ll see over the next month I guess.

What was Crisafulli’s quip about a new mpc working for 3 weeks which is why he switched every 2?
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