Mouthpiece Material

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TimBrass
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Mouthpiece Material

Post by TimBrass » Tue Aug 14, 2018 1:00 am

Does mouthpiece material matter? What are the advantages of the "exotic" materials like Sterling Silver or Bronze?
I know Yamaha does Sterling Silver and Warburton does Bronze (the Gail Robertson Euph model)

Anyone know the pro's and con's of these materials?
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Re: Mouthpiece Material

Post by Bonearzt » Tue Aug 14, 2018 8:03 am

IMHO it matters greatly!!!

The mass and density of the base metal affects articulations and resonance in your sound.
The sterling silver & titanium, being dense & brittle, tend to exaggerate articulations, making the notes speak quicker and with more sizzle, and may tend the sound out front to be a bit more present or brighter.
Whereas the softer metals like brass or bronze tend toward a thicker, heavier sound with the articulations being less present.
Not a carved-in-stone statement of fact, just observations from trying them.

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Re: Mouthpiece Material

Post by timothy42b » Tue Aug 14, 2018 10:42 am

The slipperiness matters for sure. The total mass, maybe. The density of materials of the same shape? Disagreement on this is possible.
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Vegastokc
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Re: Mouthpiece Material

Post by Vegastokc » Tue Aug 14, 2018 12:27 pm

I believe the plating has a lot to do with it as well.
I have a Rhodium plated brass piece.
Apparently Rhodium is used by jewelers due do its strong resistance to tarnish, corrosion and scratches.
Even though it its harder than both silver and gold, I have always felt it was one of my most comfortable and fatigue lessening mouthpieces.
Seems like harder = slippery :idk:
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Re: Mouthpiece Material

Post by AndrewMeronek » Tue Aug 14, 2018 12:46 pm

Vegastokc wrote:
Tue Aug 14, 2018 12:27 pm
I believe the plating has a lot to do with it as well.
I have a Rhodium plated brass piece.
Apparently Rhodium is used by jewelers due do its strong resistance to tarnish, corrosion and scratches.
Even though it its harder than both silver and gold, I have always felt it was one of my most comfortable and fatigue lessening mouthpieces.
Seems like harder = slippery :idk:
Yes, this is true. Harder metals are more slippery. Rhodium is exceptionally hard, not even close to the same league as gold or silver or brass. This is one of the reasons why chrome plating is used in inner slide tubes, because chrome is harder and more slippery than brass. One fairly common use of industrially produced diamond is to produce very low friction surfaces.
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Re: Mouthpiece Material

Post by AndrewMeronek » Tue Aug 14, 2018 12:49 pm

Another concern for mouthpiece material is the specific heat of a material. As a general rule, if the mouthpiece warms up faster from your body heat while playing it, the better.
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Re: Mouthpiece Material

Post by JohnL » Tue Aug 14, 2018 12:53 pm

timothy42b wrote:
Tue Aug 14, 2018 10:42 am
The slipperiness matters for sure. The total mass, maybe. The density of materials of the same shape? Disagreement on this is possible.
Just so we're all on the same page here, I offer some densities:
70/30 brass: .308 lb/in³ (8.52 gm/cm³)
80/20 brass: .313 lb/in³ (8.66 gm/cm³)
90/10 brass: .318 lb/in³ (8.80 gm/cm³)
titanium (Ti-6Al-4V): .161 lb/in³ (4.47 gm/cm³)
stainless steel (type 316): .289 lb/in³ (8 gm/cm³)
sterling silver (92.5%): .375 lb/in³ (10.37 gm/cm³)

You'll notice that brass and stainless steel are pretty close, while titanium is much lower (roughly half) and sterling silver is significantly higher.

Me? I think it has a lot to do with the elastic modulus of the material.
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Re: Mouthpiece Material

Post by BGuttman » Tue Aug 14, 2018 1:44 pm

I have a wood cup (Benterfa). It's a handsome piece, but not a very loud one. I've referred to it as my "chamber mouthpiece".

JohnL: Elastic modulus would be interpreted as "hardness". Stainless is much harder than brass and people tend to see stainless mouthpieces as "more brilliant".
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Re: Mouthpiece Material

Post by JohnL » Tue Aug 14, 2018 2:36 pm

BGuttman wrote:
Tue Aug 14, 2018 1:44 pm
JohnL: Elastic modulus would be interpreted as "hardness".
If one is comparing different kinds of alloys (say, brass vs. steel vs. titanium), the modulus vs. hardness correlation holds up decently well - but within an alloy family, it doesn't. One can change the hardness of an alloy though mechanical and/or thermal processing, but its elastic modulus remains constant. Consider 70-30 brass: if you start with fully annealed material and cold work it, it gets harder (with corresponding increases in yield and tensile strengths) - but the modulus doesn't change.

You can even tinker with the chemistry to some extent without changing the modulus.
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Re: Mouthpiece Material

Post by BGuttman » Tue Aug 14, 2018 2:43 pm

For purposes of this discussion the modulus and hardness are pretty much interchangeable.

I've never tried to compare "engineered" alloys with identical moduli for mouthpiece use. An expensive experiment, if you can even get someone interested in the idea.

Wonder what would have similar properties to the Olds Ivory. I think the polycarbonate and the Nylon used in the past are different enough not to be a substitute.
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Re: Mouthpiece Material

Post by MAliesch » Tue Aug 14, 2018 3:06 pm

I'm not a physicist or acoustician, but even the amateur ones I've talked to have little in regards to an answer as to what's going on here and there's not really any money in figuring it out scientifically.

There is a similar phenomenon in the electric guitar world, with a debate as to whether or not the wood makes a difference in the sound.

I remember an argument on TTF one time about whether or not the air was crucial to the sound of the instrument. If you had some mechanical embouchure that vibrated without airflow, would the instrument still make it's characteristic sound?

In the real players' world, both questions even if answered would mean very little in application.

My own personal answer with regards to both guitar and mouthpieces is that any professional luthier or mouthpiece maker knows that the mass and material does make a difference. But it's more complicated than that, because it's not clear on WHAT the difference is.

The mass of the mouthpiece does absorb energy and vibrate, similar to the guitar wood, even though neither of them is directly responsible for the sound of the instrument. But surely the material does have an effect, it's just a question of whether it has an effect on the sound, or just the feel, or is it mostly placebo? And in the real world on an individual player basis, what ratio of the three is it?

Do you feel the instrument resonate and adjust your playing to that, or do you put more attention on the sound of the instrument at your head to let you know what your playing sounds like?
Sidebar: the audience isn't listening from inside the player's ears anyways.


What absolutely does make a difference is how you feel playing it. If you want a new mouthpiece and it makes you practice and you feel good about your playing, then that's great. If you want to experiment with materials and that gets you interested in the horn and you start to notice things about your sound and playing that you didn't notice before, that's also great. If the slipperiness or grip of the mouthpiece helps your flexibility or helps you center the note easier, then that's great too. Maybe the heat transfer properties of the mouthpiece help or hurt blood flow or affect swelling of tissue in the area, and that changes your playing.

But is it a difference a listener could hear? From 10 ft away, or from 100 ft away?
Would it be much more likely that the listener could tell whether you were comfortable on your horn or not, regardless of what the actual sound product is?

At the end of the day, the human element of making music can't be removed from the mechanical aspect of making music, so it's just as valid a result either way.

On the other hand, facial nerves can be very sensitive and, similar to the proven, accepted effect of the harmonic pillars on the Edwards instruments, (among every other instrument design decision across all industries) the feedback of the instrument to the player is a very personal preference that has a huge effect on how you play. If your face feels the vibrations of the different metal or plastic differently, or if your finger resting on the mouthpiece feels the note start earlier due to a harder stainless or lighter titanium and that changes the way you start the notes, is that not enough?

The only way you'll know for yourself is if you give it a try.
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Re: Mouthpiece Material

Post by Bonearzt » Tue Aug 14, 2018 9:03 pm

Not to hijack this thread TOO badly.. but the argument about air being integral to the sound can be demonstrated by trying to play a pedal note or any low note while vocalizing "eeeeee"
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TimBrass
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Re: Mouthpiece Material

Post by TimBrass » Wed Aug 15, 2018 12:43 am

Why I ask:

I'm thinking of having my mouthpiece (now brass) remade out of Bronze in order to get a warmer / darker sound.
What do you guys think the effect would be?
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Re: Mouthpiece Material

Post by Posaunus » Wed Aug 15, 2018 12:51 am

TimBrass wrote:
Wed Aug 15, 2018 12:43 am
I'm thinking of having my mouthpiece (now brass) remade out of Bronze in order to get a warmer / darker sound.
What do you guys think the effect would be?
I think the effect will be whatever you imagine it is - i.e, the difference may all be in your head! Though it will be difficult to exactly copy your existing mouthpiece, and then silver-plate it so that the only difference is the base material.

In any case, it could be an interesting experiment. Let us know how it turns out. :idk:
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Re: Mouthpiece Material

Post by blast » Wed Aug 15, 2018 1:39 am

TimBrass wrote:
Wed Aug 15, 2018 12:43 am
Why I ask:

I'm thinking of having my mouthpiece (now brass) remade out of Bronze in order to get a warmer / darker sound.
What do you guys think the effect would be?
The only way to discover if there is indeed a real-world difference is to have CNC made identical mouthpieces made with different materials (even CNC made pieces are not totally identical). I have tested such mouthpieces for someone, and am using an example.... made in brass. Copper made it play very differently... darker, but a little more compact. Some would like that. I am waiting for an example in Zirconium, which I hope I don't like, as it will be VERY expensive.

Chris
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Re: Mouthpiece Material

Post by TimBrass » Wed Aug 15, 2018 2:38 am

Posaunus wrote:
Wed Aug 15, 2018 12:51 am
TimBrass wrote:
Wed Aug 15, 2018 12:43 am
I'm thinking of having my mouthpiece (now brass) remade out of Bronze in order to get a warmer / darker sound.
What do you guys think the effect would be?
I think the effect will be whatever you imagine it is - i.e, the difference may all be in your head! Though it will be difficult to exactly copy your existing mouthpiece, and then silver-plate it so that the only difference is the base material.

In any case, it could be an interesting experiment. Let us know how it turns out. :idk:
Mouthpiece will not be copied. The manufacturer will make one using Bronze. So dimentions will be exact.
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Re: Mouthpiece Material

Post by sungfw » Wed Aug 15, 2018 6:02 am

TimBrass wrote:
Wed Aug 15, 2018 2:38 am
Mouthpiece will not be copied. The manufacturer will make one using Bronze. So dimentions will be be within the manufacturing tolerances.
FTFY.
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Re: Mouthpiece Material

Post by timothy42b » Wed Aug 15, 2018 6:19 am

TimBrass wrote:
Wed Aug 15, 2018 12:43 am
Why I ask:

I'm thinking of having my mouthpiece (now brass) remade out of Bronze in order to get a warmer / darker sound.
What do you guys think the effect would be?
Zero.

I think your warmer sound or your brighter sound is a function of playing slightly above or below pitch center, which emphasizes overtones slightly differently, plus a slight change in the size and shape of your oral cavity (which may actually just affect the pitch center adjustment.)

The effect of pitch center is underestimated. A trombone resonates best at pitch center for a given harmonic, but it's not a sharp cutoff - it drops off as you get away from center, slowly and first and then more sharply. This lets you put energy into upper overtones even though what you're putting into the horn doesn't line up exactly with the horn's set of upper pitch centers. What you put into the horn is mathematically exact, but no horn has exact upper pitch centers in any given position. When you move above or below pitch center for the fundamental, you may be moving the opposite direction at an upper overtone.
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Re: Mouthpiece Material

Post by Vegastokc » Wed Aug 15, 2018 7:14 am

(Oh man, did we nerd out fast on this one... :geek: )
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Re: Mouthpiece Material

Post by timothy42b » Wed Aug 15, 2018 7:54 am

Vegastokc wrote:
Wed Aug 15, 2018 7:14 am
(Oh man, did we nerd out fast on this one... :geek: )
You're kidding, right?

A thread on mouthpiece material affecting tone quality is nerdy by definition.
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Re: Mouthpiece Material

Post by blast » Wed Aug 15, 2018 9:36 am

People send me things to test. I tell them what I think and they do what they want. I don't really care past that.

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Re: Mouthpiece Material

Post by islander » Wed Aug 15, 2018 9:53 am

blast wrote:
Wed Aug 15, 2018 1:39 am

I am waiting for an example in Zirconium, which I hope I don't like, as it will be VERY expensive.

Chris
Chris,

That hour of reckoning is soon upon you. :amazed:

I´ve two Zr Mount Vernon copies that I´m evaluating right now. Early impressions are that they are quite nice!

Bill
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Re: Mouthpiece Material

Post by blast » Wed Aug 15, 2018 10:09 pm

islander wrote:
Wed Aug 15, 2018 9:53 am
blast wrote:
Wed Aug 15, 2018 1:39 am

I am waiting for an example in Zirconium, which I hope I don't like, as it will be VERY expensive.

Chris
Chris,

That hour of reckoning is soon upon you. :amazed:

I´ve two Zr Mount Vernon copies that I´m evaluating right now. Early impressions are that they are quite nice!

Bill
Oh ! I hope not... but I have a bad feeling...the last Zirconium model was very appealing.... and I am playing one of the brass examples... have been since Jan. I have the plated one here in the US on my visit... some people may be interested.....

Chris
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Re: Mouthpiece Material

Post by dershem » Fri Aug 17, 2018 1:00 pm

I have a couple of old Aluminum Jet-Tones. They play just like the brass ones, but warm up MUCH quicker.
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Re: Mouthpiece Material

Post by TromboneMonkey » Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:25 pm

AR is starting to make trumpet mouthpieces in Bronze. If I am able to get a trombone one at some point, I will 1- pray that they are sized so identically that I can't physically feel the difference, and 2- blindfold test the bronze vs. brass.

I may be in the minority, but after playing lexan pieces, I can say with near-certainly that the effect of changing materials is measurable beyond "zero".
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Re: Mouthpiece Material

Post by BGuttman » Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:02 pm

There are definitely differences in material, especially with large differences. Plastic and wood mouthpieces (and probably the ox horn mentioned above) tend to be quieter and duller. Stainless steel is more "brilliant". Is there a difference between brass (copper/zinc) and bronze (copper/tin)? Can you hear that difference? Dunno.
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Re: Mouthpiece Material

Post by ghmerrill » Fri Sep 14, 2018 7:37 am

TromboneMonkey wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:25 pm
I may be in the minority, but after playing lexan pieces, I can say with near-certainly that the effect of changing materials is measurable beyond "zero".
No dispute with this about lexan. I suspect the difference would be even greater for a mouthpiece made from Marshmallow.
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Re: Mouthpiece Material

Post by TromboneMonkey » Fri Sep 14, 2018 1:39 pm

Sure, but some players above are implying that one would not be able to tell the timbre differences between mouthpiece materials, and I tend to disagree. I readily tell the difference between mouthpieces of different shank material, for example (some manufacturers will do this-- Parker, for example). I've never blindfolded leadpipe material tests, but would expect to feel/hear differences there, too! Maybe not huge differences, but differences nonetheless!

Do I think that one should go out of her/his way to experiment endlessly with mouthpiece materials in lieu of practice? Of course not. But the material still affects the sound-- otherwise we'd all be playing Pbones on the cheap!
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Re: Mouthpiece Material

Post by Schlitz » Fri Sep 14, 2018 5:48 pm

JohnL wrote:
Tue Aug 14, 2018 12:53 pm

Just so we're all on the same page here, I offer some densities:
70/30 brass: .308 lb/in³ (8.52 gm/cm³)
80/20 brass: .313 lb/in³ (8.66 gm/cm³)
90/10 brass: .318 lb/in³ (8.80 gm/cm³)
titanium (Ti-6Al-4V): .161 lb/in³ (4.47 gm/cm³)
stainless steel (type 316): .289 lb/in³ (8 gm/cm³)
sterling silver (92.5%): .375 lb/in³ (10.37 gm/cm³)

You'll notice that brass and stainless steel are pretty close, while titanium is much lower (roughly half) and sterling silver is significantly higher.

Me? I think it has a lot to do with the elastic modulus of the material.
So riding to a gig with a blonde, playing on a titanium, and driving a Prius is pretty thin........
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