In selecting trumpet mouthpieces, I have some theories for myself.
Although these rules have changed many times in my trumpet career, I still have some general rules when making these choices.
Here is a list of mouthpieces that I have used with Bb trumpet over the years:
1987: 7C Vincent Bach
1989: 5C Vincent Bach
1990: 3C Vincent Bach
1994: 14B4 Yamaha (first year in the professional orchestra)
1996: B6 Monette
2000: B6M Monette
2001: B6D Monette
2003: B6D Prana Monette (holding orchestra principal post in 2004)
2009: 14B4 Yamaha #25 Throat
2010: 14C4 Yamaha
2011: 14D4 Yamaha
2014: 2SO Pickett (first year full-time with standard orchestra)
2015: 1.25 Vincent Bach #25 Throat
The following are my observations when trying out different mouthpieces.
Better sound (in my opinion)
Easier to do soft articulate
Easier to control the articulation
Easier to play lyrical
Harder to play high (but possible)
Intonation on the high notes could be difficult
Easier to bend around to get good intonation
Harder to play high notes
Easier to play high notes
Tend to be flat
Endurance gone very fast
Harder to articulate
When I am familiarised with the rim of the mouthpiece, I will move to a deeper version but with the same rim.
In general, when I choose mouthpiece for myself, I always go for the feel as my priority. If I feel I can control how I play and get what I want, that mouthpiece will be the one for me.
I try to narrow down my selections to 1-3 mouthpieces and put them to a real situation test, probably in an orchestra rehearsal or practice session with piano before solo. This is the only way to know how it felt performing with those mouthpieces and of course, to know how they response and how I can handle them. Usually, I will have 2 answers from this process: ‘Perhaps’ or ‘No’. Of course, I will have to keep playing on them for quite sometime.
There is no ONE mouthpiece that fit me forever. I always keep changing my mouthpieces in the depending on performances.
If I play the principal role in the orchestra, I will choose a mouthpiece that is not too big but has a nice sound and the best overall. However, if I have to play the principal role in a pop concert, it will be a different selection.
If I play mostly on lower parts in the orchestra, I will choose a little bigger and deeper mouthpiece, to get a bigger sound to blend with the principal player, trombones and horns below us. If I play in a recital or brass quintet, it will be a different selection too. Additionally, it also greatly depend on the type of trumpet and ensemble settings.
There are so many factors that a professional musician has to think about before choosing the mouthpiece to play in different situations. And you know what, in some cases, I even have several mouthpieces to standby on the music stand just to change in different passages. For example, there are many passages in Mahler’s 2nd Symphony that I have to play very soft on high range. Thus, I will change to the deeper mouthpiece to ensure that I will be able to perform it well.
So how do I select a mouthpiece?
First, I go by feel, and then, the responses I get from them.
Hope this helps you guys to get an idea how I select the mouthpiece for my career.