Ted’s essays

trombone mouthpieces

I WON!!! I tripped over a long lusted after Conn 6H on e-bay that went for well-below-market value. It was a gamble on quality that turned out okay. It arrived yesterday with 3 mouthpieces … more on the horn later. This occasioned a gathering, mass cleaning and analysis of what I have in the way of mouthpieces.

I arranged them by width of the backbore and there was a steady bore shrinkage even among what I would have assumed to be identical 6 1/2 ALs.

trombone mouthpieces 04back row, left to right:
Yamaha 47, highly tarnished silver
Conn 3, appears to be nickel plated
Holton 7C, good silver plate
front row, left to right:
Conn 5G, gold plate, large shank, exclusive partner to my Conn 88
Bach 6 1/2 AL, tarnished silver
Bach 6 1/2 AL, polished brass – nearly all silver plate gone, estimated vintage: 1958
Bach 6 1/2 AL, good silver plate

Because embouchure (lip muscles) are real dang hard for me to tone-up well, I want to use mouthpieces that are of similar size and shape. This is much more complicated that one might think. Here is the anatomy of a mouthpiece from Mouthpiece Express:

Brass Mouthpieces
Mouthpiece Anatomy 101

Consider these effects:


Wide: Increases endurance.
Narrow: Improves flexibility.
Round: Improves comfort.
Sharp: Increases precision of attack.


Large: Increases volume, control.
Small: Relieves fatigue, weakness.
Deep: Darkens tone, especially in low register.
Shallow: Brightens tone, improves response, especially in high register.


Large: Increases blowing freedom, volume, tone; sharpens high register
(largest sizes also sharpen low register).
Small: Increases resistance, endurance, brilliance; flattens high register.


Combinations of size and shape make the tone darker or brighter, raise or lower
the pitch in one or more registers, increase or decrease volume. The backbore’s
effects depends in part also on the throat and cup.


Using the 5G with my main axe, the Conn 88 is a given. That is my big-bore horn and the large-shank mouthpiece fits only it. (I could add another paragraph or two here, but won’t.)

The plated Bach 6 1/2 ALs are shared between my “new” 1958 Conn 6H and my 1974 Yamaha YSL 354. That leaves my next largest Yamaha 47 doing the duty on my 9′ hose that rides around in my car to exercise my lip when the mood strikes (and I’m alone). Missy thinks people must think me odd when the catch a glimpse of me driving along blowing on a plastic tube. Cool. They recognize unusual when they see it.

… oh yeah, about that Bach without plating. From what I understand, unplated brass can expose a player to lead ingestion, which is why they plate them in the first place. I could have it replated, but can’t justify the expense when I have such a similar alternative at no cost. For now it is just a paper weight.