Have you found the perfect trumpet mouthpiece? Does it help you through difficult passages and make the upper and lower register sound exactly like you want them to? Does it support you when you are tired? Does it help you play with rich solid notes from below the staff to way above it? Me neither. Surely there is magic in a trumpet mouthpiece right? It’s how we connect to our horn, how we make the music. Yes, our lips form an embouchure which the mouthpiece turns into a sound that gets changed into a note in the trumpet. But is that all they do?
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Trumpet Mouthpiece Sizes
Trumpet mouthpieces sizes vary as everyone likes something different. What works for you may or may not work for me. Of course the same size number is consistent from different makers right? Sorry no. Mouthpiece sizes are based on the specifications by the maker. Unfortunately, one makers “Medium” cup is likely very different than others “Medium” cup. Or their “C” cup is different than another “C” cup. To make matters more interesting, a trumpet mouthpiece has many different parts. The two that have the most impact on your playing are the cup and the diameter of the cup. The others are the rim, throat, and the back bore.
Your trumpet mouthpiece is a highly personal choice. It is based on the size of your lips, your experience, and the type of music you are playing. When comparing or looking to make a change, please look up your mouthpiece in the guides what we’ve posted below or online. Then you know exactly what you have, and what you want to try to change. And the answer to the first question, “Is there magic in a mouthpiece?” Again, sorry no. But, you can find one that best supports your face, music, and how you like to play.
Trumpet Mouthpiece Specifications
The specifications you’ll see describing a trumpet mouthpiece have 4 main parts. They are listed in the order you may see them.
For example, a 14A4A has :
- “14” inner rim diameter (this is the number assigned by the manufacturer, not the actual size in millimeters.
- The “A” is the Cup.
- The “4” is the Rim Contour.
- The last “A” is the backbore.
- The Rim Diameter. This is the inner diameter of the mouthpiece. This is often shown in numbers which may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. It is usually described in their literature in millimeters. These usually range from 5 millimeters to 68 millimeters.
- Cup. This is the half round, inner section of the mouthpiece.
- Cups are described as
- “A” shallow to very shallow. This produces a brighter tone and is often used to support the upper register for lead trumpet playing.
- “C” medium or standard. This will produce solid tones and is the most common.
- “E” deep. This will produce a warm, darker sound.
- Cups are described as
- Rim Contour is the flat part of the rim that touches your upper and lower lip. These types are usually described as:
- Round may feel more comfortable. This is often called a “1”.
- Standard is the most common which is a good starting place. This is often called a “3”.
- Wide (often called Flat) helps you play longer, increases your endurance. This is often called a “5”.
- The Backbore and the throat combine to affect your sound.
- The throat is the hole in the back of the cup. Narrow or “A” increases the resistance you’ll feel. This may support upper register playing and produce a brighter tone.
- Medium, Standard, or “C”.
- Wide, Broad, or “E” this may produce a darker sound and reduce the resistance. It allows more air through for a powerful airstream.
What Is a Trumpet Mouthpiece Made of ?
Trumpet mouthpieces, Flugelhorn mouthpieces, and Cornet mouthpieces are all made of brass. They are most commonly finished with a silver plating. Many manufacturers offer mouthpieces plated in gold. The silver or gold plating can be shiny, matte, or a combination of the two finishes. The most common part of the mouthpiece to be plated gold is the cup and rim areas. Gold is a softer metal than silver so the plated surface of the rim may help you stay positioned better as it is less slippery. That said, the gold plating is much more expensive, often doubling the price of a given mouthpiece over it’s silver plated partner. And some say it doesn’t feel any different. Others I’ve talked to say it is less irritating to them. Everyone is different. Guess that’s why there is vanilla, chocolate, and pistachio ice cream. Seriously, pistachio? Really?
There are special, plastic trumpet mouthpieces to use in special circumstances. Many of us learned this the hard way. It was our first time in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. It was really cold. We were freezing our brass instruments, off. A freezing brass mouthpiece was hard to play and stay in tune. Add that to a super cold trumpet and it felt like when we blew warm air into our mouthpieces and trumpets, they “absorbed” the sound. By the time the song was half way done, our horns had finally warmed up and we could get some notes out. But the first few notes were rough. The entire band felt it unfortunately. We asked other players that played awesome from other bands and they showed us their mouthpieces. They said it helps, but you still gotta warm up your horn.
Making a Trumpet Mouthpiece
Beginner Trumpet Mouthpieces
or What is a 7C Trumpet Mouthpiece ?
The most common trumpet mouthpiece we all started on is the 7C. The “7” refers to the rim diameter and the “C” is the cup. This mouthpiece is “Average” and “Medium” in cup volume.
Top Pick: The Bach 7C trumpet mouthpiece. It’s the mouthpiece most of us started on in elementary or middle school. I wonder if the band teacher bought them by the truckload. When we showed up for the first day of band, we were all handed one. It’s got a “smaller” rim diameter for younger players. It’s a high-quality mouthpiece that is a good compromise of quality sound volume and range. It’s 16.20 millimeter rim diameter is considered “medium wide”. It’s rim shape has a well rounded edge to fit most players. It’s far and away the most widely used model. If you are older than elementary/middle school age or have larger lips, a 1 1/2C may be a better fit. It has a little larger rim diameter at 17.00 millimeters and a bit more room in the cup. It will provide a slightly deeper tone than the 7C. If you find the 7C trumpet mouthpiece a little too big for you, or you have thinner lips, consider the 10 1/2C. It has a slightly smaller rim diameter of 15.90 millimeters than the 7C and a medium cup. It will provide a brighter tone than the 7C does. Some find this smaller mouthpiece helps their upper register as their embouchure continues to develop.
Here is the Vincent Bach Trumpet Mouthpiece Chart.
If you aren’t sure, just starting out, or would like to try different options, Cecilo makes a 7C Trumpet mouthpiece at a fraction of the price of the name brand Bach. It is silver plated too.
Best Lead Trumpet Mouthpieces
As an advanced player or one that wants to continue improving, you may benefit from changes to your mouthpiece. Before you look at a lead mouthpiece, please read through the post on How to play high notes on trumpet. The jump link will take you directly to the mouthpiece section. It’ll walk you through the differences. Back already? Okay, you get now how lead trumpet mouthpieces are designed to accommodate the higher volume of air and increased demands of lead trumpet playing. We are not all gifted upper register artists. Those talented people that can play from peddle tones to double whatevers on soup cans. A lead mouthpiece can help you play higher notes with better control and intonation. They might even help you add a note or too higher. What they won’t do is magically transform you into a gifted screamer. And these aren’t cheap so make as an informed choice as possible. I did this when I wanted to improve my range for jazz and marching band. Please, talk to your teacher about this. You want to make sure the mouthpiece you have is holding you back. If you want a more detailed view on playing high notes on the trumpet, go back and read the whole post on What’s the range of the trumpet. How to play high notes.. Hit back when you are done. I’ll wait here.
Top Pick: Yamaha YAC Shrew Lead. This is a Signature Series mouthpiece designed by legendary trumpet player Bobby Shrew working with Yamaha. The Rim diameter is a little smaller than the Schilke below at 16.54 millimeters and slightly larger than the Denis Wick model below. It has a very shallow cup. The back bore is tight which allows for a bit of resistance to support your notes. The rim shape is considered Semi-thick with a Semi-round contour. You’ll notice the outer and inner rim are more rounded than the Schilke. 14A4A. The throat is 3.56 millimeters wide. The throat and backbore are slightly more open than the Schilke 14A4A. This mouthpiece is a favorite of many lead players using it for their professional trumpet playing duties. Here’s an unboxing review of the Bobby Shew Lead and compared to the Schilke 14A4A.
Here is the Yamaha USA Trumpet Mouthpiece Comparison Guide.
Yamaha Bobby Shew – Jazz
Many players that use the Bobby Shew Lead also have the Bobby Shew Jazz in their bag. The difference are:
- RIm Diameter: 16.85 millimeters verses 16.54 millimeters. Slightly bigger.
- Throat: 3.65 millimeters verses 3.56 millimeters. Slightly more open.
- Backbore: Standard verses Narrow. More open. Yamaha specific descriptions.
- Cup: Standard versus Very Shallow. Yamaha specific descriptions.
They will feel very different from each other. You can expect a much warmer, richer sound from the Jazz version verses the Lead. It’ll also have less resistance with the larger throat and wider backbore.
Denis Wick 4E. This is an excellent high register mouthpiece. It’s Rim diameter is 16.50 mm. It also has a extra shallow cup which provides a bright, crisp sound. The V-type back bore is a signature of Denis Wick designs. This helps you deliver the lower register with a rich tone even with the shallow cup. The rim width is 5.18 millimeters which is middle width for comfort and endurance. Some of the band say it feels like the Bach 10 1/2C with a shallower cup and more open backbore. They like it for their jazz group as well for the depth of sound and upper register playability.
Here is the Denis Wick Mouthpiece Guide.
Schilke 14A4A. This Schilke trumpet mouthpiece has been around for decades and is a proven performer. See above for a review and comparison with the Bobby Shew Lead. Most every manufacturer produces a mouthpiece similar to this one. The Rim diameter is medium large (17.09mm) and a shallow “A” cup. The “4” means the rim is “semi-flat”. It is feels fairly broad and the outer rim isn’t as rounded as some which offers a bit better seal if you need that. The last “A” is a tight back bore which will support you with just the right amount of backpressure. The larger rim diameter and very shallow cup allow for a greater volume and high note performance. The outer rim isn’t as rounded as the Yamaha 14A4A or Yamaha Bobby Shew Lead.
Here is the Schilke Mouthpiece Guide. The trumpet sections are sprinkled throughout the guide.
Yamaha 14A4A. This is very similar to the Schilke 14A4A but with a rim diameter of 16.68 millimeters. The very shallow cup, tight throat and backbore are designed for lead players. Where it differs is the slightly rounded inner and outer rim verses the Schilke 14A4A. It has a 3.65 millimeter throat which is the same as the Bobby Shew Jazz. That should feel much freer than the Schilke as the Bobby Shew Lead had a slightly larger throat already. This is neither good nor bad, just different. The combination with your trumpet will make a difference as we all need some resistance to blow against. It has a more rounded outer rim than the Schilke 14A4A, similar to the Yamaha Bobby Shew Lead mouthpiece.
Over time you may find yourself with more than one mouthpiece. Keeping them protected from each other and more importantly, from dinging your horn is a must. This tough nylon case has soft, individual pockets to hold your mouthpieces from damaging each other. It has a zippered outer pocket too. This Protec case has soft sleeves for 4 mouthpieces.