How does a mouthpiece relate to your trombone?

Hartman Mouthpieces are  designed with the understanding that each mouthpiece is an acoustic instrument – independent of the trombone – but obviously related to the trombone. “I believe that the primary function of a brass instrument mouthpiece is to serve as an acoustically matched bridge between the player’s aperture and the instrument – with the ultimate goal of imbuing this amplified sound with the characteristics of each specific instrument.”

Hartman Mouthpieces finally make this possible.

Make sure to read: How does a Mouthpiece work?

Impedance: Each brass instrument has an acoustic and mechanical impedance which means that each individual horn requires a specific amount of energy to drive it optimally. That’s why each instrument plays a bit differently. As I grasped the reality of this situation, it became apparent to me that I needed to design mouthpiece models that can be varied – and controlled – and repeatable – in terms of both their characteristics and the power output that they produce! This was quite a daunting task, which I believe I am the first person to attempt to address, let alone succeed in solving. This is why I make each model of mouthpiece in an array of strength levels – from 4 to 9. Most trombones operate best with a  power level of 5, 6, 7 or 8.

Until now, people have chosen a mouthpiece with a somewhat different goal in mind. People traditionally have searched for a mouthpiece with the hope of making something easier to achieve, such as low or high range, articulation, tone… but, since traditional mouthpieces aren’t designed to be acoustically balanced or properly matched to an instrument, these mouthpieces generally bring many negative affects along with the desired affects, undermining and masking the true characteristics of an instrument in the process.

Leadpipe: Another acoustic obstacle inherent in matching a mouthpiece to a trombone is one caused by the trombone leadpipe. The leadpipe serves to receive the mouthpiece and to gradually open up the bore of the combined instrument from the smallest diameter at the throat of the mouthpiece to the bore of the inner slide. As you probably know, the leadpipe is tapered to hold the mouthpiece and then after it reaches it’s narrowest point sometime beyond the end of the mouthpiece, it tapers larger until it reaches the bore of the inner slide. This narrowest point of the leadpipe, called a venturi (a narrow point in the pipe), affects the flow of air through the trombone creating a potential bottleneck and turbulence that causes most mouthpieces to feel uncomfortable to play with that instrument. (this is the same issue that trumpet players refer to as the gap)

A mouthpiece needs to be matched to each individual horn in order to alleviate this issue. Hartman mouthpieces have addressed this acoustic phenomenon by recognizing the issue and how to systematically predict which mouthpieces will work with a given horn. With my system, any leadpipe will work best with only one of these four series – A, B, C or D. Of course, this isn’t unique to my mouthpieces, this leadpipe issue pertains to any mouthpiece, either it works with the leadpipe or it doesn’t! I am offering a systematic solution to the problem.

So… your trombone will most likely play best with one of these series designations:

SERIES A:     A5,  A6, or A7

SERIES B:     B5,  B6 or B7

SERIES C:     C5,  C6 or C7

SERIES D:     D5,  D6 or D7

This may seem confusing or over complicated – but once you try matching the mouthpieces with the trombone, it becomes clear how this works. I really do wish that it could be simpler – but I don’t make the laws of physics that dictate this…I just figured out how to use acoustics to our advantage. Considering that mouthpiece technology hasn’t changed much in the last 600 years, it is about time we move ahead, don’t you think?

When properly matched to your instrument, my mouthpieces not only allow your trombone’s true characteristics to emerge, enabling you to play with minimal effort and maximum affect, but you do have the option to tip the equation in your favor even more through using the Power levels to your advantage. For example, in a recent recital I used my A7 for most of the recital but I used my A6 for the vocal songs which allowed me more nuance in the delicate sections, then I used my A8 to play lead on some trombone quintets charts. So much easier to let the mouthpiece help you rather than otherwise!

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Here is the process that I use to select a mouthpiece: