If you happen to have a box with models that are sequential, such as this – 639, 640, 641 – then you have an expanded version of a specific model. You can fine-tune the match to your instrument even closer with this particular set of mouthpieces.
The twelve mouthpieces in the box get progressively bigger starting from the upper left-hand side the box, moving from left to right across row one and then jumping to the left side of row number two and across, then number three and across. Like this:
Here are the four characteristics:
Think of the leadpipe groups as being sequential, like this:
(one Group to the right of ‘Ideal’ is the same as three Groups to the left of ‘Ideal’, three Groups to right of ‘Ideal’ is the same as one Group to the left of ‘Ideal’…)
Now that you’ve (hopefully) narrowed down which Group (A, B, C or D) matches your trombone, we are going to find which model from your Group suits your horn best. It’s about Power now.
Here are some things to pay attention to as you compare the three mouthpieces in your chosen Group
You will notice that lower power (lower model number) mouthpieces speak slower and that higher power (higher model number) mouthpieces speak quicker. This is true for both tonguing and slurring. It’s very obvious!
Also, as the power level grows, the general sound you produce becomes more focused, directional and colorful. In reverse, as you play mouthpieces of progressively less power, the tone gets more open, ringing and transparent. There is something appealing about each of these timbres, BUT…you have to be wary of mouthpieces that overdrive or underdrive the horn – ultimately they will be harder to play, more tiring and you will miss more notes as a result!
Here are some more things to keep in mind:
While slurring – if the mouthpiece is delivering the perfect power to your instrument, then slurring up and down are equally easy. What a great feeling!
Not perfect yet? If you have to blow extra in order to move upwards through the partials, then the mouthpiece is under powered.
If you don’t have to work much to move upwards – but the notes ‘ping’ too much – then the mouthpiece is over powered. Also, an over powered mouthpiece tends to lock you into the partials and won’t budge if you blow too much – while an under powered mouthpiece makes the partials squirrely and unstable.
Keep this in mind – as one buzzes higher from any given pitch, the embouchure muscles must add some tension to the aperture in order to raise the pitch – and as one buzzes lower, you need to relax the aperture.
So you want to monitor how much you need to tension or relax your aperture when you slur – and how that changes when you experiment with the three mouthpieces.
Just to make sure you are on the right track, go back and try some of the other Group mouthpieces. After you done this a bit, you’ll find that it is very clear which is the correct Group. Finding the appropriate power level is more subjective but is also relatively straight forward once you are familiar with the process.
Articulation, slurring, tonguing, high and low range are all made easier by having the correct match between your trombone and the mouthpiece. It’s a Win/Win situation!
The ideal match is achieved when you can blow comfortably at all times…while slurring, while tonguing, loud/soft and on sustained notes. This condition is obviously the easiest manner of playing, plus it reveals the true characteristics of your instrument.
Task #4: Extra Credit
Go back and play the mouthpiece that you used to play…I’ll bet that it is a lot more difficult to play than your new Hartman mouthpiece!
If you find the correct mouthpiece/trombone match but aren’t quite satisfied with the general sound that the instrument produces, then several reasons may be the cause…
- the horn isn’t set up ideally, you may be want to try some different components…tuning crooks, slides, leadpipes, valves
- you may be playing in the manner that you are used to with your old mouthpieces and not acclimating to the way the equipment needs to be played now
- you may need to have me custom fit a mouthpiece to your horn. I do have some more tricks…