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Mouthpiece Advice for Newbie

Postby MarchingOyster » Sat Mar 18, 2017 4:34 pm

Good Afternoon everyone,

Newcomer to the tuba world, primarily a euphonium player. I have been interested in getting more into playing tuba, but have a tough time really nailing down a good mouthpiece. One of the main problems I have is that I have an allergy to silver and my lips love to puff up on silver mouthpiece, so I prefer to play on steel mouthpieces. Just curious if there's some good steel ones out there that would lend themselves to a smooth transition for doubling or just some good starters. Price isn't an issue, but would prefer not to dole out an extreme amount. Thank you and have a nice day.

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Re: Mouthpiece Advice for Newbie

Postby Michael Bush » Sat Mar 18, 2017 4:40 pm

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Re: Mouthpiece Advice for Newbie

Postby Donn » Sat Mar 18, 2017 5:44 pm

Well, that's a tough one. I think the steel mouthpieces are mostly just the same kind of trash as the silver plated mouthpieces. There may be a few good ones, but they're a closely guarded secret - if anyone tells you about a supposedly good mouthpiece, beware! they're just pulling your leg. Real tuba players prefer to play on mediocre mouthpieces anyway - that's why there are so many different mouthpieces out there, anyone can turn out something that will satisfy that market.
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Re: Mouthpiece Advice for Newbie

Postby opus37 » Sat Mar 18, 2017 5:55 pm

Donn wrote:Well, that's a tough one. I think the steel mouthpieces are mostly just the same kind of trash as the silver plated mouthpieces. There may be a few good ones, but they're a closely guarded secret - if anyone tells you about a supposedly good mouthpiece, beware! they're just pulling your leg. Real tuba players prefer to play on mediocre mouthpieces anyway - that's why there are so many different mouthpieces out there, anyone can turn out something that will satisfy that market.


I disagree. There are many great mouthpieces out there that will not only play well, they will help you get the sound you like, and are made from stainless steel. Call Joe at Mid-South Music (aka Bloke) and he will help you select the proper mouthpiece for you and your horn. Giddings also makes fine stainless steel mouthpieces. If you call them, they also will help you with selection.
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Re: Mouthpiece Advice for Newbie

Postby Donn » Sat Mar 18, 2017 10:57 pm

The point of my ironic humor there was this, in a nutshell: whatever steel mouthpieces you find out there, are as good as any other mouthpiece. We more or less had mouthpieces figured out half way through the previous century, and if there have been any big break-throughs since, it's been kept pretty quiet.

Now, that doesn't mean you or I are going to like any mouthpiece, selected at random, equally well, but that's a whole other question.
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Re: Mouthpiece Advice for Newbie

Postby opus37 » Sun Mar 19, 2017 12:43 pm

Sorry, I guess I missed the humor. As for new developments, there are two of note. There is the Sellmansberger reverse taper shank and the wedge rim design. The wedge rim is more popular in small mouthpieces like trumpets, but some of us really like it in tuba. The robust resale market for Sellmansberger mouthpieces suggests a strong demand for them. I personally think they help clarify my tone and bring out the richness of sound. I agree there is a lot of mediocre stuff out there, but there are some gems too.
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Re: Mouthpiece Advice for Newbie

Postby Donn » Sun Mar 19, 2017 1:35 pm

If there is any mediocre stuff out there, it's by accident. Poor manufacturing technique, sloppy copying, skimpy plating ... that kind of thing can't be ruled out. Production mouthpieces from a decent production facility with a brand reputation to maintain, should be fine. In general - maybe not fine for you, but fine for someone. If you always hear people saying xxx mouthpiece is a gem, then you know one thing about it - that those people are saying that. If you try it, you'll probably agree - because after all, most mouthpieces are fine.
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Re: Mouthpiece Advice for Newbie

Postby PaulMaybery » Tue Mar 21, 2017 9:55 am

Me thinks I get Donn's humor with the 'trash' reference. There are so many choices but in the end it really depends on the player and the attention to developing one's sound concept and chops. There is an old Danish saying by philosopher Piet Hein. "There is one art, no more, no less, to do all things with artlessness." Almost a conundrom but a certain inherent wisdom. When we think there is a "silver bullet" out there, we appear to be falling into that category and to seriously depend on a particular mouthpiece to make or break us, I believe is a bit naive. Perhaps even a bit "artless" in selling the souls of our chops to a particular MP maker. However, a mouthpiece with a good personal fit can be a 'god-send' when it comes to 'fine tuning' ones "sonic profile." But to me, that "artistic" difference comes only after the player has taken 'their sound' rather seriously and comes up with the model that they care to promote in their playing. So, I believe, and with no offense intended to anyone, that until a player actually makes a serious committment to their sound, most of the mouthpieces will probably wind up delivering the same product and at that point they might all seem like useless or "artless" "trash." I remember Mr.Jacobs telling me, that you transmit only what you have already received. Without having a tone concept in your mind, it seems folly to believe that a piece of metal placed over your lips will actually make much difference. I have noticed that when trying mouthpieces, each one has a slightly different 'Feel' to it. Even moreso, that 'feel' seems to be influenced greatly by the mouthpiece I just previously played. A medium MP can feel huge after playing a smaller one, and similarly with a large throat compared to a smaller one. To me auditioning a MP can take weeks or even months before I can notice "consistent" results. This will begin to show evidence when I finally stop switching back and forth and settle on one and then finally get used to it. I have to admit that my curiosity is a huge element in my personal makeup so even after I have made a relatively permanent choice, I do keep checking out if there is something I may like better. Four years ago I was playing on totally different pieces and tubas than I do now. I do believe things have gotten better. Also, I am learning to be a bit more honest with myself and not just leaning on the endorsements of those celebrated pros in the tuba pantheon. Pretty much everything about me is different from anyone else, so why should I just blindly take someone elses word for what is good or not as good. So until we narrow down what is good for us, or better still, what is GREAT for us, perhaps they can all be lumped into that not-so-flattering description that Donn so aptly chose.
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Re: Mouthpiece Advice for Newbie

Postby Three Valves » Tue Mar 21, 2017 10:20 am

If at first you don't suck seed;

Keep on suckin' 'till you do suck seed!!

:tuba:
Who needs four valves??
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Re: Mouthpiece Advice for Newbie

Postby Stryk » Tue Mar 21, 2017 10:38 am

I was in a Harvey Phillips class one time and someone asked why he played a Conn 2 mouthpiece. He smiled, and said, "Because it came with the horn." That was smartass for "Use whatever mouthpiece you have and stick with it." As far as I know, he never used a different one. Truth be known, he could get away with using any mouthpiece.
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Re: Mouthpiece Advice for Newbie

Postby Donn » Tue Mar 21, 2017 11:09 am

On the contrary, he probably owed his success to that mouthpiece. It's a gem!
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Re: Mouthpiece Advice for Newbie

Postby Three Valves » Tue Mar 21, 2017 11:32 am

I used one because I didn't like the Bach and those were the only choices I had!!
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Re: Mouthpiece Advice for Newbie

Postby Stryk » Tue Mar 21, 2017 12:34 pm

Donn wrote:On the contrary, he probably owed his success to that mouthpiece. It's a gem!


he would have been successful with an oil funnel!
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Re: Mouthpiece Advice for Newbie

Postby bloke » Tue Mar 21, 2017 12:44 pm

There are some Chinese mouthpieces on eBay that - other than the throat being way too small - are really quite decent for starting out on tuba... roughly $15 - not steel, but silver-plated brass.

If you decide to go this route (just for STARTERS), also (at the same time) find an inexpensive 8mm drill bit on eBay, and have someone with some good skills carefully drill the throat out (from the cup side) to that size opening.

With this (c. $20 expenditure) that will cheaply buy you some time to
- begin to master the tuba, so that you become capable of forming your OWN opinions re: mouthpieces.
- check out a whole bunch of mouthpieces.
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