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Gold plating silver mouthpieces

Postby TheTuba » Mon Feb 05, 2018 9:50 pm

Ever know what a pure silver+gold mouthpiece will sound like?

From what I know, "silver" mouthpieces are brass with coatings.

-Raghul :tuba:
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I mean if you want to, you can buy me the tuba in my name :P
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Re: Gold

Postby Mark Finley » Mon Feb 05, 2018 9:51 pm

Gold isn't about a tone difference. Its used for one of three reasons

1. Bling
2. To avoid silver allergies
3. You just like the smooth feel of it
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Re: Gold

Postby TheTuba » Mon Feb 05, 2018 11:49 pm

I know the reasons, but I just want to know if that type of mouthpiece will change your tone.

to re-clarify, Silver as the base, and gold on the outside.

(switching out brass with silver)

-Raghul
Still searching for a 8/4 EEb
I mean if you want to, you can buy me the tuba in my name :P
If you're selling a good BBb or CC 5/4 or large 4/4 with 5 valves in 2021 under 6,000, please, contact me!
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Re: Gold

Postby Ken Crawford » Tue Feb 06, 2018 12:05 am

The material that a mouthpiece is made out of stirs great debate. In my opinion, the material doesn't make a big difference in the sound that comes out of the bell. The dimensions of the mouthpiece play a far greater role in changing tonal qualities. I've played stainless steel and brass mouthpieces, no difference because of the material for me. I think that when a person spends big bucks on a mouthpiece made of a material other than brass, they WANT TO BELIEVE that they are getting a return on their investment. Placebo madness reins supreme in the exotic instrument accessory department.

So would a mouthpiece made from solid silver or solid gold yield any sonic variables not offered by brass? No, but it might make you feel special, and feeling special isn't bad.
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Re: Gold

Postby imperialbari » Tue Feb 06, 2018 3:14 am

In the horn world at least one maker has offered his signature mouthpiece in solid sterling silver. Richer sound, but not recommended for orchestra or ensemble playing, as it responds more slowly.

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Re: Gold

Postby bort » Tue Feb 06, 2018 3:29 am

Yamaha used to have a 925 series of mouthpieces... I think just trumpet and French horn?... which were made out of 925 sterling silver. They were very expensive (clearly), and from what I've read, had softer response (as Klaus mentions). I'm guessing that some "hearing the grass grow" trumpet players might think there's a discernable difference and warmth, but who knows. Perhaps some kind of similar effect as the sterling silver bells on some of those old Kings? (Silversonic?)

A solid gold mouthpiece could easily cost more than the tuba it is used in. Gold is well over $1,000 per ounce (too lazy to look it up), and it would just be amazingly expensive. Then again, I guess it'd be possible. People buy solid gold flutes that make tubas look like bargains...
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Re: Gold

Postby Peach » Tue Feb 06, 2018 8:28 am

No.
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Re: Gold

Postby bloke » Tue Feb 06, 2018 11:20 am

Nearly 100% of what determines how a mouthpieces plays/sounds/responses is the shape of the inside of it: cup, back-bore, and rim...OK, and also insertion depth.
The mouthpiece can weigh 6 oz. or it can weigh a pound, but it will play the same if the rim/cup/back-bore dimensions/insertion are the same.
That having been said, some rim surfaces remain more slippery than others for a longer period of time.
Silver and gold start out very slippery (new out of the box), but end up with micro-scratches in their rim surfaces very soon.
Even with your phone, you can take a picture of your rim (hi-res) and see the micro-scratches...
Silver plating and gold plating can even pick up micro-scratches if they only touch the player's face.

Stainless steel and titanium (whether solid or coated) can also pick up micro-scratches, but are much more scratch-resistant, yet the density of stainless steel (in particular) is about the same as that of brass.

When people compare mouthpieces made of different materials (or even with different coatings) and perceive a difference, the vast majority of the time, the two compared mouthpieces interior dimensions and rim contours do not match, and - if they actually do match - one rim sports more micro-scratches on the rim than the other.

Players are very zoned in on "feel". It is extremely difficult to separate feel from resonance and response, which hints that it is extremely difficult to make any truly objective (and I'm not even using the word "scientific") comparison.


digression:
When I began with ONE copy (plus six more duplicates, which I offered here on TubeNet as a "Does anyone else want to try one of these to help me out with my scanning/set-up cost?") of my F tuba mouthpiece (which I originally designed for myself in 1976) in stainless steel (which, basically, was what is now my "Solo" cup with a #1 back-bore and a #1 33.2mm rim), it was because I had grown sick-and-tired of re-gold-plating that mouthpiece over-and-over (as the super-soft gold plating would scratch - even with extraordinary care - and wear off).
Last edited by bloke on Tue Feb 06, 2018 1:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Gold

Postby bone-a-phone » Tue Feb 06, 2018 12:01 pm

Coming from the trombone side of things, we often have a somewhat different perspective. Plating in general serves mainly a hygienic purpose on the mouthpiece. Silver is used rather than gold mainly due to cost. Gold is chosen rather than silver mainly due to the feel (gold is somewhat more slippery than silver). I think bone players and tubists agree on that much.

Where we seem to differ is on the mass of the mouthpiece. In the trombone world, plastic mouthpieces are chosen for plastic horns, or in cold weather. The best playing situation is a lexan rim on a metal mouthpiece. Plastic mouthpieces don't seem to drive the sound on a trombone the way they do on a tuba. Plastic mouthpieces on trombone are generally reported to feel/sound dead. Plastic rim doesn't seem to have that effect. Going the other direction, megatone mouthpieces or mouthpieces with extra mass attached get mixed reviews. Some just say they are hard to steer, tone-wise, some say they change the overtones that are transmitted into the horn. Of course the marketing legend is that they play louder than normal mass mouthpieces.

The shape of the air column is definitely the prime factor when it comes to brass instrument sound, but the materials of the horn itself (including the mouthpiece) are also an audible factor. Sterling bells are much heavier than brass, and give a distinctive sound, even if it's primarily behind the bell. Nickel silver material gives a more strident sound. Other material differences are more subtle, like copper or red brass. Probably more important than the material itself is the heat treat/work hardening state of the bell. Harder materials favor higher frequency vibration, so a brighter tone than softer materials. This isn't to say what's good and what's bad, just that these properties have certain tendencies. Plus, multiple materials with conflicting tendencies are often mixed on instruments, and a bell material might have more or less effect than a bow, or a leadpipe, so predicting which conflicting property wins out is usually perceived as voodoo.

The plating process deposits an incredibly thin layer of material (~.00015 inches), so plating doesn't have more than a cosmetic effect, even when applied to an entire instrument, even an instrument as big as a tuba. A solid gold mouthpiece would be impractical due to cost and softness, but would probably sound very dead just due to the high weight and low stiffness of gold. Silver is less dense, and stiffer, so it would sound more like brass, but still be comparatively expensive. Brass is used because it is less expensive, even with copper as its main ingredient.
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Re: Gold

Postby Donn » Tue Feb 06, 2018 12:49 pm

And you'd get another story altogether, if you asked trumpet players who keep up with such things. I'm not sure the difference is inherent in the acoustics of the instrument, though.
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Re: Gold

Postby the elephant » Tue Feb 06, 2018 1:08 pm

TheTuba wrote:Ever know what a pure silver+gold mouthpiece will sound like?

From what I know, "silver" mouthpieces are brass with coatings.

-Raghul :tuba:


Mark Finley wrote:Gold isn't about a tone difference. Its used for one of three reasons

1. Bling
2. To avoid silver allergies
3. You just like the smooth feel of it


TheTuba wrote:I know the reasons, but I just want to know if that type of mouthpiece will change your tone.


So you know the reasons. Why did you ask then? The reasons are part of your answer. Did you read his reply or just skim it? It clearly answers your question. No. It will not affect your tone in any sort of way that is worth the extreme expense to have a sterling silver mouthpiece custom made for you.

TheTuba wrote:to re-clarify, Silver as the base, and gold on the outside. (switching out brass with silver)


No one makes a silver mouthpiece. It would be thousands of dollars at that weight and would probably have to be cast as a mostly finished "blank" and then milled to its final shape rather than simply milled from solid silver bar stock because silver costs so much more than brass.

Why would you want a solid sterling silver mouthpiece? If this is not what you mean, please try harder to be clear when you ask questions. You have been answered a few times now regarding the tone. As for the silver thing, what you asked about was a sterling silver mouthpiece. That is not the same as a silver plated mouthpiece (which is how they are made - plated brass). If that is not what you meant to ask about then make sure you are using the correct terms. (We have had a lot of misuse of the terms regarding silver here lately. Just trying to help, man.)

It seems like you have not fully clarified what it is that you want to know just yet. We are here to help you, but you have to be clear
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Re: Gold

Postby TheTuba » Tue Feb 06, 2018 6:35 pm

Sorry if I seemed rude @the elephant

to answer your question, I'm not trying to buy anything of the sort, but just putting out a random thought that came into my head.

Sorry again to @Mark Finley if my post seemed a bit rude.

-Raghul
Still searching for a 8/4 EEb
I mean if you want to, you can buy me the tuba in my name :P
If you're selling a good BBb or CC 5/4 or large 4/4 with 5 valves in 2021 under 6,000, please, contact me!
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