Monday, October 31, 2016

I am not on a quest for the perfect cornet mouthpiece.

I am not on a quest for the perfect cornet mouthpiece. I only want to find one that is suitable for playing in a brass band, compatible with my trumpet mouthpiece rim and lets me make the most of the ability I have. My trumpet mouthpiece is a Horntrader 3C based on Arturo Sandoval's New York Bach 3C mouthpiece. This is smaller than a current 3C and has a slightly sharper inner edge.

My first attempts at getting a match involved going through some mouthpieces I already had:

Breslmair F1

This is sold as a Flugel mouthpiece, but it is on par with a Wick no letter cornet mouthpiece. Mine has a cornet shank. I tried this with their 3C and G rims. The G was closest to the Horntrader rim, but the mouthpiece was quite hard going.

Lewington McCann

I had used this mouthpiece for a year when I was undergoing dental surgery. It really reduced the amount of effort I had to put in to get a nice sound. The inner edge is a very good match for the Horntrader, but the overall rim shape is too wide and I found it sacrificed my ability to play very  articulated passages or big intervals. It also went in slightly too far and may have created a ridge where the receiver joins into the lead pipe (no step or gap in this design of cornet).

Because neither of these was a serious option I decided to look at other mouthpieces in the same size range. I am currently trialling a Wick 4 and an IP Brass mouthpiece.

Wick 4

This is a well-known mouthpiece, used by a large proportion of brass band cornet players.

Here is an overlay of the Wick 4 rim (in yellow) with a Bach New York 3C, which appears to be very similar to the Horntrader rim.

IP Brass

The IP Brass mouthpiece, designed by Ian Porthouse, has a stated inside diameter of 16.44mm, which makes it fractionally smaller than a Wick 4 which is 16.5. However, mouthpieces are very difficult to measure. The size you read off will depend on where in the cup you measure the diameter. This point varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. I measured it as 16.27mm. What I can say, though, is that the IP Brass mouthpiece is in the ball park area of a Wick 4.

By overlaying a scan of a Wick 4 onto the design of the IP Brass and scaling them to be similar we can see a number of differences to the shape of the rim and cup. The yellow line is the Wick 4.

Rim: The IP Brass rim is flatter and more symmetrical in shape than the Wick. It also has a slightly more defined inner edge which may account for the slightly smaller diameter. This may improve stamina a bit.

Cup: The IP brass mouthpiece is a bit deeper than the Wick. It has more volume in the bottom of the cup, which is something known to aid with articulation.

Blank / Mass: Probably one of the most important features of this mouthpiece is the fairly uniform thickness of material between the cup and the outside world. There is no heavy additional mass anywhere and no scooped out thinner sections like on the Wick.


Rim wise, the Wick 4 is closest to the Horntrader but there is not really a lot in it. The IP Brass  mouthpiece has slightly more bite and has a bit more room in the bottom of the cup which might help with articulation. All three feel similar enough that switching between either the IP Brass or the Wick 4 on cornet and the Horntrader 3/3C on trumpet would be feasible. It is just going to depend on how I feel the two cornet mouthpieces shape up in practice.

The criteria I am judging it on are:
  • Intonation
  • Ability to articulate cleanly in complex passages
  • Uniformity of blow across the register
  • Ability to vary the tone from soft to bright
  • Comfort during long periods of playing

I will report back later.