Piccolo Trumpet Mouthpiece Guide
by Dr. Chris Magee, D.M.A.
Choosing a piccolo trumpet mouhpiece? Confused? Don’t worry, we’re here to help.
Determining shank size
While the majority of piccolo trumpets use a trumpet mouthpiece, some piccolo trumpets require a cornet shank mouthpiece. For example, all piccs made by Schilke require a cornet mouthpiece. (There are several Schilke cornet mouthpieces optimized for their piccolo trumpets, but we’ll talk about those in a moment.)
Stomvi and Kanstul also make certain models that use cornet shank. Some of these also come with two sets of leadpipes, one for use with trumpet mouthpieces, and the other for cornet mouthpieces. Alternately, these makers offer a set of trumpet leadpipes as an option.
The Perfect Piccolo Trumpet Mouthpiece
Some players assume that you should only use a small mouthpiece with a piccolo trumpet. This may work for you, or it may not. Here are a few factors to consider:
The sound you get from your piccolo is partly determined by the mouthpiece you use. Generally speaking, a shallow mouthpiece will produce a brighter sound than a deeper mouthpiece. What kind of sound do you like? If you prefer a bright sound, a shallow mouthpiece may be the answer. If you want a darker sound, than a slightly deeper mouthpiece may be necessary. Remember that the backbore can also influence the relative brightness or darkness of the sound.
Some piccolo trumpets have a small bore, such as the Selmer (Paris) 59BLF (.414") and the Yamaha YTR-6810s (.413"). These instruments may be very difficult to blow with a mouthpiece cup that is too shallow, a cup diameter that is too narrow, or a throat or backbore that is too tight.
Some newer piccolo trumpets, such as those made by Kanstul, have a bore size that is as large as that of a Bb trumpet. These instruments may blow too freely to play effectively with a larger mouthpiece. In general, try to balance the mouthpiece to the instrument. In other words, a small instrument such as the Selmer piccolo may need a mouthpiece with a throat and backbore that are not too tight, but a Kanstul may require a tighter throat and backbore to balance the size of the bore.
Do you prefer a wide, flat rim or a narrow, rounded rim with some bite? The rim is perhaps the most personal of all mouthpiece parameters, since the rim is the part that comes in direct contact with your lips. What most players perceive as the rim is actually a combination of the rim, bite, and undercut!
Generally speaking, a wide, flat rim will favor comfort and endurance, while a narrow, round rim will favor clarity of sound and articulation. Only you can determine the rim that is correct for your needs, but as Vincent Bach used to say, “The mouthpiece which feels the best is not necessarily the one which plays the best.” Many trumpeters strive for a very clear, well articulated sound on piccolo, so you might consider trying a rim that offers those qualities if that sound appeals to you.
Your Other Mouthpieces
Do you play a big mouthpiece or a small mouthpiece on your Bb trumpet? Some folks may experience difficulty when choosing a mouthpiece that is too drastically different than their main mouthpiece. When asked, we advise most players to choose a piccolo mouthpiece that is not more than approximately .5mm smaller in cup diameter than your main mouthpiece. Many players prefer to keep the same basic rim and cup diameter and vary the depth of the cup for piccolo trumpet.
Remember, the two mouthpiece parameters that most affect upper register performance are cup depth and cup diameter, but both of these parameters depend on your preferences. If your lips are very full, you may have difficulty in playing a shallow cup or narrow diameter.
Types of Playing
What kinds of music do you play? If you are mostly interested in playing weddings and the occasional solo in church, you probably do not need an extremely shallow cup or narrow diameter. Most wedding and "church" literature does not extend higher than about high D concert (written high F on piccolo in A, or written high C when transposing a trumpet in D part on the piccolo in A). For this literature, a medium -shallow mouthpiece may be all you need.
If you wish to tackle the Bach Second Brandenburg, or other late Baroque works, then you will most likely need a mouthpiece that is shallow and/or narrow enough to give you plenty of support for those challenging parts.
Some Popular Mouthpieces
Here is a list of some popular piccolo trumpet mouthpieces:
(Available in both trumpet and cornet shank)
3E, 7E, 10E, 10-1/2E
Bob Reeves has developed a line of piccolo trumpet mouthpieces in consultation with noted acoustician Bill Cardwell. There are three cup depths in the Reeves line:
- S -- Good for high piccolo (Brandenburg)
- M -- Good for wedding work
- C -- Big piccolo sound
These three cups are available in all Bob Reeves cup diameters and in both trumpet and cornet shanks. These cups work with existing Reeves rims.
1HP, 1P, 1.25P, 1.5P, 2P, 3P, 5P, 7P, 10.5P
(These mouthpieces are based on the Curry DE cup.)
Trumpet and cornet shank:
Mark Curry makes several cups that work well for piccolo trumpet:
- DE -- The DE cup is a medium depth mouthpiece. It features a slightly more open 2nd cup that allows good volume without getting too edgy. Crossover and piccolo trumpeters will find this an attractive cup.
- Z -- The Z cup is often preferred by lead trumpeters and those who play the higher piccolo trumpet parts. The rim and undercut give support in the upper register. Big sound, rather than edgy, is characteristic of this cup.
7PB, 7PD (available in trumpet and cornet)
(These models have a special "x" backbore that is optimized for Schilke piccolo trumpets. These models are available only in cornet shank.)
Other Schilke models (available in both trumpet and cornet shank)
6A4a, 10A4a, 10A4, 11A, 12A4a, 12A4, 13A4a, 13A4, 14A4a, 14A4, 15A4a, 15A4
Vacchiano Series (available in both trumpet and cornet)
1.5P, 2P, 3P, 4P, 5P, 7P
Studio Master Series (available in both trumpet and cornet)
SP2, SP4, SP6, SP10 these are specifically designed for piccolo trumpet
VM2, VM4, VM6, VM10 these are shallow V cup designs.
VMS2, VMS4, VMS6, VMS10 similar to VM, but a very shallow V cup.
(The Studio Master 2, 6 and 10 rims are “semi-wide” and the 4 rim is “standard.” If you like comfort, try the 2, 6 or 10. If you like a little bite and clear articulation, try the 4. Studio Master mouthpieces are a “short shank” design for trumpet to boost upper register response.)
© 2004 by Mouthpiece Express, LLC