3.2.2 Mouthpiece


Survey responses: 

    1. Used mouthpieces with a deeper cup (JK, C-cup) and also larger bore, I think 4,4 mm.

    2. I use the same

    3. I used the same mouthpiece as on my horn. Most of the time you switch quickly between instruments and i like that to be as seamless as possible. I could imagine you would take a mouthpiece with a slightly bigger bore to match the less resistance of the tuba. In this way it could be more easy to play with a lot of air and have more soft attacks.

    4. I use my normal French Horn mouthpiece, which is a Bruno Tilz, Schmidt 11. But sometimes I switch to the Schmidt 105, which is a bit less deep and therefore speaks easier, especially with soft entrances. It does not influence the sound as far as I know. I don't know about the specific characteristics of this mouthpiece. But it is for practical reasons to use the same mouthpiece for both instruments. 

    5. Basically same mouthpiece, sometimes a slightly deeper cup and bigger bore.

    6. Regular horn mouthpiece for me, works if it is big enough

    7. I played the same mouthpiece on both my horn and WT



After analysing these answers we can contemplate certain similarities in them that can give us an answer to the question: should we use the same mouthpiece for both instruments?

As can be seen, for practical reasons there is often no time to adapt from one instrument to the other (especially when playing in an orchestra) and this means that the most practical and comfortable option for the player is to use the same mouthpiece. Even so, it can be seen how most of the answers allude to the dimensions of the mouthpiece, advocating one with the largest dimensions. The big bore and deeper cup stand out, as they can make the resistance of both instruments equal and the sound fuller by being able to hold more air. Of course this will depend on the role we are playing, it is not the same in a wagner tubas section to be first (playing a smaller tenor tuba) or fourth (with a bass tuba). It is recommended that the mouthpiece follows and resembles the dimensions offered by the wagner tuba.


In addition to all this, John Ericson talks in his book Playing the Wagner Tuba (2019) about the topic of mouthpieces. Ericson, according to the survey answers states "mouthpieces with a deeper than average cup will provide the best sound on Wagner tubas" (p.10). And furthermore he advocates experimentation since the mouthpiece a player uses for the horn may very well perform well on the Wagner tuba. Ericson shows us two types of mouthpieces created in the 1980s especially for the Wagner tuba: Mirafone Decker Model T and Model D. Despite recommending these models, Ericson explains that "Although the appearance is quite different, apart from the exterior shape, the mouthpiece itself is the equivalent of a large horn mouthpiece. This model works very well on Wagner tubas, but no better than any other horn mouthpiece of similar size with a well-fitting shank".


Ericson also talks about something very interesting which is also related to the next point 3.2.3, the inclination of the leadpipe. Each Wagner tuba is very different from the rest in shape and size, and taking into account that each body is different, it can happen that the leadpipe inclination we are used to on the horn, is not the same on the Wagner tuba. More information about the posture will be given in the next point, but Ericson offers a solution to this problem and that is a bent mouthpiece. There is not a mouthpiece model for the Wagner tuba that comes already bent, but this is a solution that you can find yourself by contacting a competent luthier.

*Bore: As Bruce Hembd explains in the article Choosing a French Horn Mouthpiece (II) published on the Horn Matters website (07/30/2009), the bore is, simply put, the hole at the center of the mouthpiece. Its size is associated with the drill bit used to make the hole.

The gradual taper from the bore towards the end of the mouthpiece is the backbore. Its contour and taper can play a crucial role in pitch control and the amount of resistance felt while playing the instrument.

*Cup: As Hembd B. (2009) explains, the depth of the cup — from the top of the inner rim down to the throat — has an affect on the overall response of the instrument.

- A shallow cup will have a quicker response, easier high notes and will produce a more focused and intense sound.
- A deeper cup will have a slower response, easier low notes and will produce a wider and broader sound.

*Leadpipe: As simply explained by wikipedia, the leadpipe in brass instruments is the pipe or tube into wich the mouthpiece is placed.