Best Tubas Mouthpiece Review in 2018
Choosing a quality tuba mouthpiece is as critical decision as choosing the quality instrument itself. As you begin your search, you must consider your skill level, playing style, and desired sound in order to pinpoint the perfect mouthpiece for you. Here, we will give you the tools you need to identify and purchase your perfect tuba mouthpiece.
What Makes a Mouthpiece?
The tuba mouthpiece is made up of four parts: the rim, cup, throat, and backbone. The design of each part plays an important role in deciding the quality of sound and play-ability of the instrument.
The rim is the outer ring of the mouthpiece where players press their lips.
A flat rim allows for a good seal. It is wider and allows for more comfort with less require pressure, but a flat rim decreases the flexibly of the instruments range. In contrary, a rounded rim allows for more flexibility. It requires greater lip pressure and muscular endurance, making the round rim less than ideal for beginners, but you can play a full register with less effort. An easy compromise between the two styles is a medium-wide rim with a semi-round contour. The rim is style wide enough for a good, comfortable lip seal, and the rounded edge allows you to be more flexible with the instrument.
The cup of a mouthpiece is the area that you are blowing into. It captures all your air before it is pushed through to the instrument. The style of cup determines a large part of the tone you will make. You can purchase a bowl shaped, wide cup for a bright tone with more volume. The wide cup requires a large volume of air, and a stronger ability of breathe control. Musicians lacking the appropriate endurance will tire easily when playing with too wide a cup. The other option is to purchase a narrow, deep cup to create a rich, warm tone. Narrow cups require less breathe control, but a tighter embouchure. The tight embouchure also requires an endurance that beginners lack. As with rims, a cup somewhere in the middle of the wide bowl shape, and the narrow shape is ideal for beginners.
The throat and back bore of the mouthpiece have an impact on the sound of the tuba, but they are designed with the rim and cup in mind. The manufactures will pair the proper throat and back bore for each style of mouthpiece, and allow for very little personalization. As a musician, you will find the most variation and ability to personalize in the rim and cup.
What Should It Be Made Of?
Plastic? Silver plated? Gold plated? There are so many options! Choose the material of your mouthpiece based on what you plan to use it for. Silver plated mouthpieces are the most common, specifically in high school concert bands. They give off a clear, crisp sound, and can be purchased at a reasonable price. However, they are not as comfortable as their flashy cousin, the gold plated mouthpiece. Gold plating is a softer metal that provides more comfort for your lips. It also creates a broad, dark sound, as opposed to the brightness of silver. However, gold plating is significantly more expensive than silver. These mouthpieces become more common among college and professional level musicians. Plastic mouthpieces are the least expensive option. These molds are modeled after the same metal mouthpieces you love, but are lighter and more durable. Dropping your mouthpiece during parade warm up is no longer something to be feared. The plastic also allows you to warm up faster, they provide more volume, and they are extremely light; the perfect addition for marching band. Though they are great in the marching band venue, plastic mouthpieces lack the full tuba tone musicians require in the concert venue. They are best left on the field.
There are two popular styles of tuba mouthpiece, each with a specific combination of the aforementioned parts. The Bach 18 or Perantucci brands of mouthpiece tend to have a wide, contoured rim with a shallow bowl shaped cup. This design allows for crisp notes and rapid movements. The Conn Helleberg design has a thin sharp rim with more funnel shaped, deep cup. This mouthpiece is ideal for broad notes and pieces requiring a mellow, lethargic feel. As with choosing a material, choosing a style is dependent on what you plan to be playing. Are you in concert band and plan of playing ballads? The Conn Helleberg style will best suit your needs. Are you in marching band, or does your director tend to pick fast moving folk songs? The Bach 18 style will accomplish the rapid movements you need to.
Five Best Tuba Mouthpiece
Kelly 24AW Tuba Mouthpiece
This brand of plastic mouthpieces is the best in class as far as quality is concerned. Kelly mouthpieces can be modeled after any style of metal mouthpiece to create a similar sound, but at a lighter weight and with more durability. They come in a variety of colors, so you can really individualize your mouthpiece to let your personality show. If you’re worried about bright colors standing out on the field and being marked down by judges, they also come in a gold or silver to blend right in with your instrument. The plastic mouthpiece allows for quicker warmups. It absorbs and retains your body heat faster than the metal types. No more worrying about burning or freezing your lips in extreme temperatures. The use of plastic as the building material helps keep the cost low; you can purchase Kelly mouthpieces for an average of $35. Kelly mouthpieces are an excellent option for marching band season due to their volume, weight, and durability.
Conn Selmer 120S Helleberg 120 Standard Tuba Mouthpiece
The Helleberg mouthpiece is one we discussed in the beginning as a style or model of mouthpiece. It is designed with a thin, curved rim that allows players to move through the ranges of the instrument with ease. The deep, narrow cup allows for a warm sound and requires less breathe control. This will allow you to play for longer periods of time without overworking your diaphragm and lungs. It is also the ideal shape for slow, adagio pieces that require long flowing notes. These mouthpieces can create a lot of volume as well. They are not the loudest of tuba mouthpieces, but they will easily provide the sound required in a concert setting. You can purchase a silver plated Conn Helleberg style mouthpiece for around $75. The things that make the Conn Helleberg style mouthpiece great are its flexibility, allowing you to access the full range of the instrument. Its full, rounded quality of sound provides during slow pieces, and it requires a small amount of air control.
Bach Tuba Mouthpiece 18
The Bach style mouthpiece is another we discussed. This mouthpiece has a medium wide rim that allows for a strong seal with minimal effort. The medium cup allows for loud volume, and makes rapid note movement crisp and clean. The cup and rim design of the mouthpiece creates a clear, bright tone that can be applied to either concert or marching band settings. It is a heavy and durable; perfect for your clumsy Jr. High student who is still learning how to carry this enormous instrument, and very prone to dropping things. The Bach 18 mouthpiece can be purchased for about $75. The wide cup allows for clear, rapid note progression. The mouthpiece's shallow cup allows for great volume, and the rim style allows for a looser embouchure and good seal. This mouthpiece is great as the next step from a beginning mouthpiece.
Faxx Tuba Mouthpiece 18
If you are just starting out, or a bargain shopper at heart, you should consider a Faxx brand tuba mouthpiece. This specific mouthpiece is made identical to the design of the Bach 18, but at a lower price. The product has great tone and quality, comparable to its name brand counter-part. Faxx uses computer numeric control (CNC) tolerances to monitor the quality and exactness of their products. The Faxx 18 is silver plated with the same medium wide rim, and medium cup as the Bach. You can purchase this mouthpiece for about $65. Faxx also carries designs similar to the Kelly plastic mouthpiece, and the Helleberg style. This brand provides you a cheaper option for the same quality of tone you are searching for. This mouthpiece has the same positive and negative trends as the Bach. The loss of prestige should not rule Faxx completely out of your search for the perfect mouthpiece! It could be the perfect fit for your needs.
Conn Helleberg Series Gold Plated Mouthpiece
The Conn Helleberg Gold Plated Mouthpiece is the warmest of warms. This is the honey of tuba mouthpieces. The narrow cup combined with the gold plating creates a smooth, comforting sound that will soothe and engulf an audience in just a few measures. Gold plating can be found on any style of mouthpiece, but the Helleberg design really takes advantage of the richness in tone that gold can provide. Gold plating is in a whole other class of mouthpiece, which causes it to be in a high price bracket as well. This mouthpiece can be purchased for about $180 to $200 dollars. The quality of product is ideal for the professional concert tuba player, or someone truly in love with the instrument and looking to take the next step in their sound. The differences in tone can be subtle and missed by the inexperienced musician. For this reason, gold plating is best for seasoned players who can identify exactly what they are listening for.
You will identify the perfect tuba mouthpiece by considering how you will use it and your skill level. There is nothing more frustrating than being unable to achieve a task because you lack the right tools; your mouthpiece is your tool to beautiful music. The Kelly mouthpiece is ideal for marching band. The Helleberg design is perfect in a concert setting. The Bach 18 could easily be the median between the marching band and concert style piece; it has the volume and note progressoin required on the filed, but the tone of a concert band horn. Faxx brand mouthpieces are available at a lower price, but comes with a loss of prestige. Gold mouthpieces provide a warmth, but at much higher price. If you are a beginner, I would suggest a Faxx brand mouthpiece in a style that best serves your purpose. If you are a professional or simply in love with your horn, I would recommend a gold plated mouthpiece; enjoy the quality of a high dollar mouthpiece. Consider testing of mouthpieces before you buy. Whether it is a trip to your local music store, or borrowing a friends, it is so important to physically test the mouthpieces to ensure they are comfortable and will work for you. Use this knowledge to choose a mouthpiece that best suits your needs.