Stainless Steel Mouthpieces, Part 2

In an earlier post I mentioned that stainless steel mouthpieces seem to be gaining some ground with horn players, and that the two main manufacturers (of which I’m aware) are Houser and Giddings and Webster.  I’ve been curious about stainless mouthpieces for awhile, and ordered one a few weeks ago to try.  I ended up going with the Giddings and Webster, mostly because it was a bit less expensive than the Houser.  Overall G/W has been an excellent company to deal with, but one issue I had when looking at their website was getting a real sense of the dimensions of each mouthpiece model.  Having never played one of their mouthpieces, I wanted to find something with dimensions that were very close to those of my current mouthpiece (Laskey 75 G).  I’m basically very happy with my Laskey, but I was interested in any real (or perceived) effects stainless steel might have on sound, articulation, intonation, etc.  I chose the model “2.5,” which according to the G/W website has an inner diameter of .689″ (17.5mm), a cup depth of 1.000″, and a throat measuring .175″ A throat size of .175″ converts to somewhere between a #17 and #16 drill bit size. These drill bit numbers tend to be used quite frequently for horn mouthpieces – check out John Ericson’s excellent post for more information. While not exactly the same dimensions as the Laskey, these looked pretty close to me, although the G/W throat was a bit smaller, and the cup looked deeper and a bit more conical (less bowl-shaped) than the Laskey. G/W’s website also notes that this particular model is “designed for players who have developed a good embouchure and are in need of a mouthpiece that provides the stability of a traditional rim diameter, but need more versatility for expanded literature.”

Once ordered, the mouthpiece arrived quickly and in excellent condition.  The first thing I like to do with a new mouthpiece is visually compare it side by side with my current one, to see if the advertised dimensions are anywhere close.  In this case they were, with the throat on the G/W being smaller and the cup being deeper with less of a bowl to it than the Laskey.  I spent two full days of practice on it, going through my normal warm-up/maintenance routine, followed by additional practice later in the day.  The bottom line is that I wasn’t immediately in love with it, although I did like the feel of the stainless steel on my embouchure, and articulations seemed to be a bit more focused.  The stainless steel had much less tendency to “stick” on the lips than silver, and settled into my embouchure’s groove quickly.  I can usually tell pretty quickly whether I’m going to like a mouthpiece, and this model didn’t exactly do it for me.  Don’t get me wrong, it was excellently-crafted, and I’m sure all of G/W’s products are machined to very exacting standards.  Continue reading if you want all of the gory details.

My major issues with this model were:

1) The rim didn’t feel as comfortable on my face as the Laskey (the G/W rim was thinner, and a bit less rounded on both the inner and outer edges).

2) Flexibility, especially in the mid-low register, was less fluid (probably related to issue 1).

3) The relatively deep, steeply-sloping cup combined with the narrow bore seemed to make it harder for me to put air into the horn – I felt like I was having to work harder, while getting less sound out of the instrument.

Let me state again that these are just my personal experiences with this particular model, and that should in no way reflect poorly on the actual quality of the equipment or Giddings and Webster as a company.  In fact, I am taking advantage of G/W’s 14-day return policy to exchange my 2.5 for a different model to try.  As long as the mouthpiece is returned in original condition within 14 days, G/W will exchange it with another model for free, or refund your purchase price, less a small restocking fee.  I’m looking forward to trying the different model when it arrives, as I think I now have a better sense of which one will work best for me.

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2 Comments

Hi Stephen,
Thanks for your question. I haven’t posted a follow-up to this mainly because I haven’t been playing on the GW that much. I did end up exchanging the 2.5 for a model with a bit smaller inner diameter, but haven’t really had a chance to test it out extensively. Even though I’m not using it that much now, I like having a stainless mouthpiece in my collection for a couple of reasons 1) in case I ever have a student with a metal allergy I can loan them the mouthpiece until they purchase their own and 2) if I ever develop a metal allergy (which can happen, so I’ve been told) I’ve got something I can switch to pretty much immediately. I’ve also heard good things about Houser’s stainless steel models: http://derek-wright.com/?p=749

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