If you have a son or daughter who are about to start playing the trumpet or if your are a beginner yourself and you are looking for answers to the question “what is the best trumpet mouthpiece for beginners?” …
…this is the article for you!
We are right around that time of year when a lot of new courses are starting in schools, all over the world, as well as in all kinds of afterschool programs.
This is why I thought it would be appropriate to write an article about what I consider to be the best beginner trumpet mouthpieces (from what I’ve seen with my own students as well as students of my trumpet playing friends).
By the way: while we are on the subject of mouthpieces, perhaps you would also be interested in reading my article plastic vs. metal mouthpieces – what’s the difference? But be sure to read this article first =)
Getting it right from the start
When starting our trumpet journey it is important to choose a mouthpiece that does not make things too hard right from the start as this could be one of the factors that makes the beginner trumpeter discouraged and quit.
We want to avoid extreme mouthpieces or mouthpieces that are more tailored for a specific or extreme style of trumpet playing.
Later on, the trumpet student might find that he or she wants to go up or down a rim size, because of course the optimal mouthpiece size are a matter of personal preferences.
However we need to start with something in the middle, that is statistically most likely to be a suitable size. There are also a few other things to consider and be wary of…
…so with all of this in mind I made a list of mouthpieces I consider to be the best beginner mouthpieces.
Best trumpet mouthpieces for beginners
Vincent Bach 3C
- Medium cup depth
- 16.3 mm cup diameter
- Medium wide rim shape
- Allows for greater range
Some sellers market this mouthpiece as a mouthpiece for intermediate to advanced players. Even though many advanced players use it, it is not only a trumpet mouthpiece for intermediate and advanced players, it is an excellent starter mouthpiece.
Why I recommend this mouthpiece for someone just starting to play the trumpet
The cup size of this mouthpiece is a tiny bit more shallow than the other standard Bach mouthpieces. This makes articulation easier and helps with overall control. The rim size is not too big and not too small which makes it an excellent starting point for the beginner trumpeter.
So often the Bach 7c comes as the standard mouthpiece along with our first trumpet. The Bach 7c is not a bad mouthpiece by any means, however most of the time I have seen my students have better results with the Vincent Bach 3c.
On numerous occasions I have had a beginner trumpeter, already having played for a few months, coming to me for lessons. After having tweaked a few things along with switching to the Vincent Bach 3C, I could see instant improvements in the students playing.
This mouthpiece is priced well compared to other mouthpieces and the buyer gets a high quality mouthpiece for a decent price. It is made buy one of the most respectable mouthpiece companies out there yet it is still among the cheapest mouthpieces on the market. The pricing varies a bit but you can click here to check the current price on Amazon.
Yamaha Bobby Shew Jazz
- Bobby Shew Jazz signature model
- Inner diameter: 16.85 mm
- Rim contour: Semi-round
- Cup depth: Medium
- Bore: 3.65 mm
- Backbore: medium
- Completely silver-plated
Don’t be fooled by the name of this mouthpiece. The mouthpiece is by no means only for playing “jazz”. It is an all around mouthpiece that is very easy to play, which makes it a good beginner mouthpiece.
Why I recommend this mouthpiece for beginner trumpet student
The rim is just a little bit bigger than on the Bach 3c but it is far from being too big. The way the backbore, cup depth and throat of the mouthpiece works together makes it very easy to play which makes this mouthpiece a perfect choice for someone who is just starting out with the trumpet.
The rim also feels very comfortable on the lips. In addition to this the mouthpiece has a warm and very pleasant sound. It is not only suitable for beginners, many professional trumpet players use it as well…
The pleasant sound, in combination with how easy it is to play, makes the Bobby Shew Jazz a good option for someone who has just started playing the trumpet.
Yamaha is also a very well respectable brand and they are known for their consistency and quality when making trumpet mouthpieces. Just like the Bach 3c this mouthpiece is very affordable and is even a bit cheaper than the 3c (depending a bit on the market fluctuations and the vendors). You can click here to check the current pricing on Amazon
- Standard Series
- Inner diameter: 16.85 mm
- Rim contour: Semi-flat
- Rim thickness: Standard
- Cup depth: Semi-shallow
- Bore: 3.65 mm
- Backbore: Semi-narrow
- Color: Silver-plated
This is a very good mouthpiece if the trumpeter is going to be playing in a band or a marching band as it is easy to play and the sound carries with power, yet is very pleasant listening to. Don’t get me wrong, it is also an excellent choice even if the student is not yet playing in a band.
Why I recommend this mouthpiece for beginner trumpeters
This is one of the easiest mouthpieces to play and thus a very good choice for someone who is just starting out on the trumpet. In my opinion the the cup depth is just right. Not too deep and certainly not too shallow. It gives the player great control and the same is true for the rim size of this mouthpiece, not too big and not too small, making it an excellent starting piece.
It is very affordable and I’m honestly a bit surprised how Yamaha are able to sell such high quality mouthpieces at the pricing they do. At the time of writing this article the price of this mouthpiece was under $50
(you can click here to check current pricing) which is astonishing to me.
Which one of these three mouthpieces should you choose?
If you have a son or daughter who is about to start playing the trumpet, or who has already been playing for a while, all of the above listed mouthpieces are excellent choices for your child. Perhaps you are starting with the trumpet yourself or perhaps you have already been playing trumpet for a year or so, well the same holds true for you…
…they are all fine mouthpieces.
That said I could give you just a few more tips and things to consider before deciding which mouthpiece to go for. Again, all of them are good and can be used in almost every type /style of playing, however if we really want to get down to details here are a few additional suggestions…
Where will you be doing most of your trumpet playing?
- Beautiful melodies?
If you already know that you, your son or daughter are going to be doing a lot of playing where a warm, soft and very pleasant sound would be desirable, I think you should go for the Yamaha Bobby Shew.
Say for example a lot of the trumpet playing will be done in church or the majority of the beginner trumpeters playing will be done playing nice and beautiful melodies for people at other gatherings the Bobby Shew mouthpiece is the perfect choice.
It has such a pleasant sound that I like to use it myself when I record a beatiful melody or if I’m playing hymns in the church.
Reminder: again, don’t get me wrong. Everyone of the mouthpiece I listed above can be used in almost every playing situation. This part of the article is just about getting down to details, or trumpet playing “fine tuning”
- Band practice or marching band?
Perhaps you are new to trumpet playing and you are going to start taking trumpet lessons in a few weeks and you know that you are also going to be playing in a band the very first year. In this case I would recommend you go for the Bach 3C
It will serve you well both in your own practice room as well as when you are playing in the band. Because the cup is not too deep it will help the trumpet sound to be powerful and clear in the band, without you having to force it. And as every trumpeter should know, forcing is never a good thing, especially not for beginner trumpet players.
- Mostly band practice or marching band gigs?
Perhaps you have already familiar with the trumpet and you are about to begin marching band. It will be pretty long rehearsals and a lot of playing. Some of the pieces will also require pretty loud playing and on top of that you probably have to play a bit in the higher register from time to time.
This is where I would recommend the Yamaha 14B4, that was the last mouthpice you saw on the list at the top of the page.
Final words about choosing a good beginner mouthpiece
As I mentioned earlier it is important not to go with an extreme mouthpiece of some sort, as the first thing we choose. Those extreme and special mouthpieces are, in my opinion, not to be played without having several years of trumpet playing experience under our belt.
When the beginner is just starting out, inexperienced and are new to the trumpet, he does not really know what the mouthpiece are supposed to feel like on his chops and thus he have no real way of knowing what the optimal mouthpiece for him would be.
This is why it is important to start somewhere in the middle, perhaps a tiny bit on the smaller side (bigger mouthpieces needs a stronger and more robust embouchure)…
…this was one of the factors I considered when making the mouthpiece list. Another factor is that I like my students to start on a mouthpiece that is a bit more shallow than the Bach 7c, for example. In my experience this will be beneficial for most (but not all) who are starting out.
That said it is very common that the trumpeter, later on, finds a mouthpiece that is better suited for him than the mouthpiece he or she first started on. Perhaps we want to go down in rim size or perhaps we find that a bigger rim size is more suitable for us. This is done by experimenting down the road and not something the beginner should start doing right from the start….
…why? well because he doesn’t have a reference point yet.
Of course it also happens that the trumpeter is “lucky” and start on the optimal size right from the very start. He or she does some experimenting with sizes, during the years, only to finally go back to the mouthpiece they first started on.
A few helpful tips for getting started with the trumpet
I don’t know if the reader of this blog post is the one who is just starting with the trumpet himself or someone who will help the trumpeter off to a good start. But they are ment for instructors / parents how feel they would benefit from a few helpful tips on how to get the the young trumpeter going.
It is always recommended that the beginner trumpet student gets a qualified trumpet teacher, however I do understand that many parents have some experience in music and want to teach their kids themselves and that’s totally fine of course.
The very first trumpet lesson and making a sound for the first time
Without using the trumpet, have the student take a few deep breaths at first. Make a point of NOT raising the shoulders when inhaling. The exhale should follow the inhale without any hesitation or pause. In other words be sure that the he or she does NOT inhale-pause-exhale but exhales immediately after the lungs are filled. Also use the word “relaxed breath” several times, right from the start.
We want to program relaxation into the young trumpeter right from the very first time, as tension in the playing, is something that so many trumpeters struggle with later on in life.
- Mouthpiece placement
Don’t worry too much about this as everyone has different teeth, lips and face formations which dictates the optimal mouthpiece placement for the individual….
…the first few months, when starting to play the trumpet, there is no way we can know what that optimal placement will be. Just have the beginner put the mouthpiece on their lips with a placement that is not too high or too low. In a few weeks you might find that the mouthpiece will start to seek its way more to one side or the other…
…if so, don’t interfere! If it’s not a matter of some extreme placement, this change is probably a good thing and means that the student is about to, naturally, find his own”optimal mouthpiece placement”
- Forming the embouchure
Have the student imagine he is about to eat a soup that is hot. Have him form the lips like he is blowing air to cool the soup. At the same time he is blowing and picturing this, make him gently close the lips like he is saying the letter “M”.
Repeat this a few times until he gets the lips to vibrate, without using the trumpet at first. Then do the same thing with the trumpet. Practice this sever times without worrying about tonguing. At this point the goal is just getting a sound of the trumpet, using the “M” and soup blowing way of forming the lips.
- Suitable first note
For some people the easiest not to play as the very first note is a low C. This is ok but it would be even better if you can make the first notes a second line G and the C above that.
Play the second line G and C yourself first (or sing them) and then have the student match the pich. Don’t play or sing the low C yet.
With everything we do in life we are programming our brain. It might sound a bit strange but the way we set our lips, for our very first notes, may help us later on in our trumpet playing life….
…by learning the second line G, or the C above that, as our first notes instead of the low C, we will potentially have an easier time playing higher notes in the future rather than if we get started on embouchure that is very “loose” like the low C is likely to set the student up with.
It is easier to learn how to play low notes on a “high note embouchure” than it is to learn to play high notes on a “low note embouchure”
With this in mind try to have the stundent play second line G and the C above that, as the very first notes and then, after a few lessons in, learn the low C.
- Add the tongue for articulation
When the young trumpeter is able to form the lips and get his first notes to sound (the middle g and the c above that) it is now time to teach him how to use the tongue to start the notes. First have the student say “Taa Taa Taa” a few times without the trumpet, then try to make him start his notes on the trumpet with the “Taa” tongue articulation.
I recommend doing this with one long note at first and as soon as his attack of the note sounds decent, make the student play several notes after each other using “Taa Taa Taa Taa” tounging. At this stage we do not worry about tonguing speed at all. What we want to focus on is trying to make clean attacks and getting the start of the notes to sound good.
- Air support
An excellent way to start the trumpet lessons is by doing breathing exercises. You can even make a game out of them, making them fun to do. One example is to light a candle and have the young trumpeter try to blow it out…
…”yeay, nicely done! now…let’s increase the distance” and you put the candle a couple of feet further away from the student. Make a game out of it and begin the lessons with trying to break the pervious “record”.
To help develop a good air support, every so often, tell the student while he is playing the trumpet “blow out the candle”. This will help him use the correct support muscles while playing. As soon as you notice that not enough air is being used, when the young trumpeter is doing his playing, just repeat the phrase “blow out the candle!”
- Beginner trumpet method books
It is important that the student are playing from a good method book and not just playing by ear. In order to set a good foundation for later in life the beginner trumpeter need to be doing both. Both ear training and playing from sheet music as well as method books.
I have already written a blog post about what I consider to be some good choices when it comes to trumpet method books, for someone who is starting out, so I won’t go into that here but you can read the article
best trumpet method books for beginners if you are interested and want to learn more about that.
These are books that, in my opinion, have the best balance between theory, melodies and exercises. They also start in a suitable range, to refer to what I was just explaining about not starting too low.
- Make it fun
Last but not least be sure to make it fun. The trumpet is a difficult instrument to play and this is something that every trumpeter, inevitable, will find out later. However…
…we should not be telling someone who is just starting out that the trumpet is a very difficult musical instrument to master but rather we should make sure to get them started with joy and excitement. This way they have a much better chance of persevering when the playing becomes a bit more demanding.
I hope this article has been informative. If you have any questions you can ask them in the comment section down below. It would also be interesting to read and learn how you start your students on the trumpet and what mouthpiece you recommend for your students as a good starter mouthpiece. Feel free to write a few lines!
Thank you for reading the article “how to choose a good beginner trumpet mouthpiece” and as always…
…keep practicing and remember to have fun while doing it =)