What Trumpet Mouthpiece Is Best For High Notes ?

best high note trumpet mouthpieces

What Trumpet Mouthpiece Is Best For High Notes

If you are wondering what trumpet mouthpiece to use for high notes you are on the right page because in this article I will give you a few suggestions on what I consider to be the best mouthpieces for high notes.

It’s important to realize, however, that these so called “high note mouthpieces” should not be used as your main, all around, mouthpiece IF you also are playing music where a warmer, softer sound is required….

…such as, for example, hymns in church, warm smooth jazz ballades or when you play classical music in a orchestra and mostly play in the middle and low register.

But the term “all-around” is tailored to the individual and you perhaps mainly play in settings where the trumpet sound needs to be a bit louder and brighter and if that’s the case then, sure, the “high note mouthpieces” could be used as your “all-around” piece.

What I consider to be the best trumpet mouthpieces for high register playing:

Vincent Bach 3E

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Note: If you live in Europe, you can click here to check Amazon UK pricing

 This is a versatile high note mouthpiece. In fact it’s not only a high note mouthpiece, you can use it as a screaming lead trumpet mouthpiece in a big band, in marching bands or even in some classical music settings, in other words…

…it’s not too extreme!

Personally I have used it for playing high descant parts for hymns and I have also used the 3E for soprano cornet in brass band. (There are 3E sizes for both trumpet and cornet) I like the feeling of the rim. It does not “bite” my lips.

The specs:
  • Shallow cup
  • Cup diameter: 16.3 mm
  • Medium width rim
  • Backbore 117
What I personally get out of this mouthpiece
  1. Sound is pretty bright but not so bright that i could not use it in almost every playing situations.
  2. The cup is shallow but it is still able to produce a decent sound in the middle register as well. This makes the mouthpiece versatile and useful in different kinds of musical settings, and not just for high notes.
  3. It adds about one more note to my usable high note range.
  4. I like it. I consider it to be a “baseline” high note mouthpiece
Conclusion about the Vincent Bach 3E

It is a good solid mouthpiece but if you are looking for “the ultimate high note trumpet mouthpiece” this is probably not the one. Of course it COULD be, who knows, since we are all different, but I would classify this mouthpiece as a piece that is a little more versatile than real lead mouthpieces…

…that’s not a bad thing though and it might be just what you are looking fore since you are able to get the best of both worlds with this mouthpiece (that is, more legit playing and high note playing).

It is also a bit cheaper (click here to check the price) than most trumpet mouthpieces for high notes, so if you are short on cash then this could be the first one to try. Also, as I said, it’s not too extreme so if you are new to high note mouthpieces then it could perhaps be a good start, before you try out any of the other ones.

 Shilke 14A4a 

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 I don’t play much screaming big band trumpet parts nowadays but if I wanted to play something that really needs to cut like a hot knife through butter,  this would be my mouthpiece of choice. With this piece you can get a tremendously powerful sound and the notes above the staff just feel…

…well, easy to play!

When I first got this mouthpiece I was not use to the smaller throat size so at first it felt a bit stuffy to me…

…however as soon as I started to back off with the air a bit the tone really opened up and the mouthpiece just started to sizzle and it felt great!

This mouthpiece makes articulation above the staff incredible easy and the high notes have a nice “sizzle/energy” to the sound. The intonation is also excellent, both in the low, middle and high register. This is one of the most popular high note mouthpieces for trumpet, and for good reasons, as most players will be able to add a couple of notes to their high register, using the Shilke 14A4a.

The main reason why I do not use this mouthpiece as my go to high note piece is because I don’t feel really 100% comfortable with how this Shilke rim feels on my chops. The last mouthpiece, further down on this list, is my all time favorite but you might have a different opinion, of course.

  • Cup diameter: 17.09 mm
  • Flat “A” cup
  • Semi-flat #4 rim
  • “a” backbore
  • Enables a good upper register with a great tone
What I personally get out of this mouthpiece
  1. Very good articulation which gives me much greater endurance.
  2. The high notes speaks easily and they have a nice “sizzle / energy” to them.
  3. Adds about 2 notes to my range (useful trumpet range, not overall range)
Conclusion about the Shilke 14A4a

Would I recommend this mouthpiece to you?

It depends!

If you are a trumpet player that use a lot of force, for example if you have to “shoot air” to get to the higher notes, when you are doing lip slur exercises for example, then this mouthpiece might  be a bit too tight for you…

…however, if you consider yourself to be a normally efficient player, then the Shilke could really serve you well. You can click here to check the current price on Amazon for this high note mouthpiece.

The Yamaha Bobby Shew Lead

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The Yamaha Shew Lead  is right now my absolute all-time favorite high note trumpet mouthpiece!

I also like a the Yamaha 14a4a and I’m flip flopping between these two but the Yamaha Bobby Shew lead wins so more often than not, the “Yamaha  Bobby Shew Lead” is my go-to high note mouthpiece. I just love it so much…

Where can I use the Yamaha mouthpiece?

The sound is very good on this piece and it is also excellent for playing solos, as well as for playing parts in a band. I have also used it for ballades that mainly keeps the player in the middle register of the trumpet and it works well for that as well. For some reason I have a much easier time to play in the upper register, with a lot less mouthpiece pressure, when I use this mouthpiece…

…and thus my lips won’t swell as fast as they do on other mouthpieces. This makes me have much better endurance and I’m not getting tired as quickly.

The specs:
  • Completely silver-plated
  • Inner diameter: 16.54 mm
  • Rim contour: Semi-round
  • Cup depth: Very shallow
  • Bore: 3.56 mm
  • Backbore: Narrow

What I personally get out of this mouthpiece

  1. Very easy high register!
  2. Very powerful sound!
    (Unlike other high note mouthpieces, it does not get too bright)
  3. The notes respond easily!
    (In fact, this mouthpiece has perhaps the best response of any mouthpiece I ever tried and it makes it easy to make the not “speak”)
  4. Adds about 2-3 notes to my usable high range!
    (The high A and the High Bb above high C have always been a bit difficult for me to “lock in” even though I can play higher than that, but with this mouthpiece it just “locks” the high A right in its place. The Bb is still a bit difficult for me however the Yamaha makes it a bit better)
  5. The low register also sounds good!
    Unlike many other high note mouthpieces the low register is also enjoyable to play on this piece. Robust, powerful and a massive “core” to the sound.

Conclusion about the Yamaha Mouthpiece

I highly recommend this mouthpiece for both advanced trumpet players and trumpet players that have not played for so long. It does not cost that much either as it’s even cheaper than, for example, the Vincent Bach 3E, which is surprising to me because, in my opinion you get a lot more “mouthpiece” out of this one. You can click here to check the current price on Amazon…

…also, while you are there, check out the other real user reviews on the Amazon page. The mouthpiece is got some great testimonials!

So is this mouthpiece for you?

Hard to say. The only way to know is to try it out and if you order it from Amazon, you have one month to return it 100% free of charge, and get a full refund. I have a lot of high note mouthpieces on my shelf and the Yamaha is very often my “go to” high note mouthpiece. Who knows, maybe it will become one of your favorites too.

Here’s the deal:

We are all unique and what works for one person might not work for others so that’s why it is important that you find a mouthpiece that suits YOU…

…that said, so often people ask me “what is the best high note mouthpiece?”, and they want me to recommend only ONE mouthpiece…

…so if I had a gun to my head and could only recommend one single high note mouthpiece well then the Yamha Shew Lead mouthpiece, would be it.

So there you have it, my top 3 best trumpet high note mouthpiece tips. I hope you found it informative and if you would want more info on trumpet mouthpieces in general, keep reading because there’s some interesting info down below…

Also Note: I’m the kind of trumpeter that constantly likes to try new mouthpieces, so that means that the mouthpieces on this list may change over time, due to me discovering new things.

What NOT to buy

There are many new brands coming out today that offers mouthpieces with prices that are very low compared to the conventional brands. I would stay away from such brands as the quality of these mouthpieces are far from what we want and the same goes with consistency. Ordering one of those is like playing Russian roulette, you could get a half bad high note mouthpiece, at best, or a totally worthless one, at worse.

So now that we have gotten that out of the way let’s jump into the good stuff. Let’s take a little look at how things like rim size, backbore, throat and cup depth affect the playing characteristics of the mouthpiece…

…so plase make sure to read the whole article and don’t just read the “Top 3 best mouthpieces for high notes part”…

…here we go:

How does cup size, backbore, cup deapth and throat size of the mouthpiece affect the playing?

Let’s take a look at this…

  • The backbore

This is the back end of your mouthpiece and what goes into the mouthpiece receiver on the trumpet. The amount of flare of the backbore will affect the projection and how well the sound carries. In general one can say that a tighter backbore makes playing loudly more difficult, due to the increased resistance and, on the other hand, soft playing is genearally a bit easier with a tight backbore.

Some people expereince a bigger sound with a bigger backbore but it’s mainly the carrying power and the projection that is affected.

  • Roundness of the rim

We can also call this the “bite” of the rim. Note that there can be different sharpness/bite to the inner vs outer rim. The roundness is not directly that important for the quality of the sound but, since it plays a big part in how comfortable the mouthpiece feels on the lips, it still affects the over all playing and thus, indirectly, also affects the sound.

If the roundness of the rim feels just right for the player, he will also be able to articulate better and better articulation will almost always result in a better sound. This is something that is very personal and every player has to find his own “favorite” rim surface.

  • Rim size (Inner diameter)

There is a general conception that the smaller the size of the rim, the easier the upper register will be. For most people, this is not the case. Going too small will actually decrease your range but so does going too big. If the least a bit unsure on what is the optimal size for you then always start in the “middle” and slowly experiment in both directions from there. Statistically this will shorten your “experimentation period”.

I general we can say that a rim size that is too big will make your tone “spread” more easy and your endurance will probably also suffer. Your lips will also sink deeper into the cup and, while bigger rim sizes generally would give a bigger tone, this would make you “fill up” the cup more, and thus the otherwise “bigger sound” becomes smaller (du to the lips filling up the cup, making the resonance chamber smaller). So…

…bigger is not always better in this department…

…but neither is smaller!

If the inside diameter is too small the lips won’t be able to vibrate freely and this will make both the sound as well as your control of the trumpet suffer. This can be overcome by certain embouchures types but it takes a special technique that most trumpet players do not use.  (almost everything can be learned though and we should always be open minded)

  • Mouthpiece cup depth

This one is easier to both explain and grasp. A shallow cup will produce a brighter sound and a deeper cup will produce a warmer and darker sound. The shallow cups also makes articulation, particularly above the staff and in the high register easier, to a point…

..if you go too shallow  you will not get that benefit. Trumpet high note mouthpieces are generally more shallow than standard mouthpieces, as they should because of the desire to “cut through” the ensamble with a bright and sizzling tone. On the other hand a soft cornet solo or flugerhorn solo is almost always played with a mouthpiece that has a deeper cup.

  • The mouthpiece throat

The throat is what we call the hole in the mouthpiece cup. Some people like a more open throat while others like a tighter one. The most common throat sizes are 25, 26,27 and 28  (3.81 mm, 3.73 mm 3.66 mm and 3.57 mm)

Bigger sizes are also found and some people like those very much. However, if the throat size is too big for the player, or for the mouthpiece,  then the upper register tends to become too sharp, the endurance will suffer and, for some, playing softly will be very difficult.

Playing with a small throat size will for many people make the upper register “choke” and block off. In general we can, again, state that the “middle ground” tend to be best to, at least start from and then slowly experiment in both directions from there.

Thank you for reading the article “What Trumpet Mouthpiece Is Best For High Notes”

-Robert S-

P.S. While we are on the subject of trumpet mouthpieces, perhaps you would be interested in reading the article Plastic Vs. Metal mouthpieces – What’s the deal?