April 09, 2015
How to Choose a Tuba Mouthpiece
Any brass musical instrument will sound and respond better when it’s used with a mouthpiece that’s a good fit for the instrument and musician, the tuba included. Choosing the best tuba mouthpiece is a process that involves a few things, including price, embouchure of the tubist, and the type of music the tuba player will play. Although the below should all be considered, the importance of personal preference and actually testing mouthpieces shouldn’t be overlooked. Choosing the best tuba mouthpiece has as much to do with the player as it does with the price, manufacturer, or playing style.
Although not always representative of quality, price is an important thing to consider when purchasing a tuba mouthpiece. Plastic mouthpieces can be found for $25 or less, while mouthpieces that are plated in silver or gold can cost more than $300. If you’re just starting out, don’t spend too much on a mouthpiece, especially since you’ll probably be trying out more than a few before you find the one that’s right for you. If you’re on a strict budget or aren’t sure if you’re going to stick with the instrument, purchasing a used tuba mouthpiece can save money, although it’s not recommended for sanitary purposes.
Did you know the sizes and dimensions of the rim, cup, throat, and backbore all have an affect on the sound that’s produced by your tuba? Wide, round mouthpieces tend to be more comfortable, allowing the tuba to be played for longer amounts of time, while sharp and narrow rims are far more precise. If you’re looking for a dark, rich tone, opt for a mouthpiece with a large cup. Alternately, small, shallow cups can brighten tone and relieve fatigue. When it comes to the backbore, tight backbores will produce a brilliant sound, while wide backbores are far more mellow. If you’re not sure what type of sound you’d like to produce, try a few different mouthpieces until something sticks.
Gold or Silver Plated?
Although pure brass mouthpieces are available, most tuba mouthpieces are plated in either silver or gold due to the fact that many people have a mild allergy to pure brass. Silver plated mouthpieces are slightly less expensive than gold, and naturally kill some germs. If you do choose a silver mouthpiece keep in mind that silver tarnishes easily, making regular care and maintenance of utmost importance. If you’re allergic to silver or prefer gold, it’s a great choice but comes with a higher price tag. Finally, plastic mouthpieces are a popular choice among outdoor performers, as they’re lightweight, highly durable, and can withstand very cold temperatures. If you’re in a marching band, this is probably the best choice.
Mouthpieces for Beginners
If you’re new to playing the tuba, or are purchasing a tuba for a small child, start with a very small cupped mouthpiece. Since it’s smaller in nature and easier to produce sound, it’s the ideal choice for those who don’t have a lot of experience. If you have experience playing another brass instrument or have been playing the tuba for a while, it may be easier for you to try out a bigger cup. Another option would be to browse our site and choose a mouthpiece that’s listed as being Top Rated or a Best Seller. As with any other purchase, read reviews and educate yourself before making a final decision.
Does Manufacturer Matter?
As is the case with virtually every other purchase, the cost of a tuba mouthpiece has a lot to do with who manufactures it. If you haven’t had time to experiment, stick with a recognized name in the industry that has a reputation for manufacturing high-quality instruments, such as Giddings & Webster or Yamaha. At the end of the day, better brands are going to cost more so, if you’re on an especially tight budget, do your homework and find a lesser-known brand with great reviews. If you still aren’t sure, your band or orchestra teacher should be able to provide some suggestions.
Buy Tuba Mouthpieces at M&A
At Music & Arts, we’re dedicated to bringing you one of the largest offerings of marching band and orchestral instruments, products, and accessories in the world. As a one-stop shop for students, parents, and educators, you’ll find tuba mouthpieces from some of the top manufacturers. Remember, when selecting a tuba mouthpiece you should take the musician’s skill level and desired sound into consideration. If your child is a student, a great place to start is by speaking with their music teacher or band instructor.
Just in case you need a tuba, too, check out our Tuba Buying Guide.