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Bach Mouthpieces – Quality

by Bach Loyalist

Bach Mouthpieces – Quality
from TPIN archives, Erik Veldkamp’s Original Bach Fan Page

“Why is there the tradition of starting on a 7C? Because that’s the size that Vincent Bach himself played, and what he recommended as a starting point. To this day, if you buy a new Bach trumpet with standard case and mouthpiece, you get a 7C. (If you already have a different preference, most dealers will allow you to swap the 7C for the size you want–inquire at time of purchase.) Proportions of the 7C? Given the medium-small rim diameter, the cup is very deep. Why does the shape and volume of the C cup seem different with almost every different model rim? Because there is no standard C cup. When Bach began to make mouthpieces, he was a section player in the Boston Symphony. Scale was very low in those days, so he started a one-man mouthpiece making business. Mouthpieces were turned out one at a time, usually made according to the requests of a specific player. (An old friend of mine has a set of Bach mouthpieces. from Bach’s earliest days–there are no numbers–they were assigned names, i.e. the “Crackerjack” model, etc.

Eventually, when he had established quite a few models, he needed to assign permanent numbers which suggested their relative sizes. The numbers he chose do seem to identify an orderly progression in cup diameters, but the letters describing cups are incredibly arbitrary. (Compare a 2.75C to a 3C–despite the similarity of diameter, their cup shape and depth are vastly different, the 2.75C being one of the very deepest C cups era in the entire line.) The RELATIVE proportions of each variable in a given mouthpiece are critical: cup diameter, cup shape, cup volume, throat size, backbore shape, length, and contour, and the amount of gap between the end of the mpc and the start of the tapered lead pipe. If you change one of these variables, even minutely, you have changed its relationship to each of the other variables, thereby having a dramatic effect on how that particular mouthpiece plays. This explains why several “identical” mouthpieces, produced in series by the same crafts persons, with the same tools, will each seem to play differently when being tested by an experienced player.

Why do so many of the Bach rims have that sharp inside edge? In his own writing about his mpc. design, Bach said that this is a deliberate feature. He intended that any improper forcing of the tone would be punished by pain (!). Many players also feel that this well-defined inner edge helps slurred notes to “slot in” more precisely than than they do on a more comfortable, rounded rim. (“Shaped like a toilet seat” is how one of my great teachers, William Vacchiano, memorably described the latter type rim.) Beware of the relationship between mouthpieces of the Mt.Vernon era to mouthpieces manufactured by Bach before and after that period. For some unknown reason, Mt.Vernon mouthpieces got smaller Spill Rulett Spill. (Compare virtually any mouthpiece of the Mt. Vernon years to recent ones bearing the same model designation. Typically, they are dramatically different. Tool wear?)  Read the story behind the creation of the 1X as published by Bach/Selmer.  When Selmer bought Bach, to their credit, they went back to Vincent Bach’s original specs.”

– Louis Ranger

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