It seems that mankind is getting very inventive with plastic. Today I would like provide information regarding plastic brass mouthpieces. In a past post I discussed revolutionary plastic brass instruments that have proven to be quality instruments despite being made of only plastic.
Can plastic brass mouthpieces be as good?
Should brass players be including them in their mouthpiece collections?
Every musician is different, thus they all have different reasons for picking the equipment they use. In todays post I would like to give some much needed information regarding plastic brass mouthpieces followed but my top recommendation. The following topics will be discussed:
- What is a plastic brass mouthpiece?
- Why plastic can be a good thing?
- Why do people choose to use plastic brass mouthpieces?
- My Top Recommendation!
What is a Plastic Brass Mouthpiece?
The black mouthpiece is my plastic Kelly mouthpiece for the trumpet
Well a plastic brass mouthpiece is exactly what it says. A mouthpiece made of plastic. Actually the specific brand I will be referring to today are made of Lexan and ABS plastic. Lexan is a highly used clear plastic while ABS plastic is impact resistant and durable. The combination of these two plastics makes a plastic brass mouthpiece.
Why Plastic Can Be A Good Thing
Many folks are now thinking that these mouthpieces can’t be good and there must be a catch. Many folks, myself included, think cheap when plastic is mentioned. We think about the items we have purchased made of cheap plastic. They cracked or split. They were flattened the first time someone sat on it. The overall appearance was just horrible.
What we forget about is all the things that we use each and every day that is made of plastic, yet is very durable and reliable. How about some examples:
- The coffee machine I get my coffee from every morning is made of plastic.
- My car is made of a lot of plastic.
- The chairs I sit on outside are plastic.
- The zipper on my jacket is plastic.
- The casing of many computers are plastic.
I could go on forever here but then I would be straying from the topic at hand. The point I am trying to make is plastic does not mean cheap and it can certainly be beneficial to musicians for a number of reasons.
Why Do People Choose To Use Plastic Brass Mouthpieces?
I did a little research to answer this question with confidence. I knew my reasons but wondered if others felt the same way. After reading several other blogs and forums for brass players I quickly realized that we do indeed share the same reasons for choosing plastic over metal. I will add that most players do not give up their metal mouthpieces completely but certainly turn to the plastic mouthpiece when it is of benefit to them. Below you will find some of the reasons brass players consider using plastic over metal.
Most brass players will tell you that a metal mouthpiece can get mighty cold. When that mouthpiece touches the face it can be quite a shock. You may notice that the musicians in the brass section are often blowing air through their instrument and grasping the mouthpiece in their hands, especially when playing in a cold environment. They are making every effort to keep their instrument warm for tuning purposes and for comfort.
A plastic mouthpiece does not get cold like a metal mouthpiece. While it won’t keep the rest of the instrument warm, it will ensure that the player isn’t surprised when the mouthpiece touches the face. This would be extremely beneficial when playing outside.
It is evident that allergies are becoming to be more of a problem with each generation. In fact many people have allergies to certain types of metals including the metal used in brass mouthpieces. These individuals would never be able to tolerate the metal against their lips, never mind attempt to play the instrument for long periods of time.
Using a plastic mouthpiece makes brass instruments accessible to those who have allergies that would prevent them from playing a brass instrument using a metal mouthpiece. I actually have a good friend, a french horn player, who has an allergy to silver. She has compensated for this allergy by playing on only plastic mouthpieces and has been extremely successful on the french horn.
Another reason brass players turn to plastic mouthpieces is their durability. Don’t let the plastic fool you. These mouthpieces are very strong and can stand up to the toughest abuse. I allow my 4 year daughter to play with mine all the time and its still good as new.
Checking for Embouchure
This particular reason came as somewhat of a surprise but totally true. When brass players are beginning to play their chosen instrument it is crucial that they get their embouchure correct. The embouchure is the placement on the mouthpiece on the lips. Each instrument has a particular place that the mouthpiece should be placed.
Plastic mouthpieces can be purchased in clear plastic, allowing the instructor or player to see what is happening when the musician is playing the instrument. Metal mouthpieces makes it very difficult to see the embouchure. My instructor used a metal ring to see my embouchure but it was difficult to buzz because I didn’t have the rest of the mouthpiece.
There Cool! (Variety of Colors)
I took this heading directly from a past student. Who wouldn’t want to be able to pick from a variety of colours. The sky is the limit. While researching I read that one player has a florescent green tuba mouthpiece that glows in the dark. The one I own is black but the school I worked in last year had many different colours including red, pink, green, and yellow. I think being able to pick the colour allows the players to personalize their instrument.
These are just a few reasons brass players choose plastic. I bet there are many more reasons that I have not discovered. I believe these reasons alone are enough to give plastic brass mouthpieces a try.
My Top Recommendation!
The plastic mouthpiece that I own, as well as, the plastic mouthpieces available to many brass players is called a Kelly Mouthpiece. They make plastic mouthpieces for all brass instruments in a variety of colours. All of these mouthpieces are available at Amazon.com except for the french horn. Click on the pictures below to see what is available for each instrument.
Kelly Trombone/Baritone Mouthpieces
Kelly Tuba Mouthpieces
Kelly Euphonium Mouthpieces
Give Plastic Brass Mouthpieces A Chance
I hope I have convinced you that plastic mouthpieces are worth a try. I have heard and read a lot more positive comments then negative. There will always be people who are against using plastic or prefer to stick with what they know. But I truly believe that the benefits are far ahead of the negatives. One huge positive that was not mention in the paragraphs above is their price. They are extremely affordable. Many of them cost only half of what the metal mouthpiece would cost.
If you have already used a plastic brass mouthpiece please leave a comment below. I am also happy to answer any questions you may have.
P.S. – The hunt for Plastic French Horn Mouthpieces continues. I know they are available and I will find them!