The Black Art of Mouthpiece Making

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I am now the proud owner of three Laskey 80G mouthpieces. I am very impressed with the quality control exhibited by Laskey in their production. Even with my dial calipers I can’t detect any significant variation between the three. Most of the time if you compare two or three mouthpieces by the same maker this is not the result.

For horns and mouthpieces thousandths of an inch really matter. On one of the horn lists there was a recent posting pointing to a classic article by Renold O. Schilke, The Physics of Inner Brass and the Acoustical Effects of Various Materials and Their Treatment, which may be accessed online. Pretty interesting reading; he certainly has an opinion on the lacquer issue and many others. What a lot of it all boils down to is variations of thousandths of an inch.

One of my former teachers once referred to the “black art” of backbores. It is a really critical area of the mouthpiece and what I often find when I measure two of the same mouthpiece is that the backbores do not match. If you put in a drill just bigger than the bore it should go in the same distance in any mouthpiece of that model.

Also, makers who produce custom mouthpieces do not often actually copy the backbore carefully, which is why copies of mouthpieces rarely feel as good as the original.

Usually if two nominally identical mouthpieces feel different it is easy to measure a difference in the backbores. In the case of the three Laskey mouthpieces, they all match! Same bore, same cup, same rim. But, I can still tell one feels slightly better than the others even though I can’t actually measure any significant difference. Maybe something to do with plating or the brass stock it was made from. Or … maybe there really is a “black art” to mouthpiece making ….

University of Horn Matters