If you follow the horn and use Facebook you probably have noted that Houghton Horns has a new line of horn mouthpieces coming out soon (more here). While they are a Horn Matters advertiser, I was following the development of this line for other reasons and was very interested to see the H3 model as I did help (in a small way) with the development of this mouthpiece.
Keeping up with Internet trends is one of the things we strive to do with Horn Matters, so first up is my “unboxing” video (direct link here), which if you know me you will I think find humorous as well. It was not in any way a paid endorsement, just was a fun way to check out the new mouthpiece. More details and impressions follow the video. [UPDATE: And, proving that it was not a paid endorsement, I managed to mispronounce Houghton, they say it as “how-ton.” Sigh.]
The Houghton H3 is inspired/based on a classic design, the old Schilke FARKAS MODEL, produced before Farkas became associated with Holton. I am a fan of the design and posted an article on the original FARKAS MODEL mouthpieces (here) a few years ago. In short, Farkas arrived at this design through intensive, hands on trial and error.
Thousandths of an inch matter in mouthpieces, so while the old “block letter” mouthpieces are similar to the Holton MC, it is a lot better mouthpiece. At least some of them!
The original mouthpiece varied a bit over the production run which is said to have been only about 1,000 units. I own two of these. The example on the left in the photo is the one I mention in the video, that I won Third Horn in Nashville playing on it, so it is special to me. Sadly, it never really fit any successive horn well as the shank is somewhat undersized, which seems to have been the standard size made of this. The example on the right is one I picked up later. It never felt as good, and I suspect the main culprit was the rim which is wider with a narrower inner diameter (and too doughnut-like for me), but undoubtedly other dimensions are out of spec as well if examined very closely.
Derek Wright was much more intimately involved with the development of this model. A DMA grad from the horn studio here at Arizona State, he knew of my interest and that I had examples, so I loaned both of them. What I hoped was having both they could figure out what was better and worse between the two examples and, combined with other examples and experimentation they could arrive at a design that exceeded the original.
My initial impressions of the new H3 are extremely favorable. It has a big sound and they corrected the shank size issue, it fits standard, modern horns much better than the originals. The H3 certainly plays better than the originals I supplied.
The rim is based on the rim of the example I favored of the two and feels great. The only difference is the inner diameter is just a bit larger on the H3. I am very interested to try this rim again after the years, the initial impression is very good and I believe I can play successfully on stainless steel. I have been playing on Delrin most of the past year, as I seem to have developed an allergy to silver and gold rims (more here).
The biggest change and “X-factor” element is the mouthpiece itself being stainless steel. Materials impact things and I suspect the bigger sound I notice is directly related to the use of stainless steel (and possibly also the difference of outer shape and weighting).
In the even bigger news category, besides being offered with a screw rim (you can use any Houser rim, and really most any screw rim made in the USA on this cup) you can also purchase it at a more affordable price as a one piece model.
I like the sound it produces on initial impression quite a lot. You will have to hear it in a room to decide but this is a very fine mouthpiece.
The bad news is these have not yet shipped to the general public. I know I have students interested to try it but sorry, I am busy trying it! But they will be shipping out by the end of October and this model I think is an extremely interesting one that will generate some sales.