To kick off a series of short reviews this summer, first up is the Kelly 6V mellophone mouthpiece in lexan plastic. A few years ago I reviewed their horn mouthpieces, and it bears repeating right off that the MC horn mouthpiece, especially in the crystal material, is surprisingly good. Likewise, the mellophone version also is quite good compared to a standard, metal example of this type of mouthpiece.
Fact: legions of horn players play the mellophone every summer and fall in the United States. One of the first things we have to cope with as a group is the topic of mouthpiece choice. I have a longer article from a few years ago on options over in Horn Articles Online, and in this review I will touch as well on comparisons between some of those options and the Kelly 6V.
First off, why use a plastic mouthpiece? There are two big reasons. One would be metal allergies, discussed further in this article. The other is temperature. One vivid memory from my freshman year of high school was the football team advanced to state, the band went, it was COLD and my mouthpiece was so cold, and finally my valves froze. A plastic mouthpiece won’t solve the frozen valves but it will make for more comfort at the lip contact point.
In the photo are seen a lineup of mouthpieces you could use on a mellophone. Left to right, we have the Jupiter hybrid horn/mellophone mouthpiece (reviewed here), the Kelly 6V, the IYM M-2, a DEG Mello 6V, a Curry 1HTF, and a Kelly MC with a mellophone adapter. Note that I have placed them in order by overall length.
Of course the is some ideal length for any mouthpiece in relation to an instrument, but what it is exactly for Mellophone I could not tell you. I can tell you the Kelly 6V is a little shorter than the DEG 6V which I think is pretty standard for this type of mouthpiece. Comparing these two directly my initial impression is the Kelly has a better sound and plays better. Of course it still has that “third trumpet” sort of sound typical of mellophone rather than a horn sound. The Curry 1HTF is not really a mellophone mouthpiece but is commonly used, it has a bit bigger/better sound, and then you get to the other options all of which have a more Flugelhorn related tone.
The rim on the Kelly 6V is a trumpet rim with a lot of cushion, similar to that on the DEG 6V but I feel a bit more rounded. Would not be my personal first choice (I would rather play something like the Jupiter hybrid in terms of the rim) but seems to be the type of rim that brass techs for marching bands and drum corps think have to be on a mellophone mouthpiece.
To close, the Kelly did in fact work well on my test instrument, a King. These are certainly worth a look. With the horn mouthpieces I found the colored mouthpieces had a deader tone than the crystal mouthpieces, so on horn I would say go with the crystal version, but the colored ones may be worth more of a look on mellophone, they should cut a bit more of the harsh edge out of the tone.