Archive for the Mouthpieces Category

Developing Practice Priorities and Working With Your Equipment by Roy Poper

Posted in Mouthpieces, Trumpet Playing, Trumpets and Equipment on March 20, 2013 by Bob Reeves Brass

I am continually grateful for the care and attention that was paid me by my teachers in the areas of foundation, mechanics, technique and musical perspective. Where equipment was concerned they made it clear that the sound must be heard first in my mind, that I must solidify my musical ideas with strong repeatable skills, and that only as those skills gained in strength would good equipment become more and more meaningful. The message they gave to me is the same one I give to my students: In order to get the most out of your practice time you need to prioritize your practice categories. After you have developed efficient and appropriate practice habits you can then look for optimal equipment.

Although the beauty of a trumpet sound, along with its power and brilliant color is what we initially fall in love with, it is our foundation on the instrument that provides the superstructure upon which we build our mechanics and technique. The foundation of our playing is developed and perfected on a daily basis. It is often called the “warm-up” and usually includes mouthpiece work, lip slurs, scales, rapid articulation studies, double- and triple-tongue drills, and lip flexibility studies. My own foundation practice is a combination of selected exercises from the Max Schlossberg book (“Daily Drills and Technical Studies for the Trumpet”) and the James Stamp exercises from the book “Warmups Plus Studies”. I believe that these two books are the most important books of foundational studies for all players, regardless of the musical genre (classical, jazz, commercial, etc.) in which one performs. My advice to a developing player is to choose a teacher that teaches a strong foundation as the basis for subsequent technical and artistic achievement.

Good mechanics are built upon the foundation that we put into place for ourselves on a daily basis. The terms “mechanics” and “technique” are often used almost interchangeably, though I believe that is a mistake. They are two very different things. Proper mechanics create ease of production. Ease of production then supports consistent facile technique. Therefore, good technique is a result of correct mechanics. As an example, if I execute a passage with fast finger technique well on an occasional basis, it means that I am capable of mastering physical speed against a metronome. It does not mean that my finger rhythm is even or that the sound is beautiful, or that I will always be able to produce that technique on demand. Good mechanics will promote a facile and reliable technique, but executing feats of fast technique does not necessarily promote good mechanics.

Musical perspective is the “total picture” that results from combining intuitive and learned musical knowledge. It is the total of what we know expressed in sound. One’s musical perspective is most effectively expressed when one’s foundation, mechanics, and technique are in good working order. Oftentimes, a player’s musical perspective is more developed than his or her mechanics or technique. This is fine because it is still possible to achieve an excellent musical result at each technical and mechanical level. A strong foundation, a high level of mechanical skill, and a strong technique coupled with well-developed musical perspective will produce a superior and clearer sound picture every time. Practice time therefore, should be devoted to each of these aspects on an on-going and consistent basis.

A few words about equipment: I believe strongly in the value of the after-market valve alignment. When the valves are aligned properly the “bugles” in each combination become unified in color and timbre and instrument will then blow evenly. The horn is then optimized and will play as it was meant to play. I prefer the Bob Reeves valve alignment and have been depending on it for over 20 years. It never ceases to amaze me how happy my students are with their trumpets after they have invested in a valve alignment. The current-day valve alignment is one of the significant advances in trumpet technology because in optimizing the instrument it promotes correct trumpet mechanics by encouraging players to blow straight through the trumpet instead of “tipping” the air in the direction that the pitches are moving.

If after a valve alignment the instrument is still unsatisfactory, instead of immediately running out and buying a new mouthpiece you should first examine the resistance created by the relationship between the mouthpiece and the mouthpiece receiver. If your mouthpiece fits in the mouthpiece receiver too far or not far enough its resistance may be wrong for you. Your mouthpiece might need to penetrate the receiver a little more, or be pulled back a little in order to discover a more favorable resistance. If this produces the sound and ease of blowing that you prefer then purchasing a new mouthpiece is unnecessary. If you still find the sound and/or the “blow” lacking you may wish to buy a new mouthpiece and repeat the fitting procedure.

My last point is about trumpet mouthpieces. We are in a golden age of choice where mouthpieces are concerned: there are many fine manufacturers producing excellent models from which to choose. Try everything you want to try. When you hear what you like buy it, have it fitted properly to your instrument, and begin to work with it. Bear in mind that when you first try a mouthpiece and find it attractive, you are just getting a glimpse into what it can be and can do for you. Your facial muscles will not immediately be accustomed to the new position appropriate to the new mouthpiece. Consequently, the mouthpiece might play nicely for you for a week or less, and then begin to give you trouble by making you tire quickly, making your tone airy, marginalizing your range and so on. If you work with it, play scales on it, articulate on it, practice your lip-slurs, all the while practicing carefully and correctly, in about four weeks the mouthpiece will begin to give back to you what you first found attractive about it and you will enjoy its benefits.

This article is aimed at high school and college students in the hope that they may gain a little perspective about what they have ahead of them in studying trumpet. Practice “smart”, get a good teacher and good information about your equipment, and you will enjoy the learning process more and make greater strides in achieving your technical and artistic goals.

About Roy Poper

Roy Poper has for more than 30 years maintained an active performing career of a breadth rare among musicians. His engagements span every facet of trumpet performance including symphonic principal player (Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and L.A. Opera), film studio work (over 500 major motion pictures), chamber music (founding member, The Modern Brass Quintet), and “popular” genres including jazz ensembles, Broadway shows, and even recordings with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.

Equally respected as a teacher, he was for more than 20 years a member of the faculty of the University of Southern California School of Music prior to moving to Oberlin, OH in 2002 to assume the duties of Associate Professor of Trumpet at the Oberlin Conservatory. His book, Roy Poper’s Guide to the Brasswind Methods of James Stamp (Balquhidder Music), which serves as a companion to James Stamp Warm-ups and Studies (Editions BIM) has become an acclaimed addition to the trumpet method-book literature, thoroughly explaining how to execute and effeciently utilize James Stamps’ teaching methods.

He continues to be in demand as a performer, performing frequently in the greater Cleveland Area and Los Angeles. He has commissioned numerous works, some of which appear on his forthcoming CD, L.A. Trumpet Works. Roy has been recorded on the Crystal, Orion, Nonesuch, and Dorian labels.

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Four Ways to Improve Your Bach Stradivarius Trumpet

Posted in Advice, Mouthpieces, Trumpets and Equipment with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 1, 2013 by Bob Reeves Brass

Here at Bob Reeves Brass Mouthpieces we provide many services and products that can improve the playability of your trumpet, including the most popular professional trumpet model, the Bach Stradivarius. Over Bob’s forty-five plus years of experience, he has found that these methods create real and immediately perceptible results.

1) Clean your trumpet and keep it that way!

If yesterday’s tacos and last Monday’s cheeseburger are still in your trumpet, they’re not helping you play better. An acid wash, or chemical cleaning, like our Premium Service acid wash removes all the gunk built up inside your trumpet. Part of our service also includes brushing out the inside of the entire body and slides of your trumpet, and the exterior brass legs of your slides. When your horn is clean inside and outside, we then lubricate all the slides and valves, getting the instrument into ready to play condition.

Once your instrument is cleaned out, you need to keep it that way to keep it playing consistently. For decades we have sold our Leadpipe Swabs to trumpet players, instructing them to swab out their horns at the end of each playing day. Our swabs remove the moisture and food particles from your leadpipe, stopping them from getting further into your horn, causing build up on the interior of your horn.

Another product we now offer to players is Blow Dry Brass. Blow Dry Brass is designed to be used on a cleaned brass instrument, drying out the inside with alcohol loaded foam BIT’s. The foam BIT’s are blown through the instrument, removing moisture, and the residual alcohol then drys out the inside of your horn, keeping it clean from day to day.

2) Bring your horn in for a Bob Reeves Valve Alignment!

Every horn manufactured today needs a valve alignment. Your 1960s Olds Ambassador, your early Elkhart Bach Strad, even your $30,000+ decorated Monette PRANA has misaligned valves. Not only will our valve alignment improve the way your horn plays, but it will keep it consistent from day to day. Bob first discovered the valve alignment working with top studio musicians after he opened his shop in Hollywood. These musicians would come into Bob’s shop complaining about consistency issues, and, knowing that the players weren’t changing, he looked to the instrument. When he aligned their valves, their equipment hunts would end. They no longer needed to play to how the trumpet was aligned each and every day, and had much more direction concerning improvements to their setup.

3) Find the gap that works for you!

Once you’ve had your valves aligned, you can really start making your equipment work for you. After a valve alignment, many players find it possible to play on a more efficient mouthpiece than previously. While a complete mouthpiece change may be deemed unnecessary, many players find it beneficial to “dial in the gap”. Our sleeve system allows the player to experiment with the gap, allowing them to find the correct gap that works for the trumpet, mouthpiece, and — most importantly — the player. Converting for sleeves also allows you to use one mouthpiece in two horns with the correct gap on both instruments. Not all trumpets are the same and not all mouthpiece receivers are the same; this is why the gap must be discovered on each individual instrument you play.

4) Accessorize!

Now that you have your horn cleaned, your valves aligned, and your gap dialed in, (or you just want a quick experiment) Bob Reeves Brass offers two products that improve the slotting of your trumpet. The Cylinder Reinforcer and Receiver Ring both work in similar ways. The receiver ring is a small silver plated ring that fit onto the hexagonal end of your Bach’s receiver, while the cylinder reinforcer, on a Bach trumpet, is a replacement bottom valve cap. Neither of these accessories cause a dampening affect to your trumpet, they instead solidify points on the instrument, preventing the loss of energy that you put into it. The junction between the mouthpiece and the receiver is a point where energy is commonly lost, but a receiver ring will solidify that junction, allowing the energy to continue through the horn. In the same way, the bottom of the third valve casing is a location where energy is lost, but the cylinder reinforcer prevents that dissipation.

Now that your trumpet is in it’s best playing condition, you can focus more on playing the music, so go and have fun!

‘Tis the Season for Piccolo Trumpets!

Posted in Advice, Mouthpieces, Photos, Trumpets and Equipment with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2012 by Bob Reeves Brass

With the holidays right around the corner, baroque music gigs are starting to show up on musician’s calendars, and what that means for the trumpet player is that it’s time to dust off their piccolo and get ready to perform. The holiday season repertoire of Christmas Oratorio, Messiah, and Magnificat is no easy blow and having to play it on piccolo doesn’t help. But, Bob Reeves Brass has some options that will make tackling these pieces a little easier so you can focus more on the music — and have more fun playing!

Bob Reeves Piccolo Trumpet Mouthpieces

A selection of the hundreds of piccolo trumpet mouthpieces available from Bob Reeves Brass.

Modern Developments for the Piccolo Trumpet

In 2012 trumpet equipment has come a long way from what existed when the piccolo trumpet was developed. As piccolo trumpets are half the size of a regular Bb trumpet and have unique issues that need to be addressed, Bob spent many years coming up with the designs of his standard piccolo mouthpieces. The main difference between a standard trumpet mouthpiece and one of our piccolo trumpet mouthpieces is the length. Our piccolo trumpet mouthpieces are shorter than a regular mouthpiece. The same is true for the piccolo mouthpieces we make with a cornet shank. One of our piccolo trumpet mouthpiece with a cornet shank is shorter than a standard cornet mouthpiece.

There Are More Piccolo Mouthpiece Options Than Just a Bach 7EW

Any of the standard Bob Reeves rim and cup combinations can be ordered with a piccolo-trumpet shank or a piccolo-cornet shank. These pieces come with a backbore that Bob developed to play more evenly, better in tune, and with a better balance than the 117 backbore and other common piccolo backbores. The most popular cups players use with their piccolos are the S, M, and C. As with all Bob Reeves pieces, these pieces for piccolo come in a screw-rim configuration and, because of that, if you know you love a certain rim, we can thread it and make a piccolo underpart to it.

Reeves A-Adapter for Cornet-Shank Piccolo Trumpets

Another tool that we offer for cornet-shank piccolo players is our A-Adapter. This adapter, when used on the Bb side of your piccolo, brings the tuning down to the key of A and keeps you from having to pull a Bb tuning bit out very far to play in tune. This prevents a large gap from existing in your horn at the end of the tuning bit before the leadpipe. When this gap is eliminated, the piccolo with play much more in tune, with better response, and much more evenly.

The Better Plastic Trumpet Mouthpiece

Posted in Mouthpieces, Photos, Shop News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 12, 2012 by Bob Reeves Brass

Trumpet Playing in Cold Weather

Winter’s just around the corner and we’re getting flooded with emails from musicians who have to play outside in the bitter cold. Whether it’s for marching band at finals or caroling at an outdoor Christmas tree lighting, trumpet players are called on to play in all sorts of weather conditions. Here at Bob Reeves Brass, we have the answer to playing in the frigid cold: the Better Plastic Trumpet Mouthpiece.

The Better Plastic Trumpet Mouthpiece by Bob Reeves Brass

The Better Plastic Trumpet Mouthpiece by Bob Reeves Brass

The Better Plastic Trumpet Mouthpiece

The Better Plastic Trumpet Mouthpiece uses a Delrin plastic rim on a traditional brass underpart. The plastic rim is easier to play in cold weather because it does not get as cold as brass and provides more grip. The traditional brass underpart keeps the integrity of the sound and playing characteristics of the trumpet mouthpiece.

Any of our trumpet mouthpieces can be made with a white or black Delrin plastic rim. Just specify that when you order. If you already have a Reeves mouthpiece you can order the rim by itself to screw onto your existing underpart.

3C and 1.5C Plastic Mouthpieces

If you want to convert your 3C or 1.5C trumpet mouthpiece to have a plastic rim, just send us your mouthpiece and we can thread the bottom underpart and build a plastic rim to it. Contact us for more details.

3C and 1-1/2C Classical Series Trumpet Mouthpiece Feedback

Posted in Mouthpieces, Shop News, Website News with tags , , , , , on July 9, 2012 by Bob Reeves Brass
Bob Reeves Classical Series Mouthpiece

A Bob Reeves Classical Series Mouthpiece

Since its release at the beginning of the month, we’ve received a lot of positive feedback from musicians who have tried our new Classical Series Mouthpieces. The response has been overwhelming. Our first production run sold out in under a week (and it was supposed to last us at least a month!). We’ve shared some comments that we’ve gotten on our website. Come check it out! Be sure to check back later as we will update the page as we hear from more players.

Click here to read the feedback!

Bob Reeves Classical Series Trumpet Mouthpieces Now Available for Pre-order

Posted in Mouthpieces, Shop News with tags , , , , , , , , on June 20, 2012 by Bob Reeves Brass
Bob Reeves 1-1/2C Trumpet Mouthpiece

Bob Reeves 1-1/2C Trumpet Mouthpiece

Up at the shop, Bob’s long-running classical mouthpiece project is nearing its conclusion. Over the last few months we have provided a few prototypes of our new Classical Series Trumpet Mouthpieces to players and the pieces created quite a buzz at our ITG booth last month.

Now, we are proud to announce the official release of these mouthpieces.  Starting today we will begin taking pre-orders for the 1-1/2C and 3C models of the Classical Series Trumpet mouthpieces that will ship on July 1st.

Click here to learn more about the Classical Series mouthpieces and pre-order one for yourself!

Bob Reeves Sleeves: Now Available in Custom and 1/4 Sizes!

Posted in Mouthpieces, Shop News, Trumpets and Equipment with tags , , , , , , on May 16, 2012 by Bob Reeves Brass

Ming the Gap with Reeves SleevesFirst patented in 1974, the Bob Reeves Sleeve System is now more precise than ever with the introduction of 1/4 Size and Custom Sleeves

1/4 Size Sleeves

Improvements in our machining processes have allowed us to release Reeves Sleeves in 1/4 sizes. You can now adjust the gap in 1/64″ (.0156″/.396 mm) increments. Previously, sleeves were limited to 1/2 sizes only, which changed the gap by 1/32″ (.031″/.794mm). Quarter-size sleeves will be available for sale starting on June 1st. We will have a selection of quarter sizes at our booth at the upcoming ITG Conference.

Custom Sleeves

When Bob Reeves first studied the trumpet mouthpiece gap, he discovered that some players can feel an .008″ difference in the gap. Previously, this minute gap adjustment was only possible with an expensive and inconvenient adjustable-gap receiver fitted to your trumpet. Starting June 1st, Bob Reeves Brass can adjust the gap for the discerning trumpet player by as little as .008″ with a Custom Reeves Sleeve. Contact us for more details.

Bob Reeves Sleeves SystemFor more information on Reeves Sleeves and gap adjustment, you can read more on our blog and web site:

Bob Reeves Sleeve System on bobreeves.com

History of the Mouthpiece Gap Part I

History of the Mouthpiece Gap Part II

The Paper Trick

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