A behind the scenes look at mouthpieces with Jay Jennings of Snarky Puppy

Mary Galime

September saw a fun studio visit from Denis Wick Artist Nick Laufer, who was in town on tour with Toby Keith and needed a replacement for his trusty Classic 10CS.  After stopping by the studio to pick it up we grabbed lunch and went to drop Nick off at Navy Pier for his sound check, where Nick gave us a tour of the backstage area and the tour buses.  While on the bus we met the rest of the band including trumpeter Jay Jennings, also of Snarky Puppy. After talking about the studio, Jay was interested in coming in so we decided to meet at the studio in between the sound check and the performance.  


Nick and Jay both came by, and Jay was able to try several options to see what was the best fit with Nick lending some ears and opinions.  Jay is currently playing on a Yamaha trumpet and a Monette mouthpiece with an opened throat that he had used since picking it up in school, and was most interested in options that would be easier for some of the commercial playing he’s doing without being a huge change.  After trying several rims and cups, we narrowed it down to a gold HeavyTop 1 ½ C and a gold Maurice Murphy 1 ½ C with a booster attached for weight. Jay preferred the rim and feel of the Maurice Murphy overall but the HeavyTop 1 ½ C felt slightly easier for pure commercial types of playing, and the gold and added mass helped both options feel familiar given his comfort on the Monette.  Given those choices, even though he didn’t have his flugelhorn with him we sent him with a gold 2BFL and 2FL to try as we thought these would be great fits for his sound and playing.


Jay was also interested in mutes, and picked up a cup mute and extending tube mute.  He had always liked and wanted the Wick cup mute, but had never tried the extending tube mute before and especially loved the evenness of tone and pitch throughout all the registers.  In particular he described some Harmon mute pitch issues he had on gigs with Snarky Puppy and orchestras, so he was very excited to try it out in a live setting.

The Takeaway 

When you are searching for a mouthpiece, like we did with Jay, you'll want to try a wide variety of rim options (wide, narrow, rounded, flat) and/or cup options (generally C, B, E or V cups) to determine what is going to bring you the right sound and response. You may feel that rim width or cup style is a non-negotiable, but it never hurts to try. It is the combination of these components that makes a mouthpiece respond the right way for you, not just a single part of the mouthpiece. So you may surprise yourself to find that you really enjoy a C cup when traditionally you have been using a B.

And why try a HeavyTop? Additional mass around the cup, throat and backbore of the mouthpiece transfers energy much more efficiently, resulting in improved projection and stability, creating a strong, rich, and centered sound. So if you like the extra mass, you can try the HeavyTop version, but also try the Classic version with the booster. Though both add weight, you will get a slightly different response from a mouthpiece that is created with extra mass vs. the one that has mass added to it post production.

Whether you know exactly what you want, or need to try out a variety of options to see what best fits your needs, the Chicago Advisory Studio is here to help!  The wide variety of products combined with our expertise means we can make sure you leave with your questions answered and performance needs met. To schedule a visit contact us at 312-475-0464 or maryp@dansr.com.

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