What is the right answer! For me, I always let sound lead. Are you ready for the big HOWEVER?
However, I think there is a balance that must be had between what the long-term need is and what the immediate need is. What is your long-term goal for playing that you have had since you started making sounds on your instrument? It is always, and always will be to make a great sound. You have always wanted to make great sounds playing high, low, fast, slow, on your favorite song,, on the song that is not your favorite but it is on the concert program or audition. Sound has driven us. In the short term though, you have experienced a short term need that in a very real way drives your search for a supportive mouthpiece.
Below you'll see some feedback from members of our Denis Wick Buzz community. I encourage you to read their experiences! The purpose of our month of Denis Wick Discuss polling was so that, as a community, we could draw on the wisdom of everyone's experience. If you haven't had a chance, go back and read feedback from previous weeks as well. It's in these opportunities to discuss brass performance together that we find the balance to make good decisions about a relationship with the most significant component to making great sound - your mouthpiece.
Community Response (selected answers)
"I see if my tone/sound is not just dark and rich, I see if it fills up the room even on "piano", next I see range starting with pedal tones down to Double Pedal B Flat all the way up to Super F (6th Octave), after that if I enjoy it, my articulation and tuning skills can always be adjusted seeing as this occurs with most mouthpiece changes."
"For me, my tounging speed is not very fast. I try to choose a mouthpiece that does not inhibit my articulation speed, while making the attacks as crisp as possible. "
"I do regular scales and some range work, and after some technical studies in order to fully access how I feel about the mouthpiece ."
"Tone and sound are critical, however the mouthpiece must be comfortable in all ranges."
"Well, I believe that all of the factors listed above are important. But, if the mouthpiece isn’t comfortable to play with then that ruins the whole experience and the joy of playing."
"(How do you choose?) Depending on what I need the mouthpiece for like marching band or concert band and having a mouthpiece that can help with giving me a strong tone that can be felt through the floor."
"I test all articulations from softest to hardest at a variety of dynamics, from whisper tones to blasting."
"Changing mouthpieces has not been easy for me. A mouthpiece may work well for a hour or two and then be unplayable for longer gigs. I look for good tone and comfort without too much of an impact on range. Then, it takes me a week or so to determine if the impact on endurance is good or bad. "
"When trying a mouthpiece, what I notice the most is the immediate response with the sole fact of emitting or letting the air pass"
"I really just try things until i find something that makes my sound full and feels comfortable to play. "
"Usually, I’ll play some excerpts I’m comfortable with and have some friends listen and give me feedback on what they hear."
"I’m looking for a mouthpiece that not only feels effortless but makes my range and articulation effortless as well."
"I look specifically for how well it feels and if the tone is ideal. And I test range while examining the tone."
"I also play cornet so look for rim to be similar."
"I think tone is the best thing to look for a mouthpiece, if you can’t have good tone on a mouthpiece there is no point in getting it. Even when looking for something like a lead piece if you don’t sound good on it you are throwing away money."
"I pick a couple of lyrical and technical excerpts and basic fundamental exercises to test out the piece on the horn as well as off with buzzing. "
"I need a mouthpiece which allows me to play 5-6 hours in a day in concerts and not feel as though my lips/ embouchure are/ is made of rubber! Tone and sound are very important too. My current "go to" mouthpiece is a 2SL (EEb tuba), and it took me 3 months or so of trialling and borrowing other mouthpieces before I settled on it. Comfort, tone, range, articulation, etc are all tested over time. At times, I also use a 1XL for (very) low register playing and a 3SL for playing up in the God's."
"I like to play the same passage on different mouthpieces to see which one feels the best and sounds the best to play on."
"I usually just rent out a mouthpiece from my local music shop and play test it for a week. Nothing too special just using it at rehearsals and lessons. "
"Comfort first, as from there all other things can be tweaked. If the mouthpiece feels good on your face, (ie the rim size/profile are suitable for your embouchure) then it's easy to try different cups/throats/backbores etc. with the same rim to dial in ease of articulation, flexibility, range etc."
"I usually first prioritize sound and then comfort. I really try to put the mouthpieces through their paces — excerpts, Bordogni, high range, low range, jazz, etc. I’m looking for consistency, so it needs to be consistently good no matter what!"
"When looking for a new mouthpiece I see how it compares to old mouthpiece and if it’s comfortable or not"
"I start with a basic c and then start at my max comfort nite in which is a f above the staff and then I start to go down chromaticly and end at a f below the staff"
"(How do you test a mouthpiece?) Lip slurs, loud/soft, high/low playing"
"As an Eb cornet player I seek range, comfort, endurance, intonation. In that order."