Mouthpiece Auditions- How to Avoid Injury

Mary Galime

Summer is a great time to look for a new mouthpiece. Adjusting to a new mouthpiece can take a little time, and the summer provides just that. Since a mouthpiece will not teach you to play higher, lower, louder, or softer, the summer is also a great time to hone your skills in these areas. Stay tuned to the Buzz in the upcoming weeks for tips and advice in these areas.


Whether you want to play higher, lower, louder, or softer, your ultimate desire when searching for a mouthpiece, must be focused on great sound. When you try a new mouthpiece, if the tone is not what you expect or want to hear immediately, you will automatically adjust to manipulate the sound, and this can lead to injury. The following tips will help bring structure to your trial, efficiently sort through the many options available to you, and most importantly, avoid injury.


Your search begins here:

Always begin your mouthpiece with the question: "What is the best sound I have ever heard--the one I want to sound like all the time?" With each of the following steps, be aware of whether your desired sound production is happening naturally or through manipulation.

  1. Have a selection of mouthpiece options ready. I would compare no more than 3 at a time.
  2. Using a familiar scale, start in the middle register of the mouthpiece and then explore the range, both high and low, loud and soft. Ask yourself the question: Do you have to adjust for your sound?
  3. Using the same scales test the articulation in all register both loud and soft, legato, staccato, etc. Do you have to adjust for your sound?
  4. Use lip slurs to focus on the tuning of the mouthpiece. Do you have to adjust for your sound?
  5. Compare your favorite to your original mouthpiece to confirm your new choice.


If you need a good place to start, find the below options from Denis Wick to begin your search. Look for additional sizes in the Denis Wick catalogue that have a similar diameter to discover other options close to these sizes.


  • Beginners: 5182A-7C and 5882-4B
  • Concert/Orchestral: 5882A-1.5C, 3C and 5882-MM1.5C, 3C
  • Jazz: 5882-4X, 4E, 5X, 5E and DW6882-4X



  • Beginners: 5880-10CS, 12CS
  • Concert/Orchestral: 3180-5ABL and 5880-5ABL
  • Jazz: 5880-12CS, 10CS, 9BS


French Horn

  • Beginners: PAX7
  • Concert/Orchestral: DW5885-5N and PAX5
  • Jazz: N/A



  • Beginners: DW5286-4L
  • Concert/Orchestral: 5286-2.5CC
  • Jazz: N/A

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