Vintage Mouthpieces: Talking about Al Cass

Posted: May 13, 2009 in Gadget Talk
Tags: , , ,

I love Al Cass pieces – these are a great example of single guy that had an idea and just put in the hard work and literally grinded away until he got it right.

Fast forward a number of decades (at least 4) and these pieces have somewhat of a cult following.

For those that have tried them and they worked they will know that these pieces are both are well worth the investment that some of these pieces now command.

The 4x1 Mouthpiece

The 4x1 Mouthpiece

The most desired pieces from this brand would have to be the 1-28 or 1-2 (the last number was left blank as essentially everything in the 1 series was a modified 1-28 – it was just drilled out further to make a 1-24 for example).

This piece is the stock starting piece for most and was played by some famous jazz greats such as Booker Little, Blue Mitchell & Art Farmer to name but a few.

It’s a good starting point for many and once you get used to this you can move into different cups and sizes.

The much coveted 3×5 & 3×6 Screamer mouthpieces.

(If you need a visual reference go to my collection at: http://www.trumpetgear.co.nz/Al_Cass_Trumpet_3x5.html )

The 3×6’s there are around less than 50 of these floating around worldwide as essentially they were made as a custom item.

The 3×5’s are a bit more common – but still fetch very high prices – I’ve seen them selling for US$700+ on more than one occasion. (Now is a great time to pick one up if you can afford it as the recession has seen prices on these drop to around US$300 for a nice used piece)

These pieces are very shallow and require a lot of getting used to – if you are not used to a small diameter or shallow piece then these are not for you. 

Engraving should be crisp and clear

Engraving should be crisp and clear

With any of these pieces if you are considering a purchase make sure that you can check off the following:

  1. Does the piece have the engraving stating Al Cass Milford Mass on the side with the size below it (i.e. 1-28)
  2. Is there any damage to the piece
  3. Is there evidence of it being modified? (A lot have had the throat drilled out – I saw a recent example sell on EBay – the new owner is going to be disappointed with that one I am sure). If in doubt ask the seller/
  4. Has it been re-plated? (not such a big issue but if you are going for future re-sale value it pays to be original) 

So is this all hype or do they actually work?

Well for me they work – and work well!

The rim has a nice cushion feel which to me thinks that your lips get a little further away from the bottom of the cup – this prevents air back pressure and allows the aperture to remain open and free. 

These are very efficient mouthpieces and I haven’t found anything else remotely close to beating them.

If you haven’t tried them I’d recommend you try and get your hands on the now to give them a go (Start with a 1-28 or 1-26 or even a 4×1). 

Good luck searching!

And if you have any spares I’m always looking to buy!

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Comments
  1. Richard Adams says:

    I have an Al Cass mouthpiece. It actually looks like
    a proto-type trumpet mouthpiece. It’s hand engraved
    with the following information on it.

    Al Cass
    41

    Mildford Mass.

    Pat. Pend.

    I don’t have a website but I do have pics of this mouthpiece.

    Found it in a box of mouthpieces I purchased with a Rafael Mendez
    Olds Trumpet.

    • trumpetgear says:

      Hi,
      Is it by chance 4-1 or 4×1?
      It could well be an Al Cass #4 series mouthpiece. They commonly came in 4×1. This was a stepping stone piece for people coming from standard rim mouthpieces into the Al Cass line that found it difficult to play a 1-28 straight off (a 1-28 has about the same diameter as a Bach 10)

      • Steve Cass says:

        Hi Shawn, Ladies & Gents, all pieces with “Pat Pend.” (patent pending) are doublers. Trumpet Or Trombone rim mouthpieces that have the shanks of other instruments. 41/64 is the inner rim/bite/cup size. They came in 41/64, 42/64 and 43/64. 41/64 is I believe the rarest. The single “doubler brochure” that exists in my collection, shown on the website in the gallery, has the 41/64 sized crossed out, which leads me to believe this size was either discontinued, or simply removed from the brochure and put on the custom shelf.

  2. robert brown says:

    hi i bought a trumpet that has an al cass mp with it it reads al cass, milford mass, 3×5, solid brass its in great condition still highly polished with light insertion marks.i find it dont suit me what could i expect it to fetch if i sell it.the trumpet i bought belonged to a retired player he told me he bought the mp back in the 70s…

    • trumpetgear says:

      Thanks for the question – apologies for the late reply.
      The 3×5 are still quite popular ‘Lead’ mouthpieces. The fact that the piece has inscriptions on it is a good thing – than means it is more than likely a finished piece.
      I have seen some pieces on Ebay recently that are in fact unfinished. Most popular are pieces in silver plate – if you’rs is raw brass it will not be worth as much
      Milford Mass is also good – as there are London pieces also.
      The bad news is that I have noticed a substantial drop in prices over the last few years – at one stage there 3×5’s were selling for $300+
      Without seeing it I am giving a ballpark a rough estimate $125 to $200 for it as a quick sale.
      All depends if there is a buyer out there looking for one.

      Hope this helps.

  3. John Castleman says:

    I have several 4x pieces and I have (or have owned) several 1-28 pieces. Also, I have had the 3×5. They are all amazing and work well on any horn vintage or otherwise. Very versatile. A 1-28 with a NY Bach M bore pretty much can cover any base you need.

  4. Kelly Mead says:

    Hi. I’m an assemblage “Junk” artist and found a couple of trumpet mouth pieces in my materials. One is marked “BENGE 6 1/2 AL” and the other “Al Cass Milford, Mass. Pat. NO.2917964 Trumpet”. Can anyone tell me about them before the become art fodder? Thanks.

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