Archive for October, 2012

To SWE or not to SWE?

I like heavy equipment for my trumpet when it makes sense – For me, and quite a few others it seems to just work.

For those of you pondering if you should try out some additional mass on your horn I say – why not? There are several options out there to customize your horn – but I just want to focus on one element as the topic for discussion, and that is the mouthpiece.

This of course is the single most important element (short of your own physical body) as a source of input that allows the rest of the trumpet to act as a amplifier and bring forth big and bold some form of your sound. That being the case……does it make sense to ensure that the maximum level of ingredients that go into making that sound get directed down the horn – or that the quality of the input is at it’s best?

Perhaps this is where Jason Harrelson and his SWE (Standing Wave Efficiency) modification for mouthpieces comes in? (or for that matter any Mouthpiece manufacturer that makes a heavyweight mouthpiece blank – I personally prefer Dr Daves Wedge Heavyweight Backbore myself)

I used an interesting analogy just the other day about the ‘feel’ of  playing a SWE mouthpiece. I’m not sure if this is the best analogy (perhaps better to explain a heavyweight leadpipe – but the concept is the same) Imagine picking up and old straw and blowing air down that straw in a stready stream – the straw will handle that level of air to a point – but what happens if you blow to hard or too soft? Does that level of air get sustained? Does the straw perhaps vibrate under those conditions? Then imagine getting a small metal pipe of the same internal proportions – but with extra mass around that straw. What happens? – the air is consistently delivered down the pipe under both loads and remains consistent.

Therefore is it better to have additional mass at the point of delivery? – Yes, I believe it does!

My theory (and it’s probably common science/physics) is that with the additional mass more energy is delivered into the horn where you need it to be – thus allowing better control on loud and soft volume. I also notice that with the lighter weight mouthpieces there is more physical feedback on the mouthpiece through the minute vibrations – and this is enough to throw you off ever so slightly when going to highs and lows in the range of the instrument.

I tested this theory out by purchasing a Curry 1.5DE mouthpiece and a Harrelson Modified version of the same mouthpiece then played them testing out the difference in feel, blow and slotting. To me the Harrelson was far superior in all 3 areas. Such a simple concept – and it works. Not only that but the modification just looks badass. (and all us trumpet players want to look cool right?)

Now the only question left is – can you justify the price tag to do this ‘tweak’? – or do add mass in another way?  For those with Curry mouthpieces – I suggest purchasing a Curry Monster Sleeve for significantly less.

For the rest of us the question remains to SWE or not to SWE!!

The question remains…