Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Schilke Trumpet Mouthpieces

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

You don’t have to be a lead player to appreciate the value of these fine trumpet mouthpieces by Schilke Music Products, Inc. The models I reviewed, Schilke’s 13, 13A4a, and the Faddis XL, are heavyweight mouthpieces geared toward players wishing to aid their upper register but not wanting to sacrifice their core sound. The concept of adding mass to the mouthpiece has been around for quite some time, and these heavyweight mouthpieces are being used by a growing number of trumpet players to obtain a darker, more focused sound. That extra mass also helps the notes “slot” better. And with many of the players also playing heavier-weighted trumpets, adding more mass to the mouthpiece can help them get the most out of the horn.

The 13A4a, one of Schilke’s best-selling mouthpieces, is exceptional for lead trumpet playing, and the heavyweight model can add more depth to the high register. The mouthpiece size breaks down like this: 13 is the diameter of the cup; the larger the number, the larger the cup diameter. A refers to the cup volume: A is small/shallow, B is medium small, C is standard size, D is medium large, and E is large. The smaller, shallow cups produce a brighter tone and aid the upper register. 4 refers to the rim contour, with 4 being a semi-flat rim. A no. 3 rim is standard. The lowercase a represents the size of the backbore: a is tight, b is straight and a little more open, c is standard size, d is medium large and slightly curved out, and e is a large backbore.

When the mouthpiece is labeled with just the number and no alterations, it means that the cup volume, rim contour and backbore are all standard sizes. The Schilke 13, which could be labeled 13C3c, would be a good mouthpiece to start on for someone wanting to work on their upper register/lead trumpet playing.

The Jon Faddis model is an extra-large, extra-heavy mouthpiece. It is very close to the standard no. 11 but with an extra-shallow cup. This design is based on a mouthpiece that was made for legendary jazz artist Faddis by mouthpiece maker Scott Laskey, when Laskey worked for Schilke. Faddis’ tone on this mouthpiece is very rich with a solid core.

These heavyweight mouthpieces are well suited for the established professional as well as for the up-and-coming student. Schilke’s rim contours make these mouthpieces a joy to play. With the different types of music you might be called on to perform, it’s a good idea to have several choices of mouthpieces with you at all times.

I used to play a Schilke 14A4a for a good deal of my studio work, when I would spend six to eight hours laying down horn tracks. Currently I play a stock no. 13 for this type of studio work. After playing these new models, I’ll be moving to the heavyweight 13.

Throughout the years I’ve known a great number of musicians who praise Schilke mouthpieces for their comfortable rims, and I have to say that Schilke’s rims make it possible for me to do whatever I need them to, whether playing in a Top 40 band or lead in a big band.

Schilke has always produced high-quality products, and these mouthpieces live up to those rigorous standards. The weight of these mouthpieces is evenly distributed to obtain as much of a core, focused sound as possible. As with any mouthpiece, you must spend some time playing them to really know if it’s for you or not. Renold O. Schilke once said, “[The] continuous seeking of the ‘perfect’ mouthpiece is certain to produce only frustration.” With the development of these mouthpieces, the company he founded has alleviated some of that frustration.

Originally Published