Mouthpiece safari has officially ended with Harrelson 5MM!
bobmiller1969 last edited by
Hello, everyone! I just want to take a moment to share my experience during my visit this past week at Harrelson trumpets. My wife was amazingly thoughtful when she got me plane tickets, hotel accommodations, setting up my appointment at Harrelson Trumpets, and giving me the green light to purchase a new $400 mouthpiece after I tried them out. I had some reservations at first, as I've been playing on mostly vintage equipment for the past 10+ years, and just plunked down about the same amount of money for a Mt. Vernon 3C, which up until my visit at Harrelson, was the best mouthpiece I've played on.
I know that many folks might say that the Mt. Vernon 3C is one of the "Holy Grail" trumpet mouthpieces, and I'd have to agree... mostly. It sounded great, and I was quite happy with it, but it did have some intonation issues. It played quite sharp in the lower register, as well as flat above the staff. This was manageable for the most part, and I thought that the extra work was worth it for the sound I was getting from using it. Nonetheless, I went out to Harrelson with an open mind, and lots of questions.
I met with Christine before Jason arrived, and she gave me a tour or the shop and showroom. I've seen so many of his YouTube videos, that I felt like I had been there before. Christine was super friendly, and we got started trying out some mouthpiece configurations. She set me up with something similar to my mouthpiece, and we kept trying different options until I found the right combination. She made a note on my invoice of a few of the other configurations I liked as well.
The first thing I experienced was that almost immediately, I realized that I needed to back off with my pressure, which isn't excessive, as well as my airflow. The mouthpiece has easily 2-3 times the mass of the Mt. Vernon, but responded almost effortlessly. Wow!
Jason arrived just as we settled on my configuration, and he took me over to try his horns. I tried one of the HT series first and was immediately impressed with how easy it was to play, even though it wouldn't have been the right leadpipe and bell combination for my style. I tried a couple of Summit trumpets, which were even better. Then I tried the Muse, along with the Gravity trumpet. I was floored! He setup the muse with a #4 leadpipe, and the #11 bell. In the lower register, it could play almost as dark as my flugelhorn, but when I pushed it a bit, it lit up, but with very little effort. The Gravity trumpet was insane! That one weighs in at just over 5 pounds, with huge bottom caps, and about a 1 inch thick solid brass leadpipe. Also, there is extra mass added to the valve block. I'm not sure I remember correctly, but I believe that it also had the #4 leadpipe, and a #7 bell. Looking at the horn, I was thinking that it would be stuffy, difficult to play, unresponsive. Wow!!! I could practically whisper into the mouthpiece, and the horn would just speak. I don't think I've ever been able to play at such a soft volume level with that amount of control. Jason was very friendly, and very relaxed. He wasn't trying to sell me anything, or being pushy at all. He happily answered all of my questions, and I must have spent about 4 hours there at the shop.
Bottom line, I have an amazing 5MM mouthpiece which is making it extremely difficult for me to put my horn down. I actually played for a few more hours with a practice mute back at the hotel. I'm also now 100% convinced that he makes the most efficient horns on the planet. (I haven't tried every horn on the planet yet, so I'll let you all know if that ever changes.) I'll be purchasing mouthpieces for my Flugel and cornet shortly, as well as some modifications for my Selmer until I can afford to take the plunge on a Muse MMXX of my own.
Anyone that's interested in an excellent condition Mt. Vernon 3C, you can find it listed on eBay and Reverb, along with quite a few of my other mouthpieces that I no longer require.
I know that Jason has quite a few haters on the forums, mostly from people that haven't played his horns or mouthpieces. That's a shame, really. He's a true innovator in my opinion. Maybe all of the science talk goes over most people's heads, or somehow puts them off. Everything he's doing makes complete sense, and now that I've experienced it first hand, I'm on team Harrelson!
I personally would not sell off the tried and true so soon. Wait 6 months and THEN you can be sure that the acclimation process is complete. I am not saying that there is something wrong with your choice. I am saying that we are creatures of habit and breaking old habits is a process that does not ALWAYS work.
That being said, my last mouthpiece switch was cold turkey in 1996 and I never looked back. I kept the old mouthpieces for a long time but never tried them out as the new mouthpiece stayed feeling good.
bobmiller1969 last edited by
@rowuk Thanks, Robin!
I totally get what you're saying about waiting. Although I do have the tendency to be impulsive, I don't think that this was one of those times. Besides, I can always get pretty much an exact duplicate by ordering a different cup and backbore. He has several huge binders of mouthpiece scans, so if there's ever something else I'm curious to try, we can replicate it. The Mt. Vernon 3C sounded great, but like I mentioned, the intonation issues were borderline unmanageable. Lipping the notes in tune above the staff changed the tone quality, as it was far off center. It almost seemed like the entire range of the instrument was compressed on both ends. It wasn't just a few wonky notes, it was more like notes would gradually go flat as I went higher, and more sharp as I played lower. Don't get me wrong, the 5MM isn't 100% perfect, as I'm finding that I need to use the 1st and 3rd slide a bit, but not on notes I needed to before. But, it's fixed the overall intonation throughout my entire range. The notes are just there where they're supposed to be.
Wait 6 months? My wife and I were engaged after dating less than 3 months, and that was 9 years ago! -Bob
Dr GO last edited by Dr GO
I love working with Jasson. On my original 5 mm, I had him copy with his rim cup measures from my Jettone Studio B (1970's vintage). He matched it to perfection (and I got it in gold as it feels so good on the lips). I use this one for lead playing. AND THE EXTRA BONUS is that I can add to the original front end, to a larger backbore attachment and that original resistance of the Jettone just melts away.
Then I had him duplicate my Kanstul G2 for small ensemble performance and again to perfection.
So last month, I got the bug to try the flattest rim he had, again, in gold. Then when I got it, it was almost unplayable when I substituted it on to the Kanstul G2. But I had some deeper rimmed options (that Jason includes with full kit orders which I had with my Jettone copy order), and took the deepest cup in the set and the larges backbore left in the set and WOW, I had an almost useless 5 mm rim, that NOW, with the cup and backbore turned the new combination into the darkest sounding and now most easily playable mouthpiece in my set. I am really loving this combination of 5 mm parts to when I play ballads. Just so soft, dark and sensual. Man does Harrelson 5 mms perform.
Totally worth the extra cost and with my last two combinations using prior kit parts, the rim only cost $100. So it was like getting an entirely new 5 mm for this price!
By the way, my original kit came with no charge through the deal I had for my trumpet purchase from him. The Kenstul G2 Kit did cost $450, but again, was it worth that to clean up the resistance of the original. ABSOLUTELY.