As any wind instrument player will tell you, a mouthpiece can make or break you.
It’s like a “wand chooses the wizard” kind of thing. You have to find the right one for you AND the right one for your situation.
On trombones, it’s the same idea. So I took my experience as a brass player and teacher, combined with my many friends who play trombone at high levels (some professionally), and came up with this guide to the best trombone mouthpiece for every situation.
If you’re looking for the best overall trombone mouthpiece, you won’t go wrong with the Bach 6 1/2 AL. It’s your workhorse mouthpiece that will do pretty much anything for beginners and higher players alike.
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Table of Contents
Best Trombone Mouthpiece Reviews: Top Picks
There are a lot of specific situations in trombone playing where you may want to swap out your mouthpieces. In this case, check out these different options:
|Denis Wick 12CS
|Bach Trombone Mouthpiece 6 1/2 AL
Note: Please, please, please note this. Trombone mouthpieces come in different shank sizes and types. There are bass trombones, alto trombones, soprano trombones, tenor trombones (this is the standard one), and more.
Make sure you get the right size and type for your instrument.
I can’t link to each and every iteration; there would be a million links. Make sure the size matches, please!
Tenor trombones can use both small and large shanks, depending on the model. Look yours up and look up the mouthpiece you already have.
Bass trombones only use large shank mouthpieces.
Best Trombone Mouthpiece For High Notes
High notes are where the solo trombonist lives. If you’re the first chair or principal trombone player in your group, you’ll want one of these mouthpieces too.
In general, the mouthpiece needs to have a rounded rim and a smaller cup to help with the higher play.
This will keep your lips nice and tight and provide enough back pressure to help your notes soar.
The best one I’ve found from asking around is the Bach 5G (more on that below), but other good options are:
- Bach 6 1/2 AL
- Schilke 52C
- Andoer Trombone Mouthpiece
The Bach 5G is like most other Bach mouthpieces for trombones; they’re awesome.
Bach mouthpieces have a strong reputation in the brass family, but it’s especially true with trombones.
I asked several people for their recommendations on high mouthpieces, and every single one had the 5G on their list.
Why? It helps you play the upper register without sacrificing the depth of tone you get from some smaller mouthpieces.
The action is good, and it sits comfortably on most lips.
Best Trombone Mouthpiece For Low Notes
Trombones are in that funny yet useful range where they can be expected to play higher and lower with some regularity.
In fact, some small ensembles will use a bass trombone as a replacement for the tuba.
Great mouthpieces for low notes need to have larger cups. Large shanks help too, but you’ll find a small shank with a nice deep cup too.
If the rim is a little sharper, it’ll help with getting some of the lower notes to speak too. A wider rim diameter also makes a difference.
The cup shape may help somewhat. A U shape is pretty standard, but a V shape will enhance the tone and make it darker.
This may be ideal for you, depending on your situation.
Of the options (and there are many), I think the Schilke 51D is one of the best for low notes. More on this one in a moment.
Here are some other ones to try if you don’t want this one:
- Bach 6 1/2 AL
- Yamaha YAC Doug Yeo Edition
- Blessing Mouthpieces
The Schilke mouthpiece is one I know well from my time spent playing the tuba.
This brand of brass instrument mouthpiece usually features a deep cup and rim that sits perfectly between round and sharp.
Both of these are present in their trombone mouthpiece, and they won’t break the bank.
Plus, you can’t go wrong with the little darker tone this mouthpiece will borrow from the tuba, especially if you’re trying to play lower.
This is an excellent choice, but just check that trombone mouthpiece size before buying.
Best Trombone Mouthpiece For Jazz
The trombones are hugely popular in jazz music.
I recently wrote an article about the best trombone players of all time (check it out at the link), and most of them were jazz artists.
While it may not get as much attention as the saxophone in this genre, the trombone is well-established as a solo and ensemble instrument.
Jazz mouthpieces are varied in what is recommended.
In general, you want something a little brighter in tone to stick out as a solo when needed. A good response and not too deep of a cup will help too.
The Dennis Wick 12CS is one of the best out there (more details in a bit).
Other good options include:
- Bach 6/12 AL
- Bach 5G
- Bach 6
Denis Wick 12CS
This quality mouthpiece sits in the middle in terms of cup size, shape, and back bore. All of this adds up to a perfectly versatile mouthpiece with a brilliant sound.
Better yet is the response time brought on by the balance. Jazz trombone needs to play well in a variety of styles and ranges, so this is the way to go.
Best Trombone Mouthpiece For Orchestra
Orchestral trombones are a whole other animal from almost any other style.
Trombones tend to be brighter than some of the other brass instruments (like the French Horn and Tuba), so the brighter sound you’ll get in jazz may not always be ideal.
To make up for it, trombonists want a deeper cup, maybe V shape, with a moderately sharp rim.
In orchestral trombone, people tend to play either trombone 1, 2, or bass trombone. As such, you’ll be in a stable range.
Trombone 1s may want to opt for a higher mouthpiece. 2 will need a good all-around one.
The bass trombone will do well with a dark sound and a deep one.
The Yamaha YAC is designed by orchestral greats and is the perfect way to go. Other good options include:
- The Curran
- Vincent Bach 6 1/2 AL
- Jean Baptise 12C
- Yamaha 52
Yamaha is a large company with a focus on classical instrumentation. As such, they have access to a large number of funds on top of their reputation.
For their mouthpieces, they’ll often ask for consultation with professionals.
The YAC is no exception. Doug Yeo, one of the best bass trombonists and teachers in the world, helped make this fit perfectly with the desired orchestral sound.
It’s got a rich tone for advanced players and professional players. The larger throat helps too!
Best Trombone Mouthpiece For Beginners
For beginners, I don’t always believe you need a different mouthpiece than just a good all-around one.
If it’s good enough for the pros, it’s good enough for beginners.
A deep cup and large bore won’t always work, though. So go for a moderate one.
You don’t need a super small diameter or cup size. A medium one will do more than fine.
The Bach 6.5 AL is the best overall trombone mouthpiece, and it is the best for beginner trombone players too.
Warning! You MUST make sure, with beginners, you have the right shank size. Tenor trombones for beginners have a higher tendency to be small shank ones.
Other good beginner mouthpieces include:
- Yamaha 52
- Blessing 6.5
- Blessing 12C
- Faxx 6.5 AL*
*This one is the most affordable without being a piece of junk. It’s not as good as the rest, but it’ll do.
Bach Trombone Mouthpiece 6 1/2 AL
To a person, every single band director and trombone player I asked said the Bach 6.5AL was the best for a beginner overall.
High schoolers may grow out of it as they play lower and lower, but it’ll never be such a difference that they need to switch right there.
I know a number of adult and trained musicians who still play on this one. Why? It’s just solid all-around. It’s flexible and plays in any style, and the rim and shape of the cup help your rich sound.
This is the first one to try if you’re looking to upgrade.
You don’t have to sacrifice quality sound and stick beginners with the bright tone of a crappy small mouthpiece.
Best Trombone Mouthpiece For Marching Band
Marching band trombone mouthpieces are funny to think about.
If you’re playing at high levels (like you were in Drum Corps), they’ll likely give you a mouthpiece to play on.
If not, pick something you’re not afraid to get damaged in the weather. So, a mouthpiece on a budget is the way to go.
Mouthpieces in marching bands are also much more likely to be dropped.
I also recommend considering a plastic one. You’ll sacrifice a bit in tone and power, but you won’t have to battle poor tuning or your lips sticking in cold weather.
Plastic mouthpieces like the Kelly 12-C below have come a long way. They’re actually pretty good on their own now!
Don’t play them in an indoor ensemble, or you’ll sacrifice too much, but the marching band is the perfect place for it.
Other good ones include:
- Glory 6.5
- Blessing 6.5
- Eastrock 6.5 AL
- Yamaha 48L
The Kelly 12-C is plastic yet durable. Its cup size is a little smaller, but well-designed. It’ll help you project when outside without sacrificing pitch.
There’s not much more to say about this other than it’s the best plastic trombone mouthpiece out there, and it’s designed for outdoor play, such as in a marching band.