The Wedge mouthpiece was invented by Dr. Dave Harrison, an ER doctor and trumpet player who was unhappy with the out dated design of traditional mouthpieces. By using his medical knowledge, recognized theories about why some players have “natural” high chops, and extensive testing, the Wedge mouthpiece was born. The design has undergone years of refinement since the original patent application in 2007. Harrison Mouthpieces, Inc. now offers a complete line of mouthpieces for trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn, French horn trombone, euphonium, and tuba.
The Wedge Mouthpiece
What Is The Wedge Mouthpiece?
How Will The Wedge Change My Playing Experience?
Players switching to a Wedge mouthpiece can expect:
What Makes The Wedge So Unique?
Watch Video of Dr. Dave Explaining how the Wedge mouthpiece works.
There are many excellent mouthpieces and mouthpiece manufacturers. Many claim that their products provide advantages over others, and all manufacturers describe their own products in glowing terms. However, with rare exceptions all brass mouthpieces share similar fundamental design and playing characteristics. The Wedge is different. Its unique design allows 80 to 90% of players to experience a significant improvement in musical performance.
The basic Wedge design is the same for all brass mouthpieces, but the curves are most obvious on the trumpet mouthpiece, so we will use it for illustration. Viewed from the side in the playing position you can see that the rim is not flat. It curves away from the player at the sides of the rim, where the corners of he embouchure form.
The curve follows the natural shape of the teeth, which in most people forms and arch from top to bottom. It transfers pressure away from the sides of the rim at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock and onto the top and bottom rim at 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock, making the Wedge mouthpiece very comfortable. The Wedge is especially comfortable for players with braces, because it curved rim arches over them.
The next image shows the mouthpiece viewed in the position it would be in just before being brought up to play. We are looking at it from bottom rim to top rim. You can see how the rim at the sides slopes away from the player from inside to outside. The high point of the rim is moved to the extreme inside of the contour. The outside of the rim is not in contact with the lips. The side rim therefore feels more narrow than the top and bottom rim.
Mouthpieces with a narrow rim improve flexibility because the rim doesn’t pin down the embouchure. The down side of these so called cookie cutter rims is that they can be uncomfortable. With the Wedge design the wider top and bottom rims support the mouthpiece while the narrow side rims provide flexibility, so you get the advantage of a narrow rim without the usual discomfort.
Reducing rim pressure at the sides improves circulation and reduces swelling of the embouchure. The lips get fresh blood from the arteries that run from the corners of the lips to the middle. Venous blood and lymph, which are responsible for swelling of the lips, are drained away in the opposite direction. The pressure of a conventional rim where it crosses the blood and lymphatic vessels at the side of the rim blocks their flow, sort of like stepping on a garden hose. The blockage of flow in and out causes fatigue and swelling. The Wedge rim reduces fatigue and swelling by greatly reducing this blockage.
More Efficient Oval Shape
The other important feature of the Wedge rim is the oval shape. The inner diameter of the rim is larger from top to bottom than from side to side. For trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn, and French horn mouthpieces the oval shape continues into the cup. The embouchure forms a sort of “lip aperture”, though this is not truly a continuous hole. Instead, it opens and closes at the frequency of the pitch being played on the horn. The resonance of the horn allows a standing wave to be formed at the pitches we all know are available on a trumpet.
There are two things that drive the trumpeter’s ability to control pitch: the tension or force in the lips and the mass of the vibrating portion of the lips. Ultimately, it is the vibrating mass that really controls things. The player controls the aperture size (hence the vibrating mass). This requires fine control of the embouchure and flexibility.
The Wedge rim improves both control and flexibility, and provides a good grip to hold the aperture in place for a given note/volume. It is well recognised that a shallower cup generally produces greater ease in the upper register and a more brilliant tone. However, with a conventional rim the trade off is often a lower register that sounds nasal and lacking in resonance. One unique feature of the Wedge design is that it produces a richer lower register from shallow cups.
More Focused Embouchure
Decreased pressure at the sides of the mouthpiece encourages the player to activate the corners of the embouchure, producing a more efficient, forward focused, finely tuned aperture. The rim shape also discourages young players from using too much pressure, and from using a “smiling” embouchure, since neither of these undesirable playing habits work with the Wedge.
Easier to Take Breaths
The improved mobility at the corners and solid contact with the top and bottom lip make it easier to open the corners and to return them to the optimal playing position when taking a quick breath.
Ability to Down-size if Desired
While smaller mouthpieces do enhance upper register response a bit, they can also be constrictive and make it more difficult for the player to adjust the aperture size as needed. This often means reduced flexibility, and produces difficulty in accessing the lower register. With the Wedge rim the player has more flexibility as result of the rim contour and the oval shape, so that a smaller diameter can be used without the usual decrease in flexibility. Despite the relatively narrower width, the longer vertical axis provides a big sound and feel of a larger mouthpiece.
Increased Response and Range from Top to Bottom
The Wedge mouthpiece in most cases increases range. It does not do this the way a shallow or small mouthpiece does by producing a bias towards upper register performance. By giving the player a rim and cup contour that allows for a balance between freedom of motion of the corners (thus controlling the center) and grip of the mouthpiece rim (thus allowing the player to keep the center focused on the air stream as volume increases or decreases), a smoother and increased range can be achieved. Both lower register and upper register performance is enhanced, producing a bigger sound throughout the entire range of the horn. The ability to improve the ease and sound of the upper and lower at the same time is a unique property of the Wedge rim that is not offered by any other design.
Questions You May Have
Is it a gimmick?
The Wedge not a gimmick, as defined as a cheap trick designed to attract attention and without genuine value. It is simply a new tool that players can choose as an alternative to a conventional rim. Thousands of players have discovered that it is indeed a “better mousetrap” with genuine, significant, and sustained benefits for their playing year after year.
Haven't there been oval mouthpieces before?
The oval mouthpieces produced 100 years ago were quite different than the Wedge design. They were designed to orient the oval shape horizontally so as to maximise the contact between the embouchure and the mouthpiece and distribute pressure as evenly as possible. The design of the Wedge mouthpiece is exactly the opposite. The long axis of the oval is vertical and the shape is designed to distribute pressure unevenly around the circumference of the rim, reducing surface area contact at the sides where the old models sought to increase it.
Can a mouthpiece really make that much difference? Why not just practice more?
Some people object to the idea that an advance in technology could actually enhance human performance, despite dozens of illustrations that it does. Take for example advances in tennis rackets, golf clubs, speed skates, downhill skis, and even brass instruments. Down hill skiers are not admonished to use wooden skis and lace-up leather boots and just spend more time practising their turns. Why do so many brass players respond to the idea of using a more advanced mouthpiece with a cartoon of Batman slapping Robin with the admonition “Long Tones”? It is slightly amusing, but actually quite wrong. You might question whether or not a given mouthpiece design actually is better, and in fact you should question it, but that is a different matter. Where is the wisdom in suggesting that you should use less efficient equipment if a better alternative can make your playing of long tones more productive?
The Wedge mouthpiece is not an alternative to practising. It is simply a unique mouthpiece design that many players find more comfortable and more efficient than a conventional rim. The Wedge is simply a potential new tool to be considered.
Who is using the Wedge?
Thousands of players have converted to the Wedge since it appeared on the market late in 2007. The Wedge mouthpiece is used by members of Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, National Ballet Orchestra of Canada, Quebec Symphony Orchestra, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, St Louis Symphony Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Calgary Philharmonic, Michigan Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, Seattle Opera, Kansas City Symphony, La Scala Orchestra, Boston Phil, Buzz Brass, Gomalan Brass, Presidio Brass, Philadelphia Brass, BBC Orchestra in Wales, numerous military bands in Canada, the US, and the UK, and by thousands commercial, jazz, and freelance artists all over the world. We are very pleased to have Chuck Findley as our most recent endorsing artist with his own line of signature Wedge mouthpieces.
The majority of our customers are professional musicians, but the design is equally beneficial for players at all levels, including beginners. The way in which the Wedge rim encourages the formation of a proper embouchure and discourages the use of excessive pressure, and the advantages it offers to players with braces, have made it very popular with educators of young players.
Brandon Ridenour – Trumpet Soloist and Clinician
Endurance has been the biggest advantage in switching to the Wedge. Now, when I get to the end of a solo or quintet concert, I feel like I could play another one! The shape of the rim distributes the pressure in a way that allows any efficient player to play for hours on end. Wedge mouthpieces provide excellent focus for both sound and pitch.
Will the Wedge work for me?
About 90% of people play better when using a properly fitted Wedge compared to their performance on a comparable conventional mouthpiece. However, the Wedge is not for everyone. A few people are better off playing on a conventional rim. Our return rate on mouthpieces sold over the internet is about 15%. Some of these people play better on a regular rim, and some just did not figure out the right size.
How long does it take to adjust?
Adjusting to a Wedge is very easy for most players. Acclimatisation time varies, but most players find they play better on the Wedge right away fully adjust to the new rim shape within a few days. Many of our customers have successfully used the Wedge in performance within hours of first trying it, although we do suggest a slightly longer adjustment period.
We recommend that if you are not playing better on the Wedge than on your regular mouthpiece within 2 or 3 days that you contact us to discuss your situation. You might need a different size. We do not recommend struggling for weeks or months while adjusting to any mouthpiece unless you have made a major change in size for a very specific and well thought out reason. The 90 day trial period is longer than necessary and is intended to reassure customers that that they will have enough time to give the mouthpiece a full evaluation.
Is there a honeymoon period?
The honeymoon period refers to what sometimes happens when changing mouthpieces, especially to one that provides an initial improvement in performance. After a number of days or weeks the initial benefits diminish and the player returns to his or her original baseline range and endurance. It has been suggested that this might result from the chops getting accustomed to the “crutch” provided by the changed characteristic that provided the initial improvement (often a smaller or shallower cup), and becoming weak or “lazy”.
Most players do not experience a honeymoon period when switching to the Wedge. This is because of the unique way in which the Wedge improves performance. The Wedge works by freeing your chops to respond without being restricted by the unnecessary contact between the mouthpiece and lips at the corners. This is a fundamental difference between the Wedge and some other “range enhancing” mouthpieces. As a result the improvement seen with the Wedge is sustained and actually increases over a matter of weeks, and in some cases months.
Will trying the Wedge damage or change my embouchure?
Trying the Wedge will not damage your embouchure. If you try the Wedge and find after a few days that you are not playing better than before you should go back to your old mouthpiece. Doing so will not impair your ability to play the original equipment.
Switching to the Wedge mouthpiece does sometimes produce an improvement in the embouchure over time. We know this because many players tell us that as they adapt to the Wedge their playing improves over weeks or months. If they then try their old mouthpiece they find that they play it better than before, although the Wedge still out-performs their original gear. This suggests that a subtle, beneficial change has occurred in the embouchure over several weeks.
If you play the Wedge for a few months or years and then decide to return to a conventional rim you should have no difficulty switching back. There are no deleterious effects from playing a Wedge rim, only beneficial ones. It discourages the use of too much pressure and encourages the use of a more forward focused embouchure.
Can I play the Wedge in combination with other mouthpieces?
Most players are able to alternate between a Wedge rim and conventional rim. Alternating works well as long as you spend a reasonable amount of time on both rims. However, most players who convert to the Wedge rim eventually change all their mouthpiece because they do not like be handicapped by a conventional rim. We do offer discounts to players who need to purchase a number of Wedge mouthpieces for various instruments.
I am concerned about trying a mouthpiece by mail order. What if it isn’t a good fit?
We are very understanding of players who want to send their mouthpiece back for a return or exchange. That is why we offer a 90 day return policy. Our priority is in helping players, not selling mouthpieces. If your mouthpiece seems to be the wrong size we will work with you to find the right size. If in the end our mouthpiece does not allow you to play better, we want it back.
How long will it take to receive my Wedge?
Due to our ever growing popularity and demand for Wedge mouthpieces we just manage to keep up with orders. As a result, your mouthpiece will probably ship one to two weeks after you place your order.
Free airmail takes 1-2 weeks from when we ship to reach most destinations. If you would like faster shipping please select Express Post or FedEx shipping. Express Post usually reduces transit time 3 to 4 days.
Please note that customers are required to pay any applicable VAT or other import taxes on orders shipped to EU countries. We do not refund VAT.
Why does the Wedge cost more?
The slightly higher cost of the Wedge mouthpiece is the number one concern of players thinking about trying one, so it is an issue that we feel requires an explanation.
There are good reasons why the Wedge costs more than some other mouthpieces, although not as muach as others.
We set our prices as low as we can in order to provide the best possible value and to reamain viable as a business. We honestly believe that for most players the the significant improvement in comfort and performance provided by the Wedge mouthpiece is more than worth the price. To get a similar increase in performance by upgrading your instrument you would have to pay many times the cost of a Wedge mouthpiece, if it were possible at all.
We do recognising that spending extra on a new mouthpiece design is a big investment and a leap of faith. That is why we want you to send the mouthpiece back for a full refund if it is not worth every penny of your investment. You will only need a few days to figure out if the Wedge is for you, but we give you almost three months. How many other mouthpiece manufacturers stand behind their product with that kind of service and guarantee?
How do I get a Wedge?
The best way to try a Wedge is usually to take advantage of our FREE SHIPPING and order through our secure online store. Click the photos below to find out about options for your particular instrument.
We make a wide selection of mouthpiece sizes for all playing situations, so we can almost always find a mouthpiece that suits you. However, if it turns out the Wedge is not for you we provide the best guarantee in the mouthpiece industry.
Ready to find the perfect mouthpiece? Head over to our online store.
Want help choosing the best size for you? Complete our online fitting survey.