Plastic or Brass?

What every player should know about plastic mouthpieces compared to metal.

We offer a variety of materials in order to meet certain player requirements, and also to make it easier for players to try a Wedge mouthpiece. Materials include black Delrin plastic, Acrylic, and brass with silver or gold plating. We also offer stainless steel trumpet mouthpieces, but only by special order.

The “entry-level” Wedge is mouthpiece made of either Delrin or Acrylic. Delrin and Acrylic both have the advantage of always feeling warm to the touch. Delrin is softer than acrylic and feels as though it has a little give. For that reason it is great for players with braces. However, the surface of Delrin is quite sticky and some players find it slightly abrasive when they 1st start playing it. Acrylic has more grip than silver plated brass but less than Delrin. The stickiness of Delrin can reduce flexibility somewhat.

Delrin has a very dark sound which lacks brilliance and core. The sound is less resonant than brass. Notes do not slot as securely as with a brass mouthpiece. Acrylic has playing characteristics intermediate between Delrin and brass. Plastic mouthpieces speak very quickly. It is easy to start a note very quietly with either Delrin or acrylic. However, the point of the note with Delrin’s indistinct and lacks pop. Acrylic is also very responsive and has more point on the front of the note, sounding almost like brass.

Adding a brass tone modifier to a one piece plastic mouthpiece, or in the case of a trumpet, cornet, or flugelhorn mouthpiece, using a plastic top with a metal backbore, greatly improves the playing characteristics of plastic. In fact, and acrylic mouthpiece with a brass tone modifier or backbore is very difficult to distinguish from brass in terms of sound.

The next step up and the Wedge line is a silver plated brass mouthpiece. In most cases a silver plated brass mouthpiece is the best way to compare the playing characteristics of a Wedge mouthpiece to a regular mouthpiece since the only variable is the rim and cup design, rather than the material. Adding gold plating to a mouthpiece does not affect the way it sounds. Nor does it affect its thermal characteristics. Adding gold does make the rim more slippery and smoother feel them.

French horn rims are available in Delrin, Acrylic, or brass. Trombone screw rims are available in Delrin or brass. Plastic rims added to a brass cup have a somewhat darker sound than an all brass mouthpiece.

Stainless steel trumpet mouthpieces have great projection and a bright sound. However stainless steel is quite unforgiving if you do not hit the centre of the note. It is prone to splitting notes. The sound is somewhat difficult to manipulate to a warmer sound when desired.

Plastic and stainless steel are both options for players with allergies. Many players with allergies to silver or nickel can play the surgical stainless steel that we use for Wedge tops without encountering allergic problems.

What is the bottom line? For most players a silver plated brass mouthpiece will give the best performance. Some players actually prefer to play on the plastic mouthpiece either because of allergies or because they prefer the characteristics of the plastic rim. For players on a budget a plastic mouthpiece or plastic mouthpiece with a brass tone modifier is a great way to try a Wedge mouthpiece that for 90% of players will give superior performance to a metal mouthpiece with a conventional rim.