I happen to be surfin’ the net the other day, and came across your web-site. Having been once a student of trumpet years ago and my best friend’s Dad was a highly respected trumpet player in the Warner Bros. orchestra from the late fifties to early sixties..(Larry Sullivan), thought I would relay this message:
We, as 12 year old boys, would often accompany Larry on brief trips to the studio in Hollywood or Glendale to have mouth pieces made. I have memories of Carroll Purviance, hunched over his lathe, maybe slightly intoxicated and weeping, talking to Larry about his life. Later, Larry would always compliment us for not laughing or acting up on the way home. He always made it clear though, that Mr. Purviance was the absolute master at what he does, no matter what his state of mind. Nice to know that his name still lingers and represents this.”
Here is an excellent video we came across of long-time friend and customer Chuck Findley playing Nature Boy with full orchestra in Europe. Enjoy!
On a regular basis, we receive a call or email at the shop that takes on the same basic form:
“Hi, I play on a ABC mouthpiece on a XYZ model trumpet. What sleeve would give me the best gap.”
Usually, our customers are shocked when our answer is a resounding, “I don’t know!” After all, Bob Reeves invented and patented the adjustable gap receiver and sleeve system 40 years ago. How the heck couldn’t we know?
The answer is simple – we only know two of the three variables needed to determine the best gap and really, we don’t know any of the three variables unless we have your mouthpiece and trumpet here in the shop for analysis.
The Player-Trumpet-Mouthpiece System
It is critical to realize that there are three elements that must be analyzed in assessing your equipment – the trumpet, the mouthpiece, and you, the player. It seems silly, but most players forget the most important element – you!
How The Gap Relates to the Player-Trumpet-Mouthpiece System
Think of the gap as a fine tuning device. It is a way to dial in your trumpet, with your mouthpiece, to the way you like to play. Let’s say we know the exact size of your trumpet mouthpiece shank and the receiver on your trumpet. There is still no way we (or anyone else in the world, for that matter) can know what you like to feel in your trumpet equipment.
The Shoe Analogy
Think of it like shoes. Imagine you wear a size 9 shoe. Let’s go one step further and say you wear a 9 Wide shoe. I could send you 10 pairs of size 9W shoes and I would bet that some would feel more comfortable than others. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that there would be some shoes, despite being your measured size, will feel downright uncomfortable to walk around in. The best shoe salesman in the world cannot blindly tell you which brand will feel comfortable to you until you try them on.
Put Yourself First!
Just like the shoe analogy above, only you know what feels comfortable to you. Put another way, no one can tell you what will work for you (if they do quickly run the other way!).
So how do you find what works for you? Experiment. Our paper trick is a great way to discover what role the gap plays in your unique Player-Trumpet-Mouthpiece System.
I had the pleasure of visiting our Japanese distributor, Shires Co., during my recent vacation to Tokyo. Sanada-san (left) is the owner, and his store is a brass players’ dream with new and vintage trumpets and trombones lining the walls in beautiful displays. Nakagawa-san (second from the left) and Kazutaka-san (right) are trumpet experts and provide the highest level of service to their customers.
My wife and I had a great time visiting the shop and enjoyed some amazing sushi and Fugu, which at the time, we did not know it was the famous blowfish.
I was also lucky to see some customers that have done work with Bob Reeves and myself before. Mukaide-san is a professional trumpet player at Tokyo DisneySea. We did a valve alignment on his vintage Calicchio during our last visit in 2006. He is the leader of a band that plays regularly in the park. He sounded great, and was nice enough to pose for a picture with me!
If you find yourself in Tokyo, please by all means drop by their shop and try out some horns and maybe even a Bob Reeves Mouthpiece or two!
Bud was a long time friend and customer of mine. I had done some work for him before, including aligning his Holton Bb trumpet #516449, when in 1978 he visited my shop.
When I asked Bud what I could do for him he said, “I want you to make a new and improved Bob Reeves’ version of my Herrick mouthpiece.”
“You got it!” I replied.
He was playing a custom Burt Herrick piece (pictured left) that I had altered the shank on before. It was a completely custom mouthpiece – hand carved rim and cup, short length and a complex backbore.
It took me most of the morning and afternoon to get the piece done. I was able to modify the piece from the original to give him a little more sound for less work.
I had barely taken it out of the silver-plating tank when he grabbed it out of my hand and started running for the door.
“I have a session I have to get to. Thanks for the piece!” Bud said running out of the shop.
“Hey, don’t you want to take the old one with you just in case?” I yelled out, chasing after him with his old Burt Herrick piece in my hand. I couldn’t believe he would show up to a studio session with a new, untested piece.
“What the hell do I need that old thing for…yours is better isn’t it?”
I stood there speechless.
The session ended up being one of his best recordings with Henry Mancini. He never came back for his old piece, where it has been sitting in the same drawer for 30 years.
There are a few good Youtube videos of long time customer and friend, Doc Severinsen. There are a couple of great shots of his Bob Reeves Mouthpiece. Enjoy!
For those of you who haven’t discovered it yet, our Mouthpiece Advisor has been an invaluable tool for trumpet players switching over to the Bob Reeves’ mouthpiece line.
We have hundreds of mouthpiece makes and models in our database, from the complete Vincent Bach mouthpiece line, to Schilke, Monette, and GR mouthpieces.
Here is a partial list of the mouthpiece makers we have listed:
- Bob Reeves
- Greg Black
If you can’t find your particular make and model, look for a comparable model from another manufacturer to see if that is listed. If there is nothing close, give us a call and we can assist you.
2008 marks the 40th anniversary of Bob Reeves opening up shop. In commemoration of this feat, we have started up this blog that will feature news, equipment advice, and plenty of great stories from Bob’s arsenal (at least those that can be repeated!).
Our blog will be updated frequently, so check back regularly!