Mouthpiece Size Selection Guide
LOTUS mouthpieces’ cup sizes follow the same sizing convention as clothing, with XL (extra large) the largest cup, to XS (extra small) the smallest cup. The rim sizes, however mirror what trumpet players usually experience when shopping for a mouthpiece, with a 1 being the largest to 11, the smallest.
Our mouthpieces are machined from solid Brass, Bronze and Nickel Silver, and are coated in special LOTUS Golden coating, which is hypoallergenic, scratch resistant, and will not tarnish.
How do you determine the appropriate mouthpiece rim size?
LOTUS founder Adam Rapa spoke at length on this question during a LOTUS event at Ernie Williamson Music in St. Louis:
So, it's always easy to play smaller than your optimal rim. You just get a smaller sound.
I can play on a 7L or even a 9. I can play lead on an 11S or a 9S or even a 7S. But I like the 3, and that's because anything smaller doesn't help me at all; it just gives me a smaller sound. And anything larger gives me diminishing returns in the upper register.
So, it's always easy to play smaller than your optimal rim. But you just get a smaller sound....Playing the biggest rim size you can get away with is a better mark to shoot for, in my opinion. You keep going with a bigger rim size until all of a sudden you realize it’s not helping anymore
After a certain point, you'll just find that either your range gets cut off a bit, or that in that range, it's a little bit more sloppy.
I would say this is the opposite advice that I've heard from other professional trumpet players who say, play the smallest rim you can get away with. But that's just going to give you the smallest sound that you can tolerate.
Playing the biggest rim size you can get away with is a better mark to shoot for, in my opinion. You keep going with a bigger rim size until all of a sudden you realize it’s not helping anymore. Then you know where to stop.
Sometimes we see a student who comes in looking for a 1 because their teacher plays on that mouthpiece, but that student is very small and their mouth has half the diameter from side to side as a more mature adult, obviously that kid shouldn't be playing on a 1. We should find what gives that kid the right ratio of lip inside to outside of the mouthpiece.
Usually the easiest way to determine that is near the top of their range. If they're like, oh, this one's not as easy. Cool, good. So now we know where to stay.
People have said that they want to sound like me or another player, so they play the same rim and cup size as I do or another player they like.
But that might be too small or too large.
Have you found in general that more people have gravitated to a mouthpiece that is too large?
People tend to play on too big of mouthpiece. But I’ve seen players make the mistake of playing on too small of rim. Just yesterday I saw a guy who was playing on something that's just a tiny little lead mouthpiece.
And sure, we've got the 11 rim and the 9 rim, but then we got him on the 7, and it was no more difficult for him in the upper register, and his sound tripled.
So you see both, but I think it's typical among classical trumpet players especially to say, I'm playing on a 1 ¼ C because that's what my teacher told me I needed to do to have a big sound.
But it's completely asinine to say this size of mouthpiece is going to work perfectly for you.
I love the way Michael Jordan plays basketball, so I'm going to buy his size 15 shoes. Pay attention, maybe in this case to keep the analogy going, to which kinds of shoes they are, not that that's even going to make a big difference, but at least ensure that you're fitted for the right size.
So if you want to play the way that I play, if you want to be able to do what I can do in terms of getting from the low register to the upper register with no problems, no breaks, and being able to get a warm sound or a bright sound throughout, than I would say that it sounds like the medium cup is what you're going for.
But I'm playing on the 2 medium, and for that person it might be the 7 medium. What matters more isn't the diameter of the rim. It matters what's the ratio of lip inside versus outside of the cup.
So you can encourage people toward a particular cup type, but the rim has to be all about how it fits their mouth. And when you say rim, you're actually talking about the space inside, not the actual flat part—the diameter from left to right, how much of your lip is actually going inside the cup and vibrating.