Over the course of his extensive career, Maynard Ferguson experimented with different mouthpieces and trumpets. Below is an overview of the evolution of his equipment over time.
May 4, 1928: Walter Maynard Ferguson was born in Verdun, Quebec, Canada.
1939-1941 while living in Canada: Rudy Muck 13C created by Rudy Muck. Maynard sanded down this mouthpiece to make use of the V portion of the cup. John DiStaldo may also have created a mouthpiece for him around this time which had a concave V cup. Maynard used a large bore Selmer, extra-large bore Bach (1952-53), a Martin Committee Model, and a Calicchio trumpet during these years.
1948: Maynard moved to the U.S. and played with bands led by Boyd Raeburn, Jimmy Dorsey and Charlie Barnet
1950: Maynard joined Stan Kenton’s Orchestra
1953-1956: Maynard was a sessions player for Paramount Pictures in Hollywood, CA
1955: Maynard played a Martin Committee Model trumpet
1955 in Los Angeles: Custom mouthpiece created by Dominick Calicchio. This mouthpiece had a round inside rim with a diameter of around .623” (but hard to measure accurately due to the roundness). Built on the concept of the modified 13C, it had a shallow concave V cup (also called a V bowl) and a #26 throat. This mouthpiece was eventually nicknamed “The Holy Grail”. It was eventually copied and sold under the name “Groovin High”. Maynard was using his Conn Constellation 38B trumpet (.438 bore) during this time. Recordings during this period include: “Boy with Lots of Brass”, and “Birdland Dream Band” Vol. 1&2. Legends Brass similar pieces: MF HG and Funkin Groovin.
1956: Maynard became leader of the Birdland Dream Band
1963-1969 in New York and India: Giardinelli MF1 created by Robert Giardinelli and machinist Jack Onque. This mouthpiece had the same rounded inside rim, but the inside diameter was smaller at about .590”. The cup was more of a straight V shape and was slightly deeper than the Calicchio mouthpiece. The throat was still a #26. Maynard used this mouthpiece during his years in New York with the Birdland Dream Band, and during his years in India (1967-1969). He was still using his Conn Constellation 38B (.438 bore) trumpet. Recordings during this period included: “Maynard ‘63” and “The Maynard Ferguson Sextet”. Legends Brass similar piece: MF1.
1969-1973 in London, England: FBL mouthpieces created by Jack Bell. These mouthpieces all had the same rounded rim shape, with an inside diameter of .613”. The cup shape was a straight V with a #26 throat. There were three cup depths: FBL TS (or FBL personal), which was shallow, FBL TM (medium depth), and FBL TD (deepest depth). He may have used these interchangeably as needed to get the best sound. At this time Maynard was using his Liberator trumpet (.462 bore). Recordings during this time included: “M.F. Horn”, “M.F. Horn 2”, and “M.F. Horn 3” including the songs “MacArthur Park”, “Give It One”, and “Hey Jude”. Legends Brass similar pieces: MF FBL TS, MF FBL TM, and MF FBL TD.
1973 in Ojai, California: Holton MF1, MF3 and MF6. These were the next variation of Maynard’s mouthpieces, but were still similar in many ways to the Giardinelli MF1 and FBL series. The inside rim was still very round (and difficult to measure accurately) but the inside diameter was a little smaller at about .590”. The cup was now a slightly convex V shape. The MF1 stayed with a #26 throat, but the MF6 had a much larger #19 throat. The MF1 and MF6 had a shallow cup similar in depth to the FBL TS (Personal), but the difference in throat size creates different nuances in cup shape. The MF3, on the other hand, had a slightly wider inside diameter and a cup depth similar to the FBL TM. Maynard was using the Holton ST301 (.468 bore) and ST 302 (.468 bore) trumpets during this time. Recordings during this time include “M.F. Horn 4 & 5: Live at Jimmy’s” and “Chameleon”. Legends Brass similar pieces: MF1 and MF6.
1970’s – 1980’s in Ojai, California: Jet-Tone MF Personal, M.F. #2, and M.F. #3 created by Bill Ratzenberger at Jet-Tone. The MF Personal had an inside diameter of .593”, shallow convex V cup, and #19 throat. The M.F. #2 had an inside diameter of .625”, slightly deeper convex V cup, and #24 throat. The M.F. #3 had a .656” inside diameter, convex V cup about the same depth as the #2, and a #26 throat. Maynard was playing a .468 bore Holton trumpet during this time. Recordings during this time included “Primal Scream” including “Pagliacci”, “Conquistador” including “Gonna Fly Now (Theme from Rocky)”, “Carnival” including “Birdland”, “Stella by Starlight”, and “Theme from Battlestar Galactica”, and “New Vintage” including “Star Wars” and “Airegin”. Legends Brass similar pieces: JT MF, JT MF Master, JT MF Monster, JT MF2, JT MF3.
1986: Maynard formed the High Voltage Septet
1988: Maynard formed Big Bop Nouveau
1986-1990 in Ojai, California: Schilke MF1 and MF2. These mouthpieces were made by Scott Laskey at Schilke. They were copied from his Jet-Tone mouthpieces. The MF1 had more of a bowl shaped or double cup, and the MF2 was very similar to the Jet Tone personal model. The throat may have been a #24 or #19. Maynard was still using a Holton ST 302 (.468 bore) or ST 306 (.468 bore) trumpet at this time. Recordings included: “High Voltage Vol. 1”, “High Voltage Vol. 2”, and “Big Bop Nouveau”
1992 – 2006 in Ojai, California: Monette MFII and MFIII made by Dave Monette. Noted as the first major change in trumpet mouthpiece specs for Maynard. The MF II has an inside diameter of .636” a medium shallow cup depth, and #16 throat. The MF III has slightly wider inside rim diameter, slightly more bite to the rim, and Monette’s “SLAP” cup. Maynard by this time also used a Monette trumpet (.464 bore). Recordings during this time include “One More Trip to Birdland”, “Brass Attitude”, and “M.F. Horn VI: Live at Ronnie’s”. Legends Brass similar pieces: L-MFII and L-MFIII.
Throughout the evolution of his mouthpieces, Maynard favored a flat rim with a rounded contour on the inside and outside edges. The inside diameter was often hard to quantify because of the roundness, but was usually around .590”-.636”. The cup shape was a concave V (or V bowl) early on, moved to a straight V with the Giardinelli and FBL mouthpieces, was a slightly convex V with the Holtons, and eventually a more pronounced convex V shape with the Jet-Tones. He favored a larger-than-stock throat size. It ranged from #26 – #19 or even larger. With the Monette mouthpieces he went in a new direction with a different cup shape and larger inside diameter.
Over the course of his career he never stopped adapting and changing. His talent transcended his equipment, and his music is still just as powerful and exciting and compelling today as it was during his lifetime. Happy Birthday Maynard!
*Note: It’s often really hard to pin down exact specs on a particular mouthpiece. Handmade mouthpieces have considerable variation. Sometimes (usually) Maynard had personal pieces with specs different from the stock pieces sold under his name. The curved nature of the rim makes it difficult to measure accurately. The above information was gathered from internet sources and online forums and may not be scientifically exact. I’ve been as accurate as possible. Feel free to add to this list and offer corrections in the comments.