August 30, 2019
Randy Dunn, professional trumpet player based in the Houston area, kindly submitted the following reviews.
Learn more about Randy Dunn here. Scroll down to see the YouTube video from Randy’s channel: Trumpet Talk.
I received my two new Legends Brass trumpet mouthpieces on Saturday afternoon at about 4:00pm. I had already practiced the trumpet quite a bit that day (had no gig that night), and so I was really done with all of the practicing that I had planned on doing for the day. (I usually start my practicing fairly early in the morning, and I do several practice sessions throughout the day until I’m done.) But, I was really excited and anxious to try out the new mouthpieces, at least a little bit, for as much as my tired chops could stand, so I gave the mouthpieces their fist “test drive.”
Legends Brass JT CS .600″
I tried out the Legends Brass .600” JT CS (Charlie Shavers) mouthpiece (with standard configuration: #27 throat, “S” backbore, and Legends JT blank), first playing lyrically a bit in the middle and low registers to warm up and adjust to the new mouthpiece. The mouthpiece felt great, and it also sounded great, and it was incredibly easy to blow in all registers, and most surprising, my lips didn’t feel the least bit tired, even though I had been playing the trumpet all day already (with my old mouthpieces.) Continuing my test of that new JT CS mouthpiece, I then started gradually taking it up to the top of my range (all the way up to double-high C, and a bit above), and I was totally amazed at how much easier it was to play up there in that register on that mouthpiece—and with a huge, fat, beautiful sound. This was a great improvement over the other lead trumpet mouthpieces that I had been playing on before. Immediately, I could also tell that my endurance and my extended lead range would be able to last much longer on gigs and rehearsals with this mouthpiece. And, with my old mouthpieces, I could usually make it up to double-high C, but it was a struggle as I got to the top of my range especially, and it required much more work and effort, and sometimes those top notes were rather anemic-sounding on the old mouthpiece—especially on days when my chops were tired or in bad shape. The new Legends Brass mouthpiece instantly made these notes sound fatter, louder, and fuller, and I was able to play them with very little effort. (Those notes that are 5 ledger lines up above the staff now feel like all of the other notes that are below them: Like they are “normal” notes—notes that I totally “own” now.)
Legends Brass RM 16S
I ran the same mouthpiece test with my other new mouthpiece, the Legends Brass .595″ RM 16S (Rudy Muck) mouthpiece (with standard configuration: #27 throat, Manhattan backbore, and Legends Las Vegas Showroom blank.) Again, amazingly, I experienced the same positive results! This mouthpiece was also a winner. Compared to the first mouthpiece that I tried (the JT CS), it has a brighter, and more focused sound, and playing it requires backing off with the air a little bit more than with the JT CS (no doubt because of the tighter Manhattan backbore that is on the RM 16S.) This means that the RM 16S would be even better for long, extended-playing gigs and rehearsals, and also for gigs with few breaks and almost constant playing.
It is very difficult for me to say which of these two Legends Brass mouthpieces I like best. They are both excellent! I ordered them with the goal of trying to find an even better lead trumpet mouthpiece. Although I was sounding pretty good on my old lead mouthpiece, I had a strong hunch that I might like one of these two Legends Brass mouthpieces even better. I imagined the possibility that, after trying these two mouthpieces, I might not have liked either one of them, and might then revert back to my old lead mouthpiece. Or, another possibility that I envisioned was that I might have liked one of the two new mouthpieces better than my old mouthpiece, but that the other mouthpiece would be useful only as another trumpet mouthpiece-shaped paperweight. (Like most serious trumpet players, I have a whole lot of those!) But, to my total surprise and delight, I love both of the new Legends Brass mouthpieces, and I will be using them both as my primary lead trumpet mouthpieces, with no need for any others now. One or both of these mouthpieces will also become my primary piccolo trumpet mouthpiece(s)— more details about that below.) I will definitely be using both of these mouthpieces all the time for my lead trumpet playing, using the JT CS on music that I want to get an extra-big, beautiful, extra-fat sound on, and using the RM 16S on music that I feel would sound better with a lead trumpet that has extra edge and brightness to the sound. (Soon, I will get to test these new mouthpieces out with some of the bands that I play with.) I was able to play a seemingly endless stream of extreme upper-register notes on both of these Legends Brass mouthpieces, even on that first day I had them, after having already done a lot of heavy playing and practicing that day on my old mouthpieces.
For piccolo trumpet
After trying out both of the mouthpieces on my two Bb trumpets (a Conn 36B and a Bach Strad model #37 with a #43 leadpipe) as I described above, I started wondering what those mouthpieces would sound like (and feel like) on my piccolo trumpet (since some good lead trumpet mouthpieces also make good piccolo trumpet mouthpieces.) Both mouthpieces sounded and felt fantastic on the piccolo trumpet also! I was afraid that the RM 16S (with the Manhattan backbore) might have too much edge on the piccolo, but it didn’t. Both mouthpieces got a big, beautiful, fat, rich sound on the piccolo (as well as other outstanding characteristics listed below) which is making it more difficult for me to decide which of those two new mouthpieces I now want to use all the time on the piccolo trumpet (both of these Legends Brass mouthpieces are far superior to any of the mouthpieces that I had previously used on the piccolo trumpet: Better tone quality with a big, fat sound, better intonation, less effort required, and better high range, and better endurance.) I play a whole lot of piccolo trumpet gigs, so I was really thrilled to discover that, as a surprise bonus, these mouthpieces are now not only my favorite lead trumpet mouthpieces, but that they are also now my preferred mouthpieces for piccolo trumpet. I’m really picky about my piccolo mouthpieces, because I insist on getting a much fatter, richer sound on that instrument than most trumpet players do. (Most current trumpet players—post Maurice André— settle for a thin, woodwind instrument-type of piccolo trumpet sound, but I refuse to make that compromise with what I feel the best piccolo tone quality should be.)
For testing these mouthpieces on the piccolo trumpet, first I played bits of a few standard, classic piccolo trumpet pieces (solos and excerpts) with these mouthpieces, starting with the Legends Brass .600 JT CS. I then played a scale going up to G above high C, and the high G at the top of that scale really “popped” with tremendous ease, and with a beautiful, rich, fat sound, and with such little effort that it was totally amazing. I held that high, fourth ledger line G out for a really long time, just enjoying basking in the beauty of the sound and the ease of playing it. As the note ended, I lowered the piccolo trumpet from my lips and I involuntarily shouted, “HOLY SHIT!!!”, surprising myself, and then laughing and thinking, “Did I really just say that reaction out loud?” There was no one else around at the time to hear me say it, which made it even more funny that I had said it. Who was I even talking to? Myself?
And, the Legends Brass mouthpieces also happen to be aesthetically appealing, since the design of each of the available mouthpiece blanks is truly beautiful and visually appealing. I like that there are nine standard blanks to choose from. This is a really great thing for professional trumpet players like me who often use a few different trumpet mouthpieces for different purposes [like for (1) general playing and classical, (2) lead/piccolo, and (3) extended-range/extra-bright lead], because we can play exclusively on Legends Brass mouthpieces (for all of our performance needs), and yet have each one of our Legends Brass mouthpieces look distinctly different. So many of us pro players who have had different mouthpieces for different purposes that all looked very similar have had at least one near disastrous experience on a gig where we accidentally put our regular, classical mouthpiece in the receiver to play either lead trumpet or piccolo trumpet, and then kept wondering why we were struggling so much, and why our chops were feeling so tired, and why we weren’t sounding our best (just assuming that we were having a bad chops day), only to discover at the end of the gig as we were putting our instruments away that we had been playing on the wrong mouthpiece that whole time!
I’ve tried so many different mouthpieces over the years, including virtually every mouthpiece made by every major mouthpiece maker, even trying many mouthpieces made by more obscure makers, and well-known, greatly-loved mouthpieces from the past that are no longer even made. None of these other mouthpieces have ever made an impression on me like the Legends Brass mouthpieces have. Legends Brass seems to have a better understanding of how all of the features of the different mouthpiece components work together, combining the craftsmanship and artistry of famous and renowned master mouthpiece makers of the past with superior engineering innovations and advanced technology of the present. (I suspected this to be true just by reading the descriptions of all of the mouthpieces on the Legends Brass website, and I confirmed it after playing the mouthpieces.)
I’ve been playing the trumpet for about 50 years now, and I had never reacted that way to playing on a new mouthpiece before. My experiences with the many new mouthpieces that I have tried over the years has most often has been that, when I would try out new mouthpieces, they most often would not be as good as the mouthpieces that I had currently been using regularly. Or, on those rare occasions that I did try a new mouthpiece that I did like, it was either better (or helpful) in some way or another (maybe better endurance, better range, or better tone quality), but then there was almost always a major trade-off of having to accept something else that the new mouthpiece did worse than my old mouthpiece. (For example, maybe the new mouthpiece had better endurance and high range, but yielded a worse tone quality; or—as another example—maybe the new mouthpiece might have had a better tone quality, but good endurance and the upper register were sacrificed some.) But, with these two new Legends Brass mouthpieces, every characteristic of the mouthpiece is outstanding, and I do not have to choose which mouthpiece characteristics are most important to me: I get it all with one mouthpiece, with no compromises.
Thank you Randy Dunn for the kind words!