The Asymmetrical Mouthpiece
by N. Drozdoff

To go to Lynch's site, simply click on the picture. Ohterwise, scroll on down for my discussion on how I have adapted to this type of mouthpiece.

Nicholas Drozdoff

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How To Use A Lynch Asymmetric Trumpet Mouthpiece Made By John Lynch

The John Lynch asymmetric trumpet mouthpiece is truly one of the most unique new tools for the contemporary trumpeter that has come along for some time. Many mouthpieces have been made that make some outrageous claims. Many of these mouthpieces are indeed excellent tools. However, even the best of the conventional radially-symmetric mouthpieces are just variations on a fairly traditional theme. The Lynch mouthpiece is truly different and (if the method to use it is observed carefully) it will work. This thing will actually do just what the manufacturer claims it does.

Now, I first got my Lead Model asymmetrical on December 29, 1999. My range was already satisfactory as far as I was concerned. I could play F's (concert E-flats) over double high C. I wasn't looking for range, necessarily. I wanted to see if this mouthpiece would make the job any easier to do. It turns out that it did.

At first, I found it a little difficult to play, but with some patient practice, I got used to it. For the first two days, though, I found that it didn't work any better than my Laskey 40S* for the high note work. However, since it didn't cause any problems, I thought I'd try it on my New Years Eve gig.

I work primarily for Larry Eckerling in the Chicago area. The band, while a society band, plays mostly rock and roll and R&B. It gets mind numbingly loud. On four and five hour gigs it gets very tiring. This seemed a good place to test the efficacy of this tool. It was a very enlightening evening.

After a few minutes I really began concentrating on playing with a set as suggested by John Lynch and using a lot of air. When I found the right "spot" it suddenly "kicked in." I found it easy to remember the feeling and retrieve the set from tune to tune. It seemed to take a mere fraction of the effort to do my job compared to previously. After a grueling four-hour gig I had no trouble just pasting a high G at the end of a brutal arrangement of "Last Dance." I could have gone another four hours.

Now, two days later I had a big band gig. I was to play lead for another four-hour marathon. I am expected to play many Kenton and Maynard charts. I decided this would be the true "acid test." I had to work without a mike for all but solos and I had to carry the entire section. I also am expected to play ALL of the lead (no passing of parts).

The evening had me playing double C's and beyond. The last tune of the night was the Buddy Rich arrangement of "Love For Sale." Lead players will be familiar with the staggering shout chorus. As with NYE, it felt downright easy! The last note (a high F) was easy to hold onto for as long as the alto player was willing to hold his arm up. At this point I was sold!

What To Do To Make One Of These Work:

Now, when you order an asymmetric, you'll get a copy of John Lynch's original ITG article as well as a summary with trumpet mouthpiece "instructions." It is unusual to get instructions with a new mouthpiece, but it makes sense with one of these. I will not try to circumvent Lynch's writings. Instead, I'll state my approach right here.

First, it is imperative to set the mouthpiece 1/3 upper lip and 2/3 lower lip. A French horn set will NOT work well with one of these. You really need to reduce the vibrating lip mass and you want to make sure to avoid letting the thicker lower rim of the mouthpiece interfere with the air stream. This requires the 1/3 upper and 2/3 lower set. This is a must!

Second, I have a definite pivot as I ascend in pitch. As I ascend I bring my lower lip up. The asymmetric helps make sure that my lower lip comes straight up towards the top lip without bulging into the mouthpiece. This reduces how hard I have to work the lower lip muscles in holding the aperture together as I ascend in pitch and increase volume. As I do this, I naturally pivot downwards.

Next, I think it really helps to avoid pressing too hard as you play higher. If you press too hard this mouthpiece won't help so much. I have a detailed explanation of my embouchure techniques in my book "Embouchre Design." However, I'll give you a quick discussion of the minimum mouthpiece pressure technique here.

To find your minimum mouthpiece pressure point, buzz your lips on a low C. Be sure that you are actually buzzing the low C and not a pedal C. As you are doing this, gently bring the mouthpiece up to your lips. You'll need to position the tongue right behind the lower lip as you are doing this. Now, as the mouthpiece touches you lips, if you experiment a bit, you can find a spot or set where the sound will pop out of the trumpet almost effortlessly. It will take a lot of air. You run out fast when you find this spot. This is your minimum mouthpiece pressure point. This is the set you should strive to use as you play the Lynch mouthpiece. Now don't forget to make sure that you still stick with 1/3 upper 2/3 lower as you do this. You still need to maintain this set as you find your minimum pressure point. Also, when you are playing with this mouthpiece position, you can then put your tongue back where you normally keep it. You position it right behind the lower lip as you are buzzing into the mouthpiece, but not when you are playing in general.

There is one final thought I'd like to add here. I play with my lips curled slightly in with the mouthpiece set in the pink of my upper lip. With minor adjustments, I have had great success with this new mouthpiece. Now, I have witnessed players who set in the RED of the upper lip struggle a little more. Be patient. The physics which is behind Lynch's design is sound and will work here as well. I think the key is to find that minimum mouthpiece pressure point.

Now, my Lead model asymmetrical is an excellent setup for jazz/rock lead. I am not comfortable using it in a legit chamber music environment. I use a Laskey 81D for this sort of music. The good news? The adjustments that I make to play my asymmetrical don't cause even the slightest problems when I switch back to a conventional mouthpiece! In fact, I feel that my form improves when I switch back! However, I can't wait for Lynch's 3C model and his Opera model to come out! I will by them both immediately!

In conclusion, I am thrilled with what the asymmetrical does for me. It can work for anyone who is patient and persistent in studying how to use it. It might take a little doing, but it will work if you let it.

I am not in any way being compensated for my comments here. This page is being posted in the spirit of sharing ideas based in music and physics.

As a final comment on these mouthpieces, I have recorded a jump and jive swing tune, "The Asymmetric Jump" shown as a RealAudio file below. This is a 3 minute groove/cadenza (whatever!) that is features just trumpet and drums in the style of Harry James and Gene Krupa. The Lynch Asymmetric was used throughout.

"The Asymmetric Jump"

RealAudio has a characteristic noise that is evident here. An MP3 version can be heard on the Internet Trumpeters Compiliation Project or at Mr. D on MP3 shown below.


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