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Sparx Cornet Mouthpiece Review
Adrian Horn, Brass Forum Administrator
I had heard good things about the Sparx mouthpieces (http://www.sparxmusic.com/) and after a few email with Ted Sparx regarding mouthpiece choice - explaining what I currently play and what I am after soundwise etc. - I opted to try his Sparx Soloist 2 model. Ted also sent over his standard Sparx 2 and a 2* to try as well.
A couple of weeks later the package arrived from Canada. I got them out as soon as I got home from work to have a play.
Up first was the Soloist 2.
I would say the rim on the Soloist 2 is similar to a VB 1 in both diameter and roundedness - no sharp edge which pleased me a lot and the shape of the cup is more bowl shaped than the traditional brass band V shape but that didn't concern me with being used to play trumpet mouthpieces. I would say though that the bowl certainly seems deeper than either my Bach 1 or Bach 1X trumpet mouthpieces. There is also plenty of mass on the outer design of the mouthpiece as well - something I have always liked hence why my main trumpet mouthpiece for many years as been a Bacn Megatone.
How did it play? Well initially I thought the sound wasn't any different from what I'd been getting with my Bach 1 1/2B...... until I swapped back to my old mouthpiece and realised the Bach sounded very thin in-comparison. The Soloist 2 had a rich sound, not muffled like I find the Denis Wicks, but full and open. It took all the dynamics I could give it and range-wise was quite happy up to the D-Eb mark. A little work and it will probably take me higher if I need it. The thing that made it for me, though, was how the mouthpiece felt. It is such a comfortable mouthpiece, and as such you fell you can back off from and let it do much of the work instrument.
The Model 2 is similar in construction. The rim feels the same, but the cup, is deeper still and definately V shaped. The sound I got from this mouthpiece was wonderful and rich. Full of deep harmonics. However for me, the upper register was perhaps a little more muffled and much harder work.... saying that, if I was playing back-row cornet, then I would have absolutely no problem in choosing this as my mouthpiece.
I then tried the 2*. This as the same cup and rim as the Model 2 but with a different backbore. For me, this mouthpiece just didn't work. The backbore just felt too tight and didn't allow me to get the sound I was wanting... In some ways the blow felt similar to a DW 2B, just not my cup of tea.
So I decided to keep on in rehearsals and concerts with the Sparx Soloist 2 and really got to test it a couple of weeks back when our Principal Cornet couldn't one of our major concerts and I had to step into the hot-seat with only 3 weeks of using the Soloist 2 as my mouthpiece. It performed wonderfully. From bright show tunes, to classical overtures, to dixieland swing it just kept playing and although I wouldn't say my chops felt 'Fresh' at the end of the gig, the still felt as though there was more left in the tank!
What can I say. If you are looking for a new cornet mouthpiece do try to play-test some of Ted's mouthpieces. Yes, they not the easist to get hold of to play test in the UK, but Ted seems willing to help you try out what he can, and yes for us in the UK they are not cheap mouthpieces (you could probably buy 4 VBs or 5 DWs for the same price once currency conversion has happend).... but they are a wonderful mouthpiece. I would highly recommend them to all cornet players, but especially to trumpet players who switch around a lot.
The Soloist 2 is now staying firmly in my leadpipe!
Adrian Horn, Brass Forum administrator