Principal cornet – Benfield and Rockville Brass Bands
Solo cornet – Salvation Army Baltimore Brass Band
Lead trumpet – Bay Winds Community Band
I got into cornet playing and brass banding rather late in life, starting on a rented student model Bach cornet (with a stuck 3rd slide) and a Bach 5C mouthpiece (the size I was using on my Bb and C trumpets). I heard that deeper (darker) was better, and so moved to a Bach 5B. That was not the answer, so I moved on (after some struggling) to a Wick RW4, then an RW4B. This worked for a number of years (I tend to make do and not experiment… especially when it costs money!) until I replaced my Bach Strad cornet with a Yamaha 6335HS. The Wick just didn’t sound right. The 16E that came with the horn DID sound OK – but it was too big (and uncomfortable).
After much internet surfing, I decided to try a Sparx mouthpiece and settled on the Sparx 3. It was (to mix metaphors, I suppose) like wearing an old shoe – comfortable from the beginning and sounded great. I subsequently got a 3B (for a little extra sparkle or reach for solo work… and to add a little zest to some otherwise dull trios!) and that has also proven itself – well worth the price. And there is no problem moving between the two mouthpieces.
I just recently received my third Sparx mouthpiece – a 3C. Occasionally I have the “opportunity” to fill in on soprano cornet and (since I am sadly lacking in upward mobility) have developed a “crutch” set of three mouthpieces depending on whether I want to sound good, play high, or play even higher. Unfortunately none of the three mouthpieces (a Wick and two Schilkes) has very good intonation, especially in the upper register. I’m happy to say that the Sparx 3C sounds great and in tune on my Schilke soprano cornet right up to my (squeaky) limit! Unfortunately, that’s not quite high enough, so now I am eyeing a Sparx 4C (but don’t let my wife know)!