Mouthpiece Refacing - The Holy Grail?



The quality of the mouthpiece facing is crucial to the performance of any mouthpiece. That said, it is important to realize that putting a good facing on a mouthpiece is far from being the end-all/cure-all of mouthpiece wizardry.

Articulation aside, the reed is affected by 4 forces, two mechanical, directly attributed to the player - embouchure pressure and blowing pressure n (P), and two directly attributed to internal acoustical factors - Bernoulli effects (in certain cases) and rapidly changing internal (mouthpiece chamber - p) air pressure.

The facing curve controls directly reed response to the mechanical forces, the closing response of the reed (and reed pitch) and feel of the mouthpiece to the player's embouchure pressure, and the closing response of the reed to the player's blowing pressure (P). Chart goes here.

Reed response to the 2 acoustical forces, Bernoulli effects and chamber pressure changes (p) are directly controlled by the distance between the reed tip area and the baffle surface, i.e., the height and shape of the baffle in the first ca. 3/8" from the mouthpiece tip.

Since the distance from the reed at any point and the baffle surface can be altered by changing the facing, facing changes are commonly used to make fine adjustments to reed response to acoustical forces combined and compromised with the respective simultaneous change in response to the player's mechanical forces. This method of adjustment is quick and with experience, the refacer can consistently get acceptable to good results, though, at a 50% loss in control of what is going on.

A good facing will in most cases with mass produced mouthpieces, be an improvement, though it is only the first prerequisite for a good mouthpiece. Quite an impressive show can be made of it, with spread sheets, comparative graphing charts, measureing gadgets, radial and elliptical facings and talk of removing a thousanth of an inch here and there. It is fun and can be fascinating. It is just the beginning though.

In my experience, in the search for great mouthpiece, refacing is far from being the Holy Grail solution. The difference between the reletively wide range of what is considered "good" mouthpiece response, and the elusive, to die for, "great" mouthpiece, is a matter of time, an intimate familiarity with what "great" is, and strictly keeping mechanical force facing adjustments and acoustical force baffle adjustments separate. It's all in the baffle.

(Content Under Development)





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