A QUICK REFRESHER FOR BRASS PLAYERS
WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER TRY TO REMOVE A STUCK MOUTHPIECE WITH PLIERS OR A PIPE WRENCH
a public service announcement brought to you by Hybrid Elephant, dba Nataraja Music Service
real musical instrument repair technicians have a nifty little device called a mouthpiece puller. it is a screw-and-leverage gadget that pulls from the center of the mouthpiece, while, at the same time, pushes on the edge of the leadpipe: a method that is 100% guaranteed to free the most stubbornly stuck mouthpiece in existence, without marring the finish of either the horn, or the mouthpiece itself.
seriously, you could actually solder the mouthpiece into the reciver, pull it loose with the mouthpiece puller, and not mar the finish of either the mouthpiece or the instrument itself. i’ve done it. 8)
the proper way to insert a brass mouthpiece to avoid getting it stuck is to place the mouthpiece, gently, into the reciever and then, without putting pressure on the mouthpiece, twist it a quarter turn. this places the mouthpiece firmly enough that you can actually hold up the horn by the mouthpiece, but it can be easily removed by twisting it the other direction, and pulling straight out. if you put your mouthpiece in this way, it will never get stuck, and you will never have this problem, but if you do, this to warn you that you should never try to remove a stuck mouthpiece with pliers or a pipe wrench.
these are examples of mouthpieces which have been removed “the wrong way”. they are scarred by wrenches or plier jaws, and ruined beyond repair. if they had been removed the right way, they would still be usable. when you try to remove a mouthpiece “the wrong way”, all you accomplish is ruining your mouthpiece, and about half the time, your entire horn is an unintended casualy: a stuck mouthpiece is notorious for being stuck so firmly that it pulls loose solder joints or twists tubing instead of being removed by pliers or a pipe wrench. instead of using the correct tool and pulling your stuck mouthpiece in under five minutes, you have completely ruined your mouthpiece and have to figure out where the money for several hundred dollars worth of repair to your leadpipe is going to come from, before you can play your horn again.
a decent quality mouthpiece can cost anywhere from $20 to $200, and a new horn can cost upwards of $2,000. getting your mouthpiece stuck is not uncommon, even if you are very careful. removing it the right way can insure that you have a mouthpiece that can still be used afterwards, and can save you a lot of money and headaches.