Karl Hammond mouthpieces have made a swift and thorough ascension into the ranks of drum and bugle corps horn lines in North America. First appearing in the Canton Bluecoats’ horn line in 2006, no less than a half-dozen corps opted to utilize custom Karl Hammond mouthpieces for their field brass during the 2007 competition season.
Hammond specializes in custom mouthpieces for trumpets and trombones, but they produce mouthpieces for trumpet, mellophone, trombone, euphonium, and tuba. Hammond custom mouthpieces created for mellophones are adding another alluring option for performers who are now coping with a dizzying array of mouthpiece options.
What makes these mouthpieces so alluring to drum and bugle corps?
Karl Hammond studied trumpet and was introduced to custom mouthpiece manufacturing as an intern for Terry Warburton in 1991, where under the tutelage of Terry and Ken Titmus Karl was involved with the development of innovations that became a trademark of the Florida-based mouthpiece manufacturer.
Karl parlayed his experiences at Warburton into a position with Schilke Music Products, earning the responsibility for developing stricter quality controls and custom mouthpiece development.
In 2006 Karl formed his own company to create mouthpieces for brasswinds. He swiftly developed a loyal and impressive listing of commercial and orchestral performers that includes John Hagstrom, trumpeter for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Some experimentation with the Bluecoats in 2006 led to a full line of mouthpieces being prepared for the Santa Clara Vanguard. This unprecedented move of having an entire DCI brass line on the same manufacturer's mouthpiece is as impressive as the accolades Hammond has received from his professional clients.
Two models of Hammond mellophone
mouthpieces were evaluated for the Blue Stars Drum and Bugle Corps. The models
were the 5MP and 6MP (standard weight) mellophone mouthpieces.
According to the Hammond web site the
5MP utilizes a cup diameter is equivalent to a Bach 3C mouthpiece and the 6MP
equaling a Bach 5C. The mouthpieces utilize a deep flugelhorn-type cup and a
somewhat larger than standard bore (throat). Hammond also manufactures a heavyweight version of these mouthpieces
that were not a part of this review.
The open bore of the mouthpiece helps
to enable articulations with little resistance and enables the performer to play
at volume extremes with very good clarity and little distortion. It's this
slightly larger-than-standard bore that offers the performer much more security and
integrates well into the top corps' strong emphasis on large air volumes being
moved through the instrument. The Yamaha 204M's lead pipe swallows the backbore
effectively, but will require the tuning slide to be pulled nearly 3/4" to
accommodate the shorter mouthpiece.
Below are some excerpts performed on a Yamaha 204M Mellophone. For comparison purposes, each excerpt is recorded with the Hammond 6MP (standard weight) and a Monette B2 Flumpet Mouthpiece:
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