Stuck mouthpiece? Read this BEFORE grabbing those pliers…
One of the most common issues with brass instruments is a stuck mouthpiece. Often this is caused by carelessness on the part of the player, especially with student musicians.
Proper removal of the mouthpiece requires a special tool called a mouthpiece puller. Most band directors have at least one of these, and most repair shops will remove a stuck mouthpiece with this tool for little or no charge.
Sometimes, an ambitious but misguided individual (usually a parent) will attempt a DIY repair, usually with pliers, a vise grip, or some other inappropriate tool. This will gouge the mouthpiece and leadpipe, making the parts out-of-round and even harder to separate. Usually the mouthpiece is ruined and will require replacement. With enough force, the leadpipe will break off from the rest of the trumpet, requiring re-alignment, several solder repairs, and yes, proper removal of the mouthpiece.
This trumpet required the following procedures to make it play again:
- Removing the mouthpiece with the proper puller.
- Straightening the leadpipe, which was bent.
- Straightening the tuning slide, which was bent.
- Aligning the valve casing and bell.
- Aligning the leadpipe with the trumpet so the parts are straight and the tuning slide moves freely.
- Soldering the broken connections (at the receiver, valve casing, and tuning slide).
- Cleanup from the solder repairs.
- Play-testing the trumpet to make sure everything works properly.
With the proper tool, removing a stuck mouthpiece is extremely quick and easy. Makeshift methods usually aren’t effective, and can result in much bigger problems.