Alliance soprano mouthpieces are put through their paces by soprano star, Paul Richards
Having three new Alliance mouthpieces thrust in my hand and being asked for a view was a new experience for me. I’ve never been a big mouthpiece aficionado, having really only used one when I was a cornet player (a John Ridgeon 2T) and one since I moved on to soprano (Denis Wick Heritage S). My dad (and teacher) always told me to “use the biggest mouthpiece you can get away with; to pick the one that gives you the best sound and then stick with it. If you can’t get the high stuff, you’re not practising enough or using enough air.” Wise words. That said, I must admit to occasionally dropping in a shallower Stomvi 7E for silly high stuff, although my home practice and solo work is always done using the Denis Wick HS.
The Alliance mouthpieces are beautifully finished and available either in silver plate or silver with a gold-plated rim (at a 50% premium). The ones I tested were gold-plated. They come in three sizes, S, S plus and the BVT, the latter developed by the fantastic soprano player, Bert Van Thienen.
The BVT is the shallow one with a larger cup and small bore, enabling plenty of comfort, but producing laser-style sounds and ease at the top end. The S has the same sized cup as the BVT, but is deeper and with a larger bore. The S plus has the largest cup diameter and, according to the website, is meant to be deeper, again with the same bore as the S, although my simple measurements suggested it was shallower. Visually the S was closest to my Denis Wick HS and, playing-wise, this was my favourite. With my Stomvi Titan, it produced a warm, clean sound across the register, providing accurate intonation and support, especially ‘up top’. I have to admit to liking it a lot, although I’m not persuaded it is worth swapping from my DW HS just yet. For me, the BVT was too bright in tonal quality, although it was comfortable and it did make playing ‘up top’ very easy. The S plus was also a good fit for my playing, but despite the larger cup diameter and similar bore to the S, it sounded brighter (possibly down to the shallower cup, if my measurements are correct).
Either way, they are well made, nicely packaged, reasonably priced and with the three different options, they provide more choice for soprano players to consider and, of course, to debate about on social media sites. As ever with mouthpieces, it’s down to personal choice, but the addition of three new Alliance mouthpieces to the list of potentials has to be welcomed.
This article first appeared in Brass Band World, August 2017 edition.