My PVC Alphorn
Alphorns are traditionally played using wooden mouthpieces made out of a hard wood. My trumpet mouthpiece makes the PVC alphorn sound more like, well, a trumpet than an alphorn. Trumpet mouthpieces are considerably smaller and shallower than traditional wooden alphorn mouthpieces. A trombone mouthpiece works very well in place of a wooden one.
For first attempts to build my own mouthpieces, see below under September 15-20, 2020. Since then I acquired a small lathe, drill press, miter saw, Dremel, and bench grider with cloth polishing wheels. I also took a wood-turning workshop in January 2021 at Rockler Woodworking & Hardware in Seattle. In three hours with an expert instructor, I turned this nice cherry-wood bowl from rough block:
Having learned some key skills, I set out to turn some hardwood alphorn mouthpieces, some from square stock, others from round dowels.
Here is a collection made from Oak, Avodire, Yellowheart, Spanish Cedar, Walnut, and Brazilian Rosewood.
The two finest and best sounding mouthpieces are the two below: Walnut, in the PVC adapter (adapter also made of Walnut), and the beautiful one out of Brazialian Rosewood.
September 15-20, 2020
I decided to try to build my own mouthpieces. I found an old piece of hemlock dowel that I used many years ago as part of a wood block set for our children. I thought the diameter would be just about right for carving out a mouthpiece.
Since hemlock is a soft wood, I bought a short length of 1-1/4" oak dowel and carved out a couple more mouthpieces just for fun :)
I have very few wood-working tools, but a few good drill bits. Here are my steps:
The four mouthpieces I made are:
These homemade mouthpieces are fairly rough; each one took about 60-90 minutes to cut, carve and shape. Hopefully they are good enough to get a feel for the difference between any one of these and my trumpet mouthpiece. I will play a few sound samples soon and upload those on the Sounds page.
Below are a few images of the mouthpiece-carving work.
The mouthpiece with the ring needed extra width for the mouth since I used a larger 1" drill inside the 1-1/4" oak dowel. For the ring I used a remnant of a 2" pine rod I had. I drilled the 1" hole in the end of the rod, then cut off about 1/2 inch, shaped it with a drill-disc sander, glued it onto the mouthpiece, then shaped it more.
Making the ring:
Below is the finished Mouthpiece with Ring. This mouthpiece has a 26 mm opening and is difficult for me to play, except for the lowest note!
Below is the modified mouthpiece #2 in the list above. This is very comfortable and relatively easy to play, except the higher notes are more difficult since the opening is still relatively large.
|Header Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Alphorns_Grindelwald.jpg|