Chase Sanborn is a jazz trumpet player, teacher and author, originally from New York, now based in Toronto, Canada.
Chase is a mainstay of the bustling Toronto music scene and a member of the jazz faculty at the University of Toronto.
He is also a well known author of a series of educational books, DVDs and CDs (Jazz Tactics, Brass Tactics, Tuning Tactics, Music Business Tactics).
Visit Chase Sanborn's Website for information on his clinics, recordings, books, private lessons, and of course,
CS Series GR Mouthpieces!
In the year 2000 I was introduced to mouthpiece maker Gary Radtke (GR) by his business partner and my Toronto trumpet colleague Brian Scriver. Brian described the work GR was doing on trumpet mouthpiece design and expressed his opinion that GR would revolutionize the industry. I was only half interested; at the time I was happily playing a mouthpiece designed for me by a very well known mouthpiece maker, for whom I still have great respect. But I am intrigued by new ideas, and I’m a trumpet player, after all, so I agreed to have GR make me a mouthpiece, to see what he could do.
During a lengthy conversation, GR queried me on all aspects of my playing (situations ranging from small group jazz to lead trumpet to the varied requirements of studio work) and asked me what I would hope to achieve with a new mouthpiece. My answer boiled down to this: maintain my range and improve my sound or vice versa. I was not prepared to sacrifice one aspect of my playing for another, and knew from long experience that a mouthpiece is usually an exercise in compromise. I sent GR the mouthpiece I was currently playing along with a practice room recording.
Once GR had my mouthpiece in hand, he ‘digitized’ it, feeding all the coordinates into his computer program. He called me numerous times to discuss options, his conversation peppered with incomprehensible terms and numbers set against the background noise of whirring machines. He sent me charts and graphs identifying ‘problem areas’ with my current mouthpiece. We decided that the best way to start would be for him to copy my mouthpiece with the problem areas corrected, so that I could see how much difference that would make.
When that first mouthpiece arrived, I put in the horn and knew almost instantly that we were on to something. The mouthpiece felt familiar and comfortable, yet the sound was more vibrant and the blow was more even. My interest was piqued, and I wondered what further modifications might accomplish. Amidst many more phone conversations, a succession of prototypes arrived at my door. Each one was just a little better than the last. Eventually we found the perfect combination—every aspect of my playing was improved. We dubbed it the CS66. GR commented that he felt it was one of his best designs to date.
At that point, GR floated the idea of putting the mouthpiece on the market. I was initially hesitant; I had no idea whether others would like the design as much as I did. My ‘market research’ consisted of passing it around to my colleagues and asking for their opinion. The reaction was very positive; several people offered to buy it from me on the spot. Decision made, and the Chase Sanborn Signature Trumpet Mouthpiece went into production. Over the next few years we expanded the design to include three different trumpet cups and two diameters, as well as CS models for flugelhorn, cornet and piccolo trumpet. Enthusiastic testimonials from players around the world attest to the versatility of the design. GR is now a well-known name in the trumpet world, and Brian’s words were prescient; he has advanced the state of the art and improved the lot of countless trumpet players, for sure this one!
A note on ‘signature’ models: I’m pretty sure that wearing Michael Jordan’s shoes will not make me a basketball player. (Nothing short of a pogo stick would accomplish that.) No mouthpiece is right for everyone. But a mouthpiece or horn that is custom designed for a specific player will generally appeal to many others as well. When you purchase a signature model mouthpiece you reap the benefit of many hours of experimentation, trial and error. It’s like choosing an item from a restaurant menu: it is not the only good thing to eat, but the chef has saved you the trouble of guessing what to put in the pot, hoping it will turn out to be edible.