How to Remove a Stuck Trumpet Mouthpiece
How Mouthpieces Become Stuck
Mouthpieces on trumpets and other brass instruments can easily become stuck. All it takes is accidentally knocking your instrument to get it completely jammed. This is why you should never pat the mouthpiece into the trumpet, although it does give a satisfying sound. The real trouble with getting your mouthpiece stuck is that your trumpet, or brass instrument, will not fit in its case properly, and you won't be able to close the lid. A stuck mouthpiece will also make it hard to clean your trumpet.
Never Use Pliers to Remove a Mouthpiece
Above is a picture of a mouthpiece from a trumpet I had to repair. It was stuck, and somebody removed it with a pair of pliers. Mouthpieces are made of brass, which is a soft metal, and you can see the deep scratches the pliers left. This mouthpiece was worth £40 new, and now it's ruined.
When you twist the mouthpiece out with a pair of pliers, you can also damage the trumpet in the process. The trumpet this mouthpiece was stuck in became slightly twisted under the tension of the pliers. A solder joint was forced loose, and the valves jammed after the pipes were twisted into the valve casing. I managed to fix this trumpet successfully, but it would have been much easier, and cheaper, to remove the mouthpiece properly in the first place.
How to Remove the Mouthpiece
If your mouthpiece gets stuck, you can try to remove it by hand. I find that if you give the mouthpiece a tug and twist at the same time, it often comes free. You have to be careful not to use too much pressure as you don't want to damage your trumpet. You could try wearing a rubber glove to help give you a better grip. If that doesn't work, try these methods.
- Use some penetrating oil where the mouthpiece enters the trumpet.
- Run hot and cold water over the mouthpiece.
- Give the mouthpiece receiver (the part of the trumpet that the mouthpiece goes in) lots of small taps with a rawhide mallet.
- Pull the mouthpiece out with a rope, giving it several pulls and jolts.
If those steps fail, some music shops or teachers have mouthpiece pullers and will remove it for you for a minimal fee. I suggest you watch the short video clip below as I will show you some of these techniques.
How to Remove a Stuck Mouthpiece Video
How to Use a Mouthpiece Puller
Using a mouthpiece puller is quite easy, and it is a very useful tool to own, especially if you teach music or conduct a band. Kids, and sometimes adults, are always getting their mouthpieces stuck, and this is the tool for the job!
As you can see from the picture above, the mouthpiece fits into the puller, which has two adjustable "teeth." These teeth can be tightened to grip against the "lip" of mouthpiece receiver. You then tighten the two large screws clockwise to start pulling out the mouthpiece. It is essential that you tighten these screws as evenly as possible, or the mouthpiece puller itself could become jammed or cross threaded.
I've always been able to remove a stuck mouthpiece with this tool, and I have removed a lot! On the stubborn ones, I give the puller a tap with a rawhide mallet to help the mouthpiece out while the puller is under tension. Then I can turn the screws on the puller a little more. I repeat those steps until the mouthpiece pops out.