Mouthpiece pullers are not just tools for the band director's office. Students and professionals alike will often add a mouthpiece puller to their stash of equipment to provide a sense of safety when practicing at home or when away on a gig. Since a stuck mouthpiece can be a big problem and prevent you from closing your instrument's case, it is essential that you have a way to remove the mouthpiece safely while outside of the band room.
Mouthpiece pullers are not just tools for the band director's office. Students and professionals alike will often add a mouthpiece puller to their stash of equipment to provide a sense of safety when practicing at home or when away on a gig. Since a stuck mouthpiece can be a big problem and prevent you from closing your instrument's case, it is essential that you have a way to remove the mouthpiece safely while outside of the band room. Keep in mind that these days mouthpiece pullers tend to be one size fits all. Meaning that any of the pullers listed on this article will work just fine to remove the mouthpiece from a trumpet, french horn, trombone, euphonium, baritone horn, or a tuba. No need to worry about buying the wrong size!
Why Use A Special Tool To Remove A Mouthpiece?
Brass instruments are actually very precisely machined pieces of metal. They are shaped the way that they are in order to give you the best possible sound and any changes to that shape can affect the tone and the intonation of the instrument. There are few parts of the instrument more fragile and essential than the lead pipe which is the first several inches of the instrument after the mouthpiece. Damaging, twisting, denting, or doing any other damage to this area can really screw up a brass instrument's sound. For this reason you have to be incredibly careful when removing a stuck mouthpiece because if you do it wrong you can cause even more damage.
You should never (repeat NEVER!) use a pair of pliers to remove a mouthpiece a mouthpiece puller is often the only reliable and safe way to make sure you can get your stuck mouthpiece out of the receiver.
There are two basic styles of modern mouthpiece pullers still in mass production. Older style mouthpiece pullers still exist, including styles that literally bolt down to the table to be used. However most of these older styles used split washers of various sizes to remove the stuck mouthpiece. In the author's opinion you should avoid any mouthpiece puller that uses washers or attachments simply because you will always lose the piece you need at the worst possible moment. In addition, the newer, more modern mouthpiece pullers are much more reliable and easy to use.
Some examples of modern, one piece, mouthpiece pullers are:
The Bobcat Mouthpiece Puller
One of the favorites of band directors everywhere, the Bobcat Mouthpiece Puller is small, sturdy, and does the job quickly and cleanly. The only drawback with the Bobcat is the time it takes to adjust the mouthpiece puller for different instruments. Switching from a tuba to a trumpet requires both screws to be taken from one end of their length to the other end. With the two independent screws this means alternating back and forth to open or close the mechanism. However, if the Bobcat mouthpiece puller is to be used only on one instrument it is definitely a great puller at the most reasonable price.
Alternatives To The Bobcat
If you want to save a few bucks though these days there are many different copy cat companies that have basically recreated the Bobcat in a slightly different way. All work the same basic way, but if you want your mouthpiece puller in a different color then take a look at the pullers made by M Y Fly Young. It's a strange name but at least you can get it in something other than silver/black.
The G88 Mouthpiece Puller by Ferree
Ferree is a major manufacturer of repair equipment for band instruments and their G88 mouthpiece puller is often considered the gold standard for bands everywhere. The G88 mouthpiece puller is a one piece unit that has only a single screw to turn to apply pressure with. This makes the adjustment process much faster and much easier to do one handed. It is however, much more expensive and slightly more bulky than the Bobcat and is more commonly found in band classrooms than in personal brass instrument cases.
The DEG Magnum Mouthpiece Puller
The DEG is essentially a look-alike of the G88 Mouthpiece Puller. Very similar in style and design but with an even higher price tag clocking in at around $120 at the time of this writing. An excellent puller but with so many options these days difficult to justify the price.
This article was updated in April of 2017
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