Sunday, February 13, 2011

Kelly Mouthpieces - The Argument for Plastic (okay... Lexan)

above: American Flag in Kelly Mouthpieces

Ok. I will be completely honest. I used to be one of those guys that said, "Plastic mouthpieces? How can they be any good?" Well, I was wrong. Completely wrong, and now I am (possibly) the biggest fan of Kelly Mouthpieces. 

Why? For the simple reason that a different job may require a different tool. Sousaphones are not particularly light, so when you have to carry one on your left shoulder for a five mile parade, any weight you can shed is beneficial. Kelly lexan mouthpieces also resist changes in temperature that brass or stainless steel mouthpieces suffer from. If you are in the stands during a football game in late October, it is nice to have the mouthpiece not freeze your chops.  I also personally find the lexan to be comfortable on my chops. This may vary from player to player.

There is the rare situation where some people have a silver allergy and a standard silver plated mouthpiece will irritate the players chops or even leave a rash. The Kelly mouthpiece is a good solution to that problem. I have yet to test the Kelly for chop endurance, but the mouthpiece is very comfortable, so I suspect that it will pass that test with flying colors (pun intended).

Another benefit is the price. A new Kelly mouthpiece retails for $32.00 on their website, which is half the price of a new brass mouthpiece.

Kelly offers their versions of Bach 18, 24AW, Helleberg and 25. According to their website the 25 is discontinued but you can still get it from them on closeout. Kelly even offers a clear lexan copy of a Perantucci PT-50 mouthpiece!

Does a plastic mouthpiece seem silly? Yes. Does it seem sillier in a strange color? Oh yeah. But don't let some people keep you from trying a mouthpiece that is really good. Pick one up and try it against it's brass cousin. I don't think you will be disappointed. 

I have a Kelly 18 glow in the dark (make all the jokes you want) Tuba mouthpiece. What mouthpiece do you play? Have you ever tried a Kelly? If so, what do you think?

above: Kelly KT-50. Their copy of the Perantucci PT-50

above: Kelly KELLYberg Tuba Mouthpieces

above: Standard Kelly Tuba Mouthpieces

For full disclosure, I don't work for Kelly and I am not being paid in any way to write this. I honestly like their gear.


  1. The bit about the October weather: if the mouthpiece is getting too cold, then you haven't been keeping the instrument as a whole warm enough. This complicates things when other keep warm air blowing through there instrument to maintain the pitch that the band was tuned to.

  2. I have a clear plastic KELLYberg tuba mouthpiece. It's great for cold football games!

  3. @Ian - Sure, that is correct. The greater point is that the Kellys don't conduct heat or cold like metal.

    It IS possible to have your horn be warm and your mouthpiece to get cold again. You live in Michigan, that should be old hat for you. :)

  4. Don't have much of a problem using stainless steel... Then again I don't play outdoors long enough anymore. Hah

  5. I'm a trumpet player who uses a Kelly 3C and a Kelly screamer. I too thought of plastic mouthpieces as just a novelty - until I tried one. The comfort and added endurance alone make it worth it. The added range from using the screamer seals the deal. And having a sexy crystal blue mouthpiece is a great conversation starter when we're mixing with other bands out on the parade circuit.