Olds Large Shank Cornet Mouthpieces

Prior to serial number 189,611, Olds cornets had a larger receiver than other standard cornets. See this factory instruction card provided with a 1959 Olds Special cornet (Thanks to Steve T. for the image of the card). In general, the nonstandard large shank is found on all models made by Olds earlier than September 1956. There are exceptions but they are relatively rare–probably custom orders or aftermarket modifications.

Many students have played these large-shank horns with a common standard Bach mouthpiece (or other brand) by putting tape around the shank of the mouthpiece, or by simply inserting the mouthpiece too far and compensating with the tuning slide. Neither solution results in an ideal situation acoustically inside the receiver pipe.

Many people, hearing of the great reputation of these horns, pick one up and suddenly find themselves on an unexpected quest for an appropriate mouthpiece. Here are a few that Alan Rouse tried, with comments about the strengths and weaknesses of each alternative. Some of this information is about 20 years old, so prices and contact information are out of date. This will be updated in the near future.

Yamaha Flugelhorn mouthpiece:

The Yamaha standard-line flugelhorn mouthpieces are probably the cheapest alternative for a new mouthpiece for your large-shank Olds cornet. (I got mine from Mouthpieces Express for around $26 plus shipping).

-Reasonably close-to-correct shank, with a reasonably close-to-correct length
-deep V cup (but with a slight curvature–not a pure V).
-Readily available–no long wait

-Shank just a bit too large so it does not insert quite deeply enough, and plays a bit flat. (I can correct for it on all three of my Olds cornets but there’s not much room to spare on a couple of horns)
-More limited selection of rims & cups than for the standard cornet mouthpieces
-Throat hole is VERY large.
-Perhaps TOO much of a flugelhorn sound–you be the judge

Bach Flugelhorn mouthpiece:

The Bach flugelhorn mpc is also readily available ($43 plus shipping at Mouthpieces Express)

– price
– shank inserts correct depth…an excellent match to the Olds
– readily available without long wait
– Throat is a more appropriate diameter for cornet

– Quite a bit longer than the Olds, so the horn plays quite flat. I cannot fully compensate for this on some of my Olds cornets. You should try before you buy.
– Even deeper than the Yamaha, this is probably too much of a good thing. My cornets sound more like flugelhorns than cornets. Again, you be the judge.

Bach custom cornet mouthpiece to fit the large Olds receiver:

Bach will make a custom mouthpiece to fit the large Olds receiver.

-Correct shank fit and correct length
-All standard Bach rims and cups are available

-More expensive (but not too bad, around $50 for my 1-1/2C from Mouthpieces Express)
-If you want a true V cup, it has to be a two-piece mouthpiece, driving the cost up near $70 from Mouthpieces Express. That’s more than I wanted to pay for a mouthpiece that cannot be returned if I don’t like it (since it is custom)
-Prices considerably higher if you order directly from Bach
-Long wait to receive your mouthpiece (took about three months for mine)

Curry custom cornet mouthpiece to fit the large Olds receiver:

Mark Curry (1-800-695-1076) can make a custom mouthpiece that fits well. He actually uses a flugelhorn blank and cuts whatever rim/cup/bore/backbore you specify. IMO this is the best option in the $50 range (my cost direct from Mark, including shipping). Mark also can make a “replica” mouthpiece with the rim/cup/bore/backbore you specify, if you send him an original Olds.

Update 8/2010: Randy Howard reports: Mark Curry has improved his “support” for Olds large shank mouthpieces, in that any of his Deep Series or Vintage Series cornet mouthpieces can be ordered with the correct shank. Rather than going through one of his dealers, you contact him directly, and he will make them up. His pricing is just a few dollars higher than the stock pieces, and his turnaround time is amazing. He made both VC and DC cup models for me in my rim size, and I had them on my front porch 3 days after I sent my billing information to him. These look just like his production pieces, the only difference is an “O” stamped on the shank.

-Excellent fit
-Top quality mouthpiece construction, to your specifications. Mine is not a true V-shaped cup. Mark calls it a 1-1/2 DC. It is similar to a Bach 1-1/2 B, maybe a bit deeper. -Still does sound cornet-like to me.

-There might be a longer wait than for a stock Bach or Yamaha flugelhorn mpc. However, Mark is much quicker than most custom mouthpiece makers. Once Mark received my original Olds #3 mouthpiece for measurements, he made the new mouthpiece the same day!

Laskey and Warburton:

Thanks to John McBurney for this info and picture! John says that his standard Laskey 68 DB (left) works just fine in the large shank Olds receiver (surprisingly). Next to that is the Warburton Olds large-shank reproduction, which is also a great option, then his Old large shank mouthpiece. All three of those fit fine. The mouthpiece on the right is his standard Bach 7c, which is too small.

Other options:

Other options for Olds large-shank mouthpiece replacements:

Obviously, you could locate another Olds large-shank mouthpiece. It’s hard to find anything other than the Olds 3, which is about like a Bach 7B. You will usually need to do some buffing & replating to get it in useable condition.

A helpful reader has offered another idea. There is a shank adapter that enables one to use a cornet mouthpiece in a trumpet. D. W. states: “There is enough material there so that you can turn it down to fit the Olds receiver. If done properly, it will be quite thin on the bottom end so that there is no ridge where it meets the receiver.” Mouthpiece Express has them from DEG for about $12. Of course you would need to find someone to machine them down to the correct outer diameter.

Addition updates coming soon!