Is your trumpet mouthpiece stuck? Need to learn how to remove a stuck trumpet mouthpiece? There’s a right way (and many wrong ways) to remove it.
How to Remove a Stuck Trumpet Mouthpiece
Most school band teachers and music shops have or have access to a clever tool that is purpose-built for trumpet mouthpiece removal. They’re adjustable to suit different brass instruments and, when used properly, don’t leave a trail of destruction in their wake. It’s very much like a brake puller if you’re into that kind of thing.
My mouthpiece removal tool is a Bobcat and works great. I haven’t used it on one of my own horns in decades but occasionally I bump into a student who needs it. There are good videos already on YouTube so I probably won’t add one.
Other Methods: How to Remove a Stuck Trumpet Mouthpiece (Not Recommended)
Removal of a stuck trumpet mouthpiece is probably the most common repair performed by people other than trained repair technicians. In my Drum Corps days the solution was to clamp the mouthpiece in a door jamb, close the door on it and pull for all you were worth. Those weren’t particularly delicate instruments and they usually came away undamaged, often with the mouthpiece still stuck.
The next level and most destructive technique involves some kind of pliers or the dreaded Vise-Grips* which will often get the job done but rarely do so without leaving a mark.
*Don’t get me wrong – I’m a big fan of the Irwin Vise-Grips. I’ve got big ones, medium ones, small ones, odd ones, extra ones and I love them. What a great tool! They just don’t belong around your Trumpet. Remember that your Trumpet is made of a really soft metal (brass) and your Vise-Grips or pliers are made of a really hard metal that will dig in and leave ugly scars.
Damage from Trying to Get a Trumpet Mouthpiece Unstuck
Fun damage I’ve seen includes a brand new Yamaha student Trumpet where the dad got on one end and the son got one the other and they pulled as hard as they could. They showed me this after a group beginner evening class and the 1st and 3rd valves wouldn’t work. They had bent the tubing into the valve casings and the thing was unplayable. The best I could suggest was to take it back to the store and tell them what had happened. I never heard what they paid but they did end up with another new Trumpet.
I watched a very strong friend in college tear the leadpipe from his trumpet with his bare hands. While impressive it was costly and the mouthpiece was still stuck when the laughter subsided. The braces that hold your instrument together are soldered, not welded, and it’s possible that the person gripping your horn is stronger than that solder.
The most common damage is scars, scuffs and grooves left behind by tools. Usually this is minor damage but irritating. Most often it’s done by using the wrong tools, but even a proper mouthpiece removal tool can leave marks if it’s not used properly. Occasionally the use of extreme force can twist a leadpipe, break a soldered joint or two or damage the valve casings. It’s better to stop trying just before you do that damage rather than stopping just afterward.
Removing a Stuck Trumpet Mouthpiece
The lesson here is: don’t use any non-specialized tool or even extreme strength to pull a stuck mouthpiece.
Find someone with a proper mouthpiece remover tool or go buy one if it’s becoming a habit..
Just for fun I’m going to prune the Trumpet Vine and see what kind of damage I can inflict. If its any fun I’ll post a photo!