Boston Symphony bass trombonist Douglas Yeo is one of our favorite customers. When he’s not working with the orchestra or maintaining his gigantic web site (yeodoug.com), he’s a devotee of early brass, specifically serpents and ophcleides. Ohecleides are like the bass version of keyed bugles, sort of like a saxophone with a cup mouthpiece. Berlioz wrote a lot of ophecleide parts, including a comic duet for ophecleide and bass drum in Benvenuto Cellini.
Recently, Doug asked us to build him a special mouthpiece for his ophecleide. He had gotten one he liked from an Australian maker but it was too small for him. We copied it and then enlarged the dimensions to Doug’s standard 28mm inside diameter. The outside of the piece had to be modified as well to accommodate the wider cup. It’s important to maintain the wall thickness so, after redesigning the cup, we carried the same contour to the outside.
Copying a complex outside shape can be a challenge. It’s possible to make a cast and digitize the outside the same way we do the cup and rim but unless there is a need for absolute accuracy it’s usually more satisfactory to do it the old-fashioned way, by measuring and making a drawing. (Of course, once the drawing is made it’s converted to a computer file so the CNC lathe can cut it.) In this case the fact that we were making major changes to the contours made drawing the obvious choice.