I am wondering why the mouthpieces are not cast using centrifugal
casting? I have done several million pieces of sterling over the
last 20 years, and I think your pieces would be simple to cast. I
know you could use vacuum casting, but I just have no experience.
That’s a good question.
I may be wrong (I have no experience in this matter) but one reason
I would be cautious about casting the cups (the hollow tube part) is
that they are quite thin and tolerances would have to be extremely
good. The walls are about 0.4 mm thick and I wouldn’t want them to
risk them getting much thinner than this at any point.
I agree that centrifugal casting would be better (at least
theoretically) from a quality-control perspective when it comes to
making the rims. As I’m a hobbyist this would either involve getting
them made commercially, or investing in a lot of equipment. If I end
up making more than a few of them then this may prove worthwhile, but
for one-offs I think the Delft clay method is simpler and cheaper,
and the results seem very good.
The final, and most important reason, is simply that I’m interested
in making the mouthpieces in the ‘traditional’ way - which means
seamed tubing and a separate rim. Also, they’re good ‘practice’ for
making larger instruments - a lot of the skills are the same and a
mistake on a tiny mouthpiece is less expensive than a mistake with a
There’s an interesting story about copies of baroque instruments.
Until recently, they tended to be made from modern seamless tubing.
However, people complained that they never quite sounded the same as
the surviving antique instruments. Now it seems that they were simply
’too perfect’. Seamed tubes aren’t quite as regular as seamless
tubes. There are slight ripples in them. They have a slightly wider
bore towards the middle of the tubes because you have to burnish them
in order to release them from the mandrels used to form them. The
result is that the older instruments don’t hold a note as well,
which paradoxical as it may sound is a good thing as it means that
you can ‘lip’ each note sharper or flatter to match the tuning of
Of course, if I were that much of a purist I would use a historical
brass containing oodles of lead, rather than Argentium silver!