20 Years of History - The Evolution of Unity Mouthpieces

The first hints of Unity mouthpieces took form twenty years ago in the early 2000's when we introduced our first Monette Prana mouthpieces. These radically improved mouthpieces incorporated a new approach to proportioning the mouthpiece cup and backbore that immediately made playing into the upper register much easier. At the same time, these new mouthpieces provided more brilliance in the sound, greatly improved intonation and more consistency in response though all dynamics and registers. One high profile client commented they felt like a little jet engine was built-in to the mouthpiece to speed up the air, making the response faster and energizing the sound.

As we started making more and more Prana mouthpieces, we were inspired to optimize rim and cup designs to get the most out of the enhanced pitch-center that Prana mouthpieces provided. The first Monette mouthpieces that employed cup design details that would eventually evolve into our new Unity mouthpieces were Maynard Ferguson’s MFIII, Charlie Schlueter’s B1-1S1 and Wynton’s B2S3.

The goal with these improved cup designs was simply to come up with mouthpieces that were an improvement in every way over the original Monette designs. We were looking for them to be faster but more stable in response, to feel more comfortable on the chops, to be more forgiving to play, to have a larger sweet spot on each note, and most notably to play with more freedom and flexibility when playing into the upper register. Maynard and the other top players we work with immediately took to the new designs and never looked back.

The results of these improvements were obvious; these new mouthpieces helped Charlie Schlueter, Wynton and others we closely work with to regularly play up to double C and above with relative ease. (Wynton’s “Magic Hour” CD, recorded in 2003, had ground breaking upper register pyrotechnics that were simply stunning. Charlie Schlueter’s solo CD “Statements” includes three world premier pieces that were written for him that have demanding extreme upper register passages that he brilliantly played on his decorated presentation Raja C trumpet—with its built-in Prana mouthpiece).

Another important development occurred in 2008 when we delivered Ron Miles’ new radical Sattva instrument, pitched in low G. We went through over 70 individual mouthpiece refinements before this instrument was ready for delivery! Ron’s final “Sattva” mouthpiece, with its unique, extra-large cup design, incorporated even more of the key fundamental design features that made Maynard’s MFIII and Wynton’s B2S3 a success. Ron told us repeatedly that the intonation and ease in changing registers was unmatched by any of his previous Monette instruments, and this would not have been possible without the radical new Sattva mouthpiece we designed for him.

In 2012, we made Wynton a new, updated RAJA P3 trumpet. This new instrument inspired our B2S5 mouthpiece, which Wynton immediately found played with even more ease in all registers and at all dynamic levels, compared to his previous B2S3.

The next big contribution to Unity mouthpieces came along in 2018, when we made Itamar Borochov’s Raja four valve quarter tone trumpet. When Itamar arrived at our shop, we could “hear” the new custom mouthpiece he needed as he played his first notes on the new trumpet. We got on the computer and drew up his new mouthpiece design on the spot—incorporating cup design elements that we had built into Wynton’s, Ron’s and Maynard’s mouthpieces.

Within the first few minutes of playing his new quarter-tone trumpet and matching new integral mouthpiece at our shop, Itamar was consistently playing effortless D’s over double C - his first notes ever in that extended range of the trumpet. At our shop, Jason Gunderson (the Monette shop's Operations Manager) referred to this new mouthpiece that had so wildly extended Itamar’s range as the “Itamarsalis-ferguchov” model!

In 2020, we started incorporating design details from all these sequentially improved mouthpiece designs into more and more custom Raja “integral mouthpiece” instruments. The trend continued with dramatic improvements in the extreme upper and lower registers, more brilliance and projection, and a bigger, cleaner sound with more pronounced slots on every note.

The culmination of this work has been realized in even more refined mouthpiece designs in 2021 that we have built into Wynton’s new Raja XLT PLUS trumpet, Ron Miles’ new Raja Infinity trumpet, and just a few months ago into Theo Croker’s new custom Raja Tantra P3 trumpet. Ingrid Jensen, Charlie Porter and Patrick Hession now also play new Unity mouthpieces that we custom designed for them based on the core improvements we developed for Wynton, Ron, and Theo.

With these radical new mouthpieces being used with such success by so many of our most well-known clients, we finally decided to extend these design refinements into a new line of mouthpieces specifically developed for use with popular, mass produced, non-Monette instruments.

After a tremendous amount of prototyping and refinement, we now have all-new designs in our 15 most popular rim and cup sizes. This brings the same improvements that the famous players we work with have been enjoying to a much larger field of players.

These new mouthpieces include new rim designs for Charlie Porter and Ingrid Jensen (B2-7), and Mike Thompson and our own Jason Gunderson (B1-7). We also came up with a new Maynard-style lead trumpet mouthpiece called the Unity MF VI. It has all the advantages of the other new a unity lead mouthpieces with an updated rim contour. Finally, Patrick Hession got a new update to his BL-4 size lead mouthpiece that incorporates the same musical improvements of the new MF VI and other updated Unity lead sizes. (Check out Patrick’s wild video on the main Unity Mouthpiece page).



The importance of these new mouthpiece designs for use on non-Monette instruments really hit home in June 2021 when local jazz trumpeter and educator Derek Sims visited our shop. He asked if there was anything we could do for him in a mouthpiece upgrade for use on his mass-produced, production trumpet. His timing was perfect; we had a mouthpiece already made up and gold plated made with Wynton’s new Unity cup design and backbore as an in-house shop sample.

As Derek played it for us - from the very first notes - every possible aspect of sound, response, projection and intonation was improved. He described it as magic - an unbelievable upgrade - a dream come true. At that point in the year we were all a bit exhausted from developing three ground-breaking new Unity Raja instruments for Wynton, Ron Miles and Theo Croker. But it was clear we needed to move full steam ahead to finish up the work we had started to adapt this all-new mouthpiece design