Established in 2006, Frate Precision is the brainchild of trumpet graduate and expert metal-worker Dario Frate. From the facility in Lombardy, Italy they offer a broad range of mouthpieces that are growing in recognition and popularity around the world.Dario has kindly shared some of his thoughts and experiences with me below, followed by a review from Jaime Tyser of Thompson Music, who has been playing these mouthpieces for a couple of years now.
Dario, how (and why!) did you get started with this? Can you tell us a little about your background?
In 2004 I attended the Musikmesse in Germany where I saw numerous exhibitors, but I had the feeling that something in brass mouthpieces was missing.
Therefore I decided to try to create a new Italian mouthpiece dedicated to professional players.
When I was younger I graduated in trumpet studying with the trumpet players of the orchestra of Scala di Milano. Later I worked for 20 years in a big factory as a specialized programmer and expert metalworker on CNC machines – so I put together my knowledge of this along with my experience as a trumpet player!
Working in mechanics is cold, but when through mechanics you can produce something that allows a musician to make art, it becomes the best job in the world. The mechanics are then at the service of the art.
I find it really gratifying to help other musicians.
The trumpet (like other brass instruments) is a special instrument – there is no external part that generates the sound, we are the sound producer so the trumpet becomes part of our body!
What were your priorities when setting out to put together a range of mouthpieces? What did you want to do differently to other manufacturers?
The market is already full of good mouthpieces and there is only space for something new if it is offering something different. The priority for me was the richness and fluidity of the sound. A mouthpiece that vibrates in an easier way thanks to its high quality materials and improved geometric shape. The result is a very different sound and response from our range of mouthpieces.
Before starting my company, I hadn’t worked for any other brass manufacturers so my products are not copies of mouthpieces that already exist.
Have there been any challenges that you have faced along the way?
Since starting in 2006 I have faced several challenges along the way, most importantly with myself!
It is a real challenge at the age of 40 to quit your job, design and make a new product, and start attending the international fairs… in another new language!
I know. You have to be a little crazy. I followed my heart and my passion as a trumpet player rather than reason!
What new developments are you currently working on?
At this moment I am improving the Classic model for trumpet with an another shank length – the medium length shank. It is another alternative option for C trumpet.
The standard length of our classic model is 87.5mm. The new medium length of the classic is 80mm and will be available in all combinations of cup, rim and throat. There are a number of backbores available for this model and it will be available in both classic and multigap.
In addition to this, there is also the short trumpet shank (74.5mm) that is really good for Eb and Piccolo – perfect intonation in all registers.
Jaime Tyser of Thompson Music, Nebraska USA has been using Frate Precision for a while now and has shared her thoughts with us:
My first contact with the Frate Precision mouthpieces was a few years ago when I was playing the 2nd book for the touring broadway ELF. The lead player on tour with them handed me a mouthpiece and said I should check it out! I took it to a church gig and played on it and I remember thinking, ‘wow! This thing has such a great sound!’ However, it was much too big of a diameter for me to get a really good feel for it.
I put it in the back of my mind for a while but it was in the fall of 2014 that I decided to order an experimental group for Thompson Music. There were a couple of reasons for this, it always stuck out in my mind as a product that had potential and I was searching for something a little better to play the 5th onstage part of Mahler 2 for. I ordered a size that fit me, and after a week of playing it I was completely hooked on it. While playing the Mahler, it allowed me to match the other players in sound color, while making it easier for me to move around from supportive lower notes to a few unison high ones. It was very easy to articulate cleanly as well which is so important!
The Frate Precision mouthpieces are very customizable as far as diameter, depth, rim contour, throat, and backbore. It is very possible to find the perfect match for you. The color of sound is very wonderful, I feel that it is a Bach type of sound, but with a lot more character and liveliness to it. The intonation is extremely good, when I play soft the response is still immediate and centered, and when I play loud the sound and pitch does not distort.
In the summer of 2015 I went to Traona, Italy to meet Dario Frate and see where he makes mouthpieces. (And let’s be honest, just to have an excuse to go to Italy). He is an extremely skilled machinist, each mouthpiece is able to be replicated perfectly each time and the designs of the backbores and other characteristics have been carefully thought out.
As I listen to more and more people in the store play these mouthpieces, I see them sell quickly and I hear the difference immediately. The Italian love for quality, a beautiful tone color, and captivating music is the foundation of these mouthpieces. I now own my first whole set of mouthpieces – trumpet, piccolo, flugel, and cornet – and I have loved each one from the day I got it! I am constantly happy with the ease of playability, pitch center, sound quality, dynamic capabilities, articulations, all of it!
– Jaime 3MS, 3, 106 – multi gap
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