After a lot of research, I finally decided to take the plunge and purchase a Giddings solid titanium mouthpiece in December. I've looked at these mouthpieces and have seriously considered buying one for the past several years, but at $346 each (and without the option to try before buying) I knew that I needed to be absolutely sure that it would fit my needs before taking the plunge.
I was able to get in contact with Ian Giddings through email and he was able to answer some of my questions. Before purchasing I needed to confirm that his mouthpieces are all solid titanium. I didn't want to be stuck in the same place that my H-Kote Houser Mouthpiece left me (where I was constantly having to check the coating and reapply a barrier). Ian Giddings was able to confirm for me that his titanium mouthpieces are solid titanium and that this would not be an issue. He also shared with me that many brass players with nickel allergies have found his stainless-steel mouthpieces to work for them. He said that over the years he has only had 4 brass players report an allergic reaction to the stainless-steel mouthpieces that he sells. This was great news to hear, although I knew that the stainless-steel would not work for me personally.
After speaking to Ian Giddings I was sure that I was ready to buy a Giddings mouthpiece but I still felt unsure of what model to purchase. I had asked Ian Giddings if it might be possible to try a few different options before committing to one. Because I needed a titanium model (which are custom made), this was not an option. He also wasn't very helpful in helping me choose a model, I'm sure this was partly due to my own lack of knowledge of what I wanted from a mouthpiece. I still felt overwhelmed and isolated. I was really unsure of what model to purchase. My allergies have always made me feel disconnected from the mouthpiece part of the brass world. I've never had the option to easily try or experiment with different mouthpieces. Because of this, I really didn't know what I wanted in a mouthpiece or what I thought would help improve my playing. I spent a long time comparing measurements of the different designs to my Houser and Kelly mouthpieces. Eventually I settled on the Giddings 310. This mouthpiece is modeled after Schilke's 31B. Giddings website describes it as "designed to project a powerful and balanced sound."
I was ecstatic when my new mouthpiece arrived. I was shocked by how light the mouthpiece is. Titanium is known for being light-weight, but I didn't expect it to weigh less than my Kelly Mouthpiece. I was a little concerned about this at first, as I've always felt like the light-weight of my Kelly Mouthpiece could be part of the reason why I've always found it to be difficult to project my sound with a Kelly Mouthpiece. I was happy to discover that this was not an issue with the Giddings Mouthpiece.
I've been playing exclusively on my Giddings Mouthpiece since December. I do feel like it's taken some time to adjust to. I think that the actual shape of the mouthpiece is what I've had to adjust to most. Now that I've gotten used to it, I'm really enjoying it and finding it to be much better than any mouthpiece I've used in the past. However, I'm still not 100% sure whether I picked the best model for myself. Still, I'm determined to make it work, especially since it cost so much.
I love how responsive my Giddings Mouthpiece is. I've always felt like my sound has always been fuzzier and not quite as crisp as I wanted. I've always thought this was a problem with my own playing, but I've recently realized that a lot of this issue has stemmed from my mouthpieces. My articulations are so much better on my Giddings Mouthpiece. They are clear, crisp, and effortless to produce. It also responds well to changes in range. I'm still working on feeling 100% comfortable in the really low and really high end of the horn, but it gets better every time I play. Overall, I do feel like the high range if much easier to navigate on this mouthpiece.
The best news of all? I haven't had a single reaction from my new Giddings Mouthpiece and because it's 100% titanium, I don't have to worry about the coating wearing off.
If you're in the market for a hypoallergenic mouthpiece and willing to spend a small fortune, look no further. It's a lot of money, but I can already say that it's been worth it. If you're 100% sure that you are not allergic to stainless-steel, try one of their stainless-steel mouthpieces. You'll still get a fantastic mouthpiece, but will spend about $150 less.