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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been doubling for quite a while- 20 years or so- mostly pit orchestra reed books. I have found that when moving from Alto or Tenor to Bb Clarinet, the clarinet mouthpiece seems very resistant. Like blowing against a wall. My setup on alto & tenor is generally a Caravan with Vandoren Blue Box 3.5 reeds. (If I'm playing a more modern or a Jazz/Pop/Rock show, I will use a HR Meyer 7 & Rico Royal 3 reeds for both saxes.) For those who aren't familiar with the Caravan, these mouthpieces are a little smaller chamber than the Vandoren AL3/TL3 & can be a bit less vibrant.

As for Clarinet, I have experimented on Morgan, Johnston, Vandoren 5RV Lyre and B45 mouthpieces. The Morgan and the Johnston mouthpieces are great when I'm playing exclusively clarinet, and not switching back and forth. The 5RV Lyre lacks personality IMO, but responds pretty well. The B45 is a bit bright and tend toward some intonation difficulties.

Any suggestions? Feedback would be welcomed!!
 

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I use a Claude Lakey 5* clarinet mouthpiece for the very reasons you cite. It's the most free-blowing of all my clarinet mouthpieces - very sax like. Not only that, I use a Fibracell soprano sax reed and the combination makes doubling (which is about 1 in 10 tunes for me) is seamless. A purist or specialist classical clarinettist might question my tone but in my music style - traditional jazz - my tone is considered pretty good. Lakey mouthpieces are also fairly inexpensive.
 

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Have you experimented with different reeds? This might be an easier/cheaper aspect to begin with. I have played a B45 for as long as I can remember especially doubling and not found it to be particularly resistant. Have you practiced switching between the two while in the practice room? (Took me a long time to think of practicing switching between the two but it really does help!) Anyways all the best! :)


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Fobes San Fransisco with a long facing, I use a 3L, and it's free flexible and free blowing. Vandoren mpcs are very inefficient by comparison.
 

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The clarinet is supposed to be more resistant, it's a different beast. Personally, I don't want a free blowing mouthpiece on clarinet, I want it to feel different from the saxophone.


...The B45 is a bit bright and tend toward some intonation difficulties....
Does it play sharp ? I used to play one before switching to a Rico Reserve X10. It plays darker and more in tune, but is even more resistant than the B45.
 

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DocSaxBock, I read your post thoroughly and came to a resolution that you can stand to lessen your reed strength a half step.
Seriously consider trying vandoren V12 3 reeds, they are excellent playing reeds with a B45 and even better with a selmer C*.
 

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I recently moved from Vandoren B45L & 5JB to a Selmer C85-120 for similar reasons.
 

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Portnoy 2 or 3.
I've been using a Portnoy 3 with Mitchel Lurie Premium reeds in a 3 for ~15 years in the pit.
Free blowing, flexable, resonant, no intonation issues on any of my clarinets, and I play horns from the 1920's/30s through a 2001ish Selmer Signature.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I have tried different reeds, but perhaps not to the extremes. The B45 isn't resistant- guess I wasn't very clear on that. I'm just not fond of my sound on it & I tend to play a bit flat on it as well. A softer reed helps, but then the tone gets a lot brighter/edgier as a result.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The clarinet is supposed to be more resistant, it's a different beast. ... I want it to feel different from the saxophone.

Does it play sharp ?
I find that the B45 plays flat... I don't mind that its a different animal, just trying to make the switches more comfortable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
DocSaxBock, I read your post thoroughly and came to a resolution that you can stand to lessen your reed strength a half step.
Seriously consider trying vandoren V12 3 reeds, they are excellent playing reeds with a B45 and even better with a selmer C*.
Thanks, Lambros- I forgot to include my reeds on clarinet (sorry). I play on Vandoren 3 Blue Box (sometimes V12) when I'm doubling. Definitely don't want to go any softer than that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for the replies, everyone. Lots of food for thought. I have been an educator and performer for almost 20 years, and I'm still struck by how much there is out there to learn. This is such a great forum, with so many helpful people- wish I had joined long ago.

One more question- Is there anyone out there that uses a similar setup to mine on alto/tenor & doubles on clarinet? I would love to get an apples to apples approach on this. Caravan Medium Chamber mouthpiece (or Vandoren AL3/TL3 or similar) with Vandoren Traditional or V12 reeds (3, 3.5,4). If so, what is your clarinet mouthpiece reed setup?

Thanks for the replies, guys! Keep them coming!
 

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I had the same issue with my clarinet, until I happen to play a different clarinet at a music store. I found it was the clarinet! I could barely play my wood clarinet, but when I got on a Selmer 1400, it was a breeze by incomparison. And this was after I got it repaired by a really god repairman.

Go to a good local shop and try some clarinets, even if they are student models you will have a comparison.
 

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I do not play set-ups like yours on alto - don't play tenor, but I do play soprano saxophone.

Hard to make recommendations to other players, but as long as the OP mentioned playing flat on some mouthpieces, I'll offer this:

I TOO play flat on a lot of clarinet set-ups. I am NOT a trained clarinetist, though . . . picked it up along the way and pretty much self-taught. But when I was friends with Claude Lakey I used to stop by his little house/shop in Arleta, CA (a San Fernando Valley/L.A. City community) and I bought several mouthpieces from him over the years.

He told me he made his clarinet pieces to A-443 and by gollies, that's what brings me up to pitch. So like Pat Miller, I use Lakey's 5* pieces (one is marked "5*D", the D for me) on my clarinets.

In the past, I used Selmer H**, Meyer, Vandoren 66, 5JB ,and B45. But the Lakey's, for me anyways, played very easily, up-to-pitch (which is really a good thing for me), and with power and focus. I use Fibracell Premiere 1 1/2 synthetic reeds on them. I just went through a bunch of clarinet pieces this AM and they all sounded flat compared to the Lakeys. And, they proved to be flat when I tried them against my tuned piano. DAVE
 

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Thanks, Lambros- I forgot to include my reeds on clarinet (sorry). I play on Vandoren 3 Blue Box (sometimes V12) when I'm doubling. Definitely don't want to go any softer than that.
Well a 2.5 would make it easier blowing. If you want it more like a sax then a wider tip opening can help but that can introduce issues with tuning or tone.
A clarinet will be more resistant and you need to use a different amount of pressure to a sax. Personally I think your set-up on clarinet looks OK. Maybe a bit of practise switching between the two would help. Or maybe just scraping the reed a little to make it a fraction easier blowing would help?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I do not play set-ups like yours on alto - don't play tenor, but I do play soprano saxophone.

Claude Lakey ...told me he made his clarinet pieces to A-443 and by gollies, that's what brings me up to pitch. So like Pat Miller, I use Lakey's 5* pieces
That is very interesting, Dave. I've heard a couple of people speak (thanks to pat miller, too) about the Lakey mouthpieces- and fortunately, I live near Fred Weiner's, so I will definitely try them out when I'm there.
 

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I like the Portnoy as well, although I used a 1, rather than bandmommy's 3. The Borbecks tend to be easy to blow, and have a nice sound. That is what I am using now (after using the Portnoy for a very long time.)
 

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Definitely don't want to go any softer than that.
Why not? If you haven't got the breath pressure and lip support, then you are like a beginner. Beginners use softer reeds. But many accomplished layers would use a 2.5, although a 3 is usually advantageous for the 4th octave. (Do you play there?)

Clarinet is a totally different animal. expect it to need a lot more breath pressure (and lower lip pressure to support that.)
I think if you try to make it as easy to play as a sax then you will almost certainly finish up a rather distasteful sound.

And definitely get the instrument checked for leaks. Even very small leaks can make a clarinet very difficult to play, like playing the first octave of a sax with the register key pressed.
 
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