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Discussion Starter #1
I have been looking for a good backup to my Fobes 10K SV bass clarinet mouthpiece, since he won't be making more of them. The Vandoren B50 is close, but not quite right. It just has a little too much buzz and not enough focus/fundamental for my tastes and the way that I like to play. The SV is perfect, but I worry about what I'd do if anything were to happen to it. Plus, I'm a geek and I love to try new things.

So I ordered a Concept from Thomann. For anyone in the US, the Concept/Focus bass clarinet mouthpieces are confusingly expensive through American retailers ($350 from Kessler). This seems to be the fault of the US distributer, not the shops marking up or anything. Thomann has it for $177 (USD), so even including their (very fast and reasonable) shipping costs, it was worth it to order from Germany.

Even more perplexing, the Bb clarinet Concept/Focus mouthpieces are available in the US for about $100, which is more than the $85 they go for on Thomann, but not unreasonably so. If I just wanted to try one of those, I'd have no problem buying from an American retailer, especially once shipping is factored in.

Anyways, I got both in a few days ago and they are interesting. The bass mouthpiece has a bit more resistance and is a bit darker (high overtones are less present) than the B50 or the Fobes and has a bit of a rounder sound than either one, though I think it tends a bit towards stuffiness. It has great upper register control and is remarkably even across the second break (upper clarion to altissimo), which I find is a much trickier one on the bass than the lower break. The downside seems to be that it really tops out, volume-wise, well before the Fobes or the B50. That is something that happens for me when my reed is a bit too hard, so I'd like to try some other reeds on there. I'm playing the same Vandoren blue box #2.5 reeds on all three mouthpieces. I have some Gonzalez French cut #2.5 reeds somewhere that were a bit too soft for me on the Fobes that I might dig out to try next. I like my reeds really soft, though, so others might not have this same problem.

Overall, though, the Concept seems like a pretty solid mouthpiece and the shape of the beak is very comfortable, though the long, stylish shape does mean my ligature has to go a bit lower than I want. Not a big deal.

I also ordered a Bb clarinet Concept, since I'd been curious about them and figured I'd save a few bucks on it while I was already paying for shipping from Thomann.

This one is fantastic! I've been looking for something like it for a long time and hadn't quite found it, but I'm in love.

I have wanted to find a mouthpiece that had a bit more resistance that would let me use a softer reed. I used to play a Fobes CF with a #4 V12 and have been moving through a few more intermediate mouthpieces and gradually softer reeds over the last few years, going through a B40, a Reserve X10 and lately going back and forth between a Fobes 10K 4L or a Kaspar Ann Arbor with a V12 #3. The Fobes is great, but sometimes feels like it wants a slightly harder reed, which I don't want to use. I think I've started multiple threads about this search, so I'll spare you more detail than that.

The one that always seemed like it was close, but not right was always the B40. It has a pretty open tip and a lot of resistance, which let me play a Blue Box #2.5 and still get a pretty classical sound. That one was just too dark, though, and always felt like it lacked a bit of focus and clarity that I think gives the clarinet that "ring" in the tone. It felt good, but I never got along with the sound. It always felt a bit dull to me.

For me, the Concept gives a very similar resistance level to the B40 but gives a very clear, focused tone. I am playing it with a blue box #2.5 and the softer, brighter reed works great on this mouthpiece. I feel like it has great control at any dynamic across the range of the instrument and, once I figured out which reed strength to use, I felt right at home on this one from the get-go. Intonation is excellent, though I don't have intonation problems with any of the mouthpieces mentioned. I would love to play in an orchestra with this one. I think the tone would carry perfectly in a large ensemble.

Both Concept mouthpieces have an interesting chamber design, with a trapezoidal throat. Both have what feels like a decent amount of material in the baffle area (for a clarinet, measured highly scientifically by running my finger from the tip back) and then a floor that stays higher than the Vandoren and Zinner blank mouthpieces that I've handled and actually steps down into the bore/chamber. The Fobes 10K bass mouthpiece also does this. The Bb 10K doesn't seem to. I'm not positive what effect this would have, just interesting to note.

Anyways, I'm curious to know if anyone else has played these and has thoughts on them. I had initially thought that the bass mouthpiece was just Selmer's attempt to make a B50 (and maybe it was), but it's absolutely something different. In terms of build quality, you can tell by looking at the rails and tip that they aren't made with as much care as my Fobes 10K mouthpieces, but they seem fine as production-line mouthpieces go. The designs seem to be pretty solid and I'm excited to get to know them better.
 

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Based upon the pictures shown on www.wwbw.com, I would not even be willing to pay $10 for one of those concept Selmer bass clarinet mouthpieces. The pictures show a mouthpiece that is at best rough and Un finished with a tip rail a mile wide. Looks like a $319 door stop .
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I mean, the tip rail doesn't need to be thin, it needs to be right. It will have an effect on the mouthpiece, but thinner is not always better. The main difference between the Vandoren B40 and B45 mouthpieces is the tip rail, according to Vandoren. They have the same facing, but the thicker tip rail on the B40 makes it a completely different (and, in my opinion, preferable) mouthpiece. The Concept, B50 and my Fobes 10K SV (2.15mm tip opening) all have pretty thick tip rails. I asked Clark Fobes about the tip rail on the 10K and he told me that thick tip rails on the more open tip openings seem to reduce resistance. I think it's a design feature.

The San Francisco RR that I have from Clark has a very thin tip rail, so it's not like he doesn't know how to do them.

I would imagine the more important factor is how the tip rail transitions to the baffle, especially on a clarinet mouthpiece where you aren't dealing with a lot of baffle material in the first place.
 

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I've played Concept soprano pieces for about two years now. On one of them I had the rails improved, and the other one played very fine from the start. With Buffet clarinets (442Hz tuning) they are a good match.

I don't like the Focus really much. Tried it, and decided to go for the Concept. Overall I think these Selmer pieces are better and more consistent than e.g. the Vandoren 5RV.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I'm a few weeks in on these and I'm loving both of them. Once I got used to the additional resistance of the bass mouthpiece, I've actually come to prefer it a bit over my fobes. It can certainly take a lot of air without the tone falling apart.

I'm happy with both of these and would recommend them to anyone looking for clarinet mouthpieces that have a bit more built-in resistance. Just remember to bring some soft reeds.
 

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After using a stock vintage C*, a Vandoren B40 and a Grabner Lawrie Bloom for many years, I settled on a Concept last year. It’s increidble and I would highly encourage anyone to give them a try! Perfect stock Selmer bass piece that is very versatile
 
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