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Discussion Starter #1
In recent months and a couple of conversations with Ron Coelho of RPC, I've started to formulate some ideas around the difference between resistance from the mouthpiece and resistance from the reed and what sort of balance I personally like between the two. This led to me wanting to move away from my current setup, a Fobes San Francisco CF, which I feel requirs a stiffer reed than I like playing.

I wanted to try a couple of mouthpieces that had more open tips that might allow me to play a slightly softer reed, so I ordered a Vandoren B40 and, partly because I've been curious about them since they were announced, a D'Addario Reserve X10. I know I might have gotten a better comparison out of an X15 or an M30 Lyre, but went with these two just to try a couple of gradations of tip opening, which I think I got.

First impressions are that both of these are very good! Once I figured out reed strengths for these, I was quite pleased with the intonation, response and tone quality of each of these mouthpieces.

The D'Addario has an appealing clarity and "ring" to the sound that I was enjoying quite a lot. I didn't find the tone to be as naturally colorful (some might say bright) as the Fobes or as warm as the Vandoren. I suspect that what the D'Addario gives up in perceived warmth it might make up for in tonal definition, which might help it carry better than the Vandoren. I found this one to be more focused than the Vandoren, with a nice compactness that I like in my tone, though I did feel like I had to warm up the sound a bit and voice a bit more spread. This is in a small room, though, and in a concert setting, that clarity might be worth more than the up-close warmth. I could go either way between a V12 #3.5 or a V12 #3 on this one, but with a slight edge to the #3.5.

The Vandoren is one that I've tried in the past that didn't appeal to me at the time, since I was really into the closed tip/hard reed thing back then. Today, I was quite enjoying it with a V12 #3 or a Blue Box #2.5, both of which are significantly softer than I've played in many years on the little clarinet. It's definitely a different feeling, but one that was appealing to me. This mouthpiece definitely feels darker than either of the others from behind the horn, which is not necessarily a good thing. I worry that the tone won't carry as well as the more-defined sound of the D'Addario or the Fobes, even though it is probably just as loud. The tonal possibilities of using a brighter, softer reed like the Blue Box #2.5 were interesting, though, and I'm excited to explore that further. The softer reeds definitely feel different to play even if the "net resistance" is comparable.

In comparison, my Fobes, which I play with a #3.5+ V12 (and would really sound better if I could still play #4's on it), has a tone that might be described as "bright" but I would call "colorful" in comparison to these two, which are more subdued. It's sort of the inverse of the B40. The mouthpiece has minimal resistance and a bright character that can be toned down with a hard reed. With the reeds that I can play on this mouthpiece nowadays, I feel like it requires me to ride a bit of a razor's edge to get the tone where I want it, since I don't quite have the face muscles to play a #4 anymore.

This first couple of hours going back and forth has been confirmation that this direction (more open tip and a softer reed than I've been using) is one that is, at a minimum, worth exploring for me. Maybe eventually I'll try some of the more "boutique" mouthpieces in this range. I have had great experiences with Clark Fobes and I have heard Brad Behn talking about how he builds his mouthpieces to use softer reeds as well and I like what he seems to be about. But who knows? Both of these mouthpieces seem quite good and it seems pretty possible that one of them will become my main one.

For now.

Anyone else have experiences with these mouthpieces? Or other middle of the road mouthpieces like these that you like?
 

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Discussion Starter #2
For anyone keeping track, I've had the chance to go back and forth between these for the last few days (probably 6-7 hours of playing time) and I think I am going to see how the B40 does as my only mouthpiece for now. It really does play quite well for me and I appreciate the added resistance of the mouthpiece allowing me to use a softer reed. I feel like I am able to shape the tone a bit more this way and also like I can get the sound I want with less force.

It's a little strange being able to get a good, clear "classical" sound out of a #2.5 Vandoren Traditional, but it feels great!

Also funny that in the past when I tried the B40, something never quite clicked for me, but this time around I'm really enjoying it. I guess we'll have to see if it sticks, but it's interesting how our tastes, playing styles, voicing styles and physical preferences change over time. We're lucky to have so many great options out there.
 

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I have recently tried the D'Addario X10 and the X25E. These are nice mouthpieces, but for me, there was something missing in the tone, that bright "ping" that I like in the upper register. I especially struggled with the X10, at times I felt the tone was a bit dull, and I just can't seem to wring the volume necessary in big band or pit orchestra settings out of it. I had a bit more success with the X25E. I was intrigued by this 'piece because it's tuned to 442. I sometimes have issues getting up to pitch, even with a 65mm barrel. The wider tip opening on this mouthpiece has me in more familiar territory, and have more success getting acceptable volume from it. The tone is a bit more "pingy". I could use this one if I HAD to, and in fact used it on the start of the run of Guys and Dolls I'm currently playing. Last two shows, though I went back to my old funky Wells Chicago B2. It just feels like home to me.
 

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I currently play D'Addario X15 and it suits me. I also have a Claude Lakey 5, but this had some problems with intonation. Maybe I am not quite get used to it, but it is louder, than any of my current mpcs.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I definitely feel like the D'Addario is a good quality mouthpiece that might be an alternative to the normally-recommended Vandoren pieces in the price range. This one just isn't really what I want right now, though I am going to keep it around. My tastes have been a bit all over the place lately and I'll probably be looking for something in between the Fobes and Vandoren sometime in the future.
 

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I played the X25E for about an hour last night. It may be growing on me. Playing around with reeds has helped me find a happier place as far as volume and ring to the sound. I'm going to spend some time with it today and tomorrow.
 

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I’ve had a pretty similar experience! I played fobes pieces for a bit but found them needing a stiffer reed than I prefer as a doubler also. Tried the d Addario pieces and liked the x25E but it was not quite as loud or flexible for me as the two Vandoren pieces I find as Home base, an old b45 (small font numbers on side) and a not quite as old (15 years or so) 5RVlyre. These two I rotate between depending what I’m playing, switching reed strength between 2 1/2 and something slightly harder than a 3. It’s been a process to figure out my comfort zone with reed strength/opening/chops. I’ve settled on what I’ve already got as I can come back to the horn if I haven’t been playing much clarinet without killing my chops.
 

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I also have a new b45 dot profile 88 piece that has more resistance but plays darker with still a soft reed that I use from time to time. Doesn’t seem to have the ring of my older pieces but still plays and articulates well, also seems more reed friendly.
 

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My main two pieces are a couple of Fobes pieces, a couple Cicero pieces I don't remember which sizes, I think they are a Cicero 11 and 12. They do seem to like hard reeds, but personally I don't feel like it is more resistant with them than softer reeds on other pieces. That being said, I tend to like more closed shorter facing pieces on clarinet.

If you are comparing an D'addario X10 to a Fobes CF, the tip openings are really quite different (1.12mm vs .96mm). Then add on the Vandoren B40 to that which is 119.5, your not really comparing similar pieces at all. If your wanting a longer facing more open tip piece, then the CF probably wouldn't be the best choice. He does make a lot of pieces all the way up to the "Jazz" which is probably close to the B40 you tried. You can see his chart here:
https://www.clarkwfobes.com/pages/mouthpiece-chart

I have a couple Selmer pieces, a couple Vandoren pieces, a Rico Reserve piece (pre-D'addario rebrand), a Portnoy piece, and the two Fobes pieces. The Fobes ones are the ones I always turn to, but that is me.

I think maybe for what you are looking for you might want to check out Portnoy pieces. They are pretty free blowing, and the Portnoy BP03 is a pretty common doubler's piece.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Yeah, my intention wasn't really to see if they were comparable, just to see if I liked the way a mouthpiece with a longer facing and more open tip played with a softer reed and if that was a way that I could sound the way I want (basically a completely classical sound that I can push hard) with a softer reed. So far, the difference is noticeable for me.

I just don't find that mouthpiece resistance and reed resistance feel the same, so finding the right balance between each matters to me. The clarinet has been my primary instrument for almost 20 years now, and I find that I sound basically the same on all of these, it's just a matter of what feels good doing it.

If I decide that I like the more open mouthpiece, I might try some of Clark's other mouthpieces, since I love his work. But right now I just want to try something drastically different to see if that is a direction that I want to go. Experimenting with these things with Fobes San Francisco mouthpieces would require putting a lot more money on the credit card than I want to do all at once!
 

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If I decide that I like the more open mouthpiece, I might try some of Clark's other mouthpieces, since I love his work. But right now I just want to try something drastically different to see if that is a direction that I want to go. Experimenting with these things with Fobes San Francisco mouthpieces would require putting a lot more money on the credit card than I want to do all at once!
I hear you. They are not cheap. Only reason I have the two I have is due to a music store closing clearance. They are pretty ugly too. They had sat in the case so long and went green. Funny thing is you can see where the shadows of the lettering on the cases were, on the pieces from sitting so long.
 

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I played a fobes 4L and it was really nice but even 3s felt soft on that piece, and I didn’t like the workload moving up to a 3 1/2.
 

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... with a softer reed and if that was a way that I could sound the way I want (basically a completely classical sound that I can push hard) with a softer reed ...
Hi
What caught my eye in your post was that your looking for a classical sound that can be pushed, you might be interested in this mouthpiece from a guy called Bob Bernardo :-
https://lavecchiamouthpieces.com/vintage-1940-cicero-mouthpiece/
He’s a great person to deal with, very helpful, and will send out samples free of charge. The mouthpiece I bought is just superb, incredible sound, projection, articulation etc, I use it for everything from classical to wind band, to doubling in a big band.
I’d suggest calling him though, I think he gets a bit swamped by emails, and I found calling him was a better way of getting hold of him.
Cheers
Andy
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Hey, thanks Andy! I'll add that to my list of mouthpieces I'm interested in.

Has anyone had a chance to play the Backun CG or MoBa Arabesque mouthpieces? They both have tip openings comparable to the B40, but it's hard to get much detail about either in any other regard, other than the fact that the marketing copy on Backun's site seems to indicate that the Arabesque is targeting B40 players directly, whatever that means. I've always been a little wary of Backun's marketing, but a lot of players do seem to be quite happy with them.

They seem to have a good reputation amongst players that really like a dark sound, though, and my main complaint about the B40 is that it's a little too dark for my liking, which makes the sound a bit too soft and requires a bit of extra work (very high tongue position for me) to get the tone to pick up that "glassy" quality that makes the clarinet so distinctive and beautiful. I do know that, in the world of clarinet marketing, "dark" is generally thrown around as a synonym for "good", so I have no idea how to read any mouthpiece maker's description of their goods.

I know the answer is "just play the damn mouthpiece and find out", but for the prices mouthpieces of this quality command, I'd like to narrow the search down to maybe 3. Having a broad sense of the general timbral qualities of the mouthpiece might help inform my decisions.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I guess the follow-up to this thread is that, while buying a barrel from Clark Fobes (a beautiful 66mm Grenadilla), I ended up trying a bunch of the new 10K mouthpieces ranging from CF+ to 4L in both the black and blue rubber. First off, every single one of these was really something special and I would say that anybody who has liked Clark's San Francisco mouthpieces should check them out when they are in the market for something else. I found them to be a bit more of a centered, focused tone than the Zinner mouthpieces I've played from Clark over the years.

Anyways, I ended up with a marbled blue rubber 4L that I love. I've been playing a #3 V12 or Peter Leuthner French Cut. Lots of flexibility and dynamic range, plus it looks great!
 

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Living in Utah about 45 minutes of Salt Lake City, I have had the opportunity to become acquainted with Lee Livingood. He has become a real treasure in our woodwind community. He is not only an amazing performer on clarinet and bass clarinet, but a highly skilled artisan in the craft of mouthpiece making and refacing. He is also a very nice individual who is congenial and very easy to work with. Lee was part of the team that developed the D'Addario Reserve line of mouthpieces. He refaces these and other mouthpieces including his own to meet the individual needs of clarinetists all over the country.
 

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My wife plays one of Clarks mouthpieces from about 10 years ago, off and on. If I were in the market for a new mouthpiece I'd probably go see Clark.

As an aside, the very last saxophone overhaul he ever did was my Buesher alto....like 12-15 years ago!
 

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I find that Fobes products are very good. He modifies the bore for better results. He has a full array of mouthpieces so pick your tip opening and it should play great. His barrels are good too.
 

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I got back into playing Sop Clarinet last year after a very long absence.

I tried many mouthpieces. My favorite is the Fobes San Francisco CF+

A close second is my Van Doren M30, followed by a Rico Reserve X10.

I use a Fibracell 2.5 as well as a Mitchell Lurie 2.5
 
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