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I ordered a few Debuts from Clark along with my San Francisco and they arrived this morning. What follows is my initial impressions and those of my students. I hope it will be helpful for other students, parents of young players and perhaps other clarinet teachers.

A little background. I teach woodwinds morning, noon and evening, 6 days a week in the school system here. I teach some older, more advanced students but the majority range from absolute beginners to high school kids. They commonly play on;

Yamaha YCL 250 or C100

Jupiter JCL 631 II

Buffet B12

Vito Reso Tone

and the odd P.O.S from some $2 shop on Ebay.

I ordered the Debuts after reading several good recommendations here and elsewhere. I mentioned in another thread that Fobes mouthpieces go for ridiculous amounts here in Australia. A San Francisco retails at $499 and the Debuts at $99

When you consider that the $AUD id currently stronger than the $USD that puts the Debut out of reach for most kids.

Anyway, I spoke to Clark Fobes and ordered direct.

Dealing with Clark and the transaction process: My emails were answered very promptly even with the huge time difference and Clark was very helpful. Clark threw in an extra Debut on top of my order, as well as a box of his Reeds. Clark researched various shipping options for me in a prompt manner and assisted in every way to make the deal a happy one.The Paypal transaction went smoothly and the pieces were shipped immediately. The whole process ...10/10

Initial impressions: With 4 Debuts in the parcel, it was a good chance to inspect each one for consistency. Visually they all looked identical as far as width of rails and tip etc are concerned. I had read a zillion posts on the various bulletin boards about the Debut before ordering these and some posts claimed that these pieces had a rough finish. I can report that all 4 of these Debuts were clean as a whistle and the finish was better than most every "off the shelf" piece I've ever bought. The side rails look maginally thinner than my B45 Lyre. the tip rail looks noticeably thinner.The pieces come in the standard "square plastic tube"...if that makes sense. All of these pieces fit the various barrels they were tried on. The fit was tight, as would be expected from a new mouthpiece tenon cork but none were so tight that the cork would require sanding down before use.

Play Test..My Impression: I should point out right up front, that The Debut is somewhat of a departure from what I've been playing on lately. My usual workhorse is a Vandoren B45 Lyre (1.27 tip opening), medium long facing, with a Vandoren V12 #3 reed. A 3.5 sound better but it's too much like hard work after a whole day's teaching.
The Debut has a 1.0 tip opening (CF+ facing) and a 17mm facing length which for want of better knowledge, I'll call medium. I thought the big step down in facing would take some getting used to but it was surprisingly hassle free for the most part. The pieces were tested on a bog standard Buffet B12.

I tried various reeds on these pieces. A Vandoren V12 #3.5 a V12 #3 a V12 #2.5 a Gonzales #3 and one of Clark Fobes own brand reeds in a #3 strength.

With the V12's, the 2.5 was way too soft for me. Playable but closed up. The #3 was fine, the #3.5 better and I was wishing I had a #4 in my case.

The Gonzalez #3 which in my experience run a little stiffer than the V12 was fantastic.

Much to my surprise however, the clear winner as far as reed match went was the Clark Fobes #3 reed straight out of the box with just a polish of the reed before playing.

Response: The response of these pieces is outstanding. There's enough resistance with a stronger reed to keep me happy and have something to push against but they feel so very efficient. I'm used to having to put a lot of air through the B45 Lyre and whilst I can get a decent sound and heaps of volume out of it, I always felt i was working way harder than I should have to. the Debut is very very impressive in this regard. I could still get decent volume but the noticeable difference is you really "get value for air" out of these pieces. The piece responds immediately to the air-stream and dynamic changes are easier. There was no breaking up at loud volumes and playing at a whisper was effortless. The altissimo register was a breeze. On my B45 Lyre, C4 was always hit and miss. This piece just hit it easily.

Tone: Truthfully, I was dumbstruck. How can a $40 mouthpiece sound better than some of the more expensive pieces I've played??? I had a huge grin on my face from the moment I played the Debut. Provided you get the reed strength right and have some concept of sound and embouchure, the Debut has a wonderful hollow sound with a definite ring to it. The sound was centered and focused and projected well. The lower chalumeau was round and resonant without being tubby or "farty" Intonation was great. There was nothing that the B45 Lyre did that this mouthpiece didn't do better with the possible exception of outright volume. I was having fun playing "Harlem Nocturne" and really trying to play with different dynamics and colors when a colleague in the next room wandered in and complimented me on my sound. When I told her it was a $40 mouthpiece, she was amazed until I gave her one of the Debuts to try and then she was even more amazed. I'd be happy to play this piece day in day out and I think I will.

Student Impressions and my impressions of how my students sounded on the Debut: It's one thing for me to rave about this piece but the debut was never marketed at people like me and I have a pro model San Francisco piece to look forward to tomorrow anyway. The real test for the Debut is does it deliver for the kids?

I trialled it with several students this afternoon. The students ranged from 2 - 4 years playing experience and all play one of the Clarinet models listed at the top of this post.

The results from the student perspective were overwhelmingly positive. One of my girls was skeptical about trying a different piece but her face lit up into a huge grin as, for the first time, she sounded like a mature clarinet. Sitting next to her, the difference from the Yamaha 4C was incredible. The sound was vastly more rounded, focused and ....Clarinet like. The student reported that articulation was heaps easier, the high register was more secure and overall the piece was easier by far to play. I had to pry it out of her hands at the end of the lesson.

The story with the following students was very similar. All found the Debut easier to play than their regular piece. All but one student sounded infinitely better on the Debut. The one student that didn't sound any better had a great sound on her regular piece and sounded no worse on the Debut. This kid would sound good on anything. She did say that the Debut was much easier to play than her regular piece however.

A comment I heard from the kids all afternoon was that they sounded "more grown up" and "it sounds more like the clarinets on the CD's." (I play a lot of CD's for the kids and give them a lot of take home listening).

Final Thoughts: As you can see, I was amazed by these pieces. not only because I'd be quite happy to play one myself, but far more importantly because the kids sound 100% better and play easier on the Debut. They like how they sound and that's such a big thing for kids. Tone production and articulation were easier and that too is a big thing for kids.

Clark Fobes is to be congratulated for producing a mouthpiece that delivers on its promise at a price that puts many and most of the more expensive generic mouthpieces to shame. If you haven't tried one of the Debuts you owe it to yourself to give them a go and if you teach kids or direct the band, I urge you to give your kids a chance to try these.
 

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I agree, it's an incredible mouthpiece, especially at that price. The bass clarinet and sax Debuts are just as good. Bravo, Clark!
 

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Thanks for such a thorough review. My only experience with a Fobes product has been his Eb Nova mouthpiece. Like you said, the response was superb, though I went with a Portnoy, which was a more even match for my horn. It really was a tough choice though, and I probably would have been very happy with the Fobes had I played around with reeds a bit more. It's good to see a student mouthpiece come so highly recommended. You've given me some more food for thought as I'm changing my Bb setup.
 

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I agree that the Fobes Debut is excellent. Just fine for students and cheaper than many others (or at least it should be). Unfortunately it's not available here AFAIK. I know a high level professional player who uses a Debut as their main mouthpiece and a Fobes professional model as a backup. I use something else I prefer for soprano clarinet, but I use a Fobes mouthpiece for bass clarinet both as main and as backup.

As far as "some posts claimed that these pieces had a rough finish", possibly some are mine but I don't remember if I posted about it before or not. Anyway, I don't claim they have a rough finish, some of the Debuts I've seen had a rough finish (including some I have). They play fine so it's a non-issue IMO. If I posted about it as an issue before, then I changed my mind :)

There are some other mouthpieces for about the same price I think are also just as good for students IMO.
 

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i use the debut,on clarinet, and the HB for the bass cl,out of the budget" pieces i tried out it was aclear winner IMO,just an easy free blowing piece,with good response and nice tone!.i would always recommend one to my students..many thanks for the review dog pants,, well written with much thought!..
 

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When I was looking for a new mouthpiece I tried many in stores, many different models of Vandorens, Lakeys, Portnoy, you name it. I found some I liked but I wasn't ready to shell out the cash yet. I bought a Fobes Debut to try out. It played better than every Vandoren I played. No joke. I showed it to my teacher, and he bought one in hopes of finding a cheaper alternative to Vandorens for his community band. He's very pleased and he thinks hes found it.
 

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Great review DP.
looking forward to hearing your impressions of the 'professional' model fobes mouthpiece.
 

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Funny you like the Debut so much. Clark sent me a couple for students and I basically left them on the shelf using my CF + piece. Then I heard a guy in the community band playing a Debut and I tried mine out. Very very good pieces for the money. K
 

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I have a question about the bass one, do they come with a ligature and if not which size Rico H would fit one?
 

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Great review. The Debut is an amazingly good piece. While some say that it is a great mouthpiece for the price, I would say that it is a great mouthpiece at any price. I have played mouthpieces that are many times more expensive and don't play anywhere as well. I have the Debut in my case as a spare and often use it while teaching lessons.
 

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They come without ligature. They're a standard size; a generic lig and a Vandoren Optimum fit the one I use as a backup. I bought the mouthpiece online for about $50.
I have a question about the bass one, do they come with a ligature and if not which size Rico H would fit one?
 

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Nice to hear that! Thank you for the info.

I’ve just bought one on line and it wasn’t clear whether there was a ligature or not. Look forward to try this mouthpiece.
 

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At Horn Improvement these have been our "Go to" upgrade pieces for a few years now. Who else makes a hand faced mouthpiece for under $100?
 

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Just got the mouthpiece which didn’t came with a Ligature. Seems to be well made , a quick blow revealed a big sound. It is early days though to know how an inexperience bass clarinetist as myself will fare with it, looks promising.
 

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After reading this thread and seeing these mouthpieces on WWBW for $30.95 (USD) I ordered one for Bb clarinet. I'm eager to get it and see how it plays.
 

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After reading this thread and seeing these mouthpieces on WWBW for $30.95 (USD) I ordered one for Bb clarinet. I'm eager to get it and see how it plays.
You can compare it to my Fobes piece, Will
 

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Yeah I have been playing on a Fobes Cicero for about 3 years. I am very interested to see how the Debut compare
 
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