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Discussion Starter #1
I've been primarily an alto player for twenty (or more :) years. I've had many gigs where I had to play the clarinet, and most went ok. But I think most of us have experienced that "whew, made it through that and it wasn't too bad..." kind of feeling.
About a year ago I bought a better clarinet (an older Selmer Series 9 and a Richard Hawkins mouthpiece) and began to really dig in on the horn. I find I want to practice it more than my alto most days! I'm finally seeing a glimmer of that ring you're supposed to get and I just love the wood in the tone. Having begun life as a violinist, I feel that there are some similarities: using your fingers to cover tone wholes is a bit similar to placing your finger a the string, centering the pitch, etc.
I've also noticed that the precision of movement required of my fingers has helped my saxophone playing on alto and tenor alike.
Anyone else have a similar experience with what so many of us (as saxophonists)are told will be a miserable experience?
And apologies if a similar thread is archived, I searched but did not find one..
 

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Sax players who try to play the clarinet with a saxophone embouchure will find it a miserable experience. It's when you finally understand the difference between the two that you really start appreciating the clarinet.
For me hearing Jimmy Hamilton for the first time was a revelation, that's when I decided to take it more seriously.
 

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Yep. The clarinet is a beautiful and wonderful instrument! As soon as sax players stop calling it "the pain stick" it seems they begin to develop more of an appreciation for it...
 

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I actually practice it more than my saxes (see my avatar). but then i'm (it seems) constantly overhauling/fixing 'em and mpc refacing 'em (I don't work on saxes any more) so I guess I am always playing them.

BUt you are right, there's also something about fluidly going up and down so many octaves . reminds me of the piano, or the cello that I can *never* find any time to even practice.

There's something about that Chalumeau register that is so enticing

But i've been playing clarinet for 29 years, sax 33
speaking of which .. got my clarinet in front of me right now ... gotta go practice
 

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CardinalRule,

Indeed, the clarinet is a sublime instrument. I love each of my horns equally well. However, I get a particular pleasure playing clarinet that I don't get with saxophone or flute. Most likely it's the wood.

I've had a deep appreciation of the clarinet for YEARS and have a very long list of clarinet heros; however, when I started using a Kaspar style mouthpiece it opened me to whole new dimentions in my clarinet sound. Can't believe the differences it's made for me.

In a similar way, your Richard Hawkins mouthpiece is top-notch. Hawkins is right up there with Gregory Smith and Walter Grabner (two other exceptionally high quality clarinet mouthpiece makers).

An older Series 9 and a Richard Hawkins mouthpiece sounds like a really nice set up. What reeds are you using? If you haven't tried Gonzales F.O.F. (thick cut) reeds I'm thinking that you might get even more ring with them on your Hawkins. It's my understanding that Gonzales F.O.F. is closer to the old Morre reed (held in reverence by many classical clarinetists) than other modern thick cut reeds like Vandoren V12, Alexander Classique, etc. Definitely worth a try!

Roger
 

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I think of my flute as silver plumbing

I also love my select clarinet mpcs from the 1920s and 1930s. nice ......

I do have to say though that the clarinets Chalumeau range reminds me of the F-C# on the tenor sax. which is the reason when I do practice sax, it's almost always tenor
 

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My journey to clarinet has been is 3 Phases:

#1 - THE PUSH
Strangely, I didn't play clarinet at all until I was 25. A friend and I were practicing together - Omni-Book stuff and I was killing. Then he suggested we take out clarinets and sight read duets. I owned a clarinet but that was about it. I WAS SCHOOLED - and slighly embarrassed. So I started with basic books.

#2 - The INSTRUMENT
My brother-in-law played clarinet in college but then stopped completely. So for Chrismas about 8 years ago he GAVE me his 1960's Selmer Series 10 Clarinet. After an overhaul - it's more clarinet then I'll ever need.

#3 - The MOUTHPIECE
I stuggles for years trying to play "CORRECTLY." I got the typical Vandoren 5RV LYRE mouthpiece and 3 1/2 Vandoren Reeds. Always feel CONTRICTED and realy UN-FUN. Roger Aldridge (posted above) was into Morgans at the time so he turned me on to a MORGAN J6. Huge Tip opening for clarinet. I put on some 2 1/2 reeds and haven't been happier. The instrument blows free and FUN. Feels more like a Sax. Thanks ROGER.

I don't ever expect to be a REAL clarinet player but I really enjoy playing the ROSE studies just for fun.
 

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Most welcome!

Stay tuned. Hopefully, in a few days I'll post a thread about an experiment I'm doing with a Morgan RM06. The reason I switched from Morgan clarinet mouthpieces is I sadly discovered that, for whatever reason, Legere reeds do not work well with Morgan clarinet facings. I sent the RM06 to Walter Grabner for him to make some adjustments to the facing and optimize the mouthpiece for Legere reeds. Can't wait to try it. Legere reeds work beautifully on Walter's mouthpieces.

Roger
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Roger-I'll be very interested to hear about the results of your experiment with the Morgan RM06. And I'm going to try the Gonzales F.O.F. reeds. I'm currently using Vandoren V12s and am wavering between 3 1/2s and 4s.

I just ordered a Fobes, but after reading your posts about your Grabner mouthpiece, I may have to try one of those too! Thank you for all of the great information you put out here on the forum.

It's really interesting hearing about other players "journey" to the clarinet. I also love listening to Jimmy Hamilton, Daigle65. And have now been listening to alot of Jimmy Giuffre.
 

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you can make mpcs respond better if you adjust the facing to the cut of the reed. assuming the reeds are consistently cut.

A Greene said:
I don't ever expect to be a REAL clarinet player but I really enjoy playing the ROSE studies just for fun.
I play those too for fun :)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
stevesklar-how do you adjust the facing to the cut of a reed? Sorry if this is a dumb question--the clarinet and all of its intricacies are very new to me--wouldn't this involve refacing or are certain mpcs more friendly to particular reeds? Like some sax mpcs?

I just bought the Rose studies and am really enjoying those also!
 

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CardinalRule said:
stevesklar-how do you adjust the facing to the cut of a reed? Sorry if this is a dumb question--the clarinet and all of its intricacies are very new to me--wouldn't this involve refacing or are certain mpcs more friendly to particular reeds? Like some sax mpcs?

I just bought the Rose studies and am really enjoying those also!
yes & yes

Let us look at a sample of mpcs - from the Vandoren website
model & Tip opening in 1/100mm & Facing length (generic)
5JB 147 L
B45 Lyre 127 ML
B40 119.5 ML
B45 119.5 ML
B45dot 119.5 ML
B40lyre 117.5 L
B46 117+ M
11.6 116 MS
M30 115 L
etc

Now, first off, the vandy mpcs that I have match their specs. BUT i've come across other Vandy mpcs that do not meet those specs.

for simplicity, let's ignore the tip opening and look specifically at the facing length.

and for discussion simplicity let's use unreal, though simple numbers so we can understand it a bit more visually.

lets assume a facing length (which is the length from the tip to the point it becomes flat with the table) for two mpcs is 1 inch for mpcA and 3 inches long for mpcB

Now what if the reed was a 2x4 before being cut for 2 of those inches.
On the mpc B with a 3 inch facing the reed would not bend well at all for an inch. making a difficult to play mpc

vs. mpc A where the reed is already cut down and can flex with the facing for the one inch.

make sense? that's the basic concept. match the reed to the mpc, or vice versa. a 2 inch facing would match that 2x4 reed.

BUT

Now, how does the embouchure affect that ??

There is a spot on the mpc called a "break" or pivot, et all (to quote a book) "where the reed leaves the lay under the actual playing conditions by a player with a developed embouchure". This kinda goes in hand with a couple threads IMHO by Phil Barone on the double embouchure and improving one tone (if it recall it correctly - great threads btw) ... basically taking in more mpc - fyi, I can now use a double emb on clarinet and sax too (thanks Phil).

For Example i recently bought a Selmer alto S80 E mpc. it was refaced badly at some point in its life. But the previous owner used it and it sounded great. The beak had alot of wear marks, indentations. My top teeth where literally close to 1/2 inch further up the mpc. Theoretically (without knowing his real EMB or jaws, et all) he was playing the E mpc as a C*. The mpc would not play for me, played perfectly fine for the other player. the part where his jaw theoretically was he bit the reed down to that point, to prevent air from escaping beyond his emb between the reed and mpc, as a C*. I tried playing it as an E.

back when i first started getting into mpcs probably 3 or 4 years ago I did this test (it's old, and I need to update it)
http://www.saxmaniax.com/questionscl.htm#HowMuchMouthpiece

So mpcs are different.
Reeds are different

The above example was a big exaggeration as you know, and the real numbers are millimeters or so difference. Plus the Embouchure is a BIG factor.

There are other mpc refacers out there with much more experience than myself too. For all practical purposes I'm a newbie at it. And not all mpcs are bad. My mpc collection is huge (and getting bigger) and most of them play fine as is with subtle differences .. but I inspect and document each one and I play each one slightly differently too (sax mpcs too)

and for the question of "How" ... well .. there's an entire BBoard on that by Mojo .. great site

btw, I find Mitchell lauries reeds mpc friendly .. longer cut ?
and Vandorens not so much .. shorter cut ??
but i have not really inspected those for any type of confirmation
oh yeah .... i have a gigantic vintage reed collection .. so I use the purple box Vandorens, or SMLs, or Landelais ......

don't even ask me about clarinet mpc throat variation

(sorry for hijacking this thread)
 

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Steve,

Everything you wrote is near and dear to my heart. I find it amazing to look around at the clarinet or sax players in an ensemble and often see how many of them take in little of the mouthpiece. It's been my contention that the trend for more open mouthpieces can, in some cases, be a compensation for not taking in more of the mouthpiece.

Also, I'm happy that you mentioned the double-lip embouchure. I'll have to see if I can find Phil's comments on that subject. I now use a double-lip on clarinet, bass clarinet, and tenor saxophone. I first tried it on bass clarinet and noticed a remarkable difference in my sound. Then, I tried it on tenor and had equally good results. Finally, I took the plunge and converted to a double-lip on clarinet. Of course, many teachers and players look upon a double-lip embouchure with horror. Never the less, it's made a wonderful difference for me.

Have you tried a string ligature? Man, the Vandoren Klassik string ligature has been the icing on the cake for me. Hands down, I've found it better -- in terms of tonal quality, response, and projection -- than ANY metal or fabric ligature I've used over the years. The HOW and WHY of a string ligature is still a mystery to me. Never the less, I'm sold on the Vandoren Klassik. This ligature can make a remarkable difference for one's clarinet set up.

Roger
 

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Roger,
my regular emb is very refined. The double emb actually adds vibration to my head .. like i need something else to juggle around my brains. I find only a minute tonal difference between double and regular emb. I can use about 4 embs on clarinet, and on sax. But they all have the same respective mpc positions.


btw, I found a document on the string ligatures and WHY and HOW they are better. I'll have to find that article again. it all made sense. I have to not use it, becz i switch mpcs (and clarinets) way too frequently .. i'd stretch it too quickly. But i agree, it's the best i've come across too. i'm trying to find one similar in a single screw . which might be the BG .. but still a ways off.
 

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Roger Aldridge said:
Indeed, the clarinet is a sublime instrument. . .
I don't play, but I love the clarinet; could be swing, classical, or Klesmer. "Sublime" sounds about right to me.
 

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Roger Aldridge said:
Steve,

Everything you wrote is near and dear to my heart. I find it amazing to look around at the clarinet or sax players in an ensemble and often see how many of them take in little of the mouthpiece. It's been my contention that the trend for more open mouthpieces can, in some cases, be a compensation for not taking in more of the mouthpiece.
if they pinch the reed then it doesn't really matter what tip opening they go to. They'll play it like whatever they had before. most of the time the reed will get bent (or broken in ?!?!) for the player at which time it is now working really well at that more virtually closed tip.
 

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Roger, I'm enjoying the best of both worlds with my K13, my RM10, and those half dozen Legere Quebec 3.25's you sent me a while back. I'm using a Luyben or a Vinson on the Grabner and one of those elegant Branchers on the Morgan — it slides off the K13. I find that the Grabner gives me the more focused tone but there's something interesting about the Morgan; it seems to be more sensitive to the angle of the horn and there's something "saxophonic" about the embouchure which I assume in order to get the ringing tone. I switch between them and I always notice a difference, even if I can't quite put the right words to it.

I started out on clarinet, then pretty much put it aside for many years while concentrating on my barking tenor. But a pit band gig made me start practicing the clarinet again and I really, really love playing that horn. There are days when I come home from work too tired to even think about wrestling with my tenor but I'll sit down with my clarinet and before I know it, an hour's slipped by. I actually think that picking up the clarinet again has helped my sax playing — for one thing, I practice a lot more and the other thing is that I've become much more attuned to the more subtle aspects of control. My tenor will take all the wind I want to put into it .... but my clarinet, well, it's fussy, that air stream has got to be just so. And that sort of discipline never hurts.
 

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stevesklar said:
if they pinch the reed then it doesn't really matter what tip opening they go to. They'll play it like whatever they had before. most of the time the reed will get bent (or broken in ?!?!) for the player at which time it is now working really well at that more virtually closed tip.
In one sense I agree with that. However, it's been my experience that if one has their lower lip at the "power point" (as I like to call it) where the reed breaks from the mouthpiece facing curve then one has a bigger and more vibrant sound. That is, the reed is working at an optimal level and not being choked. Several years ago I suggested to one of my sax buddies that he take in more of the mouthpiece. When he got his lower lip to the right place on the reed his sound opened up big time....and his eyes got real big. Ha ha ha He was amazed at the difference.

Roger
 

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i was just saying, that if they currently pinch and they go to a bigger tip .. they tend to pinch even more to get it to play the same as their old mpc ... of course they may pinch in the same spot and get a little more as you suggest too. of course, a correct emb will correct all of it
 
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