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Discussion Starter #1
This whole search was started by listening to a friend play. She's not a pro, just a very accomplished amateur. I was running some of my kids through Bachs Cello Suite No 1 Prelude and she stuck her head in and asked for a copy.

Once the kids had left, she sat down and proceeded to play it with a really beautiful focused and dark sound.

I commented on her sound and asked what setup she was playing. To my complete surprise, she was playing the mpc that came with her YCL 450 .

A Yamaha 4C and Rico 3 reeds.

I was astounded.

I play a Vandoren B45 lyre ( 127 tip opening and medium long facing) with 2.5 V12 reeds, and in comparison I feel my sound is loud and brash. especially in the altissimo register this piece tends to sound shrill.

I'm thinking that a smaller tip with a harder reed might take the brashness out of the sound somewhat, so I've been searching all the Forbes, Grabner, Backun, Smith, Garrett etc.

Does anyone here have any experience of dropping down drastically in tip size?

Of the names I've mentioned, or any others, which maker do you feel gives the best bang for your buck in terms of a rich dark focused sound with a good ring to the tone?

thanks guys


DP
 

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Re: Forbes? Grabner? Garrett? Smith? Backun? need some feedback from those familiar with these piec

My clarinet mouthpiece history......of mouthpieces I've played a considerable period, not just trialled.

Selmer c85 120
Vandoren 5rv lyre
Vandoren b40
Fobes 3L

I started playing the fobes as the b40 was far too resistant and this was causing me problems.
The Fobes has a wonderful free blowing nature to it, but it doesn't feel too small. I play a vandoren classmate 3.5 on it (1.08mm tip) and it has much more depth, focus and ring to the sound than the bigger tip of the B40 or the Selmer.

When I tried a Smith mouthpiece I got the same impression except that whilst getting less impression of volume whilst playing, it threw the sound out into the room, so much so that the other 3 reed players in the section/pit all agreed on the beauty and resonance of the sound.
Fwiw- the Smith belonged to a player who had changed from a b45, from what I remember.
Also fwiw, it was a professional pit and the other guys could really really play and knew a lot about sound.

Grabners have never impressed me and haven't tried a Garret.

I've always found that a truly beautiful clarinet sound comes from the focus that a smaller tip provides.

I can't afford a Smith and got the Fobes second hand, but even new the fobes are great value.
 

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Re: Forbes? Grabner? Garrett? Smith? Backun? need some feedback from those familiar with these piec

I auditioned a few of the pieces you mention at great length last year, and from the point of view of a Sax player who plays reasonable doubling clarinet but wants a good, solid, dependable reed-friendly, in-tune mouthpiece with fairly instant access to a good sound, to put in the case and ignore for weeks or months at a time..............I would recommend a Bakun no doubt. I ended up with a 'Traditional' since I was looking for something a little closer than the usual Vandoren B40/45, but I would have been happy with an 'Orchestra' or a' Philadelphia'. I met Morrie in London a couple of weeks ago and he is an extremely pleasant, experienced and friendly guy.
 

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Re: Forbes? Grabner? Garrett? Smith? Backun? need some feedback from those familiar with these piec

Thanks Guys,

Benny, that's the first time I've heard anyone say anything negative about the Grabners. Usually they get talked up all the time.

Dave, is the Backun that good? $375 USD is a fair slice of change. Is it that much better than a Forbes or a Grabner? If so, in what way?
 

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Re: Forbes? Grabner? Garrett? Smith? Backun? need some feedback from those familiar with these piec

I really tried a lot of pieces over three weeks, particularly the Fobes, Grabner and Backun. My aim was to find a piece that near enough played itself and I felt that the Backun was closest to that. From a serious clarinetist's pov I realize that the others may provide something slightly more complex - and this is borne out by listening to a top young pro who uses Backun pieces who has unbelievable control and technique but lacks a little of the subtlety and character that other players have - however we are talking subtle differences here and I found the Backun to be the most reliable. I too swore at the price of the Backun when I first heard it, but I think it was worth it for the knowledge that when I blow the dust off my clarinet that it will work straight away. A doublers dream to be sure.
 

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Re: Forbes? Grabner? Garrett? Smith? Backun? need some feedback from those familiar with these piec

I play a Grabner K13 with Vandoren 56 rue Lepic 3.5 reeds and really like that combo, but find it to be a little too resistant sometimes. I did find that harder reeds helped me sound more like a real clarinet player, but I have a lot of back pressure playing that setup. You might have different results with different models. For example, I play a Grabner LB (billed as a symphonic mpc) on bass clarinet and my buddy plays a Grabner CX BB 90 (billed as a jazz/klezmer/pop mpc). I've played them both and liked them, but found my buddy's mouthpiece to blow a lot more like a saxophone mouthpiece.
 

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Re: Forbes? Grabner? Garrett? Smith? Backun? need some feedback from those familiar with these piec

Thanks Guys,

Benny, that's the first time I've heard anyone say anything negative about the Grabners. Usually they get talked up all the time.

Dave, is the Backun that good? $375 USD is a fair slice of change. Is it that much better than a Forbes or a Grabner? If so, in what way?
It wasn't that the Grabner was bad, it's that it didn't impress me- I had a very neutral response to it, almost 'just another mouthpiece.'

Whereas the Fobes stood out for it's free blowing nature and ringing sound and the smith also for it's ease of playing (was able to still use a softer reed on it's smaller tip) and resonance.
I also do not enjoy high pressure set ups, which the grabner leant towards compared to the others.
 

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Re: Forbes? Grabner? Garrett? Smith? Backun? need some feedback from those familiar with these piec

.....I commented on her sound and asked what setup she was playing. To my complete surprise, she was playing the mpc that came with her YCL 450 .

A Yamaha 4C and Rico 3 reeds.

I was astounded.

I play a Vandoren B45 lyre ( 127 tip opening and medium long facing) with 2.5 V12 reeds, and in comparison I feel my sound is loud and brash. especially in the altissimo register this piece tends to sound shrill.....
You liked here sound even though she played on a very basic mouthpiece, so maybe it's not an equipment issue?
I notice that doublers who try to play clarinet with a saxophone embouchure will get a shrill sound in the upper register because they're not voicing properly and they don't use their chin muscles.
A #2.5 V12 reed on a B45 seems a bit soft to me, maybe try a #3. If you play with a real clarinet embouchure, it won't seem so hard (FWIW, I play a B45 with #4 V12's).
Maybe your money would be better spent on a couple of lessons with a pro clarinetist rather than on an expensive mouthpiece....Just a thought.
 

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Re: Forbes? Grabner? Garrett? Smith? Backun? need some feedback from those familiar with these piec

You liked here sound even though she played on a very basic mouthpiece, so maybe it's not an equipment issue?
I notice that doublers who try to play clarinet with a saxophone embouchure will get a shrill sound in the upper register because they're not voicing properly and they don't use their chin muscles.
A #2.5 V12 reed on a B45 seems a bit soft to me, maybe try a #3. If you play with a real clarinet embouchure, it won't seem so hard (FWIW, I play a B45 with #4 V12's).
Maybe your money would be better spent on a couple of lessons with a pro clarinetist rather than on an expensive mouthpiece....Just a thought.
Thanks for the thought. It's not a B45 (119.5 tip). I'm playing a B45 Lyre (127 tip). I've played #3 V12's on it, but considering I'm playing from 7:30 am to 8:30 pm all day every day teaching, the 2.5 is less work.

FWIW, I spend way more time on Clarinet than sax these days. I'm hardly what you'd call a sax player struggling to come to terms with the Clarinet. In fact, the Clarinet seems more natural than the sax these days.
 

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Re: Forbes? Grabner? Garrett? Smith? Backun? need some feedback from those familiar with these piec

My wife has a McClune SP along w/ her '73 Buffet R13. I really like playing this piece. We use #4 Regal Queen on it and both of us get a nice sound.

My wife sounds better than me on it but she double majored in M.Ed and Clarinet Performance.

I am merely a saxophone player trying to play clarinet, of which I unfortunately haven't done much as of late. :(
 

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Re: Forbes? Grabner? Garrett? Smith? Backun? need some feedback from those familiar with these piec

I like the Fobes mouthpieces. I have used them professionally in a variety of settings and styles over the years. They are very responsive and reed friendly. I prefer a tip that is on the closer side as it is easier to control and get a nice focused tone.
 

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Re: Forbes? Grabner? Garrett? Smith? Backun? need some feedback from those familiar with these piec

Well DP, I don't know that I'm a "real" clarinetist, but I have been playing the instrument for a reasonable length of time.

If you can find a Portnoy 2 or 3 to try I would put that one on the list.
I've had excellent results on my Buffet and Signature with my Portnoy 3 and a Mitchel Lurie 3 or 3.5.
The low notes are full and resonant and my upper register isn't shrill or brash.
At least as far as my old ears can tell that is.

As a point of referance I was using that set up on my Signature for 'Stranger on the Shore'.
 

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Re: Forbes? Grabner? Garrett? Smith? Backun? need some feedback from those familiar with these piec

For a closed tip I like the Portnoy BP1 and the Borbeck. Both easy to blow, nice tone. And way less than $375.
 

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Re: Forbes? Grabner? Garrett? Smith? Backun? need some feedback from those familiar with these piec

I agree - there is no need to spend 400 bucks for a decent playing mouthpiece. Two cheap and easily obtainable smaller opening (~1.05) mouthpieces that have worked well for me are Selmer C85 105 and Vandoren M13 Lyre.

In general, I think you will get a big tone improvement using a smaller tip and harder reed.
 

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Re: Forbes? Grabner? Garrett? Smith? Backun? need some feedback from those familiar with these piec

I have both Fobes and Greg Smith mpcs (and had a B45 -hated it when I got serious about a legit sound). Fobe played and sounded very good but I ended up buying 2 more Smith mpcs (ned I say more?).
 

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Re: Forbes? Grabner? Garrett? Smith? Backun? need some feedback from those familiar with these piec

Which Fobes MPC you guys talking about? Debut, Nova, San Fran, or the Europa?
 
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