Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 20 of 61 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
357 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I think the bane of most starting clarinet players is the ubiquitous squeek. It`s enough to, at times, make me reach for my tenor sax. I saw in an earlier thread it mentioned that perhaps beginning clarinet players should select a mouth piece with a narrower opening as these squeek less than the more open ones. Is this so, and how would you classify a Yamaha 4C and a Hite 111 concerning tip size against other commonly used mouthpieces? Thanks, Russ
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2014
Joined
·
2,081 Posts
In my (limited) experience, the tip opening is just one of many factors that can contribute to squeaking. The reed is another (rather obvious) one. And the reed strength must match the mouthpiece opening, and the reed strength must match the player's embouchure (firmness and all). If those three are in tune (and the rest of your setup is in good repair) then there should be no squeaks.

Personally, I'd rather use a softer reed and a bit a more open mouthpiece.
I've used Hite Premiere, Fobes Debut, Yamaha 4C and Mitchell Lurie M2. The former two are the best re "snout friendliness", the Yamaha 4C is a "can't go wrong" choice with a decent tone but a bit harder to play. The ML has a very nice tone but requires significantly more effort (and harder reeds).

Now you know as much as before, maybe even less. ;)
 

·
Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
Joined
·
17,204 Posts
Other contributors to squeaks:
- Lower lip too far toward base of reed. (Could be mouthpiece too far in mouth)
- Insufficient pressure on reed from lower lip.
- Clarinet at inappropriate angle to face, affecting the above.
- Insufficient breath pressure
- Especially.. tiny leaks around fingers of ring keys.

All of these would be extra likely if you re coming from sax.
I would not blame a 4C mouthpiece for squeaks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
357 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Less Squeeks

Thank you for the two reply contributions. I`ld say the major factor in most of my sqeeks is the leeking from incorrect fingure positioning on the rings over the holes. The problem is how to prevent it. Particularly on the higher notes, try as I may the first positioning will be not be tight enough, or ball of finger not on ring correctly and so on. I`ve been playing sax for years; and it makes me think there surely could be a better design than the little rings over holes on the clarinet. But I`ll keep practicing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,567 Posts
Gordon (NZ) said:
- Especially.. tiny leaks around fingers of ring keys.
This is a big one. When starting to play clarinet, you have to spend lots of time on slow scales, arpeggios and intervals; taking the time to be very conscious of sealing the holes with your fingertips.
Also, make sure your reed is a little bit back from the tip of the mouthpiece (just a hair.)
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Columnist/Official SOTW Guru
Joined
·
3,764 Posts
And then.... when you've done all that.....the little bastard will still squeak! :)

Seriously, another thing to look at, is getting your clarinet properly set-up FOR YOU.

Those "tiny leaks around the fingers of ring keys," that Gordon mentioned, are probably more sloppy technique by you, than set-up, at least to begin with. But you also want the ring height adjusted to suit your finger shape. If you have fat, stubby fingers, your ring height can be slightly lower than someone like myself, who has long, thin, "E.T fingers."

It's a finely judged thing but pretty simple for your tech to do. It can make a noticable difference to the way the clarinet plays for you.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member and Old King Log
Joined
·
801 Posts
I second the ring key height adjustment suggestion. The "brille" (eyeglasses, in French I think) are often set just a bit too proud of the tops of the tone hole chimneys, and this can play havoc with the sealing of these "keys".

I've had students who were members of the squeak royalty yet, after the adjustment was made - presto! - no more squeaking.

I also had trouble with playing Ab on the boot joint of my bassoon until I had a right hand finger ring adjusted a millimeter lower. Presto - no more problems with the note. It turned out that I was "reaching" to make it to the keys involve, and that act of "reaching" was enough to crack the seal on that one finger (middle, RH).

Another problem area with clarinet players is the "crowsfoot" adjustment. This is easily disrupted during instrument assembly and disassembly, and even the slightest knock to the keywork can put it out of order. If you find that there's a lot of squeaking over the break, or with C# in the staff, that's the place to start looking.
 

·
Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
Joined
·
17,204 Posts
If B (over the break) is more difficult than the D above, , or if left hand fingering for the B is more difficult than right, then you have leak problems with the lowest and/or third lowest pads.

If the 'bridge key', between the two clarinet sections is not adjusted correctly, or if the pad on each of those keys closes at the back before the front, this will greatly add to the problems you have dealing with those ring keys.

Most new clarinet, and many 'serviced' clarinets have significant problems in either or both of these areas. Many technicians seem to be clueless in these areas.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
357 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
For all who have taken the trouble to contribute, thank you. Some days I think I`ve got this squeeking beat and then other days I think "this is rediculous why am I putting myself thru`this?" I am waiting on a tech who comes to town every 2 weeks so I`ll see him. I`ve copied your comments on rings etc. so he can check. Thanks, Russ
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
2,956 Posts
Gordon (NZ) said:
Other contributors to squeaks:
- Lower lip too far toward base of reed. (Could be mouthpiece too far in mouth)
- Insufficient pressure on reed from lower lip.
- Clarinet at inappropriate angle to face, affecting the above.
- Insufficient breath pressure
- Especially.. tiny leaks around fingers of ring keys.

All of these would be extra likely if you re coming from sax.
I would not blame a 4C mouthpiece for squeaks.
Everything he said. Squeaks will happen to everybody, but as we get better, the number of squeaks per [time period] will get closer and closer to zero, but never all the way there. Like an exponential function! Every professional clarinetist (or reed player in general, I suppose) has at least one horror story about squeaking in some beautiful, exposed solo. These usually come up in conversations about the worst experiences of our lives.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
5,336 Posts
Try this test: Just holding the clarinet in your mouth, without playing, finger middle C (low F with the register key) and squeeze your fingers on the holes and count slowly to 10. Then put the clarinet down and inspect the "rings" created on your fingertips. It should be easy to spot which fingers have a tendency to not cover the hole completely by the placement of the rings. They all should be near the center of the flesh on the pad of the finger.

A very common problem for inexperienced players is to curve the fingers too much so that the fingertips come straight down on the hole. The solution is to have the fingers less curved so that the fingertips are flat (more perpendicular) in relation to the tonehole chimney.

The cause of this in the right had especially is putting the right hand thumb too far under the thumb rest. It should go only so far as to put where the base of the thumbnail goes into the skin near the center of the thumbrest. The problem with this is that this is the position that is the most painful on the thumb after playing for a while. The player then puts the thumb farther under the thumb rest up to the knuckle where it feels so much better, but this causes the fingers to curve too much to contact the toneholes and thereby causing leaks/squeaks.

The easy solution to this is to buy a short length of surgical tubing and cut a small tube to put over the thumb rest so that the correct thumb (hand) position is more comfortable.

One more thought. When reaching for a key with the little fingers of either hand, such as playing a 3rd line B natural, be careful that the "reaching" or "stretching" with the little finger does not cause one of the other fingers to slide off of its centered position over the holes. Slow practice in front of a mirror and checking the "finger rings" can help overcome this problem over time. Good luck.

John
 

·
Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
Joined
·
17,204 Posts
"A very common problem for inexperienced players is to curve the fingers too much so that the fingertips come straight down on the hole.... The cause of this in the right had especially is putting the right hand thumb too far under the thumb rest."

Another cause is holding the clarinet too close to the body.

"When reaching for a key with the little fingers of either hand, such as playing a 3rd line B natural, be careful that the "reaching" or "stretching" with the little finger does not cause one of the other fingers to slide off of its centred position over the holes."

I think it is a good idea to play mid-staff B, and DELIBERATELY make squeaks with the first three fingers of the right hand. Try all fingers separately. Tilt each finger a little: to the right, to the left, up the instrument, down the instrument. Also try allowing a finger to just touch the 'banana'.

The do the same with the D a few notes higher (or even higher notes) but making leaks with the left hand fingers. Try rolling your left index finer slightly towards the throat A key, as if you are just about to play that A.

By doing this you get to know the high degree of accuracy needed in placing your fingers on tone holes so that you don't get leaks... how very easy it is to make squeeks. A finger must press with equal PRESSURE, right around the edge of edge of the tone hole, not just TOUCH the edge.

Eventually your fingers feel for this accurate alignment, adjusting as necessary, even when playing a slightly different clarinet, without you even thinking about it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
357 Posts
Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
I would not have believed this a week ago but my squeeks are certainly diminishing in number. I`ve followed a lot of the advice given and I`m sure this has helped. I find if I`m not careful tho` I`m holding down my fingers too hard in an endeavour to have no sqeeks and this is tiring.
Does anyone know why the hole for the 3rd finger left hand is just that , a hole. Why not another ring thing, as this is one hole easy to get off centre with the finger?
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2014
Joined
·
2,081 Posts
Ronish said:
I would not have believed this a week ago but my sqeeks are certainly diminishing in number. I`ve followed a lot of the advice given and I`m sure this has helped. I find if I`m not careful tho` I`m holding down my fingers too hard in an endeavour to have no sqeeks and this is tiring.
Does anyone know why the hole for the 3rd finger left hand is just that , a hole. Why not another ring thing, as this is one hole easy to get off centre with the finger?
The third hole is only ringed with "full Boehm" (or nearly so) clarinets that offer "fork Eb/Bb" fingering. Some clarinets have a raised 3rd finger hole so that all holes are level, but usually it just is how it is.
If you find that your right hand gets easily tired, maybe the lower joint's uppermost pad is set too low, requiring you to push the rings all the way down till it's tight. Bear in mind that the action is also linked - via the bridge - to the upper joint, so there is a considerable amount of tweaking involved.
Carefully determine - together with a seasoned player - if the rings are too high or too low for your fingers. (round and/or small fingertips require the rings to be higher than with fat beefy fingers). Try the balloon test to see if you're comfortable with the required finger pressure or if you'd better see your friendly technician.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
357 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
What is the balloon test? Is that temporary ring marking of the finger pads to see if the sealing is complete?
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2014
Joined
·
2,081 Posts
Ronish said:
What is the balloon test? Is that temporary ring marking of the finger pads to see if the sealing is complete?
Replace the bell with a (children's party) balloon (ie slip the balloon mouthpiece over the bell-side tenon). Inflate via mouthpiece and "all fingers on". Reveals leaks, shows you how much finger pressure is needed for a tight seal. And makes for good lung and embouchure muscle training in the wee hours when loud playing is not the best idea ever. If you suspect multiple leaks, "balloon-test" the joints individually. IME this test is superior to the (more common) suction test.
This very evening I thought I sounded stuffy, I did that test and found out that the Ab/Eb pad wasn't completely tight (and that 1 month after getting the horn back from the shop :x ).
 

·
Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
Joined
·
17,204 Posts
When I test instruments with my squirt-air-gently-from-the-mouth test, I use a fair bit less pressure than what I would need to blow up a balloon. I think that balloon pressure would blow open at least one sealing pads on many models of instrument. I'm sure it is qute a lot more pressure than is used by teh leak-testing 'MAG'-machine, used by some reputable technicians.

That is, for many models of clarinet, the springs on the normally-closed-keys are specified and adjusted to do their job well, but are not over-specified or over-tensioned to the degree that they could withstand the pressure from a typical, inflated party balloon.

Therefore, I think that such a balloon test is over-demanding for many fine instruments that don't have problems.

It may be fine for instruments set up with strong springs and high spring tension, which is what some players like.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2014
Joined
·
2,081 Posts
Gordon (NZ) said:
Therefore, I think that such a balloon test is over-demanding for many fine instruments that don't have problems.

It may be fine for instruments set up with strong springs and high spring tension, which is what some players like.
I can easily blow the Ab/Eb key open when I do a traditional test (bottle cork in one end instead of a balloon), but the same key stays shut with the balloon. My teacher (who showed me the balloon trick as a lung trainer) has a pro Buffet with very delicate action, and the keys all stayed closed. Depends, of course, on the make and age of that balloon.
It is adviseable to inflate a new balloon without the clarinet some times, in order to "break it in".
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Columnist TSGT(Ret)USAF
Joined
·
1,390 Posts
A weed is an unloved, unwanted plant.
A squeak is an unexpected overtone, that you haven't fully appreciated yet.
Figure out what note the squeak really is!!
Squeak causers...
Dry Reed
Warped mouthpiece facing
Bad reed
Fingering leak ,( not sealing the Rings)
Uneven embouchure
accidently bumping side keys...
 
1 - 20 of 61 Posts
Top