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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
is there any generalised correlation between mouthpiece facing length and ease of tone-production in altissimo / 3rd register ???

I seem to struggle to produce a clear tone in the 3rd register when doing fast arpeggios & wide interval studies. wondering if facing length might be an issue ??
[ I'm usually playing 3 or 3.5 vandoren reeds on a Portnoy BP02 ,
i have same troubles on Vandoren B40 ]

tia

-Andy-
 

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Personally I don't feel that facing length or tip opening has anything to do with 'tone production' in general. As long as the reed is the proper cut and strength for the particular mouthpiece tone production 'should' be easy and clear throughout the range of the instrument.
Both of the pieces you list are relatively free blowing and easy to control. My guess is that your embouchure may be having difficulty making the subtle adjustments needed to keep the 3rd register clean.
If you aren't doing it already, half hole the left hand F# tone hole helps that register to speak clearly.
You can also sand a bit around the top and sides of the heart of those Vandoren reeds to see if it frees up the higher registers.
I use a Portnoy 1 or 3 with Mitchel Lurie premium reeds in a 3-3.5 and have no problems getting the 3rd register to speak clearly and in tune, but I'm primarily a clarinetist.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
thanks, bandMommy

part of the issue may be that I'm used to playing a tip opening of 1.72 mm on soprano sax ( I use the same clarinet reeds) , and the clarinet pieces are closing up on me unless I have a little time to adjust my embouchure i.e. when ascending chromatically / scalarly . [edit] - the BP02 is 1.14mm, for comparison.

However - let me simplify my original question: " what difference does facing length make to clarinet sound production, generally ??? "
 

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Again, personally, I feel that facing length has nothing to do with clarinet sound production.
Long facing-take in more mouthpiece. Short facing-take in less mouthpiece. Either way you still have to match the reed to the mouthpiece. Either way you still need to learn the way the mouthpiece/reed combo responds and adjust the embouchure accordingly.
If the clarinet pieces are 'closing up' try taking more in.
Seriously, the adjustments between registers are, and should be, subtle. If you need time to adjust there may be an issue with your clarinet embouchure in its entirety.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
<snip>
Seriously, the adjustments between registers are, and should be, subtle. If you need time to adjust there may be an issue with your clarinet embouchure in its entirety.
so when you play fast legato octave leaps between 2nd and 3rd register, you're making instantaneous, subtle embouchure adjustments?
 

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In a word, YES.
 

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Somewhat, but more of a voicing adjustment than embouchure. Your mileage may differ. With clarinet (smaller mouthpiece tip opening, instrument angled downward), it's much easier to choke off the sound with excessive jaw pressure. Embouchure adjustments have to be VERY subtle.
so when you play fast legato octave leaps between 2nd and 3rd register, you're making instantaneous, subtle embouchure adjustments?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Somewhat, but more of a voicing adjustment than embouchure. Your mileage may differ. With clarinet (smaller mouthpiece tip opening, instrument angled downward), it's much easier to choke off the sound with excessive jaw pressure. Embouchure adjustments have to be VERY subtle.
having put some hours playing in in the last few days, i feel there may be two things combining to frustrate my 3rd register altissimo E, F and F# ;
1/ narrow tip on mouthpiece plus reed shape /reed-thickness issue at reed-tip [which is doing most of the vibration on these notes.]
2/ unresponsiveness of my 'new to me' 1946 Leblanc in altissimo / these same notes i.e 3rd sounding harmonic & short tube length.

things are going better with my 1937 Buffet: arpeggios and octave leaps are a bit cleaner using same BP02 or B40 and same reeds.
[I still prefer sound of the Leblanc, overall. ymmv. ]

I can see me acquiring a Vandoren 5jB, a more open piece may be what I need as I mostly double on clari & soprano sax.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
here's Michelle Anderson on embouchure changes for mid to upper altissimo:

 

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having put some hours playing in in the last few days, i feel there may be two things combining to frustrate my 3rd register altissimo E, F and F# ;
1/ narrow tip on mouthpiece plus reed shape /reed-thickness issue at reed-tip [which is doing most of the vibration on these notes.]
2/ unresponsiveness of my 'new to me' 1946 Leblanc in altissimo / these same notes i.e 3rd sounding harmonic & short tube length.

things are going better with my 1937 Buffet: arpeggios and octave leaps are a bit cleaner using same BP02 or B40 and same reeds.
[I still prefer sound of the Leblanc, overall. ymmv. ]

I can see me acquiring a Vandoren 5jB, a more open piece may be what I need as I mostly double on clari & soprano sax.
In my experience, big tip openings don't have the same effect on clarinet as on saxophone. I've been playing around (messing around) with a Vandoren 5JB (see my ramblings elsewhere) lately and have actually been going back and forth between that and some Clark Fobes mouthpieces, especially the CF and CWF. These both have a tip opening of 0.96 mm vs the 5JB's 1.47 mm, but I legitimately don't feel any louder on the 5JB. If anything, I can play with a stronger and more focused tone on the Fobes 'pieces. The 5JB has a different tone, for sure, but not really a louder one. This hasn't been my experience on the saxophone, where I've always found more volume and the ability to take more air as I went up in tip opening, limited mostly by my ability to control it.

Admittedly, Fobes-to-Vandoren not apples-to-apples, but I don't think that a bigger tip opening is going to resolve the issue you're having. It might be a wonderful mouthpiece for the sound you're going for, but I wouldn't expect it to solve any problems on its own.

I'd stop thinking about the soprano sax altogether when you're playing clarinet. I tried to think about the clarinet when I started playing soprano (I went the other way, from clarinet to saxophone) and I never got any better until I let go of that association. You really need to be voicing differently and Bandmommy's advice is dead on.
 

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A bigger tip opening gives you more flexibility with loss of control. If you play a lot of clarinet, maybe a radical facing can work for you in certain situations. If you're an occasional clarinetist, it would be wise to stick to a medium facing. Getting more sound out of a clarinet is about focusing the tone, not pushing a huge torrent of air through the horn. An open tip may or may not do that for you.
 

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A bigger tip opening gives you more flexibility with loss of control. If you play a lot of clarinet, maybe a radical facing can work for you in certain situations. If you're an occasional clarinetist, it would be wise to stick to a medium facing. Getting more sound out of a clarinet is about focusing the tone, not pushing a huge torrent of air through the horn. An open tip may or may not do that for you.
agreed with this. A moderate to smaller setup matched with the correct reeds will give you just about everything you need volume wise. A very large mouthpiece will have more room for extreme pitch alterations, and in fact handle more air...but it will not necessarily give you a bigger sound if you don't already know what you're doing.

As this is a doubling forum, and you mentioned trying to use Soprano Sax Chops, I assume you don't have as much time to devote to clarinet as you may saxophone. In this case, it would be good to devote even MORE time than usual in clarinet long tones (if you're not already doing them) so you can separate your saxophone chops from your clarinet chops. The feel needed to get a large sound from the saxophone is very different from the clarinet. There will be the illusion that a bigger mouthpiece will help because you can use your soprano sax chops, but really what you'll end up doing is playing the clarinet less efficiently.

As for the original question. To an extent, yes, facing and facing length can affect response in the altissimo. But when you add in the equation of reeds, then it's a moot point - you can adjust any reed to work with any mouthpiece. Better or worse is relative to the individual, there's no generalization you can really make. Unlike saxophone, a long facing won't make your low notes sound easier, etc...
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
i guess my "facing length" confusion resulted from looking at Vandoren mouthpiece catalogues, where a similar "tip-opening" can have 4 different "facing lengths".
Anyhoo, as a result of some experimentation, I'm now seeing that a different barrel seems to be helping my altissimo a lot - both my main clarinets are from before the "poly cylindrical " days, and using a modern barrel on the Leblanc is helping the altissimo to speak instantaneously quite a bit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
<duplicate>
 

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i guess my "facing length" confusion resulted from looking at Vandoren mouthpiece catalogues, where a similar "tip-opening" can have 4 different "facing lengths".
Anyhoo, as a result of some experimentation, I'm now seeing that a different barrel seems to be helping my altissimo a lot - both my main clarinets are from before the "poly cylindrical " days, and using a modern barrel on the Leblanc is helping the altissimo to speak instantaneously quite a bit.
The barrel had no taper?

yes, a taper will improve response and tone quality in the upper register for sure! What model clarinet are you using and what new barrel did you try? Be careful to check intonation...it trumps pretty much everything else :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
The barrel had no taper?

yes, a taper will improve response and tone quality in the upper register for sure! What model clarinet are you using and what new barrel did you try? Be careful to check intonation...it trumps pretty much everything else :)
its a circa 1946 Leblanc, so yes, possibly the barrel has no taper. I'm working with (amongst others) a Sumner 'Acousticut' 3M barrel, it is 1.5 mm 'too short', altissimo response is quite a bit better, though - I've not checked tuning with a meter yet.

I'd rather be playing a barrel the 'correct' length (66 mm) -maybe from a more recent Leblanc with a comparable bore. thanks to everyone for the replies so far.
 

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It sounds like you've gotten mpc issues resolved, but a word on the barrel.

There is no such thing as a "correct" length. You have to play what is in tune and matches the bore design of your horn. Then you have to play to the ensemble. In big band, I tended to use a 63-64mm barrel because saxophone sections generally tend to play sharp, for example.
 
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