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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000009.txt from 1994/05

From: Tom Ascher <U15310@-----.EDU>
Subj: reeds & mouthpieces
Date: Mon, 2 May 1994 10:30:30 -0400

As a novice member of this group, (I've been playing for exactly 1 year)
I'm not sure what meaning my observations might have to the rest of the
group, but I'm finding that a reed of a given hardness (say a Van Doren
2-1/2) plays almost identical to another reed of that same make and
hardness and that I experience very little variation. Even though many
of the reeds LOOK very different in regard to texture, color, etc. What
I find makes a very large difference are the various mouthpieces. I now
have acquired 7 mouthpieces: a Selmer HS*, B*, C*, 115 and a Vandoren
B44, B46, B45. I've created a little chart showing facing lengths across
the top and aperture widths down the side, so I can attempt to draw lines
across the chart, generally slanting from Northwest to Southeast, from
shorter facings and narrower apertures to longer facings and wider
apertures for various reed strengths. In experimenting, I'm impressed
with how critical a .05 different in aperature, or 1.0 difference in
facing can be in how a given clarinet (I have 3 now!) can sound across
the ranges. Finding a mouthpiece that will allow a given clarinet to
sound open, clear, and full across the chalumeau, neck, clarion, altissimo
ranges seems to be a matter of experimenting with mouthpieces that vary
ever so slightly in the length of facing and width of aperature once I
find one that works generally well. In my own case (remember, I'm a
beginner with my embouchure just beginning to develop) I find that with
my (vintage 1963) R-13-A it works best if I use a Vandoren #2 reed with
a Vandoren HS* mouthpiece (18/1.0). With my Yamaha YCL 62 (vintage 1970)
Bb I find it works best if I use a Vandoren 2-1/2 reed with a Vandoren
B* (18/1/1.05). But, it also seems that I can draw a line across my
chart and find USABLE (but not as satisfactory mouthpieces) by moving on
a slope down and to the right from the optimum mouthpiece to find other
usable combinations. On occasion, I've found that if I briefly rub
a new reed on a piece of 600 grit sandpaper on a glass surface briefly
just to smooth the back, it appears to be useful. And, on occasion, if
I find a reed is a little bit stiff, a few strokes of the sandpaper
along the top edge, in the motion of whittling wood, seems to take a little
off the top and make it easier to play. But, so far, any subtleties beyond
this are beyond me! I'm looking forward to where my technique and tone
become refined to the point where I can appreciate greater subtleties of
reeds and justify the possible upgrading to a better instrument! But
for now, I have to say the the greatest benefits seems to be in experimenting
with mouthpieces, rather than reeds...

Tom Ascher Internet:
University of Illinois at Chicago Phone: (312) 413-3665

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