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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000027.txt from 1994/05

From: "Jay Heiser, Product Manager, Govt Systems" <jayh@-----.COM>
Subj: Re: Clarinet Materials
Date: Mon, 2 May 1994 17:51:48 -0400

-->woods in the genus Diospyros. As some of you know, I make clarinet barrels
-->as part of my business and I have run about 150 to date. In the process
I'd be interested in learning more about what you have to offer.
What is it about the barrel that makes it so significant?

-->From experience, I usually prefer the quality of sound produed by very dark,
-->close grained wood. My barrels are machined by a very fine machinist and then
-->I hand bore them with excellent tapered reamers and have a specially designed
-->measuring device too measure the bore. I can make two barrels with exactly
-->the same measurements and they will play differently, albeit in very subtle
What properties do you think affect the sound? The smoothness of
the bore? Does the barrel vibrate significantly.
-->only a small part of the entire mass of the barrel, but it does have a
-->definite effect on the sound. Words that might possibly describe this change
-->would be: smoother, liquid, darker.

-->My conclusions from doing this work for about 10 years is that the material
-->does effect the sound of the instrument, but that bore design and wall
-->thickness have a much greater effect.
-->To play the devil's advocate, I believe it is time that the big manufactures
-->move away from wood as a material for clarinets. Basically we are using a
-->material that may have the best thing available in the 19th century, but
-->is certainly not stable or ideal. As we approach the 21st century I think
-->that if we begin to examine materials available that we will find something
-->that could be stable over time, that will produce a tone as beautiful as
-->a fine wood and will be environmentally appropriate.
-->In fact, this material already exists: graphite. This material has already
-->proven to have excellent acoustical properties.(See Ovation guitars) and
-->will absolutely not contort from moisture. I have a feeling that this
-->material may also prove lighter than wood and could reduce hand and muscle
-->problems. Think of it. Would it not be infinitelt preferable to choose an
-->instrument without wondering how it will break in over 6 months to a year

There's nothing quite like holding a nice piece of wood in your
hands, so there is something to the natural product that transcends
mere acoustics.

The ovation guitar reference is interesting. The guy that founded
Ovation was an engineer working on reducing the noise of helicopter
blades. He was also a semi-pro guitarist and had the insight that
maybe the work he was doing on aerospace would be applicable to
musical instruments. He was correct.

Personally, I don't think an Ovation compares to a fine solid-wood
guitar. Its nice, but its different. It doesn't sound like
rosewood, mahogany or maple. It sounds different. I'm not
convinced that Ovations were designed to be used without an
amplifier (I believe they all have a pickup and equalizer). As
an ersatz acoustic, or amplified acoustic, I think they sound great.

Ovation proves that you can make a desirable musical instrument
out of wood, but not one that is the same. Musicians have discarded
lots of materials before, so its entirely possible that a graphite
clarinet could supplant the wooden one. I just don't expect it to
sound alike.

Guitars are much more interesting to talk about, since they can
incorporate so many different kinds of wood, different shapes,
etc. Their are a lot more things you can do to change the sound
of a guitar than you can with a clarinet (and still be socially
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Beans sprouting, tomatos under plastic tonight

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