Klarinet Archive - Posting 000181.txt from 1994/05
From: "Dan Leeson: LEESON@-----.EDU>
Date: Mon, 9 May 1994 12:49:44 -0400
There was a question asked about how Clark Fobes measures resistance. Mind
you, I am a skeptic on the subject, but I was there when he made my E-flat
clarinet mouthpiece and I took no part in the process other than to sit
there and amuse Clark, something I did brilliantly since it took him more than
two hours to make the mp.
Clark measures resistance by playing the mouthpiece again and again. After
he plays it he does weird things like filing, scraping, measuring,
sandpapering, etc. He did not heat the mouthpiece in any way, though I have
seen other technicians do that. It scares the hell out of me.
This might take 1 minute, perhaps 2, or it could take 10 minutes. Then he
would try the mp again. All this was done on his E-flat clarinet, not mine.
Incidentally, this is what he does in repair work on an instrument, too, but
to a much smaller degree.
When he reaches whatever he reaches (I presume that this includes resistance
along with other things), he then asked me to try it. I refused. I wanted
to take it home and work for several hours with it, not make a judgement
based on a minute's playing. And that is what I did, and eventually bought
But I should add that resistance judged by Clark is not necessarily too much
or too little judged by me. It depends on his reed, ligature, clarinet (I
presume -- don't really know), his head cavities, body type and shape, lung
strength, etc., etc.
I do not know if we sense the same level of resistance in this single
mouthpiece. It is a great deal like describing the color "red." Two
people may see it quite differently, but since both call it "red" it is
"red" even should it be green for person A and blue for person B. In
fact I believe no one really knows if humans all see color in the same hue
It is probably the same with resistance. When I had Greg Dufford create
a duplicate mouthpiece for my A bass as for my B-flat bass (which he had
originally made), he spent a great deal of time duplicating every facet
of the mouthpiece that he was capable of duplicating. And it is a
wonderful mouthpiece, too. But it is totally different from my B-flat
mouthpiece in terms of resistance.
Dan Leeson, Los Altos, California