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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000289.txt from 2001/07

From: Richard Bush <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Re:Mouthpieces misconceptions!!!!!
Date: Wed, 11 Jul 2001 14:48:09 -0400

The variations in facings Roger encountered with the B-45's suggests that
Vandoren doesn't keep their facing machines in proper calibration.

"David C. Kumpf" wrote:

> Walter,
> Your message helps a lot in understanding a major source of variation.
> Perhaps all molds are not filled at the same pressure level; impurities
> exist in the original material, the mold, etc; the rubber distorts as it
> hardens (as you mentioned); and so on. (I'm not a plastics engineer, so I am
> supposing some of these as possible causes of differences.)
> One approach is to look for different materials. I have not played a
> Pomarico crystal mouthpiece, and have no idea what the issues in working
> with that material might be. Is glass a good subsitute (aside from
> breakage!) and does it allow more precise control? Has anyone tried
> polycarbonate or other kinds of plastics? What issues are encountered there?
> Do people dislike metal because of the sensation of teeth on metal, or
> because it sounds atrocious? (I can imagine both as causes, but without
> playing a metal mouthpiece, it's just conjecture.)
> Once the material is uniform, and can be expected to repeatedly come out of
> the mold with the same characteristics every time, then machining comes into
> play. How much does working with the material distort the rubber? (Obviously
> there can be problems if one overheats the material, which seems pretty easy
> to do with power tools...) And, to what extent are mouthpiece makers
> altering the machining process to try to work around variations introduced
> in the molding process?
> Roger Garrett's original message suggested that he had seen quite a
> variation in the tip openings of the Vandoren B45's he had measured.
> Perhaps there was poor control in the molding process and so the
> specifications for facing length and tip opening are cast aside in an effort
> to get the mouthpieces to play reasonably at all...
> I just find this fascinating...thank you to you and Roger for helping cast
> some light on this.
> Dave Kumpf
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From:]
> > Sent: Tuesday, July 10, 2001 9:03 PM
> > To:
> > Subject: RE: [kl] Re:Mouthpieces misconceptions!!!!!
> >
> [clipped start of message]
> > Walter continues:
> >
> > I think that we are all forgetting that mouthpieces are made of RUBBER.
> >
> > Yes, hard rubber, but still rubber, a flexible material.
> >
> > Why? Well, we like the sounds it produces. We would also love
> > wood, and use it all the time, if it didn't warp and change so
> > much with moisture and humidity.
> >
> > Now please consider. Rubber is a flexible material. The
> > mouthpiece "blanks" are made from liquid rubber poured into a
> > mold and allowed to harden. They are then "machined" somewhat,
> > according to the process of the individual manufacturer.
> >
> > Now, please consider what happens to the rubber as the material
> > cools in the mold. Bepending on outside temperature, humidity,
> > and the exact composition of the rubber itself, it will shrink or
> > change in various directions. Some of these will be so slight as
> > to defy any but the most ardent inspector.
> >
> > (Walter was a manufacturing consultant in a previous life, and
> > has toured many facilities that mold products in a similar
> > fashion. He has also molded mouthpieces and barrels himself, in
> > an attempt to understand the variables introduced).
> >
> > We are not working here in titanium or steel. It's RUBBER. It
> > will vary. We need to reconcile ourselves to that fact and
> > realise that "Models" "styles" and "facings" will and DO vary
> > from mouthpiece to mouthpiece. That at best, these are nothing
> > but guidelines.
> >
> > Each mouthpiece is an individual, and until we abandon rubber as
> > our favored material, and go to something that can be machined as
> > closely as the above quote suggests, and does not change after,
> > we need to reconcile ourselves to this fact.
> >
> > I hope this helps to clear up some of the confusion. I myself
> > would like to understand why mouthpieces change, and I know that
> > they do, after initial manufacture.
> >
> > Respectfully,
> >
> > Walter Grabner
> >
> >
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