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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000140.txt from 2002/05

Subj: Re: [kl] Too many barrel choices!
Date: Sun, 5 May 2002 21:32:46 -0400

RobZrob says <<I've read the latest threads on the issue of barrels and the many choices that are available. Aside from the expected subjective views on which barrels are best, I'm wondering about the objective differences in sound that are attained with each barrel. For example, I've read about Moening barrels, Chadash, accu-bore, inverted bore, hour-glass bore and so on... What I'm looking for is brief description of some of these barrels (e.g such and such barrel has a "brighter" sound, etc). I also wouldn't mind hearing about which barrels you prefer, and why.>>

RobZ -

Iwas actually thinking earlier today about a post on "What I have learned about barrels....what what I don't yet understand".

Your post has provoked this "early response".

To discuss a barrel (or a mouthpiece) outside of the context of the rest of the set-up is completely counter-productive. Let me relate two anecdotes which might help to illuminate this.

Anecdote 1:

Several months back, a list member asked me to make him a barrel. I made him the best barrel that I could (on that particular day). I was VERY proud of this barrel. I was SO pleased with it that I hard a hard time parting with it.

Well, finally, I mailed it off, thinking "what a talented boy I am!"

The barrel came back promptly, with a request for money back, (which I of course honored). The prospective buyer said that tone quality was only moderately better and that the resulting intonation was WILDLY erratic!

Somewhat chagrined, I tested the barrel again, thinking that I has mis-lead myself, and that I had missed something. To my amazement, I found that I STILL liked the barrel a lot. I liked it so much, that a few weeks later I took an audition using that barrel.

Obviously, the barrel was working with my setup, but not his. Later I found he was playing on some model of Yamaha, to which I am not familiar.

Anecdote 2:

Last fall I spent a day at a major midwestern University working with clarinet majors, and faculty, with various models of mouthpiece.

By the end of the day, when I correlated my results. I saw that a one model was preferred by the players of Yamaha instruments, and a different model was overwhelmingly preferred by the Buffet players.

When a very accomplished clarinetist, using a custom barrel on his Buffet, tried mouthpieces, he was very much taken with the model preferred by the Yamaha players.

When he tried mouthpieces with a different set-up, all Buffet, non-custom barrel, he preferred the mouthpieces that he had rejected earlier!

It became very apparent, that we were matching mouthpieces to clarinets (specifically the barrel configuration) as much as we were to the individual player! That actually blew my mind.

I am now at the point where I will not supply a "Grabner" hand-crafted barrel unless I can have the clarinet and the mouthpiece to match it to. Anything less than that is a total crapshoot, basically a hit-or-miss proposition.

Now, what does this have to do with your question?

My contention is that the "answers" you get to your inquiry will relate to the respondees individual set-up, and provide absolutely no usable information to you or to any one else.

What to do? Be more specific. State what make and model of clarinet you are playing, and ask for responses form people who are familar with these products.

Or, try as many different barrels as you can reasonibly put your hands on.

Remember, a replacement barrel might give you better tone and response, but totally mess up your intonation; OR really improve your intonation, but limit your tone and flexibility.

It is VERY difficult to find a barrel that will do both at the same time.

Walter Grabner
Mouthpieces, Repairs, Restorations


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