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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000737.txt from 2004/08

From: "Chuck Currie" <>
Subj: RE: [kl] Eb mouthpieces?
Date: Fri, 27 Aug 2004 17:39:49 -0400

Hi, folks

Well, Lelia continues to be amongst the most charming and witty of
participants on the list, and she has nailed the "each to his own"
philosophy perfectly.

I was recently privileged to hear Wes Foster and Howard Klug try out =
other's equipment in a nice studio at the back of Morrie Backun's shop.
They both sounded wonderful of course, and very politely agreed to =
on their set-ups. Both are great artists and true gentleman. "We're =
different," said Wes, and Howard concurred.

Hear, hear! And a tip of the hat to Lelia for "sneaking out", being
different and being true to herself.

Chuck Currie
Sax Noir Studio
604 254-9625
604 970-2694
2105 E 3rd Avenue
Vancouver, BC
V5N 1H9

PS. I remember being incredibly in love with a new mouthpiece years ago =
insisting it was the greatest.....made one of the members of my quartet =
it on his vintage Selmer Series 9. His old HS** blew the socks off of =
brand new toy. It just really suited the horn, and I liked it better on =
instrument, too.

-----Original Message-----
From: Lelia Loban []=20
Sent: Friday, August 27, 2004 2:06 PM
Subject: [kl] Eb mouthpieces?

Regarding a mouthpiece suggestion for an Eb clarinet purchased off eBay,
Curtis Bennett wrote,
>I'll keep those in mind, though I'm not=20
>sure I want to invest that much in what
>is essentially a toy for me.

I think the budget is as valid a consideration as any other. (I'm an
amateur, too.) See if you can get someone to listen to you while you =
different mouthpieces, but only you can decide. This is one of those
questions that an e-mail list can't answer, because we can't hear (much
less guess) how different mouthpieces sound on that clarinet when you =
it. The best we can do is generalize that a Brand X clarinet of a =
vintage, that's being used for Type Y music, often sounds good with a =
Z mouthpiece. Beware of the product-pushers who get so excited about =
favorite brands that they forget that a mouthpiece that's great on one
clarinet, for one clarinet player, can sound all wrong for another =
played by somebody else; and that the fact that one (expensive) thing =
be *best* doesn't mean everything else is worthless.

At ClarinetFest this year, I had an interesting go-round on this very
subject, with a member of this list whom I like and respect -- someone =
knows a lot. As we walked into the dealer room together, I mentioned =
I planned to choose a Selmer C* mouthpiece for an Eb clarinet. She =
to talk me out of it. In vain, I tried to explain why I needed that
mouthpiece for a particular clarinet. She told me, rather angrily, that
the clarinet would sound so shrill I wouldn't be able to stand it, and =
I'd regret wasting my money this way. Nothing I said could persuade her =
knew what I was doing. She kept up the pressure on me. She even =
on marching me over to the booth of a well-known custom designer of
mouthpieces, after I'd already explained that I couldn't afford his work =
the moment. Finally I just shut up and silently inched backwards, until
she got so engrossed in conversation with the designer that she forgot =
about me, whereupon I made my escape, slithered around a corner, found =
booth I wanted and chose my C* on the sneak. Yes, at age 56, it's still
possible to feel like a kid crawling out of a window in the middle of =

Well, she lit into me later, of course, because I couldn't resist =
her know I'd disobeyed her. Granted, I'd try to talk me out of the C*,
too, if I'd wanted it to replace the ruined mouthpiece that came to me =
an 1898 Buffet, Albert system (LP, which means low pitch, i.e. tuned to
concert A=3D440). I bought the second Eb clarinet for its lovely old =
rubber mouthpiece marked, "France," with a close, classical facing. =
great mouthpiece came with a silver-plated metal Eb clarinet, marked,
"American Standard High Grade Cleveland Mus. Inst. Co." Yeah, American
Standard, probably no relation to the toilets -- the case didn't smell
*quite* that bad. I don't know what's the difference between my "High
Grade" and somebody else's Plain Old Ordinary Grade, but it's an economy
model of student clarinet from the 1930s, not highly sought-after today. =
bought it cheaply and restored it myself. Since the tenon socket on the
Buffet's barrel has a slightly different diameter from the neck socket =
the American Standard, I can't use the same mouthpiece with both =
Just as well, because the old French mouthpiece was so resistant on the
American Standard that I wasted a lot of time trying to find a =
pad leak. I was blowing my brains out and turning purple. When I
temporarily fattened the cork with layers of tape and tried the same
mouthpiece on the antique Albert system clarinet, it was much more
free-blowing, and sounded beautiful. The Buffet sounds too soft and =
for jazz or for any modern band, but it would be excellent for classical
chamber music (if I can learn to remember to use Albert fingerings).

So that's why I needed a second mouthpiece, preferably not one that a =
market dealer has dropped, patched together with Gorilla Glue and =
out with a belt grinder (that's what I think happened to the ruined
mouthpiece that was in the case with the Buffet!), but not a custom-made
job for $200 or upwards, either. The Selmer Standard line has been =
forever, has no sex appeal any more, and never had snob appeal, but =
nothing the matter with those mouthpieces. They're hard rubber and in =
experience, they're reliably well-made. I never put a Selmer mouthpiece =
a Buffet clarinet or saxophone, but Selmer, Bundy and similar clarinets
often play best with Selmer mouthpieces. I've got an HS* (a moderately
close, classical facing) that I like very much on my pro-grade Paris =
Eb alto, that I use with an alto saxophone reed. My used Bundy 1440 EEb
contra-alto (again, no snob appeal, but it happens to be a lot of =
for the money) sounds good with its C*, especially with a baritone sax =

So, when I started doing research on what might work with this American
Standard eefer without breaking the piggy bank, it occurred to me that =
H. N. White saxophones often play well with older models of Selmer
mouthpieces. I soon found out that the diameter and length of a modern =
are exactly the same, inside and out, as the diameter and length of the =
French mouthpiece I'd given to the Buffet. That means the C* probably
would play in tune on the same clarinet that plays in tune with the =
The big difference in measurements is that the tip of the C* is much =
open than the old mouthpiece. I didn't want an even more open =
than the C* (at the median point among the options in the Selmer =
line), because my opinionated friend was quite right that Eb clarinets =
to be shrill, and I wanted it for playing jazz, not for stripping paint. =
also figured that, for the future, a C* might be a reasonable,
middle-of-the-road option for jazz (or a reliable backup mouthpiece) on =
better-quality Selmer Eb, if I find a good one.

Glad I didn't listen to the ClarinetFest naysayer, because I found a =
C* at ClarinetFest, and it did turn out to be the right choice. I like
Steuer French Cut reeds on this mouthpiece, btw. I also bought those =
the first time at ClarinetFest (a great place to find brands of reeds =
haven't turned up in my excellent local store yet). I've now got the
option of two vastly different Eb setups: a mellow, classical tone from =
antique Buffet with the old French mouthpiece and, with the metal =
Standard with the C* mouthpiece, a free-blowing jazz or pop sound from =
instrument I could play outdoors in the rain. Big band? No problema. =
brassholes wouldn't drown out this little banshee. All wishful =
of course, since I don't belong to any band.... =20

Anyhow, the bottom line is: Listen to advice, but then listen to =

Lelia Loban
More trees, less Bush: Kerry and Edwards in 2004!

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