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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000178.txt from 2005/04

Subj: RE: [kl] Plastic mouthpieces in reply to Tom Henson
Date: Mon, 11 Apr 2005 11:12:05 -0400

Thanks for responding Clark,

Your insight on this subject shows the depth of experience that I expected
to hear. Especially since your Debut line of mouthpieces has been so

I had mentioned Lexan not because I am sure that this is what Wurlitzer
used. I might just ask them and see what they say. They might consider it a
trade secret. Lexan is used for things like football and motorcycle helmets
as well as for the clear plastic headlight covers one sees on modern cars.
It is extremely durable and heat resistant and is used for many automotive
applications as well as for safety helmets because it can take very high
impacts and not break. Because of this, I would think it would have a higher
melt point which would require a different kind of mold and injection
process as you allude to.

I think the Wurlitzer mouthpieces clearly demonstrated to me that a high
quality plastic mouthpiece can play very well, but I was curious to see what
your opinion about hard rubber and it's sound characteristics were.

I had heard that Zinner uses some ingredients that can not be used in the US
and that this is what makes them so different. I don't know for sure what
that/those ingredients may be. I have heard from different sources that make
mouthpieces like yourself that they respond to being worked well and that a
lot of people like to work on them for this quality.

I would also feel that if you drop an acrylic mouthpiece it would bend or
dent before it would break. I'm not going to do a test though to back up my
theory, but I think at some point hard rubber, especially as it ages, is
more brittle and will break sooner. This would probably have to do with the
polymer chain and the way those molecules are chained or combined together.
Acrylic may have a higher melt point because of this. Oliver Sealy would
know for sure.

Tom Henson

<< Clark Fobes responded:

As a person who works in plastic (acrylic in my case) everyday I can
confirm your observation that acrylic mouthpieces can sound better than some
hard rubber mouthpieces. It has been my contention for years that the
acoustical DESIGN of the mouthpiece has a much greater role in the resultant
sound than does the material. It is also true that plastic (and I am
speaking for acrylic) retains its shape much better than hard rubber when
molded. I send out about 600 plastic mouthpieces each month and the only
variation I find is in the facing process. However, the variation is
observed in the thickness of the side and tip rails (very minimal variation
in a run of 400 mouthpieces) and not in the actual facing specs. Acrylic
holds up very well under the facing wheel. It may be that acrylic is
"stiffer" than hard rubber and resists the cutting surface better than hard
rubber. >>

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