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 Is SETUP worth for unprofessional model?
Author: charles 
Date:   1999-10-08 17:26

I know that most of the players don't use the original barrel, ligature and mouthpiece which comes with instrument. Because they can expect better quality of tone and sound. I have Buffet E-13 (that is not top line) with M13, Rovner ligature and original barrel. Can I expect better tone and sound with different set of setup with my E-13? Or it doesn't make big difference.

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 RE: Is SETUP worth for unprofessional model?
Author: Dee 
Date:   1999-10-08 17:37

charles wrote:
I know that most of the players don't use the original barrel, ligature and mouthpiece which comes with instrument. Because they can expect better quality of tone and sound. I have Buffet E-13 (that is not top line) with M13, Rovner ligature and original barrel. Can I expect better tone and sound with different set of setup with my E-13? Or it doesn't make big difference.

Setup makes a huge difference on any instrument. If you put a professional (or near professional) quality mouthpiece on even the oldest, most beatup student horn you can find, you should experience a noticeable difference in intonation, sound quality and playability.

Here is my list of the most important things, in order of importance, that goes toward playing well and playing easily.

1. Player technique, especially embouchure and breath support.
2. Good quality reed that is correctly matched in strength to the mouthpiece.
3. Good quality mouthpiece
4. Appropriate good quality ligature that is suitable for the mouthpiece/reed/embouchure combination.
5a. Barrel (may be more or less important than the clarinet)
5b. Clarinet itself.

Notice that the clarinet goes at the bottom of the list. You could have the greatest clarinet in the world but if you haven't addressed items 1 through 4, it will sound like junk.

On the other hand, focus on 1 through 4 and even a 1930s junk Pan American can sound pretty good and not be too god awful to play (I know. I've been there and done that).

Newer instruments from the better makers such as the E-13 (Buffet's high end intermediate) can sound and play great. Even the student grade instruments from the top makers are pretty nice when items 1 through 4 have been addressed. I have a Leblanc Vito (student plastic) that I picked up for my daughter to march with and it's pretty nice with a Vandoren B45 mouthpiece and Mitchell Lurie reeds.

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 RE: Is SETUP worth for unprofessional model?
Author: Frank O'Brien 
Date:   1999-10-08 18:06

I agree with what Dee has last written here.

In addition, one might look to the length of the [original] barrel. At the suggestion of my instructor, who is a working musician, I had a local technician trim back the barrel which came with my LaBlanc Pete Fountain and the change in tone and accuracy is amazing.

Moreover, there is a relationship with the kind of mp used and the barrel. You might settle on your mouthpiece and then see to your barrel - whether to change it, or have a tech work on it.

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 Then, what should I consider
Author: charles 
Date:   1999-10-08 18:57

Thank you so much.

Then, what should I consider when I need to buy the mouthpiece, barrel and ligature?

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 RE: Then, what should I consider
Author: paul 
Date:   1999-10-08 21:20

Consider the following pragmatic items.

Money. You can pay a fortune for a great mp/lig/barrel setup, only to find out that your tone and intonation still aren't all that good. You missed item #1 on Dee's list. It's the most important one. If you have money burning a hole in your pocket, use it on professional lessons. Even a young kid with a plastic piece of junk can outplay an adult with a gold plated Rossi if the kid knows what he/she is doing and they work at it hard enough. Private lessons and focused practice are worth their weight in diamonds.

Fit and function. A good mp is okay. A great mp is better. But, do you know the difference? Ditto for ligs and most importantly, reeds. I certainly didn't know the difference when I started out. I have a great horn (items 3 and 4), but the mp I had was an off-the-shelf mass produced product that needed some professional tweaking. I didn't know what to do to get the horn (see Dee's comments on the proper order) to behave itself. It turned out that the mp needed to have the side rails leveled down. A professional tech fixed the problem in just a few short minutes. I still need (note present tense) lessons to get the first item right, then with a little tweaking from both my pro tutor (50 years pro experience with 25 years in a big city orchestra, Daniel Bonade and University trained) and my local factory certified tech, I'll be able to get the most out of the rest of the items on the list.

Musical style. Why buy a wide open jazz mp when you can't play scales right? What good does it really do? None. If you are a student of the clarinet like almost all of us are, scratch musical style for now and get the bread-and-butter stuff that works for you at your skill level. This means getting a typical mp, a typical lig, and lots of typical reeds. Then, work your fingers to the bone with what you have to make it perform to its maximum potential.

Personality. Perhaps there is a better way of putting it, but you need to consider what works best for you, not anyone else. Sure, a good pro can recommend improvements in classes of reed, quality of mp, style of lig. That's great. But, keep in mind that the clarinet still must be personally fitted to you and your preferences. For instance, I have the keys on my horn adjusted for my fingers, no one elses. I play what some folks consider a unique and hard to buy/make reed strength on a typical mp. Tough. It works for me. I use the standard metal lig. It's what I'm used to. Again, so what. I'm not going to follow the latest fad here and there if I don't personally believe that it's going to help me be a better player. I have to account for a significant overbite, a dentally small mouth, average to small fingers, and most of all the ability to play at most 1 hour a night for practice. Therefore, I grab what works for me in this specific situation and I ignore the rest. So, tweak what you need to find the "ideal personal fit" for your needs and then stick with it for a while.

Focused practice. If your horn has undercut tone holes, find out just how far up you have to hold your fingers so the notes don't sound sour. Do the boring but essential drills to develop "muscle memory" in your fingers and hands, as well as in your mouth, throat, and torso. Fetch a good copy of Baermann III or any similar book of scales and pound it to death. Do trills until your fingers get so sore that they start hurting. Listen to each fingering change to make sure you're not hitting multiple notes en route to the next note. Sit in front of a tuning meter with a trusted friend and learn how to play each note perfectly in tune at all sound levels. Work on mechanical skills equally with musicality. Balance each practice session with hard work and fun.

The bottom line is this. As you develop item 1 on Dee's list, the rest of the remaining items on the list will fall into place in their own time. Just do it. Make small adjustments as necessary, but just do it. You will eventually surprise yourself at how well you can play and at how trivial the rest of the items on the list will be.

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Author: charles 
Date:   1999-10-08 21:36

Thank you.

I will make a copy of above replies and keep in mind.

Thank you so much again.

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