Advertising and Web Hosting on Woodwind.Org!

Woodwind.OrgThe Clarinet BBoardThe C4 standard

 
  BBoard Equipment Study Resources Music General    
 
 New Topic  |  Go to Top  |  Go to Topic  |  Search  |  Help/Rules  |  Smileys/Notes  |  Log In   Newer Topic  |  Older Topic 
 Asymmetrical curve vs. Symmetrical curve
Author: rizz7328 
Date:   2006-09-12 21:27

I was wondering if anyone could help me understand the differences, advantages, and disadvantages between a clarinet mouthpiece with an asymmetrical curve and one with a symmetrical curve.

Thanks,
Nick



Reply To Message
 
 Re: Asymmetrical curve vs. Symmetrical curve
Author: GBK 2017
Date:   2006-09-12 22:27

Tom Ridenour, who does not recommend asymmetrical facings, writes why, on his web site:

Since the link on Tom's site is not working, here is the Google cache of the article.

...GBK

Reply To Message
 
 Re: Asymmetrical curve vs. Symmetrical curve
Author: Bill 
Date:   2006-09-12 22:45

This is really two cents, but I avoid them like the plague. I've read Tom R.'s article and I agree. I think I am safe in stating that Pynes are almost always assymmetrical.

The gain in richness, and (I admit, the delightful) resistance is not worth the (1) reed headaches, and (2) added difficulty above the staff.

If it is true they employed with GREAT subtlety by Kaspar and others, still I believe in the last analysis they create unnecessary difficulty, and may be the cause of developing bad habits (i.e., embouchure compensation).


Bill.

Bill Fogle
Washington, DC


Reply To Message
 
 Re: Asymmetrical curve vs. Symmetrical curve
Author: rizz7328 
Date:   2006-09-12 23:09

Thanks guys. Right now I'm playing on an asymmetrical Dan Johnston and I have been noticing some of those negative impacts (discussed in the article) in my playing, but I had no idea it was my mouthpiece!

Any recommendations on a symmetrical mouthpiece similar to a Johnston H3 in specs. (long and open) and also in the actual mpc. size?

Thanks in advance,

Nick

Reply To Message
 
 Re: Asymmetrical curve vs. Symmetrical curve
Author: Gregory Smith 2017
Date:   2006-09-12 23:14

Frank Kaspar was to the point of being obsessively concerned with producing symmetrical facings. Whether he achieved that kind of perfection on a consistent basis or not is another subject.

The symmetry was usually off but by a very little here and there but certainly not exploited as a method to purposely produce any given effect unto itself (unlike some modern day makers). This is reliable information coming from those that worked or apprenticed with him from the 1960's through the late 1970's. It is also true of all my own original Kaspars - the best being those that were almost completely if not perfectly symmetrical.

I often ask why it would be that every "slightly" asymmetrical original Kaspar facing that I straighten invariably plays to mine or to every others' satisfaction? And that asymmetry, when put in deliberately, may appeal to the player at first but that over time there turns out to be many more drawbacks than advantages - in exactly the same way that Tom Ridenour describes.

The asymmetry of a facing has nothing to do per se with "richness" (whatever that term means to any particular individual). It could just as easily be said that using the term "richness" with it's positive connotations would be perceived negatively as "dullness", "blandness", or "less colorful" to another.

Gregory Smith

Reply To Message
 
 Re: Asymmetrical curve vs. Symmetrical curve
Author: Tobin 
Date:   2006-09-13 00:29

It is hard to jump in after Mr. Smith, but I have a tiny anectdote to add.

My teacher in middle and high school was Louis Greenspan, who had been principal of the Marine Band for some time ages ago.

He had studied mouthpiece making with Goldbeck at the same time as Kaspar.

Louis made a mouthpiece for me that at one point was broken (no need to go into that bad memory), and at the time he directed me to replace (for the time being) with a Kaspar.

In the making of the mouthpiece for me Louis had be concerned with creating an asymmetry based something he divined by looking at my embouchure and my teeth.

Is anyone else familiar with Goldbeck, and does asymmetry play a part in his designs?

(Caveat: I am relating all of this as best I can, but there may be some inaccuracies.)

I relate this to indicate that Kaspar's asymmetrical ideas did not begin with him according to my late teacher. Mr. Smith's statements would lead me to believe that I may be completely wrong, or perhaps missunderstood the details at the time.

James Tobin

James

Gnothi Seauton

Reply To Message
 
 Re: Asymmetrical curve vs. Symmetrical curve
Author: Vytas 
Date:   2006-09-13 01:09

Every singe Kaspar mouthpiece I've measured had slightly asymmetrical facing. I do not want to make any statement that Kaspars made asymmetrical facings because none of these mouthpieces were in perfect new condition. I do not know if these mouthpieces have been made this way or maybe, hard-rubber warped over time.

I personally prefer strictly symmetrical facings but I have to admit that asymmetry if done in the certain way can add exiting futures to the tone. BTW the best sounding Kaspar I've played had following asymmetrical facing:

1.14 mm tip
6
12
23 - 22
35 - 34

Vytas Krass
Professional clarinet technician
Custom clarinet mouthpiece maker
Former professional clarinet player




Post Edited (2006-09-13 15:45)

Reply To Message
 
 Re: Asymmetrical curve vs. Symmetrical curve
Author: Gregory Smith 2017
Date:   2006-09-13 02:06

While it is true that all mouthpiece makers need the *ability* to be able to accommodate particular oral occlusions and jaw-to-reed pressure patterns to compensate *if needed*, most of the time it is not necessary with reasonably straight teeth and relatively normal occlusions.

(But not necessarily. Robert Marcellus had a terrific overbite and Bonade a boldly protruding lower jaw but played very "regular", normal facings, recommending these "medium" facings as the norm to their students.)

The only fact that I intended to make clear was that based on the two people that knew him best and were knowledgeable about mouthpiece making relayed that specific information to me...and they were adamant about it.

As a mouthpiece maker I also know that no two measuring tools or even systems are alike and no two people will get exactly (or interpret exactly) the same measurements - even using the same tools! Kaspar's were rather unusual because the tip wand(s) that he used did not match most of the modern day wands.

Undoubtedly he went through many measuring glasses and feeler gages (he used more than the standard Brand-recommended 4 gages) that became worn, broken, bent, etc, and had to be replaced.

Try measuring a mouthpiece with 10 measuring glasses, freshly minted, of the type and from the maker that Kaspar used. Then you will know what I am talking about.

Gregory Smith

BTW, the 23 - 22 and 35 - 34 measurements for the bottom 2 numbers are the most common asymmetry that I have found with hundreds of original Frank Kaspar facings over the years.



Post Edited (2006-09-13 02:09)

Reply To Message
 
 Re: Asymmetrical curve vs. Symmetrical curve
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2006-09-13 05:07

"Any recommendations on a symmetrical mouthpiece similar to a Johnston H3 in specs. (long and open) and also in the actual mpc. size?"

I don't know the Johnston H3, but I play a Peter Eaton mouthpiece which I think is symmetrical and is long and open (unless I don't know what long and open means). The measurements are: tip opening - 1.21mm, facing length - 21.25mm.

Reply To Message
 
 Re: Asymmetrical curve vs. Symmetrical curve
Author: David Spiegelthal 2017
Date:   2006-09-13 14:13

In my own experiments over the years I've come to what seem to be the same conclusions as those of the experts above: asymmetric facings create response problems and unnecessarily high resistance, with no long-term benefits. I try to achieve absolutely symmetrical facings to the best of my ability.

Reply To Message
 
 Re: Asymmetrical curve vs. Symmetrical curve
Author: Bob Phillips 
Date:   2006-09-13 15:04

As a technologist, I'd be very skeptical that any benefit could come from an asymettrical mouthpiece. In my evolving mental model of clarinet sound generation, I see a coupled acoustic system consisting of the player's mouth throat and lungs, the reed, and the instrument.

The reed vibrates while being restrained by the player's embochure and while interacting with the two (player and horn) resonant systems. The reed vibration is certainly non-linear --it may slap against the mouthpiece rather than vibrating simply like the strings on a guitar.

If the reed doesn't actually hit the tip rail of the mouthpiece, it still changes its resonanant frequency continuously as it wraps around the facing of the mouthpiece. Recall the physics class demonstration where the prof plucks a meter stick and then pulls the vibrating "reed" across the edge of the bench --shortening it and making a system for that executes a glissando. The shorter stick vibrates faster.

It is clear that the reed needs to have a high natural frequency and substantial damping to make the overall system settle down quickly when the player changes fingering.

Some of the wonderful harmonics present in the sound of a clarinet come from the overtones of the horn itself, and some (much) comes from the non-linearity of the reed's vibration. Some of this non-linearity can be influenced by the player by preloading the reed with the lower lip to adjust the average amount of wrap over the facing curve.

The facing asymmetry will have at least two effects: the two sides of the reed with change natural frequency at different rates as the reed wraps over the lay, and the reed will twist around its long axis. The twisting might even pull the edges of the reed off of the rails.

Certainly, all of these additional modes will add "richness" to the sound --by adding harmonic content, but I can't imagine that being beneficial --or consistent between different reeds.

One study found, however, that the torsional mode of clarinet reed vibration contributed strongly to the overall sound of the instrument. The torsional vibration adds twisting (rail to rail) motion to the "flapping" of the reed. The torsional vibration would probably be encouraged by rail asymmetry.

Won't the torsional vibration mode be harder for the player to control?

Bob Phillips

Reply To Message
 
 Re: Asymmetrical curve vs. Symmetrical curve
Author: BobD 
Date:   2006-09-13 16:26

Quite enjoyable and mentally stimulating comments about a subject that eludes scientific measurement. Having acquired numerous mps that don't play to my satisfaction I decided to try to learn the subject of refacing on my own. One thing one learns almost immediately is that making a symmetrical facing is very difficult due to the way one has to hold the mp during the operation. Then once you've screwed it up trying to correct it is even harder. I would offer an opinion that there is probably more asymmetry in non-professional players' mouths than some might believe.
(One could even propose that having a balanced mouth-ature is a prerequisite to being a succesful pro player. ) I have to admit that up to this post I would not have considered the above measurements being asymetrical as they would probably represent my "good" results.

Bob Draznik

Reply To Message
 
 Re: Asymmetrical curve vs. Symmetrical curve
Author: Cuisleannach 
Date:   2006-09-13 19:45

I have heard that over the life of the mp, it tends to develop assymetry as it ages. Does anyone have any actual experience with this?

-Randy

Reply To Message
 
 Re: Asymmetrical curve vs. Symmetrical curve
Author: David Spiegelthal 2017
Date:   2006-09-13 20:55

As the rubber of the mouthpiece (assuming it's hard rubber, as most are) ages, some of the constituent chemicals (plasticizers, sulfur, etc.) either offgas (evaporate) or undergo chemical changes such as from UV or oxygen exposure, etc. (Dr. Omar can explain far better and more correctly than I), and this, along with general material shrinkage over the long term, can result in dimensional changes to the facing -- including but not limited to the development of asymmetry in the curvature of the rails.

One great advantage of both crystal and stainless steel (or other metal) mouthpieces is that they are not subject to long-term dimensional changes (unless you count the 'creep' of glass over millenia -- yes, I'm aware that glass is actually a supercooled liquid and 'flows' over hundreds or thousands of years).

Reply To Message
 
 Re: Asymmetrical curve vs. Symmetrical curve
Author: Bill 
Date:   2006-09-13 22:25

Hey BobD,

I've been having a great time since I got a packet of 1200 grit sandpaper. I've actually improved some of the old stuff I have laying around. Though I have never created my own facing, but rather sort of "leveled" and then highly polished the existing facing (and table)

I must admit that I've had some success. So I applaud your efforts.

Bill.

Reply To Message
 
 Re: Asymmetrical curve vs. Symmetrical curve
Author: graham 
Date:   2006-09-14 09:08

Wouldn't torsional vibration in the reed also increase reed wear and reduce reed life?

Reply To Message
 
 Re: Asymmetrical curve vs. Symmetrical curve
Author: Tony Beck 
Date:   2006-09-14 20:05

I think the question might be, if torsional vibration could be eliminated, would reed life be extended? Maybe, maybe not, but the sound would be changed, maybe dramatically. Reed cut profile could be adjusted to reduce torsional vibration. A very interesting experiement would be to lay up a synthetic reed with fibers (glass, kevlar, etc.) layed in an X pattern instead of along the length of the reed. It could be very soft in bending and stiff torsionally (like some airplane wings). Hmmmmmmmm.....

Reply To Message
 
 Re: Asymmetrical curve vs. Symmetrical curve
Author: Cuisleannach 
Date:   2006-09-15 04:44



Tony said......

<<A very interesting experiement would be to lay up a synthetic reed with fibers (glass, kevlar, etc.) layed in an X pattern instead of along the length of the reed. It could be very soft in bending and stiff torsionally (like some airplane wings). Hmmmmmmmm.....>>


I've wonderend about that too, but I've been thinking about trying to cut reeds from tube cane on the bias. Haven't tried it, though....

-Randy

Reply To Message
 
 Re: Asymmetrical curve vs. Symmetrical curve
Author: donald 
Date:   2006-09-15 09:19

i had my front teeth evened out after years of prof classical playing with the mouthpiece in my mouth at an angle due to uneven front teeth.
yes, i know this is not scientific, but i would swear in a court of law that my reeds now last longer and play better.... i'd wager a hapenny bun that it's because my embochure is now "more symetrical" and reeds are now wearing out more evenly- (btw- i've always played on symetrical facings)
just a theory of course
donald

Reply To Message
 
 Re: Asymmetrical curve vs. Symmetrical curve
Author: shmuelyosef 
Date:   2017-11-21 07:25

Fascinating topic! I found this old thread because I was curious about the Fobes 2M* facing (advertised as 'asymmetrical') and I was wondering if he is selling intentional side-to-side asymmetry as discussed here, or a curve that that has a different curvature rate near the contact point than near the tip, which is not all that unusual in boutique facings.

Cane reeds, even from the most revered suppliers, have asymmetry that is easily measured in well over half the reeds in any box, particularly in the heart region and the centering of the vamp. I have always assumed (but would like to hear other opinions) that this was why "good reeds" are often associated with specific mouthpieces; i.e. the asymmetries are more or less aligned. For example, if a reed has a faster thickness ramp on one side, and that side of the mouthpiece has a longer lay, then it will perhaps work better than a perfect reed. Assuming that the left/right bias in the reeds is random, this would imply that half the reeds in a box should play noticeably better than the other half, and a perfect mouthpiece would be sensitive to the 'width' of the distribution in asymmetry.

In the context of 'perfect' reeds (e.g. the newest Legeres and perhaps the computer machined d-Addarios if you believe their hype), this would suggest that a symmetrical mouthpiece that matches a particular strength Legere would play them all perfectly, but another mouthpiece with the same nominal tip opening and lay might not play well at all on any of them if it was asymmetrical.

Comments???

Reply To Message
 
 Re: Asymmetrical curve vs. Symmetrical curve
Author: Wes 
Date:   2017-11-22 00:12

Assymetry in a mouthpiece facing makes no sense whatsoever.

Reply To Message
 
 Re: Asymmetrical curve vs. Symmetrical curve
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2017-11-22 07:03

I think that people, refacers mouthpiece maker need to make symmetrical mouthpieces. It's a must.

I've looked at many mouthpieces that are said to be symmetrical mouthpieces and magnified them and there are bumps all over the place. For example the person refacing the mouthpiece has 4 or 5 gauges, known as "Feeler Gauges," to use and the glass. These are dead on square. But when you look at them under a powerful magnifying glass the rest of the cures are uneven and have bumps on the rails and also flat spots. This happens with machined faced mouthpieces as well. It is a special art to develop that curve. Most people cannot achieve it as well as the facing machines.

So it is often easier to say asymmetrical curves are better. This is just wrong. This is because the people just don't know how.

Let's take a moment and look at plastic reeds which are flat and do not warp. If the rails are off the plastic reeds will never vibrate correctly. Well this is the same with regular reeds. A lot of cane reeds are thrown out because of bumps and flat spots and uneven rails rails.

When I made reeds at Rico the rails on both sides of the reeds had to be within a 1/2 thousandth of an inch from side to side in the from and 2 thousandths in the back, about the thickness of a human hair. That's all. The rest of the reeds had to do with the quality of the cane.

So why would someone want an asymmetrical curve when the reeds are so delicate? Because they don't know how to put on a great symmetrical curve on a mouthpiece. The ones that do are true Masters.

These measurements stated above don't mean anything if the rest of the mouthpiece rails are uneven.

For example I use 18 gauges. Not 4 or 5. I also designed a special diamond dust cutting wheel to assure that the rails have no bumps, flat spots, or are uneven. The mouthpieces won't leave the place if they are not even. This process often takes hours. I often have to walk away from a mouthpiece and come back to it later, just from stress.

STEUER REEDS Importer played by Sabine Meyer

NEWLY DESIGNED "Vintage 1940 Cicero" Mouthpieces

Yamaha Artist




Reply To Message
 
 Re: Asymmetrical curve vs. Symmetrical curve
Author: Ed 
Date:   2017-11-22 07:16

Quote:

Fascinating topic! I found this old thread because I was curious about the Fobes 2M* facing (advertised as 'asymmetrical') and I was wondering if he is selling intentional side-to-side asymmetry as discussed here, or a curve that that has a different curvature rate near the contact point than near the tip, which is not all that unusual in boutique facings.


You would have to contact Clark to see what he says about his work. I don't want to speak for him, but I seem to recall that a number of years ago he told me that his asymmetry is very slight and only at a given point on the facing.

Reply To Message
 
 Re: Asymmetrical curve vs. Symmetrical curve
Author: Dan Shusta 
Date:   2017-11-22 10:17

From a BB search, Clark wrote about his CWF asymmetrical mouthpiece:

"My CWF mouthpiece is only slightly asymmetric and most of the asymmetry is near the tip. You will not feel this in the mouth. They asymmetry helps close facing to play a bit darker and with a bit more resistance. This allows a nice resistance in the altissimo .

Generally, I make all of my facing symmetrical, but this is a facing that I have used for 14 years and it works very well for me."

http://test.woodwind.org/clarinet/BBoard/read.html?f=1&i=358478&t=358430 (8th response down from OP)

Also, in the same thread listed above, Clark expounds extensively about "ASYMMETRY IN MOUTHPIECE FACINGS" (16th response down from OP)



Reply To Message
 
 Re: Asymmetrical curve vs. Symmetrical curve
Author: brycon 
Date:   2017-11-22 19:12

Quote:

Assymetry in a mouthpiece facing makes no sense whatsoever.


Have you tried playing them?

I watched Tom Ridenour's video on asymmetrical facings a while back after it was cited here. At the time, I'd been playing an asymmetrical piece made by Dan Johnston for a few years; very little of what Tom said jibed with my own playing experience.

Properly-balanced reeds felt balanced on the asymmetrical facing; reeds also wore out as slowly or quickly as on any other mouthpiece I'd ever played. In general, there was no significant difference in how I had to deal with reeds. Though in comparison to vintage pieces I'd played (including a beautiful Chicago Kaspar, which was my main mouthpiece for a few years), the Johnston was far more reed friendly.

When Ramon Wodkowski was touching it up after four years of heavy playing, I asked him about asymmetrical facings. He said that it was primarily a matter of feeling--that an asymmetrical facing wouldn't play much differently than a symmetrical one. To me, it provides a different sort of resistance, as though there's more of a cushion. At softer dynamics especially, it feels as if you have something to blow against but not in the way a harder reed, more open facing, etc. would provide.



Reply To Message
 
 Re: Asymmetrical curve vs. Symmetrical curve
Author: Mojo 
Date:   2017-11-23 18:04

It would be difficult for a player to determine if a mouthpiece is slightly more resistant from an asymmetrical facing vs resistance due to a little shorter facing length, slightly more open tip, a more resistance curve shape, or other irregularities.

The best test would be to have a symmetric mouthpiece and then have it altered and try it again. But you can not go back and forth. Also if you re-balance your reed after the alteration, you may compensate for the change.

Rather than mess with your mouthpiece, try altering a reed to be unbalanced left to right. See if you like that.

Mojo Mouthpiece Work LLC
MojoMouthpieceWork@yahoo.com

Reply To Message
 
 Re: Asymmetrical curve vs. Symmetrical curve
Author: seabreeze 
Date:   2017-11-23 22:22

Brycon,

Tom Ridenour is a talented clarinet designer, but his opinions--just like those of Daniel Bonade--must always be taken with a grain of salt. Good clarinets can be made of rubber, but it does not follow that rubber is the "best" material and making them out of wood is bad news. Double lip embouchure can bring improvements for some players but it is not necessarily the "best" and certainly not the only effective embouchure. Symmetric facings may be the choice of many top players, but some may prefer skillfully done asymmetric ones. Didn't Dan Johnson make some mouthpieces (the "W" series?) with symmetric facings and others (the "H" series) with asymmetric ones to accommodate the divergence of preference among professionals?

In his retrospective talk at the 2017 ICA Stanley Drucker cautioned that there is never just one right way to play or do anything. When the moderator played some excerpts from Drucker's recording of the Nielsen Concerto, I recalled a teacher who told me that rapid and distinct staccato and good legato were impossible unless the player formed a flat pointed chin with his embouchure. Listening to Drucker absolutely nail those treacherous staccato passages in the Nielsen and play the lyrical ones with a silken, perfectly connected legato, I could only laugh--because of course he's always played with a rather bunched looking embouchure. And there are innumerable numbers of clarinetists who play with a very pointed chin but cannot begin to approach Drucker's staccato and legato skills.

So, by the same token, I would say that players who feel comfortable on asymmetrical facings will chose them even if they are not "supposed to" according to the blanket advice of so many clarinet gurus.



Post Edited (2017-11-24 00:45)

Reply To Message
 
 Re: Asymmetrical curve vs. Symmetrical curve
Author: Jarmo Hyvakko 
Date:   2017-11-26 12:18

The only really symmetrical mouthpieces can be found from cnc ground rod rubber mouthpieces from last about 10 years. Every handmade mouthpiece i have measured has been at least somewhat asymmetrical. And that's why we always wanted to have a huge pile of vandoren 5RV's or B45's for testing in the good old days because the manufacturing process wasn't so exact as cnc grinding, that can easily get to tolerances beyond 0.01mm. Plus at least a while ago all the mouthpiece blanks were molded, not ground from solid ebonite, which made also the blanks different from each other.

The question is what do we want. The overall form of the curve, baffle, chamber etc. dictate the general character of the mouthpiece and the minor asymmetricalities make it "personal, unique". But, be aware, like in choosing your spouse, we often fall in love in some features that during the time become the most irritating ones!

Also, talking about different tone colours, it's a matter of temperament: do you want a stable mouthpiece and really make them, force them out of your instrument, or do you find better that good basic sound is something, where you filter all the "personalities" out of the sound, and then let those colours sort of slip out of the instrument?

Principal Clarinet, Tampere Philharmonic, Finland

Reply To Message
 
 Re: Asymmetrical curve vs. Symmetrical curve
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2017-11-26 19:15

Jarmo Hyvakko wrote:

> The only really symmetrical mouthpieces can be found from cnc
> ground rod rubber mouthpieces from last about 10 years. Every
> handmade mouthpiece i have measured has been at least somewhat
> asymmetrical.

Are we talking about deliberately skewed curves - made longer on one side than the other to achieve some intentional perceived benefit - or are we just talking about curves that aren't completely uniform left and right, whether due to sloppiness of manufacture or human imperfection?

Karl

Reply To Message
 Avail. Forums  |  Threaded View   Newer Topic  |  Older Topic 


 Avail. Forums  |  Need a Login? Register Here 
 User Login
 User Name:
 Password:
 Remember my login:
   
 Forgot Your Password?
Enter your email address or user name below and a new password will be sent to the email address associated with your profile.
Search Woodwind.Org

Sheet Music Plus Featured Sale

The Clarinet Pages
is sponsored by:

For Sale
Put your ads for items you'd like to sell here. Free! Please, no more than two at a time - ads removed after two weeks.

Service
Instrument repairs, restorations, adjustments, and overhauls.

Accessories
Accessories that every clarinetist needs - reed makers and shapers, ligatures, greases, oils, and preservatives ... and more!

Instruments
Retailers and manufacturers of clarinets, both modern and early replica

Mouthpieces & Barrels
Fine makers of mouthpieces and barrels, from wood to crystal to hard rubber and plastic

Reeds
Great reeds available from around the world

Miscellaneous
Services and products too varied to categorize! Repair, recording, news

Music & Books
CDs, Sheet Music, and some of the greatest reference books ever written!

Events
Major events especially for clarinetists

 
     Copyright © Woodwind.Org, Inc. All Rights Reserved    Privacy Policy    Contact charette@woodwind.org