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 Reeds or Mouthpiece?
Author: Michelle 
Date:   2007-09-13 06:29

I ran into some interesting results this evening while playing my clarinets. I got out all my mouthpieces, set up both of my main clarinets (E&S K series and Amati 515) and played all my mouthpieces on both clarinets, one after the other. I found that if I used one particular reed nearly all my mouthpieces played on both clarinets, even several that have been in the back of the bottom drawer because I didn't like them at all. In particular, an old Selmer crystal mpc that I have never gotten a good sound on sang beautifully! I switched the reed and it was back to stuffy and resistant. I switched back and continued on, finding that nearly every mouthpiece was easily playable with this one particular reed.

Is this common? Does this one reed just fit me perfectly and allow me to play well on all these various mouthpieces, or is there something else going on that I'm missing? There is a big difference in how both clarinets sound, one being bright and the other mellow (imho) but with this one reed the sound was clear and the playability free. I found that the Amati was pickier in it's mouthpiece and offered more resistance, but even that opened up with certain combinations. It really choked up with some mouthpieces and a different reed. The E&S was more forgiving, as far as ease of play and clear tone goes.

Does this experience mean anything? Probably not, but it was interesting. Anyone else find the "holy grail" of reeds opens up mouthpiece options for you that are unplayable with others?


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 Re: Reeds or Mouthpiece?
Author: Tobin 
Date:   2007-09-13 10:06

Hello Michelle,

The wonder reed that you are describing is probably just the rare reed that one finds out of the box that is balanced without having to make any adjustments to it yourself.

Or do you regularly balance your reeds, and this one is just superlative beyond that?


Gnothi Seauton

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 Re: Reeds or Mouthpiece?
Author: BobD 
Date:   2007-09-13 11:02

Now throw in the mix all your ligatures. But, I don't know the answer to your mystery.

Bob Draznik

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 Re: Reeds or Mouthpiece?
Author: skygardener 
Date:   2007-09-13 11:46

My answer is 'yes. it's a good reed'.
What is a reed? It's a piece of wood that bends and bounces back. So, if that reed's wood is really good then it will bend and come back really well. I used to make all my reeds by hand and I could take most reeds and make them great with adjustments. But I could never make certain brands good, no matter what I did. If I took 3 boxes of 1 brand I could adjust them and get 25 good reeds playing just how I want. But from another brand I could get 5-8. I was using all the same tools, but some cane just didn't move the way I wanted.

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 Re: Reeds or Mouthpiece?
Author: rtmyth 
Date:   2007-09-13 14:03

McLane selected them out of the box and played them as is, but was very picky. I assume most were passed by.

richard smith

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 Re: Reeds or Mouthpiece?
Author: C2thew 
Date:   2007-09-13 17:33

it was probably a softer reed that has been broken in. crystal mouthpieces like soft reeds than hard rubber.

Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. they are but improved means to an unimproved end, an end which was already but too easy to arrive as railroads lead to Boston to New York
-Walden; Henry Thoreau

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 Re: Reeds or Mouthpiece?
Author: claritoot26 
Date:   2007-09-13 18:48

I agree with Tobin. It was a very good reed that didn't need balancing, which is unusual. Save that one as a template for your future reeds. No matter which mouthpiece you end up deciding on, you're going to have to adjust most reeds to it. Good luck.

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 Re: Reeds or Mouthpiece?
Author: Michelle 
Date:   2007-09-18 01:52

I occasionally balance or adjust reeds when the mood strikes, but I don't do it on a regular basis. This particular reed was a Legere, and interestingly enough the next size down didn't play nearly as well.

I used only 2 ligs for this trial - a luyben and a rovner dark. I didn't want to add that confusion into the mix!

I ended up with a new primary mpc out of the deal, at least for the time being. Put my "former primary" in the case as a backup, but it was a fun little spontaneous experiment.

Thanks for all the responses...


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 Re: Reeds or Mouthpiece?
Author: Bassie 
Date:   2007-09-24 11:45

The reed's the most important thing. It's like, when you go mouthpiece shopping, take your best reeds.

The question is, can you reproduce that one flukey reed?

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 Re: Reeds or Mouthpiece?
Author: Synonymous Botch 
Date:   2007-09-25 00:05

You can, if you follow one of the well-considered methods mentioned on this BBS - Charles Stier has a cogent approach, as do Ben Armato and Tom Ridenour. It takes practice, for certain.

You could also skip this and play the Legere reed, which is consistent.
(Although some top players don't much dig the sound.)

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