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 German mpc/French Clarinet
Author: Phurster 
Date:   2008-03-09 03:29

Has anyone had any luck mixing German mouthpieces with French Buffet Clarinets? I read that Bela Kovaks uses this set up and I quite like his sound.

Specifically has anyone tried Viotto German facings with a French Clarinet?

I have an RC prestige which I play with a Chadash 66mm barrel and a range of Vandoren 13 series mouthpieces. This produces a balanced scale at A=440 (not perfect but workable).

Can the Viotto be adapted to 440? Are there any projection issues?

Thanks Chris.

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 Re: German mpc/French Clarinet
Author: donald 
Date:   2008-03-09 05:48

Theoretically this shouldn't work due to the volume of the mouthpiece bore being wrong for the French System.... however two colleagues of mine- James Fry (2nd clarinet in the APO) and Phillip Green (co Principal in the NZSO) have been using Wurlitzer mouthpieces with Buffet Clarinets for more than a year. They manage to sound great, AND play in tune to standards as high as i've heard anywhere around the world.
James Fry is currently on a short study leave from the orchestra- and has been studying in Switzerland and Germany. I'm wondering if he's found a new mouthpiece while he's over there, he was (last time i saw) playing a Wurlitzer mouthpiece that he'd refaced himself as he'd found it too close. He'll be back in a few weeks- i'm certainly very interested in this, and will let you know the details if he's changed mouthpiece.

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 Re: German mpc/French Clarinet
Author: Phurster 
Date:   2008-03-09 08:52

Thanks for that. Is James Fry an Aussie? Son of a prominent doctor? If so I was in an orchestra that was accompanying him for Spohr No4. He was very young then but very good. Small world.
Look forward to any further info.

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 Re: German mpc/French Clarinet
Author: srattle 
Date:   2008-03-09 09:33

Hi Chris,
I know a lot of people who have played Boehm clarinets with German mouthpieces. Often with great results in sound and tuning (although I also know a lot of people who need to use a lot of interesting fingerings.

I personally use a french viotto mouthpiece, and I love it. I find it gives me a lot of the German sound tendencies, while still working perfectly as a french mouthpiece. Might be something to check out, I find Viotto does really excellent work

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 Re: German mpc/French Clarinet
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2008-03-09 14:29

German mouthpieces are slightly longer than French ones, so a shorter barrel may be needed if using them on Boehms.

Former oboe finisher
Howarth of London
1998 - 2010

The opinions I express are my own.

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 Re: German mpc/French Clarinet
Author: David Spiegelthal 2017
Date:   2008-03-09 14:40

I'm not much of a player, but I've been using refaced Vandoren German-system and Austrian-system mouthpieces on a medium-large bore Boosey & Hawkes Boehm clarinet with no adverse effects. Have also been using a HIGHLY-modified Hammerschmidt wood German-system bass clarinet mouthpiece (which was originally similar in size to a French-style ALTO clarinet mouthpiece) on my metal Kohlert Boehm-system bass clarinet --- but to make this work I had to lengthen the mouthpiece, deepen the baffle, and severely enlarge the bore, actually making it somewhat conical from the window to the tenon to match its bore to that of the bass clarinet neck. It was purely an experiment and hardly worth the effort, realistically, but it actually works now and is my primary bass clarinet mouthpiece. FWIW.......

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 Re: German mpc/French Clarinet
Author: Ed 
Date:   2008-03-09 15:46

I can't speak about the acoustical issues that may occur. I will pose a question. There are so many stock and custom mouthpieces available. There are countless custom makers who can work with you to customize a mouthpiece to get exactly the sound and feel you are looking for. With SO many great mouthpieces out there to choose from, why introduce a set of unknown issues into the equation? There must be something out there that would give you what you are looking for in a mouthpiece reed combination.

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 Re: German mpc/French Clarinet
Author: Bob Phillips 
Date:   2008-03-09 16:54

A colleague keeps a Vandoren German-style mouthpiece on hand to poke into the upper end of his Selmer 10. He does that with a #5 reed, using hardware store o-rings to hold the reed on (he has no shoes with laces!).

The result is a HUGE sound that he uses to compete with the brasses in his dixieland group.

Bob Phillips

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 Re: German mpc/French Clarinet
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2008-03-10 02:44

Gee, I don't know if my experiences have been rather singular BUT the true German mouthpieces I have are actually SMALLER than French mouthpieces by a marked degree (closer in size to what would be a French "C" clarinet).

Now, another marked difference for me is that the tenon on the German mouthpieces is actually LARGER (due to the stresses normally encountered while winding the blattshnur around the mouthpiece). So I would think a German mouthpiece tenon would actually have to be machined down to work.

Finally, the acoustic differences would make tuning a nightmare. Of course I have not been in the market for the German horns since the mid-eighties, and if these diparities have been smoothed out that drastically over the years, I apologize for adding any confusion.

................Paul Aviles

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 Re: German mpc/French Clarinet
Author: Paul Globus 
Date:   2008-03-10 12:20

I must correct you. Kovacs Bela is retired and does not play anymore (he sold his instrumens, I was told, to his student, who plays principal in the opera orchestra). For all the years he did play, his set up was 100 percent French. I believe he finished his career on a Vandoren M30. I think at some point he also played a Viotto but it was French-style mouthpice.

Hungary is close to Austria and to Germany but the Hungarian school of clarinet playing is almost exclusively French. Moreover, the level is much higher than in North America.

Incidenally, Viotto makes a line of first-rate French mouthpieces.

Post Edited (2008-03-10 12:24)

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 Re: German mpc/French Clarinet
Author: Mark Charette 
Date:   2008-03-10 12:51

pg@writeability.com wrote:

> I must correct you. Kovacs Bela is retired and does not play
> anymore (he sold his instrumens, I was told, to his student,
> who plays principal in the opera orchestra).

Must have a helluva time teaching, then ...

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 Re: German mpc/French Clarinet
Author: Phurster 
Date:   2008-03-10 12:54

Thanks for your comments. i think you are right. I read over an article in the Clarinet vollume 32, No 3, p72. It is an interview with a number of Hungarian players.

One of the players Kohan says;
"It's true that the French system predominates here today. But you see a trend where more than half the players are using German-made French style mouthpieces on their Boehm clarinets."

I think the Viotto french might be an option when the VISA bill finally goes.
Thanks for the clarification.

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 Re: German mpc/French Clarinet
Author: Phurster 
Date:   2008-03-10 12:58

Good to find out he's still going. My sax is being repaired at the moment, in some ways it is an advantage to teach without the instrument. stops me from letting the ego take over.

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 Re: German mpc/French Clarinet
Author: Paul Globus 
Date:   2008-03-10 13:21

I wrote the article you refer to in The Clarinet. I was in the room at the Liszt Academy in Budapest with eight of the country's top players and everyone played Buffet or Selmer clarinets with French-style mouthpieces. No exceptions. True, Balogh Joszef was there and he plays both French and German system but he too considers himself a "French" player.

Kovacs Bela had a big retirement party for his 70th birthday a couple of years ago. There's a DVD of the event, at which a number of his current and former students played. Representatives from Vandoren and Buffet were in attendence. There was even a French clarinetist -- a very fine player -- who performed. I was told by people at Rose where I bought the DVD that Mr. Kovacs has indeed stopped playing and sold his instruments.

Post Edited (2008-03-10 13:25)

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 Re: German mpc/French Clarinet
Author: Alphie 
Date:   2008-03-10 16:18

I currently play a Viotto German mouthpiece model N1+2 with my Chadash Bb and R13 A with a very good result. He’s making these especially for the French instruments. The only difference from a usual German mp is that it’s 2mm shorter and with a suitable tenon. Intonation is not a problem using this combination. I use White Master 4½.


I have always felt very much “at home” every time over the years when I’ve played German clarinets and mouthpieces. However, the tradition in my country’s orchestras calls for French instruments so I’ve only played German system when performing German chamber music. To have the option to use this Viotto mp to my daily orchestra-French-setup has sort of made my professional life more complete.


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 Re: German mpc/French Clarinet
Author: Menendez 
Date:   2008-03-10 20:05

There is not any problem for play in French clarinets with a German/Viennese mouthpiece.

All you have to do is to order one to a mouthpiece maker like Viotto, Willscher, Nagamatsu, etc...

You have to say him the pitch of your clarinets, and what tip opening and table lenght you want (choosing the right reeds depends from it). Barrel length and clarinet model can help to the maker to design a mouthpiece what will not give you too much problems with intonation.

Since the embochure is different, the voicing is different too, and you will have at first some little problems with intonation in some notes, that you can solve easily playing with your embochure and voicing.

Learning to play with these moutpieces is an advantage... Practicing and testing several mouthpieces, reeds, etc... you can finally play with German System / Reform Boehm / Boehm clarinets at the same, without too much problems... and using the same reeds model and number!

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 Re: German mpc/French Clarinet
Author: Bas 
Date:   2008-03-12 11:37


I am a distributor of Viotto mouthpieces in Europe.
In Holland, many people are playing a Viotto German model mouthpiece with the Oehler bore on French Clarinets, because this setup is so beautiful.
There are no intonation problems as Alphie said.
In Germany some well known clarinetists are playing a French model mouthpiece on German system Clarinets, with no intonation problems.
Viotto, who uses Zinner products, has not adepted a German mouthpiece to 440. Only the French model has been adepted to 440.
Mr. Bela Kovacs has played a Viotto French model mouthpiece with his own (BK) facing.


Post Edited (2008-03-12 14:44)

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 Re: German mpc/French Clarinet
Author: Reformed 
Date:   2021-10-22 19:11

I'm not sure what he previous (now deleted) message adds to the thread!

But it's resurrection does give me a chance to say that I have recently been using a Vandoren Austrian mouthpiece bored out to B&H 1010 specs on Peter Eaton Elites. The lay is 0.80mm by 30mm.

The combination is superb for me. The intonation of a modern Boehm clarinet plus the resonant but balanced capabilities of an Oehler or reform-Boehm system.

Maybe it is a wide bore thing, the Austrian mouthpiece works much better than the several German mouthpieces that Peter has previously adapted for me (mostly Zinners and Leitner & Krauss).

It is an advantage of the 15.24mm bore that just about any Bb mouthpiece can be adapted. Sadly the skills seem to be gradually disappearing.

Truthfully, I haven't stopped smiling for the last month!

Post Edited (2021-10-23 10:56)

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 Re: German mpc/French Clarinet
Author: Phurster 
Date:   2021-10-23 05:49

Interesting to see this thread which I started moe than 13 years ago.

I actually did buy a Viotto mouthpiece, which was exceellent. Unfortunately my young son liked it and started using it a lot untill it wore out.

I moved to Tosca's and I'm back most of the time on a B40 series 13 mouthpiece. I did use the B40D for a while.

If money wasn't an option I'd like to try the Yamaha Artist, or the Wurlitzer reform boehm perhaps that would move the sound in the desired direction.

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