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 The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: Rusty 
Date:   2008-11-04 07:25

I`ve been caught twice now by ordering mouthpieces without realizing they were made of vulcanized rubber. The last one a clarinet Vandoran B45 (I think about$120) only lasted approx. 4 months before it started giving off the offensive hydrogen sulfide smell. I don`t want it near my mouth and nose and it is now in the back of a cupboard. The other one was a Selmer Tenor MPC which being bigger, was worse.
Why are these things made, and is it only ignorent people like me that keep buying them?

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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: Gordon (NZ) 
Date:   2008-11-04 11:31

They usually make a better sound than the ABS plastic ones, perhaps because the material is more rigid, affecting the way the reed rebounds off it after slapping it.

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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: tictactux 2017
Date:   2008-11-04 11:40

The question is now: how do you clean your mouthpieces? For example, hard rubber does not like hot water, it turns green and might start to smell.

--
Ben

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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: skygardener 
Date:   2008-11-04 12:11

It really is unusual for a piece to start smelling in only 4 months. Do you properly put the piece away when you are finished playing?

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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: Iceland clarinet 
Date:   2008-11-04 12:36

Well I usually run my mouthpiece with a swab without a weight maybe 1 or 2 times per month and then I use the bark end of a reed(preferably I bad one) to rub the dirt off.

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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: skygardener 
Date:   2008-11-04 12:41

If you want a quality PLASTIC mouthpiece that will NOT have a smell, you can get one from ESM. http://www.esm-mouthpiece.de/englischeversion/index.html

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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2008-11-04 13:03

Is it possible the smell is coming from you not cleaning the mouthpiece?

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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: L. Omar Henderson 
Date:   2008-11-04 13:18

The smell - sulphur dioxide - varies from batch to batch of hard rubber depending on the amount of sulfur used as vulcanizing catalyst and its utilization in the vulcanizing process. Newer catalysts are used in addition to sulfur and the smell of Zinner and Vandoren mouthpieces, and others, has not been an over-arching problem in the last few years - practically no detectable smell at all. Usually only oxidized mouthpieces have a bad smell and these can be treated chemically to turn surface sulphur into more stable and non-smelling sulfur compounds. Anecdotal accounts ascribe a better sound to hard rubber mouthpieces but plastic mouthpieces by some of the cusotom makers are very good too (e.g. Fobes, Redwine, Hite, etc.).
L. Omar Henderson
www.doctorsprod.com

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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: DavidBlumberg 
Date:   2008-11-04 18:19

I highly encourage my competition to play plastic mouthpieces......

;)

http://www.SkypeClarinetLessons.com


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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: Don Berger 
Date:   2008-11-04 18:32

Have you tried immersing the ?smelly? mps in plain, colorless vinegar for a few minutes, hours , days?? to see if the SO2, H2S or XXS vanishes ? Don

Thanx, Mark, Don

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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: Rusty 
Date:   2008-11-04 19:24

Thanks all. Yes the smell is from the agents used in vulcanizing the rubber not the mouthpiece`s poor hygiene. I have many MPCs and it is only the cured ones that pong. Love the Hites. No skygardener I don`t put my MPCs away . All my wind instruments have dust covers over them and the MPCs dried and layed out on a cloth after use.
As a chemist I`ve tried many approaches to deoderizing them without much success. A weak chlorine solution I think was the best. Can`t remember vinegar, I`ll give it a go. Rusty

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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: Gordon (NZ) 
Date:   2008-11-05 14:02

Weak chlorine (bleach) restores the green to black on some hard rubber mouthpieces.

A vinegar soak is great for removing the white mineral deposits.

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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2008-11-05 15:27

Rusty, have you been washing them in hot water?

Chris.

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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: stevesklar 
Date:   2008-11-05 15:53

I use vinegar as a cleaning process .. then a dip in mouthwash to sterilize

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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: skygardener 
Date:   2008-11-05 18:01

"... the MPCs dried and layed out on a cloth after use."
This may be your problem. Excess exposure to light can make the oxidation process happen faster. be sure to cover it from light/oxygen.
Here is some good advice from a mouthpiece maker that has spend a good amount of energy on rubber formulas. http://test.woodwind.org/clarinet/BBoard/read.html?f=20&i=855&t=855



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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: Rusty 
Date:   2008-11-05 18:07

No cold water Chris. I don`t think the viegar will work since we are not talking a lime deposit here. I`ll try the mouthwash stevesklar, perhaps the residual perfume might mask the sulphur based smell.

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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: marshall 
Date:   2008-11-05 19:46

The thing about mouthpieces that people don't realize is that the reed isn't the only thing vibrating...the mouthpiece is too. The reed vibrates against the mouthpiece and the mouthpiece vibrates against the reed (though the vibrations made by the mouthpiece are much smaller than those made by the reed, as a hard rubber mouthpiece is much more rigid than a wooden reed). When something vibrates, the material that the vibrating object is made of affects the vibrations alters the sound significantly. It's the same concept that makes wood and hard rubber clarinets sound "better" than plastic clarinets. If you take the fact that the mouthpiece vibrates, it makes sense that it is the norm to play hard rubber over plastic.

PS. I like the smell of aging hard rubber (but only after it's been cleaned...which my mouthpiece hasn't since mid-August :p)

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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: Chris Hill 
Date:   2008-11-06 14:27

Omar Henderson has a mouthpiece cleaning product that gets rid of the smell of old oxidized mouthpieces.
Are the mouthpieces also discolored when they start to smell?

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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: Rusty 
Date:   2008-11-07 07:51

Well Chris the Selmer was an old one bought second hand and it had a greenish coating. The Vandoran is only 4 months old, at least to me, altho` it may have been with the supplier awhile. No hint of a colour change.
I find it hard to understand how anyone could concentrate on their playing with these odorous things 3 cm from their noses.
I`m not sure what the composition is of the sulphur based smell produced, but if there is any H2S present then that is a very toxic product to be repeatedly inhaled, even in trace amounts.

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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: L. Omar Henderson 
Date:   2008-11-07 12:26

(Disclaimer - I sell a mouthpiece cleaner)
Some of the older Selmer mouthpieces are infamous for large sulfur concentrations, migrations of sulfur to the surface and oxidizing more readily than other hard rubber mouthpieces (just anechdotal observations and customer emails). A green or brown coloration is a give-away for sulfur oxidation processes already going on. You would probably be happier with one of the newer Zinner blank mouthpieces and Vandoren mouthpieces that do not seem to be as prone to the sulfur excess migration and oxidation. Who knows - the clarinet greats may have met an early demise from inhaling minute quantities of H2S over many years - any actuaries in the house?
L. Omar Henderson
www.doctorsprod.com

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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: Chris Hill 
Date:   2008-11-08 01:44

Try using some of Omar's cleaner. If that doesn't work, you can get the mouthpieces buffed- just make sure that the tech doesn't buff the table or rails.
Chris

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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: BobD 
Date:   2008-11-08 09:19

"these things" are made because "hard rubber" has been used for mps for a long time and has been found to be a suitable material for them including relative ease of reworking compared to harder materials. Latex is a "natural" occuring product but occurs in many different locations. Perhaps the fabricator of your mp used a different source of latex in your batch. Or maybe someone is experimenting with using old auto tires instead of latex.....to make a "green" hard rubber.

Bob Draznik

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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: Jack Kissinger 
Date:   2008-11-08 17:13

"The thing about mouthpieces that people don't realize is that the reed isn't the only thing vibrating...the mouthpiece is too. The reed vibrates against the mouthpiece and the mouthpiece vibrates against the reed (though the vibrations made by the mouthpiece are much smaller than those made by the reed, as a hard rubber mouthpiece is much more rigid than a wooden reed). When something vibrates, the material that the vibrating object is made of affects the vibrations alters the sound significantly. It's the same concept that makes wood and hard rubber clarinets sound "better" than plastic clarinets. If you take the fact that the mouthpiece vibrates, it makes sense that it is the norm to play hard rubber over plastic."

Could you please provide a reference to a scientific study that has demonstrated these "facts"? While your statement may be true, I think it's more likely total horse hockey.

It has always seemed to me that any tendency the mouthpiece may have to vibrate would be damped significantly by the player's lips (and teeth, if the player uses a single lip emboucher) and probably the barrel. Any tendency the clarinet has to vibrate would be damped by the players hands and fingers. What I don't know is the extent of the damping and whether there is still enough vibration to affect the sound. My priors are that the damping would be significant and, as far as I know, no one has ever shown the existence of sufficient vibration to have a noticeable affect on sound. But it's not my field and there may indeed be such studies. I would love to know if such a study has been performed and its results.

Best regards,
jnk

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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: C2thew 
Date:   2008-11-08 17:36

odd question, when a mouthpiece is starting to give off sulphur dioxide, do the fumes trigger other mouthpieces to start vulcanizing as well? here's a scenario

throw the original posters vandoren b45 into a box with an older mouthpiece that has yet to undergo vulcanization. in say a year, will both mouthpieces be oxidized?

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: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: L. Omar Henderson 
Date:   2008-11-08 20:26

Sulfur dioxide or hydrogen sulfide should not cause another mouthpiece to oxidize (vulcanization is the process of crosslinking latex using catalysts such as sulfur). Heat, light, and ozone are the major culprits.
L. Omar Henderson
www.doctorsprod.com

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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: Rusty 
Date:   2008-11-09 18:53

As a last resort on the Tenor Selmer one I coated the whole piece inside and out with a clear varnish. Has stopped all the smell but don`t know for how long. Does`nt sound any different.

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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: Djudy 
Date:   2020-03-06 03:17

I'm bringing up this older thread rather than starting a new one to avoid repetition.

I recently acquired a very nice Charles Bay - Itheca mp that plays well but stinks like a skunk. I've tried white vinegar then baking soda to try to remove the smell but no luck. In the intervening 12 years, has anyone found any other solution to this problem with vintage mps? I have one or two others that are discolored but none stink like the Charles Bay. I'd hate to have to lacquer it !

And to protect my vintage mp collection, other than storing in the dark, are there any other precautions to take? The humidity in my cases has been at around 50% since i got several mini hygrometers.





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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: Mojo 
Date:   2020-03-06 18:19

I had a smelly Morgan bass clarinet mp last year. I tried a mouthwash soak and then it smelled like smelly hard rubber and mouthwash. Washed it with soap and cold water several times and let air dry. I stopped using the plastic tube it was in when I purchased it. That was the main problem. It still smells but it is 20% of what it was.

MojoMP.com
Mojo Mouthpiece Work LLC
MojoMouthpieceWork@yahoo.com

Post Edited (2020-03-07 19:54)

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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: RefacerMan 
Date:   2020-03-06 19:06

If you get some buffing compound that can be used on hard rubber get a soft cloth and hand buff the mouthpiece. It will take some elbow grease, but it will eventually get rid of the top layer of oxidized rubber and it won't smell or taste bad any more.

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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: Djudy 
Date:   2020-03-07 20:38

Thanks for the tips, although I'm afraid that the inside will have to be treated someway too, but we'll cross that bridge later. What type of compound works best on hard rubber ? I've learned that jeweler's rouge just shines but doesn't 'cut'. I assume I need to remove some oxidized material.

Were there any experienced refacers around I'd take it to a shop but vintage mps here in France are not generally appreciated and I know of no one who does such work.





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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: paulyb 
Date:   2020-03-08 01:51

You could try Nicholas Trefeil - I think he mostly does saxophone mouthpiece but does have some clarinet mouthpieces listed on his website:

https://www.nicolastrefeil.com/



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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: Djudy 
Date:   2020-03-08 14:51

Excellent ! Thank you Paulyb !





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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: Tony F 
Date:   2020-03-08 15:29

I had an old Selmer mouthpiece that I liked but which had the sulphury smell. Nothing I tried really worked, so in the end I gave it a light rub over with some very fine steel wool, the sort used by cabinet makers and French polishers. It worked fine, no smell and it didn't cause any changes to the way it played. I've done it since then on other mouthpieces with the same good result.

Tony F.

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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: Tom H 
Date:   2020-03-08 20:09

I always wash my mouthpiece with cold water after each use and haven't had a smell problem (including my old Vandoren V360, my old B45 and current 5RV. But, my wife says I can't smell anything....

The Most Advanced Clarinet Book--Austin Macauley Publishers
tomheimer.ampbk.com/ Amazon, Sheet Music Plus
austinmacauley.com/author/heimer-tom
Boreal Ballad for unaccompanied clarinet--Sheet Music Plus
(902)-225-3276

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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: super20dan 
Date:   2021-08-13 02:52

i also bought some of the NOS bay mpcs and they all have a hard rubber smell and worst -taste. the Ithaca ones esp bad. another model thats only hand marked smells/tasts less than the others. too bad as these playing fantastic.

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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: Matt74 
Date:   2021-08-13 20:12

I can't say I've ever been bothered by a saxophone or clarinet mouthpiece smell or taste at all. Never even occurred to me. Not even 100 year-old ones. I like sulphur, but I don't think of mouthpieces as having either a taste or smell. On the other hand, brass instruments are totally gross.

Ultraviolet light degrades hard rubber. I would think that with a mouthpiece cover and a cloth would protect it, but light goes through cloth, and the cover doesn't cover the whole thing. Once it's started oxidizing though, you will probably have to buff it off to get it to stop.

Some people are more acidic than others. Some people can't handle steel without it rusting. Maybe you have an acidic chemistry that attacks the mouthpiece.

If you really don't like it, unfortunately they will probably all be like that. Maybe get a Fobes debut (a very good plastic mouthpiece), a crystal, or metal one.

- Matthew Simington


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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: super20dan 
Date:   2021-08-14 23:10

well sucess! i soaked the bays in a heavy concentrate of dawn and after a good soak scrubbed both inside and out with a plastic bristile mpc brush. happy to report 95% of the smell and taste is g one. the hardest part now is picking out the best of the 3 bays. all 3 are fantastic! wow what a differance from stock vandys and the like. chas bay knew his stuff it seems

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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: johnwesley 
Date:   2021-08-15 01:53

Good grief. I would think varnishing a mouthpiece would be worse for you than breathing old rubber. I don't have a problem with hard rubber mouthpieces. I use Pomarico crystals, and wood MPCs.

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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: super20dan 
Date:   2021-08-15 03:36

i would also be afraid the varnish could attack the rubber and ruin it

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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: Djudy 
Date:   2021-08-15 23:22

Super20dan glad to know you have been successful . I too have found the Bays are vulnerable to stinking more than any other mp I've used (got lots, who hasn't!) and love the way they play but have never been able to remove the smell, which makes them unusable. So 2 questions :

how long have you played on them in one session since the treatment with no re-occurence of smell?

WHAT is it about Dawn dish soap ? Every time I see a DIY recipe that requires a liquid soap, it's always Dawn. What has it got that other brands don't have ?

Thanks !





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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: kchan 2017
Date:   2021-08-16 00:05

I personally don't know and I'm sad to say "The Doctor" is no longer with us to chime in. "Dawn" does lists some generic info about it's ingredients https://dawn-dish.com/en-us/how-to/what-dawn-is-made-of-ingredients.

For me, I value Dawn for its ability to cut grease during use. If the smell has anything to do with rancid oil, perhaps that may be a reason.



Post Edited (2021-08-16 00:06)

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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: super20dan 
Date:   2021-08-16 03:39

i only played the bays about 15min each so i guess i cant quite claim total victory yet. there must be something about the rubber bays used that makes it more likely to smell than others. i have used hard rubber mpcs for all of my 55 yrs playing and never had this issue before. as for dawn initial sucess? must be its better for cutting grease than other detergents. i wonder if all bays have this issue or were these from a bad batch and thats why these were never sold while he was alive

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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: Djudy 
Date:   2021-08-18 02:34

I first got 2 Bays from the US on 'that' auction site , the seller claims they are from his estate - they have been irremediably stinky although they are not green or visibly oxidated on the surface.

I then purchased a Bay from a friend here who got it from a shop in Belgium that Bay produced for (it's noted on the mp) and while it has a whiff of sulfer after warming up it is not so bad as to make me stop using it.

I once bought a new Vandoren BD5 from Thomman and sent it back immediately because it had a sulfur smell right out of the box, supposedly new and no signs of oxidation. Only time this has ever happened to a Vandoren for me, I was quite surprised.

I've also tried some vintage LeBlanc and another can't remember which in a luthier's store in Paris - the mps were kept in a glass case on the wall in the daylight but no direct sun - couldn't even try them they were so stinky, and totally green. Really too bad about the LeBlanc, it as a 3 I'd been looking for.

So I conclude that it is related to the rubber itself as much as exposure because none of the Bays were green and the BD5 was pristine, must be a bad recipe or in the one new BD5 a bad batch.





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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: super20dan 
Date:   2021-08-18 02:47

my bays are in NOS condition. like new . this leads me to believe also they are from a bad batch of rubber and chas bay never intended to sell them to public. from my conversation with him once on a phone call leads me to conclude he would not want his reputation sullied in any way

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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: Djudy 
Date:   2021-08-19 10:59

NOS ??

One of the Bay I got on the auction site has the name of the clarinetist it was made for written is hand script : "Custom made for Arthur A. Sweet"

It only stinks now after warming up, about 10 min of playing, as I tried to clean it up and now keep it bagged in a separate drawer. In fact none of my mps now live in the instrument case, other than non-rubber (wood, crystal, etc).





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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: NOLA Ken 
Date:   2021-08-20 21:09

Dawn dishwashing detergent has been mention here several times. I have used original formula (non-Ultra) Dawn to clean hard rubber mouthpieces very successfully a number of times. But the one time I used the newer Dawn Ultra Platinum formulation, it turned an old alto clarinet mouthpiece (a Wurlitzer I believe) olive green very quickly. I don't know whether the result was a function of the rubber in the mouthpiece or the new formulation of Dawn dish detergent. But I have been leery of Dawn for cleaning hard rubber mouthpieces ever since. The original formula Dawn is now almost impossible to find in my area.

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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: super20dan 
Date:   2021-08-21 00:12

interesting

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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: Djudy 
Date:   2021-08-21 14:44

could this be the original ?

https://www.amazon.com/Dawn-Dishwashing-Including-Microfiber-Soap/dp/B086C4767S/ref=sr_1_41?dchild=1&keywords=Dawn+dish+soap+original&qid=1629542461&sr=8-41

And why is it different from other same-use products?





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 Re: The Hard Rubber Smell
Author: super20dan 
Date:   2021-08-21 15:45

there is something in original dawn that other dish detergents dont have. it cuts tru grease better. i have used it as a hand cleaner after auto repairs for years and as washing dishes as part of a job i had . after 2 weeks the smell hasnt returned to my 3 bay ithica mpcs. so far so good

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