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 When is a mouthpiece finished?
Author: Robin 
Date:   2000-12-27 11:13

I don't know if it's too much Christmas pudding or what, but I've had real trouble with my tone recently.

I've been finding my set up (Vand. 3s & B45.) hard to deal with. I have a suspicion that the inside of my mouthpiece may be a bit worn away, as it has felt more open and sounded rather raspy. What are people's tell-tale signs for giving mouthpieces the flick?

Another question: I've been given a box of reeds half a strength too great. i thought I'd be able to shave them down, but have had difficulty with this. What do you do?


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 RE: When is a mouthpiece finished?
Author: Anji 
Date:   2000-12-27 12:52


First, let me recommend Larry Guy's book on the care and feeding of clarinet reeds. It's a very good resource and has advice that matches the results I found through trial and error.

For the harder reeds, try this;

Get a nice flat piece of plate glass (you could conceivably do this against a window) and tape a 6 inch square sheet of very fine (320-600 grit) sandpaper to the surface.

The glass gives you a nice flat basis to work from.

You will sand the flat side of the reed in this operation, only. Spread your fingers over the top surface of the reed, sort of the way you type on a keyboard.

LIGHTLY press the reed onto the glass and slide it left to right over the sandpaper.

I would make only ten strokes, soak the reed and test play.

This is an elementary method, Larry's book has much more detail and is worth the money.


As to the mouthpiece, it may be the OUTside that is your problem. Have a look at the side rails, tip and table. If these appear obviously scratched or dented they may be the source of dullness.

Reeds apparently hammer away at these surfaces and can damage them over time.

I dunno about when to pitch a mouthpiece, I've never owned one that long.

Try Chris Hill on Sneezy, he and Dave Spiegelthal are qualified mpc gize.

Good luck!


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 RE: When is a mouthpiece finished?
Author: Ken Shaw 
Date:   2000-12-27 14:15

Robin -

At a workshop a few years ago, there was a mouthpiece makers' round table, with Tom Ridenour, Charles Bay, James Pyne, Ralph Morgan and several others. I asked them how long one of their mouthpieces would last in prime condition with daily use, and they agreed that it should be touched up after about a year.

They said that one of the signs of wear is that tongued notes in the clarion become "tender" or unstable.

Tom Ridenour said one way to tell extreme wear is to wet the lay lightly, hold the mouthpiece on the bottom of a piece of plate glass and roll it forward along the lay, looking at it from the other side of the glass. If you see circular patterns along the lay, or if there are any places where the water doesn't make an even seal, then the mouthpiece is in serious trouble.

Why not go to a music store and try a new B45. If it plays noticeably better than your current mouthpiece, it's time to change.

Best regards.

Ken Shaw

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 RE: When is a mouthpiece finished?
Author: Willie 
Date:   2000-12-28 04:41

Good question as I have wondered about this myself. Most of my MPs have many miles on them. Is there anyone in the Houston area that is proficient at "touching then up"?

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 RE: When is a mouthpiece finished?
Author: mw 
Date:   2000-12-30 13:16

If I had a box of reeds that was a 1/2 size too hard/strong, I would use Ridenour's technique.It is described in great detail in his book. He works with the sides of the top side of the reed, the non-flat surface. He pulls TO him. No left & right or up action.

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