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 Trouble with altissimo
Author: BrianC 
Date:   2010-10-23 00:22

Hey guys,
I've been have some trouble with tuning my altissimo register lately, and some tuning problems in general. First equipment: I have a backun camarata mouthpiece and a traditional backun barrel 66, and a bufet R13. I recently switched to vandoren v12's from the rue lepic ones, but both reeds had the same problem. I've been playing for 7 years, but this is a recent problem that I noticed at the end of summer. I am really, really flat in a lot of the altissimo register notes, from E on up. Also, I'm having serious trouble getting the higher notes like Bflat and above.
I've been trying to decide whether this is a more personal embouchure issue or partly the equipment's fault or both. I'm going to try more backun mouthpieces tomorrow, so I will update with that later. But because the mouthpiece is fairly closed is this just a natural problem? I know on my vandoren m30, which is pretty open, I had no trouble getting higher notes out.
In addition to that, I know that I set my embouchure lower on the reed than most people because I used the m30 for about 3 years and it had a very long facing. Could this be in any way compounding the flatness or trouble with upper altissimo? I've practiced long tones up there at a strong forte but I can't seem to raise the pitch. I've tried simply just making my embouchure a lot firmer and increasing my jaw pressure slightly in order to focus my air stream more, but it does nothing according to my tuner.
I have been using alternate fingerings to try and compensate for how flat I am, for instance, adding the RH sliver key to the overblown Bflat for Fsharp, but I am still flat (although not as much). Does anyone know what could be the problem? emouchure? mouthpiece? My teacher has tried my clarinet with her set up and has no issue with the altissimo.
The tuning tendencies on the rest of my clarinet are fairly normal, with the RH upper register being very sharp. I know that also Backun mouthpieces tend to make the LH upper register slightly flat (which I've noticed). But I'm also slightly flat in my throat tones. But these problems are a lot smaller in comparison to the trouble I'm having with the altissimo register. If anyone could help that would be great!

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 Re: Trouble with altissimo
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2010-10-23 02:56

You say you switched from Rue Lepic to V12 and from a Vandoren M30 to a Buckun Camarata that you describe as "fairly closed." What reed strength are you using with these mouthpieces? Did you change strengths or just reed models? The M30 is nominally a 1.15 mm tip opening, which wouldn't be considered "fairly closed," so unless the Backun's curve is considerably shorter than the M30, it should take at least slightly harder reeds. My first inclination would be to suggest your reeds may be too light for the mouthpiece, but I'm curious what strength you're using.


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 Re: Trouble with altissimo
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2010-10-23 03:12

Many of today's "custom" mouthpieces achieve their "dark sound" by utilizing a rather large internal tone chamber. This has a tendency to throw your twelfths off and cause havoc with tuning.

You can continue to use this sort of mouthpiece (it would be helpful to audition your mouthpieces WITH a tuner in the future) with shorter barrels but be aware that their will still be odd internal pitch issues even once you've brought the general pitch back up into reality.

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

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 Re: Trouble with altissimo
Author: William 
Date:   2010-10-23 16:18

Years ago, in the 1970's, I had similar problems in my altissimo register, especially with E6 being flat. Upon recommendation of my college clarinet instructor, I took my R13 Bb to "Mac" MacGibbon in Milwaukee who, after measuring to bore of my top joint, discovered that it had shrunk a bit and needed adjustment. Mac, being quite a "character" with old style reading specs, dressed like a blacksmith and smoking his pipe upside down proceeded quickly to reem out the top joint of my Bb--with visable sawdust dropping from his huge hand held auger--back to Buffet factory specs and my intonation problem was solved. My clarinet, at that time, was perhaps 4-6 years old. I am still playing that same R13 to this day and the upper register is about as good as it gets.

For you history buffs, the name of the store was "Miller & MacGibbon" on Kliborn Ave in Milwaukee, WI. Robert Miller was a mouthpiece craftsman and well known local woodwind doubler. Mac was then regarded as a master repairman on the same level as Hans Moennig. Their shoppe specialized mainly in flutes, clarinets and bassoons--no brass--and was well known as the "place to go" for repairs and quality instruments.

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 Re: Trouble with altissimo
Author: sonicbang 
Date:   2010-10-23 20:22

I would say kdk's idea is worth to check. Try a bit harder reeds than you use normally.

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