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 crystal mouthpieces
Author: packrat 
Date:   2014-04-16 22:19

I friend who plays professionally on a Ruby Pomarico recently recommended I try one. I tried an Emerald he had and I liked the clarity but it was way too stuffy. He has the freest blowing horn I have ever played so I don't think stuffiness is as noticeable on his clarinet as it is on mine.

I had several Ruby, Nigun and Diamond sent to me all Mellow facing. They were all stuffy, the Nigun less so. I tried a variety of reed strengths and several different ligatures. Nothing seemed to help the stuffiness. I recently read somewhere that a Mellow facing is "open" and the Bright is "closed". My other mouthpieces are closed facings so perhaps I just ordered the wrong thing?

I did keep the Nugen because even though this one was stuffy it had more clarity, a bigger sound, and better intonation in the upper register. I'm still not as happy with it as I am with my Fobes CWF

Should I try the Pomarico Black Crystal mouthpieces? Are they just as stuffy and their clear cousins or do you think I would be happier with them?

Sometimes I get disgusted and just think I should let well enough alone. :-)

Thank you for any thoughts you might have.

Packrat



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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: Tony F 
Date:   2014-04-17 09:05

One of the most responsive and free-blowing mouthpieces I've ever had was a Leblanc crystal, now unfortunately gone to the great glass recycling centre in the sky.

Tony F.

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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: garybuss 
Date:   2014-04-18 20:49

I think the older crystal mouthpieces are much better than the new ones, if you can find them.

Gary Buss
Woodwinds-University of Colorado-Denver

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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: ThatPerfectReed 
Date:   2014-04-18 20:54

I'm curious to know if crystal mouthpieces could be made out of glass less prone to shatter or break, and assuming if this was even doable, would it negatively affect attributes of the mouthpiece.

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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2014-04-19 06:04

I guess the real problem would be that a material (any material) that would be so immutable as to be shatter proof would be nearly impossible to work (that is nearly impossible to use tools to tweak the rails, baffle, tone chamber etc. to get what you want). This is the rub. The real plus to a material like crystal is that it won't wear down through playing (like, oh I don't know, HARD RUBBER!!!) but it is conversely difficult to make it play the way you want in the first place.





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



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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: TomS 
Date:   2014-04-19 06:55

Reminds me of the story of my friend that invested in a new plastic material that was hard as diamonds, light as a feather and impervious to chemicals and temperature changes. Great stuff! Indestructible!

The company went broke and my friend lost all his money.

Problem was, you couldn't make anything out of of this material ...

Tom

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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: David Spiegelthal 2017
Date:   2014-04-19 14:56

In case it isn't clear, Pomarico mouthpieces are cut/machined from natural quartz crystal, not molded from glass. If it matters.

I've been playing on a variety of sizes and brands of crystal mouthpieces for decades, on most sizes of clarinet plus tenor and alto saxes. Nearly every one of the (literally dozens) I've played has been stuffy and too resistant with the factory-supplied facings. Along with Pomarico-made mouthpieces (which include the brands "Mitchell Lurie Premium" and "GG") I've noted this tendency with Selmer Clarions and O'Briens as well. (I believe Vandoren crystals were made by Pomarico, but not sure about this.)

I've refaced every one of these mouthpieces to my satisfaction, and had no worries forevermore. While they definitely require more physical effort and time to reface than hard rubber or plastic mouthpieces, the techniques are basically the same.

As we all know, if handled carelessly or accidentally damaged, crystal or glass mouthpieces can break. But treated with some care they can last a lifetime, and thanks to the dimensional stability of the crystal material they will always play the same regardless of temperature and humidity, and never wear out.

Unfortunately, as Tom and Paul point out, the optimum mouthpiece material UnobBecTainium cannot be molded or machined, and therefore cannot be made into a mouthpiece.................

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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2014-04-19 15:26

Tom,


Your "material" sounds a lot like graphene. This IS the future....google it!





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



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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: packrat 
Date:   2014-04-22 16:58

I didn't realize these could be refaced. Perhaps I could have that done and open it up a bit. Everything else is fine, but it wears me out.

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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2014-04-22 17:37

Ummmm....


"Wears me out," sounds like it is too open, not too closed. Or just not responsive at all. This could be due to a very concave (and or deep) baffle, or thick rails (sides and tip), or (if you're lucky) uneven facing between one side rail and the other. I say lucky because making this dimension the same side to side would be the easiest (most obvious) thing for a mouthpiece guy to do.




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



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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: David Spiegelthal 2017
Date:   2014-04-22 18:03

A mouthpiece that is tiring to play (too resistant) is not necessarily too open or too closed. The real culprits are either (a) asymmetric rails, with one side longer than the other; and/or (b) a facing curve that curves too sharply near the tip end (or "humped" as I call it). Cause (b) is by far the most common and is prevalent in every crystal I've tried along with many hard rubber mouthpieces, Vandoren B45s coming to mind in particular.

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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: seabreeze 
Date:   2014-04-22 22:17

Many mouthpiece techs in the US do not like to work on crystal mouthpieces and will find an excuse not to work on them (e.g., they lack the necessary equipment, they find the tone chambers inconsistent and non-standard, they feel the crystal material inherently lacks resonance, etc).

So, starting, I guess, with David Spiegelthal, which technicians actually welcome players who send crystal mouthpieces to them for work and accept the challenge of making the mouthpieces better with confidence, hope, and enthusiasm?

Can anyone supply at least a short list of such techs, especially for players thinking of buying a Pomerico mouthpiecs in the near future. (The new Artista Soul model I tried recently had some nice characteristics, such as supporting very soft upper register entrances, but was a little stuffy and in need of a better facing).



Post Edited (2014-04-23 22:24)

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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: wanabe 
Date:   2014-04-23 20:35

Davidhal Spiegalthal - sorry my friend, but Pomaricos are not cut from "natural quartz crystal". They are cut from glass blanks. The formula for the glass in the blanks is proprietary, and the company may refer to the material that it is made of as being "natural" and/or "crystal", but they are not cut from quartz crystals. Glasses in tableware sets are also called "crystal" or even "cut crystal", but when you get right down to it they all started life as silicone sand. Pomarico also sells black crystal mouthpieces. Have you ever seen a black quartz crystal? It is all mostly marketing hype. Glass by any other name is still glass. You can add things to the glass to enhance the characteristics, lead for instance, but it is still basicly glass.

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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: David Spiegelthal 2017
Date:   2014-04-23 22:21

My apologies Signor Wanabe if I have spouted falsehoods -- the latest Pomarico I received was shipped in its original box which had a label affixed to it certifying that it was made from 'natural quartz crystal' or words to that effect. So perhaps I'm recollecting that wrong, or simply fell victim to Pomarico MarketSpeak. Darn. At any rate, I do like their mouthpieces.

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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: Caroline Smale 
Date:   2014-04-23 22:26

It is my understanding that Pomarico and most, probably all, other crystal mouthpieces are moulded from molten glass.
I cannot imagine any economically feasible method of machining from solid especially considering the price they sell at.

Crystal glass is I believe regular glass with addition of lead to reduce britalness and allow it to be machined (ground).



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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: David Spiegelthal 2017
Date:   2014-04-23 22:36

I found this helpful description of "crystal" material: "When most people talk about bringing out the "crystal," they are often referring to a type of glass that is made from silica, lead oxide, soda or potash, and other additives. Lead crystal is prized for its durability and decorative properties, even if it does not necessarily possess a crystalline structure. It is referred to as crystal because, years ago, the Italian term "cristallo" was used to refer to Murano glass imitations. Lead crystal is the type that is most commonly used for wine glasses and other decorative ornaments around the home. In the U.S., glasses with a lead monoxide content of 1 percent are automatically categorized as crystal. In Europe, on the other hand, crystal is defined as glass with a lead content that ranges from 10 to 30 percent."

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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: donald 
Date:   2019-07-04 06:33

I just got a Pomarico crystal yesterday with an old student clarinet. I was very curious to give it a play (having not played a Pomarico crystal in about 30 years) and really like the core sound quality. But, as have others, found the response uneven and a bit stuffy. Measuring the facing, I found the tip and facing length to be very close for my "go to", but the measurements in between were uneven - almost certainly the cause of the stuffy response (based only my experiences straightening up uneven facings in the past- this has in every case improved response even if it didn't solve other problems...).
I guess it's time to reface my first crystal mouthpiece.

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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: David Spiegelthal 2017
Date:   2019-07-12 04:57

Good luck with the crystal refacing, Donald! A few suggestions if I may, based on hard-won experience:

First, choose your sandpaper types and grits carefully, as some papers will chip the glass. If you have an old junk crystal piece you can sacrifice, experiment on it first.

Second, be prepared to spend a lot more time and use more muscle to work the material (no surprise there).

Third, you MUST sand wet at all times, so use "wet-or-dry" sandpapers.

Fourth, for the final polish once you've got the facing about where you want it, try rubbing the table in an elliptical (almost circular) pattern over very fine sandpaper (e.g. 2000 grit), wet of course. I started doing this when I read that it's how they polish optical lenses.

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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2019-07-13 00:01

It
s hard to reface them because glass is so hard. But I can sometimes.


Designer of - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces and the La Vecchia mouthpieces


Yamaha Artist 2015




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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: Mojo 
Date:   2019-07-13 17:30

Facing work is like working on stainless steel for me. Just hard. I do not wet sand. I have tried it and it is a soggy mess on my bench. I only get chips trying to shape tip rails with files. Some extra fine files can rough in the shape but I need to finish the job with sand paper covered tools.

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

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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: David Spiegelthal 2017
Date:   2019-07-13 22:47

Yo Mojo,

I find stainless steel tougher to work than crystal. As far as the soggy mess, if you rinse off the sandpaper frequently it isn't a problem. With crystal I only use sandpaper, NEVER files of any kind, because (as you point it) chipping the glass is almost unavoidable with files.

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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: David Spiegelthal 2017
Date:   2019-07-14 06:20

Another tip (which is also useful for refacing mouthpieces of any other material) is to use old cane reeds in the larger sizes (e.g. bass clarinet/tenor sax, etc.) instead of files, by gluing a strip of the sandpaper of choice to the flat bottom of the reed, from about the midpoint of the reed out to the heel (fat) end (not towards the tip, as that half of the reed is too flexible). Basically you're using it as sort of an emory board (nail file board). For crystal, this is the exception where the sandpaper is used dry - so you have to test the sandpaper on a junk piece of glass to make sure it won't chip the mouthpiece rails.

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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: Mojo 
Date:   2019-07-14 17:29

For me rinsing was part of the soggy mess. I don’t have a sink near where I work. I prefer using 3M Mylar backed adhesive sandpaper on a glass plate. It is a bit pricey but it never curls and I do not get chips with the 15 and 40 micron grits I use. I have a YouTube video showing the system I use.

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

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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2019-07-15 11:07

To be honest here I have no trouble with glass or steel as I use a diamond wheel I designed and diamond dust cuts anything as diamonds are the hardest material on earth.

The difficulty was designing the wheel to cut the facing as we are cutting facings even and within about 0.0001". The hardest part is not the rails being even but making a flat table; the area where the reed rests on the mouthpiece and almost all mouthpieces do not have flat tables. Therefore almost all mouthpieces you buy really need to be adjusted. Look at it this way, you spend 1000's of hours practicing you should practice on a great mouthpiece. A mouthpiece with a flat table and even rails and the correct tip opening.

This is why I use 10,000 grit paper to achieve these goals. Then I use a polishing agent and squares to make sure the table is flat. Now you can adjust a mouthpiece, glass, plastic, metal, doesn't matter, to adjust the rails evenly.

Good mouthpiece refacers can do this correctly and in this order. You just need the right tools and some experience. It's not that hard, just takes time to learn the correct way without wrecking a clients mouthpiece. As the years go on the old Kaspars and Chedevilles have been wrecked by refacers messing up not knowing what they are doing. So soon these good mouthpieces will be long gone and destroyed.

By the way this is part of the reason why it's often hard to play on Legere reeds and to adjust the reeds correctly without killing the reed. Most of the time if the reeds don't work well you may have an issue with a bad unbalanced mouthpiece, because cane reeds when wet often form to the mouthpiece and plastic doesn't bend. I'm a double lip player and I can't play these reeds. However people send me there mouthpieces and a few Legere reeds and I set them up correctly.

I got off the subject a bit here but I feel all players should be aware of this major problem. I promise you that 99.999 percent of the mouthpieces sold, such as Vandoren, Selmer, all of them, do not have flat tables. Even from custom mouthpiece makers, not all of them. There is something called the French Curve. This curve is horrible. It is a hole in the table. Although you can't see it, when someone like me magnifies it it's huge. It's a stinky way to design a mouthpiece table and the worst ones are Rico and Vandoren and not far behind is Selmer and Yamaha. This is why when you test 10 Vandoren mouthpieces or Rico mouthpieces none play the same. So that's your proof. A common complaint you hear people say is the mouthpiece is stuffy, dull, you can't articulate.

A good mouthpiece up close should actually sound on the bright side because after maybe 6 to 8 feet the sound is warm, not dark and you will be heard at the back of any hall, but not with dark mouthpieces such as the old, out of business Zinners. The brighter mouthpieces must not be confused with a jazz sound or something like that. What you are hearing is a PING and a RING. This turns into a beautiful warm sound after a few feet so don't let your ears fool you.


Designer of - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces and the La Vecchia mouthpieces


Yamaha Artist 2015




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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2019-07-20 18:22

Hi Bob,

If the table needs to be completely flat, does that mean that if we just lay it flat on a completely flat bit of really fine sandpaper (maybe on glass) and sand it down gently, then that would help?

Thanks!

Sunny

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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2019-07-20 18:55

Bob Bernardo wrote:

> ...There is something called the French
> Curve. This curve is horrible. It is a hole in the table.
> Although you can't see it, when someone like me magnifies it
> it's huge. It's a stinky way to design a mouthpiece table

Bob, I'm pretty sure I remember hearing from Gigliotti and Madsen that Chedevilles (the original ones) had a "French curve" in the table - in theory the intent was to give the reed more spring with a close-tipped facing. Is the curve the problem, or is it the way it's sometimes applied? Is a French curve the problem with the mass produced mouthpieces you mention or are they just plain uneven?

Karl

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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: Mojo 
Date:   2019-07-21 19:27

The French curve bows the reed as the ligature clamps down. The tip opening gets a tad larger. It is an attempt to make and keep a seal at the base of the window near where the facing starts. Sometimes it can compensate for reed swell in cane.

I think manufactures mostly use it because of variation when making the table. If they target for a flat table and it ends up slightly convex, that is very bad. If they target for concave and they miss the mark, they hope it is still slightly concave instead of convex.

I prefer a flat table and a flat reed. Either use synthetic reeds or keep checking your cane reeds for flatness. Slightly concave can work and does work for a lot of players.

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

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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: JTJC 
Date:   2019-07-22 00:47

I’ve never been too convinced that a ligature, particularly a fabric one, is actually strong enough to flex a reed in that way. Try bending one. I know the amount of flex required is small, but still. Also, the points where two screw ligatures tighten don’t seem to be in the right place to bend the stock of the reed (i.e. they miss the shallow of the French curve). What do others think?

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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2019-07-22 03:51

I'm not saying the French curve isn't out there. It is! 1000's and 1000's! But I don't like it. It's even worse on plastic reeds. If your plastic reed doesn't work well 2 things are possible. The mouthpiece or you simply don't like how they vibrate like me as a double lip player. My mouth gets too sore. Upper and lower lips.

So get your mouthpiece or mouthpieces checked and fixed by really good experts. You may be shocked when you first play the newly fixed MP and think to yourself - Wow! All of these years I've played on the wonderful mouthpiece, but it's now even better! :)
I'm sure glad I took Bob's advice and had it refaced the right way. Best of luck to all of you.

JC - I agree with you. I'm not into fabric. I still feel strongly the mouthpiece has to vibrate too and it may sound brighter up close but again I must warn players that the brightness is actually related to hearing overtones. We surely don't want to kill the overtones. We all have to be sooo careful with the words dark and warm. Our ears fool us all of the time. A lot of people with great sounds find themselves playing of crystal mouthpieces for that reason. I'm not saying to go to crystal at all. There are wonderful hard rubber mouthpieces close to the hardness of glass and the problem is if you drop the glass mouthpiece it shatters and you don't have to pick it up! A bad joke.

I also hate huge patch protectors where the teeth land on the beak. Some players bite though these. If you have this issue it's time to get some lessons on your embouchure. You need to use a thin patch.

Cheers!


Designer of - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces and the La Vecchia mouthpieces


Yamaha Artist 2015




Post Edited (2019-07-22 03:57)

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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-07-22 03:57

Yeah, I'm on board with JTJC. The only ligature design that might press down on the center of the reed (table of mouthpiece) would be the single band (if any of you remember the Pomarico ligature).


And remember folks, we're not talking about perfectly flat, perfectly parallel surfaces.....ever. The clarinet mouthpiece is a cone and the ligature is a cone. The only thing holding all this together is the friction of the reed on the mouthpiece and the friction of the ligature on the reed. When things don't hold together (a hand full of reed and ligature) it is because there isn't enough friction.


So I believe if there is any force "tendency," it would be for the force to be skewed toward the top part of the bark.


And in my book, less contact (French Curve) would equal more resonance.





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



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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2019-07-22 04:06

Mojo I cannot agree with you more! I've seen manufactures make mouthpieces and when the cutting takes place a machine device slides or slams into the bore of the mouthpiece and this actually raises the table. It has this much force. Then another cutting machine cuts the table and the rails. So the French curve is built in because of the force of that bore device to keep the mouthpiece stable; which of course is wrong. But musicians haven't seen how the mouthpieces are really made so through the years the French curve was named.

I'm glad you hate it too! Good for you.


Designer of - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces and the La Vecchia mouthpieces


Yamaha Artist 2015




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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: Mojo 
Date:   2019-07-22 17:35

It may be a coincidence, but S curve templates used in drafting (architect and engineering drawing) are called French curves. Or maybe this is where the name comes from.

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

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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: EbClarinet 
Date:   2019-07-27 15:48

I have a Pyne crystal mouthpiece on my Amati C Clarinet. 1 day I will get with a tuner when I'm fully warmed up and the tuning of all the notes and in the registers. So far this mouthpiece causes me to play in TUNE with the recordings. I was going to get a Pomarico for my Bb but I was concerned about this changing the pitch in all registers of the clarinet. So I think we should be concerned about having that characteristic tone quality on the Bb in regards to mouthpieces and that which ever crystal mouthpiece should NOT raise or lower the overall pitch. What do you guys think?

https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/mbtldsongministry/

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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-07-27 18:05

Well if you are saying that pitch is the MOST important characteristic of a mouthpiece I could not agree more.


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

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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2019-07-27 20:07

Sunny,

"Hi Bob, If the table needs to be completely flat, does that mean that if we just lay it flat on a completely flat bit of really fine sandpaper (maybe on glass) and sand it down gently, then that would help?

Thanks!

Sunny"

Well no. sorry to say. It's pretty complicated. The question you've ask is very good. The tooling needed which I use was either made by me at CalTech or designed by me such as the squares and the diamond wheels. Even the marble table must be perfectly flat, to the point that no dust is on it and has to be cleaned. Then and only then can I make a table flat. It's this painstaking effort sometimes to the point of spending 2 to 4 hours on a glass mouthpiece.

But once it's done then the rail facing part is easy and I use 16 points of reference to 18. As stated above a lot of crystal mouthpieces can be stuffy. Yet when you take the time to put on a good facing, then adjust a reed properly the setup almost magical.

However, there is no reason why a great rubber mouthpiece can't do this as well. In fact, modern crystal mouthpieces usually have small bores. This I do not like. With rubber mouthpieces I can ream them out to precise accurate bore specifications; such as what the old Chedecille and Kaspar bores were. Glass sadly will crack and bust into pieces.

This smaller bored mouthpieces effects several notes on the clarinets similar to the Rico mouthpieces and none of the 12's are in tune on any instruments.

It amusing me me and actually shocks me when players can't hear when their horns are out of tune and also don't spend $20 for a tuner before texting out mouthpieces! Yes I know people will tell me the mouthpieces they have play in tune. No they don't if you are using Rico and Vandoren M series mouthpieces. Dump them and you will be better players!


Designer of - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces and the La Vecchia mouthpieces


Yamaha Artist 2015




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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: Kim6141 
Date:   2019-07-28 16:58

I recently sent bob to refacing my two crystal mouthpieces. The two crystal mouthpieces made a very uncomfortable sound, but after the bob refacing it became the best mouthpiece. He knows exactly what a good sound is.

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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2019-07-30 01:27

Thank you Kim for your trust! Bob


Designer of - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces and the La Vecchia mouthpieces


Yamaha Artist 2015




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 Re: crystal mouthpieces
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2019-07-30 01:28

Thank you Kim for your trust! Bob


Designer of - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces and the La Vecchia mouthpieces


Yamaha Artist 2015




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