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 Mouthpieces and reeds by the numbers
Author: rtaylor 
Date:   2017-08-11 01:12

Something I always consider when looking at a new reed brand and which strength(s) to order is what other people say work on what mouthpiece.

For example people say they play on vandoren V12 size X on mouthpiece Y with great results.

I look up the measurements if available on that mouthpiece to see what the opening and lay length is to get a benchmark for how a particular reed would work for my mouthpiece

I play a mouthpiece with a .116 opening and lay length of 24. (It's a Wurlitzer 3WZ* german mouthpiece made for french cut reeds played on a Leitner & Krause V420 clarinet in case your curious)

I currently like Brad Behn's Aria reeds size 3 1/2 for this setup. In the winter time I go up a 1/2 size harder in the chilly upper mid-west.

In the interest of creating a thread that could be sort of a database of mouthpieces and reeds and sizes that work well, let's hear from others and their experiences.

Cheers,
Robert



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 Re: Mouthpieces and reeds by the numbers
Author: KenJarczyk 2017
Date:   2017-08-11 01:24

Wow, I've migrated all over for this topic! For a wee bit over a year now, I've settled on a Clark Fobes 10K 2L for the Bb and A. It's about a 1.04 tip on a longer 18 lay. For wood, I've found the Rue Lepic 56 3-1/2 works quite well. I also really enjoy the Legere Euro-cut 3-1/4 on this, as well. On Eb, I really like the Clark Fobes mouthpiece too - about a .98 on a 16 lay, also with Rue Lepic 56 Bb reeds cut-down. For the rough stuff, Clark made me a 1.0 and a 1.1 as one-offs of his marvelous piece. Bass, you guessed it - Clark Fobes CF, 1.7 on a 23 lay, with V12 3s.

This could be an interesting thread!

Ken Jarczyk
Woodwind Guy
Clarinets, Saxophones and I own several Flutes.

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 Re: Mouthpieces and reeds by the numbers
Author: jdbassplayer 
Date:   2017-08-11 01:30

In my experience, I've found that even mouthpieces with similar dimensions from different manufacturers may require different reeds. It also doesn't help that reeds are often very inconsistent. Not only that but different people prefer different strengths of reed on the same model of mouthpiece. Unfortunately it seems the best way to pair a reed to a mouthpiece is to buy a few boxes of different strengths and test them out. It's too bad because it would be great if we could just look at a chart and know exactly what reed to get.

-Jdbassplayer

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 Re: Mouthpieces and reeds by the numbers
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2017-08-11 02:26

jdbassplayer wrote:

> In my experience, I've found that even mouthpieces with similar
> dimensions from different manufacturers may require different
> reeds. It also doesn't help that reeds are often very
> inconsistent. Not only that but different people prefer
> different strengths of reed on the same model of mouthpiece.
> Unfortunately it seems the best way to pair a reed to a
> mouthpiece is to buy a few boxes of different strengths and
> test them out. It's too bad because it would be great if we
> could just look at a chart and know exactly what reed to get.

Well, a table could at least provide a starting point, though you're certain right that it couldn't be a completely reliable listing. It might allow you to buy fewer initial boxes, though, by narrowing the possibilities.

Karl

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 Re: Mouthpieces and reeds by the numbers
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2017-08-11 02:30

rtaylor wrote:

> I play a mouthpiece with a .116 opening and lay length of 24.

What do you mean by "lay length of 24?" Is that the actual length in millimeters from tip to thinnest feeler gauge? How long is the window?

Karl

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 Re: Mouthpieces and reeds by the numbers
Author: rtaylor 
Date:   2017-08-11 02:42

Good question Karl.

I'm using the Wurlitzer supplied 'bahnlange' supplied by them for the 24 number. It essentially means 'rail length' to be litteral. Beyond that I can't say
what they are measuring.

To jdbassplayer;
You're correct there are a lot of mitigating circumstances but a rough picture could be made depending on the number of people who respond.

I agree with Karl that it could cut down on the number of initial sizes one buys.
I was also thinking of students who read this with the idea that they would have a good reference point so they don't have to spend too much money on what could be the wrong size.

Cheers,
Robert

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 Re: Mouthpieces and reeds by the numbers
Author: rtaylor 
Date:   2017-08-11 02:44

One other thought occurs to me.

If any of you know what well known players used that would fantastic.

Harold Wright for example. If anyone knows those "numbers" please chime in.

Cheers
Robert

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 Re: Mouthpieces and reeds by the numbers
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2017-08-11 05:19

rtaylor wrote:

> If any of you know what well known players used that would
> fantastic.
>
> Harold Wright for example. If anyone knows those "numbers"
> please chime in.

I don't know that that information would be of much help. Reed strengths have changed since the days of Wright, Marcellus et al. When I started studying with him, Gigliotti and pretty much everyone else I knew in the Philadelphia clarinet world used Vandoren #5s on their close-tipped Chedeville-style mouthpieces. Many of those #5s played out of the box with slight balancing. Now #5 Vandorens are like blanks - the need major work. From the one lesson I took with him in Washington I think Wright used the same kind of setup.

I don't think that today I'd recommend that anyone try #5 of any current reed model (although I certainly haven't tried all of them) as a first try on any mouthpiece.

Karl

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 Re: Mouthpieces and reeds by the numbers
Author: Musikat 
Date:   2017-08-11 07:29

I don't know the numbers for the tip opening (I think it is described as "medium closed") but I play on a Gregory Smith 1+ mouthpiece and am loving the Aria reeds I switched to around the same time I purchased the mouthpiece. Strength 4. Previously I found that Vandoren 3.5+ reeds were working well with it as well, but these play much more freely and consistently, with a good tone.

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 Re: Mouthpieces and reeds by the numbers
Author: dorjepismo 2017
Date:   2017-08-11 19:21

I play Behn 3.5s on an Ed Pillinger mouthpiece for B&H 1010s that has about a 1.16 opening and what Ed describes as a 21 mm facing length. Through comparing measurements and maker descriptions, though, I get the idea that American makers might measure the length by where the thinnest feeler gauge stops, and English makers use the "true" beginning of the curve. Peter Eaton explicitly says "the length is from the tip to the true beginning of the facing, which is beyond the point that the thinnest feeler gauge can reach." Peter is a very precise fellow. Not sure how the Wurlitzer people measure it. The Behns have a pretty thin tip, and most reeds for German mouthpieces have thicker tips because of the longer facings, but since you like the Behns, they're probably doing a good job with their French reed mouthpieces.

Beyond just tip opening, facing length, and reed strength, though, there's the facing curve shape, which isn't really standardized, and the reed profile, which varies with reed makers and reed models. I don't think we have enough numbers to predict exactly what will and won't work with a given setup.

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 Re: Mouthpieces and reeds by the numbers
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2017-08-11 20:45

dorjepismo wrote:

> ...Through comparing measurements and maker
> descriptions, though, I get the idea that American makers might
> measure the length by where the thinnest feeler gauge stops,
> and English makers use the "true" beginning of the curve.

This would be easy enough for the mouthpiece maker to provide if he's using a machine-made facing - he'd know what the machine is set to produce. But I'm curious how someone measuring by hand, for example to compare curves of different mouthpieces, finds the "true" beginning without relying on a very thin feeler set between a glass and the mouthpiece facing. Do you know?

Karl

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 Re: Mouthpieces and reeds by the numbers
Author: rtaylor 
Date:   2017-08-11 21:47

You make valid points dorjepismo. More precision would be better. I don't own feeler gauges so i can't give an exact measurement. My thinking was to use maker provided measurements. Vandoren for example will give you the tip opening but not the lay except for subjective ML or L. Nothing against Vandoren
but there isn't a lot of precision there.

When I was in music school we went by the common more open tip meant softer reed rule. That applies still, but I was shooting for a little more granularity than that statement.

Cheers,
Robert



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 Re: Mouthpieces and reeds by the numbers
Author: dorjepismo 2017
Date:   2017-08-11 22:18

Karl, no, I don't. I didn't think to ask when I was there. But in my own measurements with the Reed Geek plaque and gauge, my 21 mm facing hit around 19 mm, so for now I'll just have to trust the makers. My Fobes, which he describes as 21 mm, came out right on 21 mm, so it's probably something like 23 using the English measuring style. I suppose someone could ask Clark whether that's the case.

Robert, with "softer reed," we also need to know "softer where?" I think one reason the Behns seem good with a relatively long facing is that there's a fair amount of cane left in the heart from maybe a half-inch in back of the tip back to the end of the vamp.

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 Re: Mouthpieces and reeds by the numbers
Author: NBeaty 
Date:   2017-08-11 23:16

While there is no doubt a difference between where the smallest feeler gauge will land and the "true" start to a curve, there's no way it would be 2mm on a professionally finished mouthpiece. The odds are that a few things are factoring in here:

1) variations in the glass/plaque
2) variations in the true thickness of the gauge
3) user error in measuring
and most commonly
4) variation between what the proposed measurements of the model are and what that particular mouthpiece actually came out as.
5) the table is not flat (or flat with concavity in the middle)

I've been refacing mouthpieces for the last 7 years and can attest to the value of experience in accurate measuring. It sounds simple to just put the gauges in between the glass and mouthpiece and look at the number, and on one level it is that simple. However, knowing how it "feels" when the thinnest gauge stops and what that means as far as the "trueness" of the curve is something learned over time.

If you have a set of tools and want to make sure they are indeed accurate, bring them to ICA or TMEA, or any other place where you can find some of the professionals in person and have them check them for you.

I have at least 7 tip wands and 5 or 6 glass gauges and they all measure differently. I've compared them with the tools of someone who's been in the business professionally for over two decades and is well known for precision so I have a point of reference.

One set of tools could measure a 1.10mm tip where as another could measure the same tip at under 1.00mm. Similarly, some feeler gauge/glass combinations can measure differently from side to side (reading asymmetry where there is none or vice versa).

I would tend to trust Mr. Fobes' measurements as being accurate, as his work is both refined and consistent from what I've seen.


The difference between where the smallest gauge lands and where the curve actually starts should be in the small fractions of a millimeter and I would tend to argue that it's not a measurement that should be of concern to players when comparing facings.

It is of concern to the extent that a mouthpiece with a curve that has a larger distance between the true start to the curve and where that smallest feeler gauge stops will likely have problems with reeds sealing compared to one which has a well defined starting point.

Whether or not a 36 in the Brand measurement system is really 18mm or is 18.2mm is less of a concern than whether or not the curve has a definitive starting point.

Clear as mud?

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 Re: Mouthpieces and reeds by the numbers
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2017-08-12 01:53

NBeaty wrote:

> While there is no doubt a difference between where the smallest
> feeler gauge will land and the "true" start to a curve, there's
> no way it would be 2mm on a professionally finished mouthpiece.
> The odds are that a few things are factoring in here:
>
> 1) variations in the glass/plaque
> 2) variations in the true thickness of the gauge
> 3) user error in measuring
> and most commonly
> 4) variation between what the proposed measurements of the
> model are and what that particular mouthpiece actually came out
> as.
> 5) the table is not flat (or flat with concavity in the middle)
>

Do non-Americans use the same set of Erick Brand feeler gauges that many Americans use? Is the "smallest feeler gauge" the same .0015" (.0385 mm) thickness that most American clarinet mouthpiece facers use?

Karl

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 Re: Mouthpieces and reeds by the numbers
Author: NBeaty 
Date:   2017-08-12 02:27

That's an excellent question that I don't have a definitive answer to. There's not a thinner one that I'm aware of. If it were thinner, it'd be likely to just bend out of shape. In other words, I don't think a thinner one would be all that useful.

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 Re: Mouthpieces and reeds by the numbers
Author: Floydinoz 2017
Date:   2017-08-12 15:39

Harold Wright's measurements were:
Tip 1.01
Lay starting from tip:
6, 12, 22, 35

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 Re: Mouthpieces and reeds by the numbers
Author: donald 
Date:   2017-08-13 07:18

My wife and I both play professionally on the same model of mouthpiece, we have about 4 or 5 hand picked mouthpieces that are more or less the same- as far as such things are possible, and find that we need reeds about half a size different from each other. I only mention this to illustrate how varied such things can be.
On a contrasting tack- I have a Hawkins S mouthpiece and 2.5 Legere reed that I use for students (when they have forgotten instrument, reeds or only have terrible reeds) and I find that the majority of students actually make a similar result using this, and almost invariably sound better than on their usual set up. I sometimes get this effect even with more advanced students (who typically favour a reeds that is too hard no matter what we tell them)



Post Edited (2017-08-13 07:20)

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 Re: Mouthpieces and reeds by the numbers
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2017-08-13 09:16

Thinner feeler gauges have been used. Robert Scott used to fuss with that area of the facing between .0015 and 0. He called it voicing. A few years back on the BB a clarinetist who went by "Buster" used aluminum foil etc to measure more finely this area of the facing.

Freelance woodwind performer

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 Re: Mouthpieces and reeds by the numbers
Author: Dibbs 
Date:   2017-08-15 18:42


> While there is no doubt a difference between where the smallest feeler gauge
> will land and the "true" start to a curve, there's no way it would be 2mm on a
>professionally finished mouthpiece.

In the case of the 1.16mm tip opening, a "true" start of 21mm, and a smallest feeler of 0.0385mm.

Making the incorrect assumption that there's a right angled triangle between the mouthpiece and the facing i.e. the facing is dead straight line not a convex curve then the feeler will be out by ( 0.0385 * 21 )/1.16 which is a smidgen less than 0.7mm. This is the minimum it could possibly be but a facing like that wouldn't even work.

It will actually be quite a pronounced convex curve and therefore a much smaller angle at the start end. The real value, then, will be considerably greater. I'm not convinced that 2mm difference is inconceivable.

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 Re: Mouthpieces and reeds by the numbers
Author: Mojo 
Date:   2017-08-15 19:20

I routinely fit my facing measurements with elliptical curves. Not all clarinet facings fit well, but most of them do. The aspect ratio of the ellipse is also adjusted for the best fit along with tip opening and facing length.

The curve fit allows me to extrapolate the curve from the .0015" feeler all the way back to a theoretical .0000 feeler. I just looked at a few curves I have on file and the facing length is typically 7-9.5 numbers longer on the glass gauge at the zero point. This equates to 3.5-4.75 mm longer than measured at the .0015" point.

Mojo Mouthpiece Work LLC
MojoMouthpieceWork@yahoo.com

Post Edited (2017-08-16 16:42)

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 Re: Mouthpieces and reeds by the numbers
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2017-08-15 20:58

Keith, do you the history of the gauges Brand marketed in his facing kits? I've always thought of .0015" as seeming a little random. Is there a reason for that specific choice for the thinnest feeler?

I asked earlier if that feeler is universal among American, Asian and European mouthpiece facers, partly because I wondered if anyone uses a thicker feeler for the last measurement. Whenever I describe the facing on my mouthpiece to anyone, I always specify the feeler thickness when I give the curve length.

So my two questions are:
Did Brand choose .0015" arbitrarily?
Do mouthpiece makers and refacers today generally accept that thickness as a universal for checking the length of a curve as they cut it?

Karl

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 Re: Mouthpieces and reeds by the numbers
Author: NBeaty 
Date:   2017-08-16 01:58

Amongst clarinet refacers, that 0.0015 is universal. There are some people who use a different set (I've heard of some people using 20+ different feelers) after this 0.0015.

This seems to be about as thin as you can go while still remaining function, although it is still very easy to bend this one. It wouldn't be too helpful if the gauge was so thin that it bent out of shape if you just look at it wrong...it would defeat the purpose of trying to get more specific measurements.


For whatever reason, saxophone players are more likely to take up refacing and seem to experiment more than we do. Often, the amateur (at least with refacing) refacers in the sax market tend to come up with their own solutions to problems that are unique, occasionally it even works out!

As I've said before on this board, without a teacher it's unlikely that you'd be able to make a decent mouthpiece without destroying a lot of them. Something as "simple" as measurement can be difficult and also very easy to be off my over 10 points (measuring a 1.00 as a 1.10+).

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 Re: Mouthpieces and reeds by the numbers
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2017-08-16 05:30

NBeaty wrote:

> Amongst clarinet refacers, that 0.0015 is universal. There are
> some people who use a different set (I've heard of some people
> using 20+ different feelers) after this 0.0015.
>

It's certainly universal among the players and mouthpiece craftsmen that I know, but they're all Americans. Do you know this to be a fact elsewhere in the world? And if it really is a global universal, why was that particular thickness picked Why not a more even metric value (.0015"=.0381 mm)? Why not .04 mm (.0015748") in Europe?

Erick Brand supplied 5 feelers in his mouthpiece refacing kit. Were those feelers arbitrary choices? Or do they represent particular articulation points on a specific type of curve that Brand, Chedeville, Kaspar and others were trying to apply by hand? Most players, at least of a certain age, recognize the facing 6-12-22-28-34 (with some variability in the first and last numbers). They're measured with the 5 feelers in the Brand kit. Do those numbers mean the same thing to everyone who plays clarinet?

I genuinely don't know and would like to find out.

This may be properly a topic for a separate thread, but it seems relevant to the idea of using numeric descriptors to match reeds and mouthpieces. A facing isn't only a tip opening and a curve length. And, as we've been agreeing, I think, if the length measurements aren't consistent, even they become less than useful.

Karl

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 Re: Mouthpieces and reeds by the numbers
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2017-08-16 11:23

I know some of the past players measurements. The greats that have died. The feeler gauge .0015" was that magic gauge. Still is actually. I now have gauges that go down to .0005". But we can get a bit crazy here. The reason is the reeds warp more than .0015".

I personally find that the tip openings really don't matter, because every mouth formation is different.

I know that Julian Bliss uses something around a 1.15" and a very short length curve of only 30. Or 15mm's. With a 5 strength reed.

A lot of pros are going more open. 1.15 to 1.20 and more. Yet we have Eddie Daniels that went from 1.10 or so to just 1.03. Very weird for a jazz player, but hearing him play he sounds amazing.

For some reason, I think it is due to the rails being very thin are Kaspar's. Very few are under 1.07. Chedeville's are most often on the closer side. They have wider rails. 1.05 is very common and less.

There is also a trend of longer facings now. Instead of 34 to 36 I'm seeing 40 and more. This is entering the long German facings with hard reeds. This I strongly feel is wrong unless you are putting a lot of mouthpiece into your mouth. French reeds are cut to perform like German made reeds, so the vibrations and sound will suffer. Exceptions of course are your personal embouchure.

Marcellus had an overbite. So he used more mouthpiece and his tip opening was about 1.10mm's with a 36 curve. Kaspar's bought Chedeville's and redid them. Bob bought lots of 8 asking for tip openings of 1.10 to 1.11. However the few I measured were 1.09. So maybe Kaspar's gauges were off.

In the early years most of the players used tip openings around 1.03 to 1.05.

It's totally different now.

Some idiot trademarked the names Kaspar and Chedeville. His name is Omar Henderson. He did harm to himself not the clarinet world. The clarinet sound has changed, so who cares about trademarks! I won't use his bore oil because it has a perfumed smell to it and you don't know if the oil is bad. Oil does go bad. Anyway, the Kaspar and Chedeville mouthpieces all sounded different. This is why Bob Marcellus ordered so many. Remember he ordered lots of 8 and gave most of them away. He had about 100 maybe all of the time. Because of this Omar didn't help the clarinet world at all. He hurt himself because his mouthpieces are horrible and the clarinet sound is all over the place from tip openings under .95 to 1.25.

STEUER REEDS Importer played by Sabine Meyer

NEWLY DESIGNED "Vintage 1940 Cicero" Mouthpieces

Yamaha Artist




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 Re: Mouthpieces and reeds by the numbers
Author: Mojo 
Date:   2017-08-16 16:41

I have a bunch of videos on YouTube about various refacing topics. Most are sax related. I do have one that compares different feeler gauge systems in use. But I do not have much insight into how the original Erick Brand feeler set was chosen.

I do challenge the logic of using the Brand feeler set. It does help to standardize on a set so you can easily trade readings with other refacers or players. But I find this is less useful than it sounds. Usually the readings are rounded to the nearest whole or half number. Or, they contain reading errors or bumps and flat spots you would not want to duplicate on another mouthpiece.

The "standard" set also has some large gaps between feeler sizes I think are significant. What happens at .005" can affect the response a lot IMO. How flat or curved is the shape between .0015" and .010"? If you do not measure it, you do not know.

I use my own set of feelers as shown in my videos. I used to sell feeler sets but there is not enough of a market for them to make it worthwhile for me. If a client wants me to match a facing measured with a Brand or other set, I plot the supplied readings and fit a curve through them. Then I can use the fitted curve to calculate targets for my own set of feelers.

https://youtu.be/jLXNVzWbqiw

Mojo Mouthpiece Work LLC
MojoMouthpieceWork@yahoo.com

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