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 Do mouthpieces wear out?
Author: Philip Caron 
Date:   2018-01-03 23:05

Do mouthpieces wear out? If so, how? How does one tell that a mouthpiece is declining due to wear?

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 Re: Do mouthpieces wear out?
Author: TomS 
Date:   2018-01-03 23:34

Yes ... especially on plastic or hard rubber MP ... reed beats the rails down. Go to the James Pyne website.

Tom

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 Re: Do mouthpieces wear out?
Author: Dan Shusta 
Date:   2018-01-04 04:46

Here's a thread with the exact same subject title from 2013:

http://test.woodwind.org/clarinet/BBoard/read.html?f=1&i=391823&t=391776

A lot of good responses to this question. I especially like Brad Behn's comments (response #8).



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 Re: Do mouthpieces wear out?
Author: Wes 
Date:   2018-01-04 06:35

That was an interesting but long thread. I'm using the same mouthpiece I bought in about 1956 and still like it. Occasionally, I check it and touch it up a bit as needed, using techniques learned from the late Glen Johnston, the "mouthpiece man". While I have several like it plus some others, I see no need to change it, as it works great. There seem to be some very minor changes as the years go by with continuous active playing.

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 Re: Do mouthpieces wear out?
Author: alanporter 
Date:   2018-01-04 08:12

Wes
Please tell us how to "touch it up". I am seriously interested.

tiaroa@shaw.ca

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 Re: Do mouthpieces wear out?
Author: Philip Caron 
Date:   2018-01-04 08:48

Ha - I should have searched for this topic. I just read the other thread, thanks for linking. I must have seen the thread when it was active in 2013, but maybe I didn't follow it closely because I wasn't having any problem. But now I am, and I'm wondering if it's due to changes in the mouthpiece.

If I switch out my M13 Lyre for my old stock Buffet mouthpiece, the problem disappears. But the Buffet's a much more open facing, so I have to play it differently. Meaning, maybe the problem's cause could be changes to the M13 Lyre or changes by me.

I've used the M13 Lyre for about 8 years, 2-4 hours a day. I prefer it to the stock Buffet mouthpiece overall. It would be nice to be able to point at something in the mouthpiece and say, aha, it's worn. By eyeball, it appears clean and not noticeably changed. I'll experiment some more.

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 Re: Do mouthpieces wear out?
Author: Dan Shusta 
Date:   2018-01-04 11:26

Philip, I apologize if I embarrassed you. That was not my intent.

When you wrote that your stock Buffet mouthpiece plays better than your M13 Lyre which you have been playing for around 8 years, that, to me, was positive proof that there is something wrong it.

From Grabner's website http://www.clarinetxpress.com/refacing.html, it appears that he only refaces his own mouthpieces. Still, you might want to give him a call. ($67 + postage each way.)

Brad Behn works on any mouthpiece https://www.clarinetmouthpiece.com/refacing-mouthpiece-customization. Yes, he charges more ($160), however he does far, far more than correcting the facing as he states on his webpage. From my readings on this BB, IMHO, Brad has quite a stellar reputation for this type of work.

I checked the Clark Fobes website and couldn't find any information concerning refacing services.

You might also want to check with Bob Bernardo https://lavecchiamouthpieces.com/contact/

I know there are more out there, however, my vote goes to Brad Behn. IMO, his superior craftsmanship is well established on this BB.



Post Edited (2018-01-04 11:48)

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 Re: Do mouthpieces wear out?
Author: Philip Caron 
Date:   2018-01-04 18:06

Thank you for the info, Dan.

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 Re: Do mouthpieces wear out?
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2018-01-04 20:17

Weather heat and even cold, plus putting the reed on and off for years can effect the lower numbers of the facings, mainly the 0.0015" shim or thinner which I use.

Good question...


NEWLY DESIGNED - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces


Yamaha Artist




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 Re: Do mouthpieces wear out?
Author: Daniel Frazelle 
Date:   2018-01-04 20:51

Yes. The link below is the best article I've seen on the subject, written by Ramon Wodkowski. Pay special attention to the section labeled "Wear and tear on ebonite mouthpieces."

https://ramonwodkowski.wordpress.com/2015/06/22/mouthpiece-refacing-and-restoration/



Post Edited (2018-01-04 20:52)

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 Re: Do mouthpieces wear out?
Author: Simon Aldrich 
Date:   2018-01-04 21:46

One of the phenomena that is most pronounced when a mpc wears out is called rail tilt. The abrasive effect of the reed vibrating against the mpc wears the rails. This wear is not uniform, as the inside of the rail is worn more quickly that the outside of the rail. With some of my mpcs, this tilting of the rails has caused squeak-like chirps, particularly on low-note attacks. I have come to recognize this effect in students' old mpcs. Often the student thinks the problem is in the reed, but the chirp often occurs with most reeds.
Brad Behn explained this issue on this board a few years ago. He wrote:
"The more you use your mouthpiece the quicker it wears out. This occurs as a result of the reed's vibration against the mouthpiece rails. In fact the reed acts like an abrasive and gradually bevels the rails inward, making what we call "rail tilt"."
He also wrote:
"Misuse can cause a mouthpiece to wear out. Swabbing with bad swabs or any kind of abrasive material can cause damage."

With regards to the second point, I have a colleague who bought a Johnston mpc several years ago. It had thick rails, a very dark sound and was quite resistant. Years later, I played with the same colleague and the sound was threadbare and overly-bright. I looked at the mpc and the rails had become very, very thin. It turns out she swabbed the mpc after every use with a piece of shammy and the years of abrasion had eroded down the rails (side and tip). When she bought the mpc, she used light reeds because of the resistance. Now she was using 4 1/2s, saying the mpc had become less and less resistant, while getting a shallow, thin sound that she did not like.

Many jazz sax players who use vintage mpcs find that the rails of old mpcs often need to be flattened if the mpc was played a lot.

Frequent flattening of the rails comes with a caveat. If you look at a mpc straight-on at the tip, you see that the mpc expands outward as it moves up from the rail exterior. Thus, repeated rail-flattening actually widens the mpc window, as the outside-rail to outside-rail measurement becomes gradually wider with each flattening. I have several mpcs that have windows that have become bizarrely wide from too many rail flattenings (often as part of a refacing).

Simon

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 Re: Do mouthpieces wear out?
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2018-01-04 21:56

Simon Aldrich wrote:

> One of the phenomena that is most pronounced when a mpc wears
> out is called rail tilt.

I've heard about rail tilt most of my adult life, but I don't think I've ever experienced it. I have had a couple of mouthpieces over the decades refaced, so maybe rail tilt was part of the reason why they didn't play as I thought they once had.

But for me this begs a question: how many times can a mouthpiece be refaced to correct this? To cut far enough into the rails to level them, are you taking enough out of the internal volume to affect the mouthpiece's tone and pitch, if not the first time, then the second? I would think almost certainly a third time around would destroy the rest of the mouthpiece's architecture.

Can this be done repeatedly?

Karl

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 Re: Do mouthpieces wear out?
Author: Dan Shusta 
Date:   2018-01-04 21:58

Daniel, I agree. Ramon's article is very informative and I suspect is indeed the best, extensive essay about mouthpiece wear.

Be sure to go all the way down to the bottom wherein he talks about how various ligatures affect mouthpiece wear, especially metal ones that are tightened very strongly.

To me, this is a "must read" for every player!

Thanks for posting the link.



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 Re: Do mouthpieces wear out?
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2018-01-04 22:06

Simon Aldrich wrote:

> With some of my mpcs, this tilting of
> the rails has caused squeak-like chirps, particularly on
> low-note attacks. I have come to recognize this effect in
> students' old mpcs. Often the student thinks the problem is in
> the reed, but the chirp often occurs with most reeds.

This fascinates me a little. When I was a student, I began to experience exactly this type of chirp. I was playing on a Chedeville my teacher had lent me - this was in the early 1970s, so the mouthpiece was definitely not new. He couldn't produce the chirp even when he tried, but I couldn't play a chalumeau attack without chirping. Even though I had gotten all the way to my 2nd year of graduate study without ever having had the problem, he insisted it was because I was pinching the reed, and I finally solved the problem by switching to double lip, a change I've never regretted. But I wonder from your description if that Chedeville had enough rail tilt to have caused the problem. Maybe the rail tilt was compounded by my reaction of tensing when I had to start a low note because I expected the chirp to happen.

Karl

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 Re: Do mouthpieces wear out?
Author: Dan Shusta 
Date:   2018-01-04 22:07

kdk, from Ramon's article under "How Often Can I Reface":

"From my work and study, a mouthpiece can be refaced (assuming to similar specs) two or perhaps three times before it begins to change and play differently from how it did originally."

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 Re: Do mouthpieces wear out?
Author: Simon Aldrich 
Date:   2018-01-04 22:15

Karl, you have touched on a larger issue, which should be mentioned eventually in any rail-adjusting discussion.

"To cut far enough into the rails to level them, are you taking enough out of the internal volume to affect the mouthpiece's tone and pitch,"

Mouthpiece craftsmen mention that the design of a mpc is a recipe of more than a dozen ingredients (tip-opening, opening curve, facing length, facing symmetry, rail thickness, baffle depth, upper baffle depth, throat shape, sidewall angle, beak angle, bore volume and taper, window shape, width and length, etc). (see www.clarinetmouthpiece.com/nomenclature/ for a better explanation).
Greg Smith mentioned to me that one cannot alter one of the ingredients without affecting all the others.
This appears to be where the art (and experience) of mpc-making comes in to play.

Simon

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 Re: Do mouthpieces wear out?
Author: Wes 
Date:   2018-01-04 23:52

Thank you, AlanPorter, for your interest. To really discuss Glen's techniques would take a lot of space and time. However, I saw that he did not make flat tables on mouthpieces but favored a kind of concave table. Of course, this can allow small vibrations of the butt end of the reed. He also was very concerned about the meeting of the side rails with the tip, which can really affect the high end of the altissimo range. He liked and used some tools I made for him.

I was referred to Glen by my teacher to do some tuning on my one-piece full Boehm Bb and A clarinets, which he did for hours while I sat and watched. He enjoyed having visitors watch him work, as he was limited in movement, having only one leg as a result of a hunting accident. Yet, he drove and went to club meetings and came to my home. An expert performer on all clarinets and saxophones, he was especially known for bass clarinet playing in early spooky movies.

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 Re: Do mouthpieces wear out?
Author: Philip Caron 
Date:   2018-01-05 04:07

Aha.

Simon and Karl both discuss a chirp problem they associate with mouthpiece wear, and my problem is sort of a chirp problem. I wouldn't call it a chirp, it's more like a very high pitched "whee" sound, not a squeak, and I'm getting it at the start of most clarion and altissimo notes. Or even instead of the notes.

This M13 Lyre had that tendency for me when I first got it, and it led to me abandoning it's use for a year or so. During that time I switched to double lip and made some other changes to remove a couple varieties of biting. When I tried the M13 Lyre again, the problem had gone completely away.

Until lately. After 5-6 years I'm still using double-lip, and frankly it feels so effortless I doubt I'm biting. I can play 4 hours easy, without significant soreness. So, probably it is mouthpiece wear I'm dealing with. There ARE a lot of hours on this mouthpiece, and I've now learned my way of cleaning it probably has affected it too.

And I blamed a reed, sigh. A pretty good reed, good range with a nice sweet sound I was using for practice. I finally got fed up with the "whee" business and executed the reed with extreme prejudice; the little remnants are now in my septic tank. Then I put on a reed I KNEW was good, and . . . . "whee".

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 Re: Do mouthpieces wear out?
Author: Simon Aldrich 
Date:   2018-01-05 05:19

When I was a student at Yale in the late 90s, I would take mpcs to the renowned mpc-refacer Everett Matson in NJ. I would spend all day at Matson's house and he would patiently reface the mpcs I brought. He explained everything he did and seemed to keep no secrets. He would pass the hours while he refaced, recounting refacing tales and one of the stories he told is relevant to what we are discussing.
Harold Wright (former Boston principal) took the plunge and took Matson his #1 mpc (a Chedeville) to be refaced as it had become overly stuffy. Matson could not believe his eyes when he looked closely at the mpc.
At the time, Wright used reeds that were narrower than the mpc window (outside of rail to outside of rail). Matson recounted that over the years, the wear of the reed had created a depression in the window. It had gotten to the point where the reed actually fit into a "bed" that the narrow-reed wear had caused. The outside of the mpc rails were higher than the inside of the mpc rails. Supposedly, the reed fit into a sort of slot, created by the fact that the outside mpc rails were like a curb to a road. They sat higher than the inside of the rails. The reed itself still sat higher than the curb-like outside rails, but not by much.
Matson warned Wright that the change would be substantial, since he would have to take down so much of the rails to flatten them out, to remove the reed-shape depression. When Matson was finished flattening the rails, and redoing the tip opening, curve, etc, the mpc played so differently that Wright supposedly had kittens. Matson said they sat there for hours, Matson making adjustments and Wright play-testing the results, until it played to Wright's liking.

Simon

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 Re: Do mouthpieces wear out?
Author: Dan Shusta 
Date:   2018-01-05 05:38

I have some unusual(?) questions concerning mouthpiece facing wear:

1) With all external parameters remaining equal (playing time, same ligature pressure, same volume level, etc.), would a more open mouthpiece (i.e., 1.45mm and larger) wear out faster than a very closed one at 1mm or less due to the reed on the more open mouthpiece hitting the rails harder (due to extra travel distance)?

2) Will a mouthpiece wear out faster if the majority of the playing is in the upper clarion and altissimo range due to the reed hitting the rails more often?

3) Will a "Forte' player" wear out his or her mouthpiece faster than a "pianissimo player" due to the reed hitting the rails harder?

4) Does a mouthpiece for a double lip player last longer than a single lip player (using a very thin plastic patch) due to the upper lip acting as a "cushion" to absorb the shock of the reed hitting the rails?

To me, the answer to all four questions is...yes.

What do you think?

I'm just curious...



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 Re: Do mouthpieces wear out?
Author: Mojo 
Date:   2018-01-05 22:21

At soft playing levels, the reed does not even close all the way against the rails.

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

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 Re: Do mouthpieces wear out?
Author: Dan Shusta 
Date:   2018-01-06 01:19

Mojo, thanks for the info. I always thought that the reed had to completely touch the mouthpiece rails and tip. However, after reading Tony Pay's response in the following thread, certain classical pieces of music require that the reed never closes at any point in its cycle.

I found the following thread entitled "Does the reed block the airflow?" to be very interesting and informative.

http://test.woodwind.org/clarinet/BBoard/read.html?f=1&i=413740&t=413729



Post Edited (2018-01-06 06:31)

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 Re: Do mouthpieces wear out?
Author: Burt 
Date:   2018-01-07 06:10

Philip, thanks for originating this post. After reading it, I discovered wear on one side rail on my 15-year-old M30.

I've been using Legere reeds the last 2 years. Does anybody know whether Legeres are better or worse regarding wearing the mouthpiece?

Burt



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 Re: Do mouthpieces wear out?
Author: RefacerMan 2017
Date:   2018-01-07 08:27

I've been told by at least one mouthpiece refacer that synthetic reeds wear a mouthpiece much faster than a cane reed.

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 Re: Do mouthpieces wear out?
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2018-01-07 18:47

I haven't used synthetics long enough or exclusively enough to have any personal experience with this. I was told by one of Ricardo Morales's colleagues in the Philadelphia Orchestra woodwind section (but not a clarinetist) that he had heard the Légères damage facings more quickly. I don't know if he heard that from Morales or not.

Karl

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 Re: Do mouthpieces wear out?
Author: Simon Aldrich 
Date:   2018-01-07 22:27

Interesting to read that a refacer has noticed that Legeres wear down mpcs more quickly than cane. By the simple hardness of the Legere material, I had always presumed the same thing. The Legere reed feels harder at the top of the vamp where it meets the lip. Also the tip and lower vamp of the Legere is harder (more difficult to flex) than a cane reed. When adjusting a Legere, either with sandpaper or a knife/Reedgeek, one notices the material is harder than cane.
This suggests that a Legere reed's action on a mpc would wear it down (introduce rail tilt) more quickly.
Of course, this is not an argument against using Legere reeds.

Simon

PS It might be somewhat misguided to compare cane to the compound in Legere reeds. Notice how, when adjusting a Legere reed with too heavy a hand, the material does not come off in dust, like a cane reed, but in strips. Taking off material more lightly avoids this stripping phenomenon.
Regardless, the Legere material feels and behaves "harder" than cane.

PPS Tim, are you at liberty to name the refacer who has noticed that Legeres wear mpcs more than cane?

PPPS Now that the Christmas break is over, I hope the mpc maker/refacer Nathan Beaty has noticed this thread and will weigh in with his thoughts and observations on mpc wear.

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 Re: Do mouthpieces wear out?
Author: RefacerMan 2017
Date:   2018-01-08 18:37

Simon, Everett Matson told me that obviously a long time ago.

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 Re: Do mouthpieces wear out?
Author: NBeaty 
Date:   2018-01-08 20:46

Simon- you'd be amazed how often people don't notice obvious wear and tear. Even respectable/reputable players will play on a mouthpiece that has obvious gouges or chips on the rails. Often when I point them out I get the most horrified looks of surprise/shock. It seems odd to me, since most anyone would notice a chipped reed but evidently not a chipped mouthpiece.

I think it takes at least 3-4 years of fairly heavy use to really change a mouthpiece in any significant way. I would agree that Legeres could speed up the process, but I would tend to argue away from using crystal to combat the issue. It is true that crystal is harder and wouldn't wear as quickly, but I would rather play a mouthpiece that sounds and feels better (Behn Signature -6) and just have Behn check it over every so often. Hard rubber mouthpieces can serve for many decades if taken care of.

I've often seen young people, particularly undergraduate, go through a time where they think their mouthpiece has warped/changed significantly. I don't think it's a coincidence that years where embouchure and playing style are being formed are the same years people often feel like their mouthpieces have changed suddenly. More likely is that the persons' perspective on the mouthpiece has changed more so than the mouthpiece itself.

I think it's a good idea to have a mouthpiece tech (someone who can be trusted to measure a mouthpiece accurately) check over your primary mouthpiece once every few years.

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 Re: Do mouthpieces wear out?
Author: Simon Aldrich 
Date:   2018-01-10 11:07

Tim, thanks for your reply.

Nathan, thanks for your thoughts. Interesting that on sonic grounds you would argue away from crystal as a mpc material that is more resistant to wear. I heard Ricardo Morales is co-designing a Legere-specific mpc and crystal is being considered as a material. Although that might be old and inaccurate news by now.

Simon

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 Re: Do mouthpieces wear out?
Author: NBeaty 
Date:   2018-01-10 20:36

That being said, the way many players treat their equipment can wear out a mouthpiece much faster than that. I've seen plenty of mouthpieces that were only used for a matter of weeks/months that were full of dents, chips, and scratches all over the place and already in need of some attention to get them back into shape.

Simon- not just sonic grounds, I don't think they allow as seamless an interaction between player and setup either as far as resistance and blow-through. It doesn't help that crystal is a real pain to work on as well.

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