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 mouthpiece change
Author: Philip Caron 
Date:   2018-02-09 08:28

In an earlier thread I learned that my M13 Lyre mouthpiece has apparently worn out. Since then I've been using my former mpc, a stock Buffet that came with my R13s. I don't hate it; the sound is different and less consistent across registers, but some days I sound good with it - albeit different. It's more open than the M13 Lyre so it takes more air, and I'm having to take more frequent breaths. The experience of switching has been positive. However, overall I liked the M13 Lyre better.

A local conductor plays sax & clarinet has invited me to accompany him to a store to try out mouthpieces; he's looking for a new one too. I might get another M13 Lyre, or I might get something different, perhaps even an upgrade. I've been taking in numerous earlier threads and online articles & vids about mouthpiece selection, so many of my questions about process have gotten answers, and probably I can make a reasonable stab at it.

Do mouthpieces have to warm up?

Any recommendations for specific mpcs to try? I use a Rovner ligature (type unknown), approximate 3.5+ strength reeds, and double-lip embouchure.

I don't know what store we're going to yet; there aren't many in Southern Vermont. The conductor suggested Ellis Music in Bethel, Vt; anyone have any other suggestions? Should we call ahead? - I probably will just to see what's on offer.

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 Re: mouthpiece change
Author: NBeaty 
Date:   2018-02-09 20:19

How long have you been using the M13 Lyre? Unless you've been using it for many years or it has been damaged, it is unlikely at best to have changed in any significant way. Can you post a picture at least of the "worn out" mouthpiece?

While it would need to be measured to see if the facing is still true, even an out of balance Vandoren would be better than the stock buffet mouthpiece. I don't think buffet honestly believes their stock mouthpieces will ever be the "choice" for anyone who wants to get the most out of their very expensive clarinet.

Mouthpieces do not have to "warm up". Any changes after playing for a little while can be most attributed to your face warming up as well as your brain starting to focus on what you're doing as you warm up.

I would recommend moving away from the Rovner, as I don't think it's doing you any favors. What you want from a mouthpieces is vibrancy, resonance, full tone, and a lively response. Wrapping the mouthpiece in a "hug" of fabric essentially absorbs much of the vibration of the reed and will tend to limit all those qualities, making the sound more dull and less interesting. I would recommend trying the Rico/D'Addario "H" ligature (comes with an excellent non-metal cap). The Vandoren M/O is also a good choice in the more affordable range (also comes with a good cap). You'd be surprised just how much a ligature can change the playing experience.

That brings up a sidenote: Never use a METAL mouthpiece cap, it's just tempting fate that you'll bump the tip with the edge of it and damage the mouthpiece. I've seen many mouthpieces with tips that look like an animal has been gnawing on the tip. Some people will say, "well so and so professional in whatever orchestra uses a metal cap (or any particular item)". Great, but that's not a valid reason to do anything. It's a valid reason to TRY something, whether it be an instrument, mouthpiece, etc. If a professional hears you play and recommends a switch to something different, make sure that 1) you understand why he made that recommendation and 2) you try before you buy and make sure there isn't something else that brings you closer to what the person was telling you would improve your playing.

So many people switch to the trendiest instrument/mouthpiece/ligature etc. and end up sounding like they're struggling to find their sound. From a basic business/consumer perspective, know what you're buying and how much it is worth and if the seller can actually justify the price. There are many players that end up spending as much as a brand new car on their setup (with Bb and A) but don't sound better than they did before or they paid more than something is really worth to hopefully sound like someone else who plays that setup.

Definitely call ahead if you're worried about them having enough items in stock. Compare the new M13 Lyres to your old one (using same reed, etc.) to see if the new ones are actually better. As far as mouthpieces they are likely to have in stock, I would also recommend the D'Addario Reserve X0 and X5 (X0 is most similar to the M13 Lyre). They should be about the same price as Vandoren.

MOST IMPORTANT TO NOTE WITH MOUTHPIECE WEAR: In my experience, it seems most common that people going through undergraduate/masters programs suddenly decide their mouthpiece has worn out or changed in that time. I can guarantee that the player has changed more than the mouthpiece. Damage to the mouthpiece aside.

Good luck.

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 Re: mouthpiece change
Author: seabreeze 
Date:   2018-02-09 20:46

Going to a store with another clarinetist who has the musical ear of a conductor is a great idea. You can help each other sort out the differences between the subjective impressions that you hear (and literally feel) as a player and the more objective impressions a listener hears as you test the mouthpieces and ligatures. Try to listen to the results both close up and from several yards away if possible. In addition to the suggestions Nathan has made, I find the Spriggs "floating rail" ligature is very lively, vibrant, and responsive and at $99 well worth the price (though your local music store is not likely to have one). Also the BG Duo models both in gold plate and rose gold are excellent but they run closer to $150 and not all dealers stock them either.

I might also suggest something that Nathan modestly did not. Send him your "worn out" M13L for refacing and you might get it back, not good as new, but playing even better than new.

Post Edited (2018-02-10 20:15)

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 Re: mouthpiece change
Author: Philip Caron 
Date:   2018-02-09 21:07

Thank you for your thoughts & advice NBeatty. The M13 Lyre changed gradually but sort of suddenly, if that makes any sense. It could well be I changed, but I don't think that's the problem. I've played it 2-4 hours a day for something like 8 years, probably more. Ref. the recent thread by me, "do mouthpieces wear out?" http://test.woodwind.org/clarinet/BBoard/read.html?f=1&i=461097&t=461097 Lots of interesting commentary plus other links there.

When I call the store I'll also ask if they have someone who can measure facings.

I plan to warm up with my current stuff before trying new mouthpieces.

Interesting advice about the Rovner. Mouthpieces will be the focus this pass, and after a time and I'm satisfied with a new one, I'll look into ligatures. Thank you for the recommendations.

Hmm - for some reason I expected caps to come with the mouthpieces. Do they also (or instead?) come with ligatures?

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 Re: mouthpiece change
Author: NBeaty 
Date:   2018-02-09 21:25

Caps come with ligatures most often. I've never seen one come with a mouthpiece (other than someone selling a used mouthpiece).

When I say the player has changed over time, mostly I mean they have indeed IMPROVED and that mouthpiece may no longer be ideal for the improvements made over time.

8 years of moderate to heavy playing could cause some "rail tilt" (see Brad Behn's explanation in another thread) and the curve no longer being true/balanced. Having it refaced is an option, which could bring it closer to what you really need if going through batch after batch of new mouthpieces doesn't work for you. Certainly would save a few bucks depending on who you send it to.

You'd be surprised how much of a skill it is just to measure a mouthpiece facing properly and consistently. Different tools often measure differently, whether it be the glass gauge used, the metal feeler gauges, or tip wand. Personally, I've calibrated my tools to those used by a well respected mouthpiece maker that I know to be true and accurate. Point being, be sure that if you have someone measure your mouthpiece that they have experience with that skill. If you can be sure they are reasonably competent, it's most important to note the measurements relative to other mouthpieces. For example, it's not as important to have specific numbers, but to note the difference in measurements from mouthpiece to mouthpiece. If one mouthpiece has a facing length of 36 and another is 37 (using brand measurements), it's more notable that one has a longer facing than the other than the 36 being exactly 18mm. The same goes for tip opening. I have at least 7 tip wands and almost none of them measure exactly the same.

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 Re: mouthpiece change
Author: Ed Palanker 
Date:   2018-02-10 17:45

It's unlikely you wore out your M13, people have used the same MP for decades in many cases. Before retiring, but still play some, I used the same Bb MP for over 20 years as a pro. It's possible something you are doing changed or the reed selction has changed. My suggestion, which is what i did with my students, is to try as many as possible using a reed that your comfortabe with as well as a slightly softer and harded on as well. That way if you like something about a MP but the reed doesn't respond well you can try it with a little more or less resistant reed. Some people reject a good mouthpiece because the reed they try it with is to resistant or to free blowing.

ESP eddiesclarinet.com

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