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 Thumb (and thumb rest) position
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2018-02-19 06:20

Over the past year or two I've noticed that my fingers, especially on the lower joint of my A clarinet, are not stretching out easily to cover the tone holes reliably. My RH index finger tends to slip down, uncovering the top hole of the lower section, especially when I play D5, C5 or B4. Sometimes RH ring finger (G3/D5 tone hole) starts to slide up toward the index finger. It all makes RH B4 and C#5 a little unreliable.

I think the stiffness, or lack of stretch, is probably age-related. I don't think my fingers are arthritic, they just seem less flexible than they once were. I'm trying some stretches I've found online. Meanwhile, I've been experimenting a little with moving the thumb rest around. I've already turned the one on my Bb clarinet upside down and found that it helps, but the real problem is on my A clarinet, which has as a stretch of almost a half inch more from index to ring finger than my Bb has. I think I've found by experimenting a little more tonight that moving my thumb higher to align right behind or maybe even a hair above my index finger actually seems to help noticeably.

This is higher than the adjustable thumb rest on my A clarinet will allow, and flipping it isn't as convenient as it is on my Bb, which has a fixed thumb rest (with no adjusting screw in the middle). The center screw on the adjustable rest is where my thumb sits when I turn it upside down. So if this turns out to be a useful change, I'll probably need to have the thumb rest on my A clarinet moved higher on the instrument.

Just for historical background, I long ago took the thumb rest completely off my bass clarinet for the same reason - it freed my whole right hand up. But I use a floor peg to hold the bass still and don't really need my thumb to support it. Playing a soprano clarinet without a thumb rest isn't as convenient.

This sparks my curiosity about where other players prefer their RH thumbs to be.

Karl

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 Re: Thumb (and thumb rest) position
Author: xiao yu 
Date:   2018-02-19 12:44

In my experience´╝î the higher thumb rest position will need player more thumb muscular strength. But if you have leakage problem with that ,you should change the rest position. I also changed it for my student's clarinet. Although it was adjustable thumb rest.She has small hand also have leakage problem. Drill new holes about 10mm higher than original holes, and you can use thumb saddle to adjust final highth.

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Lyrique libertas, ridenour hw mp,legere euro cut reeds.

Post Edited (2018-02-19 17:51)

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 Re: Thumb (and thumb rest) position
Author: Garth Libre 
Date:   2018-02-19 20:37

I've tried everything to improve the thumb rest/ hand tension problems with clarinet. I've moved the original position higher up. I've used the Ridenour slip on thumb rest (very good option) and a month ago I bought the $35 Tom Kooiman thumb rest which is really not a thumb rest at all. It allows you to rest the clarinet in the web between the thumb and the first finger. It's almost a hand rest and it allows complete relaxation of the fingers. In my opinion it's much better than a neck strap which I never got used to. As a bonus, the Kooiman thumb rest is infinitely adjustable as it has about 8 individual clicks, a pivot, and three starting positions in which to attach the base plate. It also has a pivot swing system. There's nothing like it except the $250 Kooiman version which is probably a bit better. The top part comes off completely so that you can use a standard clarinet case with no problems or modifications.

Garth, 305-981-4705. garthlibre@yahoo.com

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 Re: Thumb (and thumb rest) position
Author: Philip Caron 
Date:   2018-02-20 03:52

I've had similar issues relating to the low position of the thumbrest on my R13 clarinet in A. I do two things to address them:

a) I practice the A instrument every other day. If the period gets much longer between plays, the problems start to come back.

b) My warmup on A days contains a RH exercise designed to work the stretches for that hand. Basically r. pinky circles (but a harder sequence between the 4 pinky keys,) repeated with different pivot notes that progress up the chromatic scale. Slow then fast. Doing this reveals that I vary physically some each day, but the accustomed exercise seems to even it out pretty well now. But I have to diligently do it, or after playing a while some kinds of difficult music will incur the described fingering issues.

I suspect it isn't a coincidence that kdk posted this question and the one about Dvorak's Golden Wheel together. The latter contains key signatures with lots of flats, key signatures which generally tend to work the RH stretches more.

I'd like to try the Kooiman device. Just for the A; no problem on my R13 Bb where the stretches aren't as wide and the thumb rest is higher too, quite a bit higher.

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 Re: Thumb (and thumb rest) position
Author: Caroline Smale 
Date:   2018-02-20 04:49

I have same problem as Karl, in my case definitely age related too.
The stretch difference between the RH fingers on the Bb and A Leblancs I played are not too ggreat but I had to move the A thumbrest considerably higher ( I left the base in same postion but silver soldered an extension arm to reposition the thumbrest fractionally above the level of RH 1 finger.)
It has certainly helped.

In addition I added a cork platform about 1/4 thick on the body of clarinet where the thumb rests in order to open up the hand position. It always feels far too cramped with the thumb at wood level.

Iwould also ad that I am starting to feel that my LH 1 finger is tending to slide downwards for similar reasons, but this is much harder to fix.

I think nature may be trying to give me a message here !!

Ah well there's always the bass clarinet which at least has plateau keys.

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 Re: Thumb (and thumb rest) position
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2018-02-20 07:35

Caroline Smale wrote:

> I have same problem as Karl, in my case definitely age related
> too.

Well, it's comforting to know I have company.

> ... I had to move the A
> thumbrest considerably higher ( I left the base in same postion
> but silver soldered an extension arm to reposition the
> thumbrest fractionally above the level of RH 1 finger.)

Could you possibly attach a photo of this? Or send a photo to my email address (in my profile)? The resulting thumb placement "fractionally above the level of RH 1 finger" is exactly where I find the most comfort.

> In addition I added a cork platform about 1/4 thick on the body
> of clarinet where the thumb rests in order to open up the hand
> position. It always feels far too cramped with the thumb at
> wood level.

Interesting idea. I hadn't thought of that.

> Iwould also ad that I am starting to feel that my LH 1 finger
> is tending to slide downwards for similar reasons, but this is
> much harder to fix.
>

Yes, well I didn't mention my left hand index finger for the very reason that it's harder to fix. I suspect, since the thumb hole is in a fixed location, the only possible solutions for the left hand may be a plateau cover on either LH 1st finger (easier) or LH thumb in combination with a shortened register key so I can move my left thumb a little higher. The LH problem isn't as persistent so I'm inclined to try to solve the RH problem first.


> I think nature may be trying to give me a message here !!
>

Yes, but right now I'm trying to ignore the message. :)

Karl

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 Re: Thumb (and thumb rest) position
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2018-02-20 07:49

Philip Caron wrote:

> My warmup on A days contains a RH exercise designed to work
> the stretches for that hand. Basically r. pinky circles (but a
> harder sequence between the 4 pinky keys,) repeated with
> different pivot notes that progress up the chromatic scale.
> Slow then fast.

I'm actually doing some stretching exercises apart from the clarinet, too.
From your description I'm not sure exactly what your exercise is, but some kind of systematic work using those four pinky keys might be helpful. I tend, though, not to be so systematic in my practice routines. (That's a personal idiosyncrasy and not an attitude I'd recommend to anyone else.)

Karl

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 Re: Thumb (and thumb rest) position
Author: shmuelyosef 
Date:   2018-02-21 00:52

When I first started playing clarinet about 10 years ago (already played saxophone) I had all manner of difficulties with my thumb. As a teenager I partially severed my thumb at the base, and it has always had an awkward angle.
I tried and used the Kooiman rest for a while, but found that it strained against my natural thumb shape, and was far too restrictive of even small motions. I experiments with rests in different positions, but each clarinet design is a little different.
I have also noticed that it is very rare for anyone to want their thumbrest in a lower position than the factory stock, and it is easy to add material (cushion) to correct. My default when I get a clarinet that I intend to play is that I install a high quality adjustable thumbrest in a position where it's lowest spot is approximately where the original rest was and all the adjustment flexibility is upwards. For my thumb, I generally end up about 12-13mm (1/2") higher than 'normal'. I used the Buffet adjustables for a while, but now use the Leblanc style which I get from Votaw.





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 Re: Thumb (and thumb rest) position
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2018-02-21 01:09

The problem with Buffet clarinets in particular is they've retained the thumbrest screw holes from the days of fixed thumbrests and they just bung the adjustable ones on using the same screw holes, so that means all the adjustment is downwards when most players tend to want to position their right thumb higher up the lower joint.

It's a fairly common thing to relocate the thumbrest baseplate around 10mm higher from the existing location to make things more comfortable for players requesting that, then filling in the holes left in the lower joint - not just the two screw holes, but also the extra blind hole cut in there as a recess for the locking screw tip.

Chris.

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 Re: Thumb (and thumb rest) position
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2018-02-21 03:45

Chris, how long a job is this? Also, while I'm having my repairman move the A clarinet's thumbrest (it's a 10G with the original adjustable), how much extra work is involved in converting my Bb 10G (a very early version with a fixed thumbrest) to an adjustable rather than just relocating the existing rest?

If we replace the fixed thumbrest with an adjustable one, what thumbrest does anyone recommend? I don't want to use something bulky like a Kooiman - the 10Gs are heavy enough without adding weight.

Karl

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 Re: Thumb (and thumb rest) position
Author: EaubeauHorn 
Date:   2018-02-21 08:59

I have a BHOB that I use on my oboe and my thumb loves it. I found it much less restricting than I imagined because moving my body forwards and backwards effectively changes the length and hence does not freeze me into a position. I have never been able to make a neck strap work, so this was a great find. I bought mine from RDG, not from Howarth, but this is what google spit up.

http://howarth.uk.com/pic.aspx?pic=./wo/BhobGutRestStand.jpg&pid=989983

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 Re: Thumb (and thumb rest) position
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2018-02-21 19:46

A Quodlibet FHRED/RDG BHOB is a far better solution compared to a sling as it takes all the weight off the right arm and will still allow you to play with good posture.

As far as refitting a thumbrest, I'd allow an hour to do all the measuring, checking, double-checkingand then fitting and tidying up all the filler from the previous holes drilled into the joint and final checking and adjusting as it has to be right

I'm sure someone may jump in and say "It's just a five minute job", but is that being thorough?

Chris.

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 Re: Thumb (and thumb rest) position
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2018-02-24 19:35

It's about a 10 minute job. I like to fill the old holes with shellac and clarinet shavings from an old beat up useless clarinet barrel or bell. Then you use 2000 grit sandpaper to smooth off the holes and polish the area and you can't see the old holes. If you can find it use 3000 grit. The wood dust shavings takes away the shine of the shellac. I then use a buffing wheel for wood, but you can use a Dremal tool as well with their buffing attachments and a wood polishing compound.

When you drill the new holes, if you need to drill the holes, as some screws are self starting, use tape on the drill bit or mark the drill bit with a colored red Sharpie pen so you know how far down to drill into the wood. I've seen people come to me because they did the opps thing and drilled right through the wood into the bore of the clarinet. It's not a big deal to fill this mistake, but a simple precaution like a piece of tape around the drill bit as your marker line to stop drilling works wonders. Then you just screw in the set screws. It's that easy. 10 to 15 minutes. If you don't care about filling the old holes, you can do this in 3 minutes. 1 minute per screw. It's that easy.

From the from of the lower joint my thumb rest is 1 13/16" from the top of the lower joint. You don't have to be that exact. 1 3/4" is just fine. So set the thumb rest accordingly if it's not adjustable. You can mark the hole with a pen or something like that where the screws will go.


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