Woodwind.OrgThe Clarinet BBoardThe C4 standard

  BBoard Equipment Study Resources Music General    
 New Topic  |  Go to Top  |  Go to Topic  |  Search  |  Help/Rules  |  Smileys/Notes  |  Log In   Newer Topic  |  Older Topic 
 Time to rail against mouthpiece makers
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2018-08-10 21:09

There is a tendency for many mouthpiece makers and/or re-facers to be cagey about the basic facing dimensions of their products at least for the US market. I will start with Vandoren. They do offer a chart of their tip openings but when it comes the the length of the lay we get something like, "long" or "medium long," whatever that is in the metric system. But it doesn't stop their. Many of our home grown re-facers don't publish both specs or even furnish them upon request.

Why is this an issue? For example, I was (as backwards is this sounds) initially getting stonewalled over facing size while trying to match a mouthpiece to a specific Legere reed. There is a tendency for certain cuts or formulations (Signature or standard) to work better for some players. Once I found a winning "formula" for my reed, I wanted to continue having the success with that combination while still fine tuning what mouthpieces can do for it.

This brings me to the latest Legere issue. Recently I ran across a Legere video of Ricardo Morales endorsing the Legere reeds where he mentions the cuts and strengths he uses. Those two comparable Legeres happened to be a 3.75 strength European Signature Bb Clarinet reed vs. a 3.5 strength Signature Soprano Sax reed.

When I received my versions of these reeds (different strengths for my mouthpieces of course) the differential was much greater on my primary mouthpiece which is a particularly short lay of 14.00mm. For me the strength difference on my short lay works out to be .75 (three quarters). That's a pretty significant error in results! However, when trying a more standard mouthpiece with a lay of 18mm the differential was back to a quarter strength as stated by Morales and others on this board.

Ok...so I just find what works for me and shut up. That's fine but I think as more and more clarinetists discover how to make Legeres work, they will also find that knowing (at bare minimum) the facing dimensions of their mouthpiece and what they will want in the future becomes more and more crucial.

German mouthpiece makers and German websites don't seem to treat mouthpiece dimensions like state secrets as you can see on either Thomann.de:


or Maxton.at:


I understand that there are other factors that determine how a mouthpiece feels and plays and getting the customer in the door sometimes depends on the "mystery" of it all. But I think now that we have lost Zinner and have to rethink where mouthpieces come from, let's start rethinking what is helpful to the consumer and how to go about getting them to try your product.

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

Post Edited (2018-08-10 21:48)

Reply To Message
 Re: Time to rail against mouthpiece makers
Author: Brad Behn 
Date:   2018-08-10 22:47

Paul, I appreciate your concerns. Many players find the tip opening and length information to provide points of data which helps their decision making process, and I expect most mouthpiece makers and refaces would be happy to provide that information and much more to help you best understand what you are dealing with.

However I am sure you know that a facing's length and tip opening are only two small points within a curve. Other factors like the facing's architecture (how tight or flat the curve is) will have tremendous influence over the playing experience. The internals of the mouthpiece - baffle contour, bore dimensions, bore length, chamber length, rail widths, window widths, etc. are all EXTREMELY important in dictating how a mouthpiece performs, and what type of reed a player will ultimately prefer. So I would urge all who have set their search parameters on tip openings explore other elements within mouthpiece design as well.

But on the other hand, that information could be seen as confusing to the layperson, so mouthpiece makers may well be withholding extra facing information to avoid frustrating their customers. I expect most makers would instantly provide much more "points of data" if they new it would sell more of their product.

I know that in my experience as a maker I find it frustrating when a player simply asks for a 1.19 facing. Why - well somewhere in Vandoren's information they list their B40 as having a 1.19 tip opening. But Vandoren measures their tips differently than I, they measure at the outer dimension, and I measure the tip from the inner dimension. I get a 1.12. And I expect that person who might be asking for a 1.19 is coming from a B40 and wants something that feels similar. Issue there of course is that if I am to make something that feels similar, I need to make it with a 1.12 tip opening to be "the same", but then I also have to consider the differences in how my proprietary rod rubber resonates, how my design architecture differs, and how my concept as a player defines my EVERY move on the bench. There is just so much information to grapple with, that after I'm done making a B40 "copy" it will actually measure somewhere around a 1.07-1.09, it'll have faster response, it'll play with more resonance, power and projection, and it'll have character. Yes, I know - that's not a copy at all! But it'll feel familiar, it will have blowing characteristics which my client can identify with allowing for a smooth transition to something I believe would better serve. But the point of it all is that as a maker defines his craft, he is doing it in such a way that can't simply be dictated by tip opening and length. He is doing it by feel, nuance, personality, character, voice, response, blow-through, measurements, etc. Note I've listed measurements last!

And so a mouthpiece maker may well have decided it is better to withhold facing information to avoid confusion, and bad selection by the typical customer. I doubt the mouthpiece maker is holding the information for a sense of proprietary specialness...at least most of us. Facings are merely a small fraction of a mouthpiece's whole, and there is nothing special or proprietary therein.

Brad Behn

Reply To Message
 Re: Time to rail against mouthpiece makers
Author: gavalanche20 
Date:   2018-08-10 23:44

Brad, that reminds me of the response I received from a mouthpiece maker who I believe is well-known on this board when he politely declined to reveal the measurements of one of his mouthpiece models. In a nutshell his reasoning was that prospective players would read into the numbers too much and have preconceived notions about a mouthpiece by just looking into the measurements.

While I see the benefit of makers publishing their measurements, numbers are certainly not everything. I recently purchased a mouthpiece from Clark Fobes and initially had gone over his facing chart and looked over his numbers and asked for a particular facing, but after he had an idea of what I wanted sound and feel-wise, he recommended a different facing instead. His recommendation was bang-on, despite it having different numbers from what I was initially looking for.

Not long after I had a old Vandoren refaced by Scott Kurtzweil to a facing that on paper had a slightly more closed tip and longer lay than my Fobes. So in theory, looking at the facing numbers alone it should have been less resistant than the Fobes, but when it came back I found that I got the best results out of it by using a reed that was 1/2 strength softer than what I used on the Fobes. Obviously other things were different such as the rails or the chamber which led to the difference in feel.

PS., Paul, I can't help but notice the pun in the title, time to "rail" against mouthpiece makers? Good one!

Reply To Message
 Re: Time to rail against mouthpiece makers
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2018-08-11 00:02

I am just a mouthpiece 'hacker' and Brad is 100% correct.
In the beginning, I spent hours making one mouthpiece measurements as closely accurate to another mouthpiece that is humanly possible, and have always been disappointed that they did not play the same. After that, I only made mouthpieces for students, and had them test the mouthpiece for weeks until I knew they were a good fit together. Now, 50 years later, many students still treasure their 50 year old mouthpieces even though they may have moved on to others.

Post Edited (2018-08-11 00:02)

Reply To Message
 Re: Time to rail against mouthpiece makers
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2018-08-11 00:39

Dear Mr. Behn,

Thank you so much for your input! I do agree that there are a vast number of other details that make up the whole picture. BUT, there is a starting place that the gross numbers such as they are (different measuring systems) can provide that helps guide our ETERNAL search.

I would try to emphasize that this is a LEGERE use issue more than a cane use issue which is a more forgiving material.

Let's look at the weirdness of Legere to underscore the issue. No one that I know or who I've heard of, uses the Legere reeds that are cut to actual French reed specs to any great satisfaction. There are the "Signature" Legere which are made of a more "brittle" type of plastic that work great for a lot of great performers but they use the soprano sax reed or the ones that are basically soprano sax cut reeds that are just a little longer stock (European Signature cut). I have had very good results with the German cut Legere, but in the end, the above Signature versions are the best.

So those of us who need to cater to the characteristics of this plastic reed need to be a bit more wary about what direction to go with mouthpieces since there are re-stocking fees if not just a wholesale waste of time and effort.

"gavalanche20" gave a real world example above of how the gross dimensions do NOT tell the whole story and yet I would say he was within a half strength which is acceptably close.

My contention is that we (players and mouthpiece providers) are entering this new phase of talking to each other whether we want it or not. The Legere advantages will begin to out weight the Vandoren advantages (as lovely as they are) more and more as more of us make the switch. The primacy of the mouthpiece over the reed will become more of an equal partnership and matching the mouthpiece to the reed will be more common.

We just all better get ready.

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

Post Edited (2018-08-11 02:25)

Reply To Message
 Re: Time to rail against mouthpiece makers
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2018-08-11 03:24

I think a lot of us mouthpiece makers try really hard to help the clients the very best we can.

Here are some ways to help us. Send a mouthpiece that you really like, but it's a shade bright, too open or too long of a facing, something like that. Then we have a good starting point.

I am different than most other mouthpiece refacers and makers, as I measure them facing a bit differently, actually magnifying the rails by 10 power and by sometimes using diamond dust and also measuring up to 22 points on the clarinet and many more points on the saxes. I'm looking for flat spots; thus the need for 10X power.

If a person is patient I pretty much nail what they want, but it may take a few tries.

I think that some refacers shouldn't be in the business, because they often screw up more mouthpieces than make them better. Examples are they can't make the table flat and the rails aren't even. Or worse the rails are even, but the table has bumps all over the place so the reeds never sit right. Most refacers hove no idea where to find sandpaper with a grit of 10,000, often needed when refacing. They use 2000 grit.

As for facings I completely agree with you. Maybe we should all offer a few different models and go from there. I'll do this to help people in the future.

So Paul you make some excellent points. I'll try to take your ideas and put them to use on my website.

I've had to send a mouthpiece back and forth to a few people because measurements were meaningless to them. So I would send a 1.03, a 1.08 and a 1.12 then go from there.

Some players like very short facings. I try to stay with the somewhat standard that Matson used which was 34 or 17mm's on the old Eric Brand gauges. Now you can get them from Babbitt.

Facings are all over the place now. As long as 40 or 20mm's to as short as 30 or 15mm's.

None of these are right or wrong. Now here's another added issue, if the baffle is too deep behind the tip, you need to use a close tip opening usually. So there are a lot of different setups to try, but we need standard ones to start with.

On occasion I've had people send a short recording just to hear what they are looking for. This can surely help pick out that perfect mouthpiece. Sadly sometimes, but not often, they may sound better on the new mouthpieces, but their ears are playing games and they think the old mouthpiece is better. It's not!

A lot of pros and good players have gone to plastic reeds. Well this can confuse mouthpiece makers and refacers as well. It's now a totally different facing change based on the vibrations of the plastic reeds. It might be a good idea to send some reeds to help the refacers and mouthpiece makers zero in on the correct curve.

Hope this helps! A very good comment Paul.

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

Yamaha Artist 2015

Reply To Message
 Re: Time to rail against mouthpiece makers
Author: Matt74 
Date:   2018-08-11 06:55
Attachment:  5EB0F81D-8BC4-42F7-B51A-4F10567C8CB1.jpeg (29k)

I wish mouthpiece makers would give enough information so that you could make an educated guess as to whether one piece would have similar qualities to another. You know, so that you could at least eliminate ones you don’t want, or identify things you like. For example, “I like B45, so I might like [fill-in-the-blank].”

It makes sense that the combination of elements is more important than any one measurement, but descriptions are usually vague at best, if not outright contradictory. “Smooth with just the right amount of edge.”

“Free-blowing” should be banned forever. “Less resistant” would be ok.

They usually give tip opening and lay, but this doesn’t tell you a whole lot (IMO). Things that would be helpful:

Bore (mm)
Chamber size (s,m,l)
Chamber type (round, “A”, parallel, etc.)
Baffle (shallow, deep, rollover)
Rails (narrow, wide)
Tip (narrow, wide)

If you had the bore measurement, finding a piece that played in tune would be easier (with or without a tapered barrel).

Exact measurements aren’t necessary, but general characteristics would be extremely informative. Better descriptions of what it is intended to do would also be helpful - like “round tone, intended as a chamber piece”, or “edgy for orchestral playing”. Not, “A warm sound with projection, equally sutable for outdoor playing or intimate settings.” “Similar to Kaspar”, not “reminiscent of the great players of the past”. “Flexible, requiring control” or “solid as a rock”, not “frees your personal sound.” Custom makers do better than the big guys, but it’s still pretty opaque.

While it is possible that some customers would rule out pieces they *might* like, it is more probable that more customers would find what they like more easily, and be more happy. They might be quicker to actually try something, rather than just worrying about it. They would certainly know more about mouthpieces and appreciate the craftsmanship more. As it is, buying a mouthpiece online is kind of like trying to be “Carnac the Magnificent”. [Attached - Carnac looking for a mouthpiece online.]

Physical characteristics would be best, but you could also rate them more-less resistant, brighter-darker, flexible-stable, loud-soft, etc. This depends on the player to a degree, but I know I do not want a less resistant, brighter, flexible piece with a large tip opening.

I’m pretty ignorant about it. Makers would be much better about determining what the most relevant bits of info would be from a player’s perspective.

- Matthew Simington

Post Edited (2018-08-11 08:08)

Reply To Message
 Re: Time to rail against mouthpiece makers
Author: Mojo 
Date:   2018-08-11 17:48

Having more info will help in some cases. But it will add to the confusion in other cases. Players still have to try facings and reeds out. More info may save you 1-2 iterations of trial and error. In other cases it will add 1-2 iterations of trial and error because you relied on the facing info and other factors were more significant.

I mark all my facings with the tip opening (inside the tip rail), facing length (to a .0015” feeler), and some kind of designation for the curve shape between those two points. The curve may be radial (+1), elliptical (>1 depending on degree), a power curve (p#) or off one of these math curves (+#x). This helps me more than my clients. I can make a long facing play more resistant than a short facing by what curve shape I use.

Sometimes I can copy a facing from one mouthpiece to another and it works great. Other times follow up adjustments are needed to make two mouthpiece more similar (baffle and/or facing) and the facing numbers end up significantly different.

Some of my clients (who are mostly sax players) ask me for certain facing lengths. But we talk about the resistance in the curve in general terms like medium or free blowing. I select what I think they will like based on communications. Follow up adjustments are sometimes needed. But most of them get where they want with reed choice after a reface.

A few start trying to split hairs with the facing number requests. I tell them a +3 curve in my system is barely less resistant than a +5 curve for the same tip opening and facing length. They ask for a +4.5 curve (palm slap on head). I feel like just breathing on the mouthpiece and sending it back to them.

You are frustrated. But I doubt that having more info will make you a lot less frustrated.

Mojo Mouthpiece Work LLC

Reply To Message
 Re: Time to rail against mouthpiece makers
Author: Ed 
Date:   2018-08-11 18:09

I think Brad makes a number of excellent points. To be honest, while the tip/length is a good starting point, often I have tried pieces that don't play anything like something else with similar numbers, sometimes even from the same maker. There are so many factors that affect how the mouthpiece plays.

I also find that many times the descriptions are not particularly helpful either. People often interpret the words differently and have their own concepts of feel and sound.

To be honest, the best bet, especially when dealing with a custom maker is having a conversation about what you are looking for, get the maker's thoughts, perhaps try a few different facings and then once narrowed down, try a few of that model to get your piece.

Reply To Message
 Re: Time to rail against mouthpiece makers
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2018-08-11 18:26

Sorry Matt, but you might read Brad Behn's and Bob Bernardo's posts a little more closely. I know them both personally and they are honest, competent, dedicated makers who try very hard to satisfy their customers.
I am sure if you asked for a mouthpiece described like in your post, you probably still wouldn't like what you get.
You mention Bore (mm), Chamber size (s,m,l), Chamber type, etc. etc, but it is noted that even mouthpieces with identical measurements don't really play the same. Then you mention 'subjective' adjectives that have different meanings to different players and are relative to some other baseline that is not a standard.

You may have some good points here that need to be pondered but it is more complicated than you think. Get an old mouthpiece and some tools and have a go at fixing it your way.

Reply To Message
 Re: Time to rail against mouthpiece makers
Author: Matt74 
Date:   2018-08-11 21:25

I appreciate their comments and did not accuse makers of being less than honest or professional. But I respectfully submit that players may be capable of understanding better than they give them credit for.

It’s no wonder people have crazy ideas about tip openings and things. It’s because they don’t know any better, and don’t have much to go on. It may be inevitable that that people get confused, but learning is confusing. They are confused as it is, but they don’t know enough about it to know what they are confused about.

I did make fun of mouthpiece descriptions that don’t tell you anything - I didn’t make that stuff up!

My point is that I believe if buyers had more info it would help both the players and makers. All I can do make the suggestion.

- Matthew Simington

Post Edited (2018-08-11 21:28)

Reply To Message
 Re: Time to rail against mouthpiece makers
Author: Johan H Nilsson 
Date:   2018-08-12 13:08

There are no entrance barriers to the mouthpiece market. Those who want something different can choose how to spend their money and are free to start their own business.

Reply To Message
 Re: Time to rail against mouthpiece makers
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2018-08-12 16:04

....and they shall provide the basic facing dimensions. :-)

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

Reply To Message
 Re: Time to rail against mouthpiece makers
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2018-08-12 17:17

>>>....and they shall provide the basic facing dimensions. :-)

And there are many ways to measure. :=/
Here are the measurements for the Brad Behn Vintage II I am using.


I bet even Brad couldn't make sense of these numbers.

Reply To Message
 Re: Time to rail against mouthpiece makers
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2018-08-12 22:21

Ken Lagace wrote:

> >>>....and they shall provide the basic facing dimensions. :-)
> And there are many ways to measure. :=/
> Here are the measurements for the Brad Behn Vintage II I am
> using.
> (21)
> 0
> 2
> 2.5
> 4
> 7
> 9
> 10
> 11.5
> 12.25
> 14
> 15
> 16.75
> 19
> 21.5
> 23
> I bet even Brad couldn't make sense of these numbers.

Well, it should be obvious (as I'm sure it is to Paul A.) that for any set of dimensions to be meaningful there either would need to be a standard set of numbers to compare them to, or one would need to know what instruments were used to get the measurements that are provided. I could, for example, easily enough compare your numbers to those of any of my mouthpieces if I knew (and wanted to buy) the feeler gauges you've used. Since the "(21)" looks like a tip opening, I'd need to know what unit of measure it is, since, given that it's a clarinet mouthpiece, it doesn't look like either a standard millimeter or milli-inch measurement usually found on tip gauges.

I don't think the issue is that the numbers are meaningless *for comparison's sake* but that the same facing on two mouthpieces with different enough internal dimensions may play very differently and/or will play their best with differently profiled reeds.

You may prefer the way a close-tipped facing responds and want to rule out a very open facing because it's too far from what you're accustomed to for comfort. Likewise, a facing that measures 14mm (28 on a Brand glass) with a .0015" feeler can be expected to have a predictably different response from one that allows the feeler to slide all the way down to 38 or even 40. So I would definitely like to know in shopping for a mouthpiece what the nominal tip opening and curve length (with the .0015" feeler as the standard) are (many mouthpiece makers do provide these) only to prevent my wasting time and shipping costs trying mouthpieces that are radically different from what I'm used to. But it's just as true that knowing, as a shopper, the measurements for the whole curve won't tell me much about whether or not I'll like mouthpiece or, really, how I can expect it to respond.


Reply To Message
 Re: Time to rail against mouthpiece makers
Author: Brad Behn 
Date:   2018-08-12 23:44

The 23 number predicts with flawless remunerative contentemplative extrapolativity within the time-space continuum, overburdened by paralasystic gesticulations, that thy shall play a Legere 3.5+/.05"

Above is what my first reaction to Ken's post would be. But then my goal of only ever writing to this BB if I have something I can contribute burdened me. So with a contributive spirit, I erase the above content for the following:

I think we can all get along. Everyone is right!

The mouthpiece customer community is reaching out, asking for more information which can best serve their selection process. And the mouthpiece refacers and "makers" are informing that community that it is, well... complicated.

And yes, I agree that to have a personal conversation with your preferred mouthpiecer can be very helpful. I consider my clientele not only customers but personal friends. And this has come from the phone chats, the lengthy email conversations, and the annual meets at clarinet events, ICA, or TMEA etc. I expect other refacers have the same feeling about their clientele. It is a wonderful thing to have a profession where you are so personally connected to your craft and to your customers. And I think that is one of the great advantages granted to the clarinet community - you can have a conversation with the person doing your work. Your influence is direct. How cool is that! Sure, not all mouthpiece makers are open for such a conversation, and not all customers want the dialogue, but for those who do, there are at least a dozen mouthpiece "makers" out there I can think of who would welcome the dialogue. They will allow your thoughts, your influence, your concepts of what a great mouthpiece should feel, sound, and respond like into the mix.

Now more than ever I believe there is a wide range of choice, and great opportunity for you, the customer to find your perfect match. But just like anything else VERY important in life, you can't simply buy without shopping first. Well you can, but you might well miss out on a better option.

When I go shopping for something big - say a car for instance. I don't just want to buy a car that'll get me from point A-B. I want a car that'll serve my list of needs, and be the very best choice in so doing. And that takes time, research, dedication, test-drives, etc. to make the perfect choice.

While the mouthpiece may not be the most important part of the playing experience...I say it is actually the player's concept - first, and the player's reed - second, and the mouthpiece - third. Yes a mouthpiece is more important than the instrument in how your playing experience is informed. And for players who have a relationship with music, who have passion for their art, the proper mouthpiece choice can't be underestimated.

Side note, I mention "Concept" as the most important because without it you'll lack a desired landing spot. You won't know what you are looking for. So for example, if I don't have a concept of what type of car I need (something that's safe, something that is fun to drive, something that's economical), I may end up driving home with the wrong car.

I note the "reed" as the second most important factor in your playing experience because in my view a good reed is just that important. We've all played bad reeds and hated every minute of it, and hopefully we've all experienced a good reed - something to behold! A reed is like the vocal cords in our body, giving your clarinet's unique timbre, AND influencing your everything else - from range of dynamics, to response, to intonation, etc. A good reed is something every clarinet player should dedicate time and passion to experience, and eventually to faithfully have at ones disposal. To always have a great reed available is a professional endeavor.

And then the mouthpiece...ah yes the vessel which controls the reed, defines the intonation, the response, and the balance of "working resistance" to "freedom," which enables your input to be converted into sound, which controls, defines, and refines the reed's raw energy into your unique voice. Yes a mouthpiece is VERY important, and that's why I have dedicated my profession to crafting them. They are very important to me. And obviously a mouthpiece is very important to many others. Thank you Paul for your passionate desire to thread this needle of information.

I guess the question is - what information is useful and what information is confusing - or an hinderance to the process of selecting a good mouthpiece? Unfortunately I don't think the question can be answered because there are so many different players, with different ability levels, and experiential knowledges. And add to that, no two players are looking for exactly the same thing. While many players may be looking for a type of sound - for example I receive many requests from players who find the playing of Harold Wright to be an inspiration. We all may want something which serves that inspiration, but we surely don't all have the same skill, we don't have the same oral cavity, lung capacity, musical imagination, embouchure formation, and essential sound. So one person looking for a Wright-esque mouthpiece may be playing on a close facing with a light reed, another might be playing on a medium facing with a medium reed. Yet they might well sound like they were cut from the same cloth...why? Because they share similar concepts....there it is again...that "concept" thing. Amazing how strong an influence over EVERYTHING "concept" is.

So my two cents: Spend much time developing a strong concept of what you would like. Not just how you'd like to sound, but how it should "feel" to play, what type of reed design do you like, and WHY? Always ask "why". The question is the first step in finding a solution. Curiosity, passion, dedication, hard work, proper guidance, and intelligence will take you far in your quests...whatever they may be. But you've got to know where you want to go before any of that other stuff will serve your ambitions. So the stronger your concept of how and what will guide your everything.

So with that rambling, I go back to the following.

1. Know what you want and why. Have a strong concept. If you don't have one, get one. How you may ask? Find a good teacher and have a curiosity which is unstoppable.
2. When you've developed a concept of what you want your mouthpiece to do, call every mouthpiece maker, email them, start a conversation with them about how they can help. Learn through this process who you'd like to deal with by sorting their words through your conceptual filter.
3. Research the mouthpiece community and try to sort out which type of mouthpiece has a sound, response that is tangent with your concept. For example if mouthpiece company Y is known for making ringy, pingy, zingy mouthpieces, and mouthpiece company Z is known for making dull, dark, covered sounding mouthpieces, and your concept is for something centered, responsive, and projective, which of those two are you drawn towards?
4. In your conversations with company X,Y, and Z discuss the type of reeds you have been playing, what type of sound you aspire towards, and what sorts of players you listen to, as this information can help the maker guide you towards the right selection. Sure, ask about facings, but don't assume what information on the web is true. Again I remind you that different makers measure differently making their dimensions off kilter by comparison to other maker's published dimensions. There simply are no standards which can be 100% relied upon.

So to sum up my above content.

1. It isn't easy
2. It takes energy and passion
3. Tip openings and lengths aren't enough content for a complete evaluation
4. Have fun!
5. All that said, seek a mouthpiece that holds your sound, responds with reliability, and has tonal cleanliness.
6. Open facings don't equate to an open sound. If a player's embouchure "sweet spot", where the optimum opening and pressure is most comfortable is X, and the mouthpiece is TOO open, requiring Z, the sound'll get harsh and open-AAAHH sounding which is unpleasant.
7. Strive for an EEE vowel sound in your tonal output
8. The resonance point within your mouthpiece, while playing, should be as far forward feeling as possible.
9. It is oftentimes espoused that a long facing curve requires more mouthpiece to be inserted, and short curves require less mouthpiece to be inserted into the player's mouth. This is generally false. In actuality, players tend to be able to play long and close facings both. But to play a long curve requires a different reed than a short curve. To sum it up, long lays like thicker backed reeds (like that of a V12 for instance), and shorter lays prefer thinner scraped reeds (like that of a blue box for instance).
10. Legere reeds play a little flatter in pitch and timbre, so to sparkle-up the sound, a brighter sounding mouthpiece can help make that Legere Euro Signature sound almost the same as a cane reed. But the Legere will also require a bit more embouchure pressure to press the focus in. Unfortunately this causes the chops to fatigue quicker than on a good cane reed. Legere Euro Signature reeds are more similar in scrape to a thinner cut Blue Box reed design. So to Legere-ify a mouthpiece, look for a shorter length, and a slightly more open tip as compared to your preferred mouthpiece with a cane reed. How much shorter and how much more open you may ask? I don't know - it depends on what you are looking for. And therein lies the problem...again, no two people are alike.

Hope that helps.

Have fun!!

Brad Behn

Reply To Message
 Re: Time to rail against mouthpiece makers
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2018-08-13 01:30

That is exactly why I wrote the post. This thread is proving that it is not realistic to ask for dimensions or anything else technical and expect the information to deliver a perfect mouthpiece. The best way is mentioned above. Talk to a maker and get some mouthpieces to choose from, then maybe narrow down to one and get more like that are similar.

Reply To Message
 Re: Time to rail against mouthpiece makers
Author: fernie121 
Date:   2018-08-13 02:04

I’ve accepted that certain measurements don’t tell enough. I do really like the way Ramon Wadkowski describes his mouthpieces and compares them to other already well known mouthpieces.

Reply To Message
 Re: Time to rail against mouthpiece makers
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2018-08-13 02:26

Ok, so here's a suggestion.

You can try ESM mouthpieces which show a chart of their mouthpiece facings.


Their basic version (all black acrylic) is an exceptional mouthpiece for around $100. The MCK-1 is roughly equivalent to a Vandoren M13. As you move around their dimension chart in mouthpieces, you can find what dimensions work for you. I found another mouthpiece maker's using the dimensions I arrived at through ESM and found another good mouthpiece.

Or you can keep treating mouthpieces like Schrodinger's Cat. I guess some people just prefer that method.

That was a full throated endorsement of ESM mouthpieces by the way.

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

Reply To Message
 Re: Time to rail against mouthpiece makers
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2018-08-13 04:39

Paul, can you clarify the similarities between Schrödinger's cat and some people's way, which you clearly mean to disparage, of treating mouthpieces?


Reply To Message
 Re: Time to rail against mouthpiece makers
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2018-08-13 05:55


Oh just the mysterious contradictory way Schrodinger's cat is both alive AND dead.

I am at a loss to see how providing some semblance of a meaningful description only confuses and makes things less clear.

Don't lose sight of the main theme of the that post regarding ESM mouthpieces. I (or anyone else) can go a few millimeters this way or that, see what that does and narrow down what works (ESM doesn't change much else about their mouthpieces from one model to the other.......really a good test for what short vs. long actually does). I then took that experience and applied it to the mouthpieces of another maker and, voila, I found something else that worked.

And yes I am disparaging the "by-guess-and-by-God" method.


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

Reply To Message
 Re: Time to rail against mouthpiece makers
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2018-08-13 06:13

Paul Aviles wrote:

> I am at a loss to see how providing some semblance of a
> meaningful description only confuses and makes things less
> clear.

I think the discussion here has been about what is "meaningful description."

> And yes I am disparaging the "by-guess-and-by-God" method.

I don't remember this method's having come up. Which post are you referring to?


Reply To Message
 Re: Time to rail against mouthpiece makers
Author: Ed 
Date:   2018-08-13 06:18

It is not about guesswork, but as Brad indicates it may require a little homework on the part of the player. Based on my experiences and that of colleagues, I can say with confidence that there are countless makers who are happy to answer any questions and guide the player in the right direction.

Reply To Message
 Re: Time to rail against mouthpiece makers
Author: Brad Behn 
Date:   2018-08-13 06:30

I love cats. There are so man different kinds; fuzzy cats, fluffy cats, white cats, black cats, skinny cats, fat cats, angry cats, happy cats, playful cats, sleepy cats, and so on. So many to choose from.

I wish I could devise a system that would allow me to determine which type of cat is best for me.

Brad Behn

Reply To Message
 Re: Time to rail against mouthpiece makers
Author: Dan Shusta 
Date:   2018-08-13 07:53
Attachment:  A cool cat playing some Epic jazz.jpg (35k)


I think you already have. Since you design your mouthpieces to have the highest level of resonance, simply find that cat who resonates with your Epic mouthpiece.

There...problem solved.

Reply To Message
 Re: Time to rail against mouthpiece makers
Author: Mojo 
Date:   2018-08-13 16:20

All cats poop in a box.

Mojo Mouthpiece Work LLC

Reply To Message
 Re: Time to rail against mouthpiece makers
Author: sax panther 
Date:   2018-08-13 19:47

I wish mine did - I caught him trying to go in my greenhouse.

Reply To Message
 Re: Time to rail against mouthpiece makers
Author: GBK 
Date:   2018-08-13 19:59

[ Come on guys ... Back on topic, please. - GBK ]

Reply To Message
 Avail. Forums  |  Threaded View   Newer Topic  |  Older Topic 

 Avail. Forums  |  Need a Login? Register Here 
 User Login
 User Name:
 Remember my login:
 Forgot Your Password?
Enter your email address or user name below and a new password will be sent to the email address associated with your profile.
Search Woodwind.Org

Sheet Music Plus Featured Sale

The Clarinet Pages
For Sale
Put your ads for items you'd like to sell here. Free! Please, no more than two at a time - ads removed after two weeks.

     Copyright © Woodwind.Org, Inc. All Rights Reserved    Privacy Policy    Contact charette@woodwind.org