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 "But it's a dry heat!"
Author: Jack Nelson 
Date:   2019-06-09 20:34

I'm moving to the desert . . . to be more specific, a suburb of Phoenix. At the same time, I'm planning on purchasing a new clarinet. I would appreciate any tips you may have regarding combating the elements I'm going to encounter.

I'm certainly not a professional clarinetist, however, my focus is trying to find the sweetest, warmest sound possible for my own enjoyment. It is possible I might find my way, eventually, to a community orchestra.

I'm only interested in a Bb clarinet and cost is not an issue. Thank you for your consideration.

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 Re:
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-06-09 21:07

I can't speak to permanently dry climates per se but I have gone completely synthetic and love it.


My horn is a new R13 Greenline, I have some hoitie toiti silicone pads (but have used Valentino Masters with great succes), and compliment that with Legere European Signature reeds (or Signature Soprano sax reeds).


The BIG issue for dryness is reeds (a Winter in Boston nearly drive me insane). So I think you'd be way ahead of the game once you find the correct strength of Legere European Signature Reed for your mouthpiece.




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



Post Edited (2019-06-11 06:50)

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 Re:
Author: Jack Nelson 
Date:   2019-06-09 21:59

Thank you, Paul. The Legere European Signature reeds will certainly be on my list of tools to combat low humidity. One of my friends, upon learning of my transition to the desert, said: "Switch to the trombone." :-)

Synthetic clarinets are certainly on my mind . . . I'll keep the R13 Greenline in mind.



Post Edited (2019-06-10 18:24)

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 Re: "But it's a dry heat!"
Author: Jack Nelson 
Date:   2019-06-10 00:38

Paul, are the R13 Greenline clarinets subject to the same inconsistencies as Buffet grenadilla clarinets? In other words, do you have to play several clarinets in order to select a good one, or pay someone to do that for you?

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 Re:
Author: Tom H 
Date:   2019-06-10 00:57

I've not lived in such a climate but will throw out a couple of things.
Personally I would never use a Legere to play rehearsals/concerts. I always practice with mine though.
I would not use a non-wood clarinet, except for practicing. I have a couple of those that I also use when I know my Buffet may be exposed to heat or cold (in the car, etc.).

Reeds-- When I'm playing concerts weekly I try to keep my reeds from totally drying out by keeping them a tiny bit moist. This prevents warping, though may also reduce the life of the reed. I keep my "good" one on the mouthpiece with a mouthpiece cover that has no holes in the top. For my secondary reeds I try to also keep them moist and in plastic reed holders (metal one not so good, and cost more to boot).

Community Orchestra--You probably would also need an A clarinet.

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Post Edited (2019-06-10 00:58)

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 Re: "But it's a dry heat!"
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-06-10 01:55

While sill in the Army Bands program I was tasked at several bands with "checking" all the incoming new acquisitions to make sure they worked (tough job, but someone's got to do it). I found a remarkably consistent tuning and response throughout the Greenline R13s that we purchased. I have also put that together with this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=weGxlC0YI2I


These two experiences seem to confirm that wooden clarinets can and often do change from the time they are finally tuned at the factory and the time you try it (tone holes mainly but even bores can change with the wood "settling" which affect the pitch and resistances). Greenline is impervious to hygromatic changes and therefore is not subject to the same vagaries.


In my most recent purchase, the Buffet shop New York had only one silver plated R13 but it played great and I bought it.


To expound upon the dry air I encountered in Boston, I did leave my reeds in a humidified container. However, once on the mouthpiece the reeds would dry out almost instantaneously and no matter how long they stayed in my mouth while playing, they remained brittle and completely dried out.......horrifying! If I had Legere European Signature reeds back then it would have been a whole different story.



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



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 Re: "But it's a dry heat!"
Author: Roxann 
Date:   2019-06-10 03:30

A clarinet major who moved to Boise from a much damper climate had two R13's crack (badly) on him within the first 6 months. Boise is in the desert and has a low relative humidity most of the year, in spite of the snow. After ruining two clarinets, he bought a greenline and loves it.

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 Re: "But it's a dry heat!"
Author: Fuzzy 
Date:   2019-06-10 09:01

Well, from what I see about the Phoenix climate, it looks like an average of around 8 inches of precipitation a year. I live in a climate with 11 inches of precipitation per year. Not exactly close, but closer than some.

What most of us used to do here (I don't routinely play wood instruments anymore - unrelated reasons) is the old pill-bottle method. We'd take a sponge, cut it to the right width (depending on the size of the pill bottle this would be 1 1/2 inches or so) soak it, then (folding it in a bit of a U or V) we'd place the sponge in one of those small prescription pill bottles, and cut the sponge off just proud of the pill bottle top, pour out any extra water which had pooled, then placed the bottled sponge (no cap) in our case.

This worked great in our climate. Depending on the season, the sponge would need to be re-saturated (or rotated with a clean sponge) every three to seven days.

Some folks frown on this method, or use variants of this method...so use it at your own risk. It's the only thing I ever found that worked consistently up here for me (we're at 7200+ feet in elevation and deal with pretty strong sun radiation outside in the summer, and pretty terrible dry cold in the winter...so, while I've never had an instrument crack, myself. I've seen plenty of them crack.)

Best of luck in your search for a solution!
Fuzzy

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 Re: "But it's a dry heat!"
Author: ruben 
Date:   2019-06-10 11:46

Dear Jack: I spent my childhood and youth in Tucson, Arizona and never had a clarinet that cracked or heard of one that cracked. The only thing that cracked was me! African blackwood comes from Mozambique: hardly a cool place. It should be in its element in Phoenix. Anyway, with air-conditioning everywhere, the inside temperatiure is probably more stable in Phoenix than in temperate places. Reeds is another matter: they dry up fast, so you have to keep wetting them. My friend Chuck Olivieri chose Tucson as a place for making reeds because it was the ideal place to store cane (among other reasons). Conclusion: do as you have always done.

rubengreenbergparisfrance@gmail.com


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 Re: "But it's a dry heat!"
Author: dorjepismo 2017
Date:   2019-06-11 00:38

It's good to have some humidification method at least when the instrument is in the case. Without that, even if it doesn't crack, it can shrink and some of the keys will stop moving. Sudden temperature differences are bad, so don't leave it in the car. And there are worse things than cracking; some instruments crack and still play fantastically, if they're repaired right.

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 Re: "But it's a dry heat!"
Author: Jack Nelson 
Date:   2019-06-11 19:27

Thanks to everyone on this thread. Your many excellent tips and suggestions will lead me to successfully navigate the desert.

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 Re: "But it's a dry heat!"
Author: LGS316217 
Date:   2019-06-18 18:17

Ah, Phoenix! I've never maintained a clarinet there but I have family who have moved there and I can tell you the climate wreaks havoc on tires, windshield wiper blades, my complexion... It also hasn't done any favors to my mom's beloved antique furniture; my grandfather's desk fell apart completely when we picked it up to move it. I myself live in MA and the winters are very dry, with many swings in temperature. Can be 20 degrees colder today than yesterday. As I'm also an aficionado of vintage instruments, that's a hazard. Our heating system is humidified but you can only increase the moisture so much, or else the windows get condensation. I've heard lots of pros'/con's of humidifying clarinet cases, but after my 1953 pre-R13 popped a crack twice, I got a new Protec case and a Humistat to put inside. A few people have complained about leaks, but if you fill it correctly, it won't leak. After you fill it you can leave it on top of a paper towel for a few minutes before putting it in the case to make sure you sealed it properly. Plus, keep it in the accessory compartment, never inside any part of the horn. That way if it does leak it will only be a small amount, as far away from the clarinet as possible. It's an improvement on the DIY pill bottle/sponge method. I use it late October to early May in MA. In AZ you will likely need it year round. Tip: get a good quality hygrometer you can fit in your case and test the environment at least weekly. Get one from a cigar shop; the ones I've seen on the music store sites are pretty cheap and don't maintain calibration. Optimal humidity for wood clarinets is said to be 45-55%. Also, have you heard the orange peel trick? Makes the case smell nice, and in the fall/winter you will have plenty of citrus in AZ! For reeds I use a D'Addario reed case and the reed vitalizer to go with it. In MA I can get away with changing the vitalizer pack about every 6 months, but you will go through them much faster in AZ. Keep the whole case inside a ziplock bag. Good luck!

Amy Paul

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 Re: "But it's a dry heat!"
Author: Jack Nelson 
Date:   2019-06-19 17:48

Amy Paul:

Thank you for your excellent suggestions.

I'm beginning to think perhaps my best bet is to purchase a synthetic clarinet (Lyrique Libertas, Backun Alpha, Buffet Greenline) or a CG Carbon Fiber from Backun.

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 Re: "But it's a dry heat!"
Author: dorjepismo 2017
Date:   2019-06-19 17:56

Don't go overboard with this. Phoenix is a good-sized city with hundreds of wooden clarinets scattered around it, most of which do just fine. I lived there for 11 years with four of them, and none of them cracked, warped, shriveled or otherwise went bad. You should get the clarinet you want because of how it plays.

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 Re:
Author: Jack Nelson 
Date:   2019-06-19 20:56

dorjepismo:

Optimism is contagious!

Thank you for sharing your experiences in the desert.



Post Edited (2019-06-22 17:10)

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 Re: "But it's a dry heat!"
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2019-06-19 21:29

FWIW, my daughter lives in Phoenix and plays violin and recorder in a couple of amateur folk and ancient music groups. She has never noticed a problem caused by dryness (I asked her when this thread first appeared).

The Phoenix Symphony is there. You might contact any (or all) of those clarinetists (there are three shown on their website) and ask them if there are special considerations they deal with.

My own experience with dryness affecting my clarinets is that changes only happen to instruments I don't play regularly. The ones I use every day don't seem to care about it.

Karl

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 Re: "But it's a dry heat!"
Author: LGS316217 
Date:   2019-06-22 04:19

Generally I agree with dorjepismo, get an instrument you really love. That might be a Greenline, or it might be something else. If it's a wooden clarinet, it just takes a little extra effort to maintain it. Also, maybe get in touch with someone in the woodwind department in ASU's music program for advice? I'm told they have an excellent clarinet faculty, some of whom might be active on this board. If nothing else you could get on the mailing list for some excellent performances! Good luck!

Amy Paul

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 Re: "But it's a dry heat!"
Author: garciajr 
Date:   2019-06-22 08:29

I feel you have two options:

#1 - Go ahead and purchase a wooden clarinet of your choice (I play Buffet R-13's) and then get a Lomax Case to keep it properly humidified.

or

#2 - Purchase a composite clarinet (again, I play Buffet).

I have a R-13 Wooden set and a R-13 Greenline set. Just got back from a performance in a semi outdoor setting and was glad that I had my Greenlines. Any other indoor settings with consistent temperatures I use my wooden R-13's.

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 Re:
Author: Jack Nelson 
Date:   2019-06-22 17:12

Excellent suggestions keep poring in . . . how can I go wrong? Thank you so much.



Post Edited (2019-06-22 17:14)

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