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 Evaluating a b-flat clarinet barrel
Author: chamberguy 
Date:   2019-06-16 21:59

I am about the try a Backun barrel for the first time on my R-13 Buffet. What should I be paying attention to? I like the Backun clarinet characteristics I hear from recordings on the internet, from Corrado and Morales, etc, but I certainly don't expect to sound like them! What should I listen for, to determine whether this Backun barrel is better than my Fobes barrel?

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 Re: Evaluating a b-flat clarinet barrel
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2019-06-16 22:28

chamberguy wrote:

> What should I listen for, to
> determine whether this Backun barrel is better than my Fobes
> barrel?

Well, to be honest, the Backun barrel will probably be *different* but it won't be *better.* You may like one more than the other, but they're both good barrels made by well-informed craftsmen who are trying to create equipment that conforms to their ideas about what a clarinet should respond and sound like.

The first criterion, obviously, is tuning. Not just whether or not the tuning note you use is in tune with A440 or A441, but how the scale tunes. Some barrels are designed to compensate for known tuning anomalies, sometimes in specific clarinets (Moennig was, probably among other things, trying to compensate for the sharpness in clarion A5-C6 that was expected in Buffets, especially the A clarinets, of his time).

The second criterion is the response. Does one feel stuffier or freer than the other? Which do you prefer?

The third criterion is related to the 2nd, partly because response can affect tone but also because response or "feel" can affect your *perception* of the tone you're producing with each barrel. Since "feel" can be so influential, if it comes down to this criterion, you should probably have someone who is disinterested listen to you play each and tell you what impression the setup makes with each barrel.

The most important consideration apart from those criteria is what you are trying to improve by changing barrels. If you don't have a fairly clear reason for changing from your Fobes - a problem you're trying to solve, you won't have much way of knowing if you've found the solution.

Karl

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 Re: Evaluating a b-flat clarinet barrel
Author: chamberguy 
Date:   2019-06-17 00:54

Many thanks for the excellent advice! I am expecting the tuning to be quite close, because if it isn't then I'll stick with the Fobes. But we'll see, maybe it could be better! What I am looking for is a rounder and powerful tone in comparison but as you say, we'll see. I have been using the Fobes for a long time, and have gotten some compliments, so partly this is just a quest for something different.

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 Re: Evaluating a b-flat clarinet barrel
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2019-06-17 03:09

My own experience - fwiw - is that Backuns in general will probably sound "rounder" (if that's a word that has musical meaning) but your Fobes will seem more "powerful" (louder?). But if all else (tuning and response) is equal, then you should have another set of ears tell you which is "rounder" or "more powerful" because you really can't tell what's being transmitted through the air. Your eardrums get a significant part of the sound you hear of your own playing through bone conduction.

One other thought, if you've limited your comparison only to Fobes and Backun, is that, while I think Clark Fobes uses a fairly consistent bore in his barrels, the several Backuns I have (from many years ago, so I don't know about newer ones) vary considerably in entry and exit bore sizes. In fact, when I bought them, he didn't identify them as A or Bb barrels (Fobes does) - out of a sample of 12 barrels, some would work better on an A clarinet and some on a Bb clarinet, depending on the actual bore configurations of each barrel. So, if this is still the case, be very careful about tuning over the entire scale. It would be better to have more than one Backun to try, especially since he makes several external shapes and uses, I think, at least three different woods.

And one more thought: IMO if you're looking for the most bang for your buck in terms of timbre and power, you'd probably get more choice out of comparing mouthpieces than barrels. Barrels can influence the sound you produce, but the influence of the mouthpiece coupled with reed choice is much greater.

Karl

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 Re: Evaluating a b-flat clarinet barrel
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-06-17 03:12

There can be a little bit of the "mysterious" about barrels. The most dramatic example I experienced was when Greg Smith sent three Chadash barrels along with a bunch of his mouthpieces to try. Two of the barrels had the usual minor variances I was used to but the third was amazingly louder (they were all the same length so there was no really good reason for such a dramatic difference). For reasons at the time I did not get that barrel but I still dream about it to this day.



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



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 Re: Evaluating a b-flat clarinet barrel
Author: Steven Ocone 2017
Date:   2019-06-17 15:51

Don't forget to attention to the altissimo.

Steven Ocone
Ann & Steve's Music

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