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 Why Won't My Clarinet Speak?
Author: abrogard 
Date:   2019-06-24 08:10

I really am a total beginner so it could all be my fault. But.. maybe...

I can start it sounding via the top joint. G or A or B flat or whatever. Then I can play any note on the top joint (lower register) but as soon as I go for a note in the bottom joint it won't speak.

And then if I release the sound holes in the bottom joint - going back to C on the top joint it won't sound either!

It is like it hits some obstacle and I just can't figure it out. I have repadded 15 of the 17 keys. I found a few really bad pads when doing that but apart from the A key and the G# nothing seemed to make any difference.

When it does speak it 'barks'. I mean it bursts into life suddenly like a door suddenly opened. It doesn't rise from quiet tone getting louder.

Do these symptom tell anyone what's probably wrong?

Which pads should I be especially careful about perhaps?

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 Re: Why Won't My Clarinet Speak?
Author: michele zukovsky 
Date:   2019-06-24 08:23

might be the reed or mouthpiece.
go to a music store and do not be afraid to ask.


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 Re: Why Won't My Clarinet Speak?
Author: abrogard 
Date:   2019-06-24 09:26

Just that, you think?

Okay, I'll try some other reeds. The mouthpiece used to work well, some years ago when I was last trying to learn.

Sorry, there's no music stores. They've just about died out now. When you see one and go inside it turns out to be DVD's or something last time I found one.

Now the DVD is dead I wonder what they're doing... but not selling instruments or parlaying any knowledge of them, I'll bet.

In the city maybe there's some. I'm not in a city.


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 Re: Why Won't My Clarinet Speak?
Author: Burt 
Date:   2019-06-24 16:04

My guess is that it's a leaky pad or a hole that you're not quite covering.

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 Re: Why Won't My Clarinet Speak?
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-06-24 16:31

I am confused by your initial post. You say that you are a beginner, and yet you also say you replaced pads.

The process of repadding a clarinet requires as much experience as learning to play a horn. Chances are if you changed pads for the first time without any training you have a clarinet that will not play properly.

Find someone, ANYONE where you live who plays clarinet to help you!

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

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 Re: Why Won't My Clarinet Speak?
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2019-06-24 17:17

Like Paul says beginner replacing pads? I guarantee you have a pad problem. That is a special skill that even some of the best clarinet players won't attempt.
I do admire your determination though and you might be able to learn these skills on line.

And to test them;

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 Re: Why Won't My Clarinet Speak?
Author: Philip Caron 
Date:   2019-06-24 20:33

Do a leak test. There are several techniques for doing this that you can learn about online, but the simplest (not the best) is to close all the tone holes on the joint, block one end, and blow into the other end. If air escapes, there's a leak that needs to be fixed; usually you can detect where it is.

If a leak involves a pad you've changed, that's good info for the next pass. As Ken noted above, you can find instructions for changing pads online. It can be tricky, but if you're a do-it-yourself type then probably you can sort out the details and acquire suitable tools, and then it's just a matter of experience. But again, leak testing after each pad change is necessary.

Note, it might not be a pad problem. There are other mechanical failures that could produce your symptoms; for example, the bridge linkage. Usually problems like that can be isolated by straightforward testing and observation and deduction, but believe me, there are some pretty tricky failure modes that can occur. Again, experience matters. It's a joy to watch a good instrument repair tech work, and it can be very educational to talk to them.

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 Re: Why Won't My Clarinet Speak?
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-06-24 21:21

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the poster does not have $30 worth of feeler guage nor how to find the quadrant of the pad that is not sealing properly.

I appreciate do-it-yourselfers. We all start out that way and progress over time. But you can't expect to be able to do it all when you just learned (via Youtube) how to put a clarinet together.

And yes, there probably are other issues besides poorly installed pads involved as well. That is why adding seventeen more problems is really bad place to start. Someone who plays clarinet already can at least assess the situation (which probably requires a lot of 'undoing').

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

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 Re: Why Won't My Clarinet Speak?
Author: abrogard 
Date:   2019-06-25 05:46

Thanks, Philip,

I concentrated on leak testing instead of just looking.

Tried light and didn't get far.

Then tried blowing through the stopped up joints and was lucky enough to have a leak that directed air in a direction I could feel on my hand as it held the thing.

F# trill key. Wasn't seated properly. I did that. I remember. Some glue seeped out from under the pad and I wiped it away and doubtless dislodged the pad at the same time.

So I did it again more carefully and now she's lovely... talks to me any time.


An education, too, to see just what one little leak high up on the top joint can do to the whole machine.

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