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 Are German and French cut reeds really very different
Author: kerryklari 
Date:   2021-09-07 13:01

I have just bought a very cheap (€155) "German System" clarinet to try out. I also bought, separately, a basic Yamaha German mouthpiece and a box of Thomann own-brand assorted German reeds. This is more about trying out the fingering than trying to capture some particular sound.

The clarinet arrived first. It included a mouthpiece and a single unbranded reed. The reed was noticeably different to the usual - it was longer and the extra length is all in the vamp. It's pretty much exactly the same size as a Bari synthetic reed. I've never encountered a German reed before so assumed this was standard.

My Yamaha mouthpiece and Thomann reeds have now turned up. The mouthpiece is a little different to a Yamaha 4C, but not by orders of magnitude. It's a little narrower an the tip and the bore might be slightly less (I can't measure it, it's stuck fast in the barrel of the cheap clarinet!). Differences at mouthpiece level are probably down to fractions of millimetres but I'm more surprised by the reeds. The visible difference between the German reeds and the other reeds I have are probably smaller than the differences between the other reeds, all of which are for Boehm mouthpieces. The tip of the German reed is identical in width to a Vandoren blue, though the Vandoren has a longer vamp and is maybe 1mm wider at the heel; a Rico Royal has a cut that's closer in shape to the German reed but it's a little different in other ways. The only difference I can see is that the tip seems a bit longer on the French reeds if I hold them back-to-back with the German one. The geometry of the German one and a Forestone Traditional I have is almost identical.

This is good news for me as it means I can use my existing reeds, at least for the time being - I have just bought a selection of plastic reeds that cost me more than the cheap clarinet, so a pity to waste them. It does lead me to wonder, though, what in general terms the actual differences are.

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 Re: Are German and French cut reeds really very different
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2021-09-07 15:54

From what I am to understand there is more "flexibility" amongst German players as to what is acceptable in a reed these days. Much like our fascination with German and Viennese cut reeds, players like Karl Leister have used Boehm reeds on German mouthpieces with quite a bit of success.



Back in the day (mid 80s) there was more distinction. Traditionally speaking a German reed is cut smaller (narrower and shorter). The vamp is shorter and more of a chisel shape rather than the more complex shape of a traditional Boehm reed (a duckbill shape, for lack of a better term). The current Vandoren White Masters (Traditional version) will give you a good sense of what is still considered a true German cut reed (also the Legere German cut reeds).


It is important to know that the style of cut and size was meant to pair up with a traditional German mouthpiece (best examples of which are the Wurlitzer mouthpieces of which the M3+ is as 'standard' a measure as the Vandoren M13 is for us). Using a German mouthpiece like the Wurlitzer with a strength 2 1/2 Traditional White Master is probably as close as you can get to what German classical players mostly used "back in the day."


Lastly the tenon of a German mouthpiece is about 1.00mm larger in diameter and 1.00 longer than their Boehm counterpart. So a non-modified German mouthpiece will NOT fit into a Boehm barrel and conversely, a Boehm mouthpiece will "rattle around" in a German barrel.






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



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 Re: Are German and French cut reeds really very different
Author: kerryklari 
Date:   2021-09-07 17:04

Thank you so much for the information. Next time I have occasion to order anything from Thomann I will get a couple of the WM reeds to see what they are like.

The mouthpiece I have was a bit of a tight fit but I put that down to fresh cork - it did go in, but I think it's now an integral part of the clarinet :)

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 Re: Are German and French cut reeds really very different
Author: davidjsc 
Date:   2021-09-07 20:06

@ Paul re: "Lastly the tenon of a German mouthpiece is about 1.00mm larger in diameter and 1.00 longer than their Boehm counterpart. So a non-modified German mouthpiece will NOT fit into a Boehm barrel and conversely, a Boehm mouthpiece will "rattle around" in a German barrel."

That's strange because I bought a secondhand Albert C clarinet last year whose barrel is fitted for a Boehm mouthpiece but the vender included a German mouthpiece (maybe thinking Albert fingering = German), which doesn't fit (tenon too small) while Boehm does. Meanwhile my Yamaha 4C fits fine.

The thing I found with this German mouthpiece is it doesn't work well with a Boehm ligature, because it's narrower design for string wrapping.

DSC

~~ Alto Clarinet; Bass Clarinet; B-flat and C Boehm Clarinets; Albert C Clarinet; Oboe ~~


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 Re: Are German and French cut reeds really very different
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2021-09-07 23:50

If it's a Belgian, French or English made Albert system (or some American makes of French or Belgian heritage or design) with a French bore, a German mouthpiece won't fit it. They have long barrels (67mm down to 62mm) and a short top joint just as you'd have with most French bore Boehm systems (except the Yamaha CSG). The expansion in the lower joint starts above the lowest (F/C) tonehole and usually has curved sides.

Simple German systems made by German, Austrian, Czech or other East European makers (or some American makes of Germananic/East European heritage or design) will tend to have a German bore and consequently a French mouthpiece will usually rattle around in the socket. They have short barrels (around 58mm down to 54mm) and longer top joints compared to French bore Boehm and simple/Albert systems. The expansion in the lower joint starts below the lowest (F/C) tonehole and is more pronlunced and has straight sides.

German reeds are usually narrower and shorter in comparison to French reeds so they may not suit French style mouthpieces well, especially if the side rails are widely spaced. German mouthpieces also have a much narrower tip opening and longer lay to work best with stronger reeds.

Chris.

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 Re: Are German and French cut reeds really very different
Author: SecondTry 
Date:   2021-09-08 00:53

http://test.woodwind.org/clarinet/BBoard/read.html?f=1&i=207131&t=207025

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 Re: Are German and French cut reeds really very different
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2021-09-08 03:09

Chris,


I must respectfully but vociferously disagree with the idea of stronger reeds on German mouthpieces. While in the "French" world one would assume that a longer lay and a smaller tip opening would work well with a stronger reed, I personally and quite incorrectly went down that path with Wurlitzer 100Cs and NO correct guidance. It results in poor sonic qualities and a self defeating attempt at producing the correct German sound. It was only with the tip I received from Bas deYoung on this point that I was able to finally achieve much better results (all too late for the aforementioned Wurlitzers that were unfortunately sold many years prior).


I only say this to possibly help someone out who may be on this road now or in the future so they may at least acquire proper traditional technique. I do believe there are some contemporary players who are using harder reeds such as Andreas Ottensamer, but their sonic results are not quite that of their predecessors.





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



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 Re: Are German and French cut reeds really very different
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2021-09-08 19:33

By stronger reeds I mean strengths of around 3 as opposed to the floorboards that seem to be a popular choice by some Americans who consider 3 as beginner strength reeds.

I use 2.5 or 3 Vandoren White Master reeds with my Oehler system with a Wurlitzer M3* mouthpiece.

Chris.

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 Re: Are German and French cut reeds really very different
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2021-09-09 00:01

Ah yes...........got it!



That's what works







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



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 Re: Are German and French cut reeds really very different
Author: donald 
Date:   2021-09-10 15:19

Well if you put a Vandoren Whitemaster or Blackmaster 3 on your french system mouthpiece, it plays at about the same strength as a V12 4 because of the reed profile.
I can recall I was refacing mouthpieces for Frank Celata some years back, and he sent me a "model reed" to test mouthpieces with. It was a V12 3, which was quite soft compared to many pro players (my wife and her colleague in Ensemble Matheus also use V12 3s, as do I).
Another (German) friend used to play a Wurlitzer clarinet and Viotto mouthpiece with 1.04mm tip opening... with Blackmaster 4s, I could barely make a sound out of the thing.
The point being that with both French and German system there will be players who prefer a lighter or heavier setup. [it took me about 6 months to successfully drop from 3.5+ V12s to 3s, and I think I've never sounded better... I played on 5s in the late 1990s and have been coming down ever since]

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