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 Facing length and embouchure
Author: kerryklari 
Date:   2021-10-24 15:38

I'm experimenting with mouthpieces. I've found lots of information about how facing length relates to tip opening, and how that affects both sound quality and the apparent hardness of reeds, but not a great deal about where embouchure - and embouchure "style" - comes into the picture.

I prefer to have a relatively small length of mouthpiece in my mouth. Does this mean that I am likely to get on better with a short facing? I also prefer a fairly soft reed, and I gather that these generally work better with short facings. It seems like I should be looking for a mouthpiece with relatively short facing and wide tip opening to fit with my general embouchure style.

The issue is complicated a little by the fact that I'm playing a German system clarinet, and they traditionally use the opposite, ie long facing length and small opening. I'm not sure how that fits in with German reeds, as they seem to have a shorter scrape length than French reeds. Almost all the information I have found relates to Boehm system clarinets. I've seen some mouthpiece information (www.woodwindforum.com/clarinetperfection/mouthpieces/) that calls 15mm a short facing, 19mm long, 20+ very long, and 0.95 a very closed tip, 1.10 medium. I've been told (by a kind person on this board) that a Wurlitzer M3+ can be regarded as a "standard" German mouthpiece. It has a 0.9 opening and a 24.8 length which makes it pretty much off the scale, but presumably the geometry of the reed makes a difference.

Any suggestions about German mouthpieces that might suit me would be welcome. I know it's best to try out a selection, but useful to have some sort of starting point.

Many thanks!

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 Re: Facing length and embouchure
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2021-10-24 18:24

There is a lot of info you threw out there. One to correct. The shorter the lay the harder it makes the reed play because less of it is vibrating. Take a wooden ruler and hang off the end of a table. Strum it. Now pull back so less is over the edge and strum again. It will make a higher sound for a shorter duration when shorter. Same for reeds.

That said, you'd want a SMALLER tip opening (or much softer reed) when the the lay is shorter.

Now for German stuff. Some of that length (a lot actually) is "extra" length that is used within the embouchure to control the reed better. So they don't necessarily take in MORE mouthpiece. But if you prefer taking in a small amount of mouthpiece chances are that a shorter length "may" work better (you'll have to try some mouthpieces out to determine that and don't forget to have a good selection of different reed strengths amongst a bunch of brand new reeds when you do this).

So on a French mouthpiece a short facing of 1.00 tip opening will feel pretty robust. You DO NOT want to make the opening bigger as you shorten up unless you want to be on a 1 strength reed (some exaggeration for effect).

Personally I use a 1.03 tip opening with a 16mm length tip (and there are two more dimensions that are really critical for mouthpieces refacers that are missing here to determine curve).

Basics are (all other factors being equal)

o More open = harder
o Shorter = harder
o More closed = softer
o Longer = softer

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

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 Re: Facing length and embouchure
Author: kerryklari 
Date:   2021-10-24 19:19

Firstly, thanks for the reply - you have replied to all of my queries and they are all beginner-ish and probably pretty tedious so I am most grateful that you take the trouble.

> The shorter the lay the harder it makes the reed play because less of it is vibrating

oops - I think I'd just confused myself by that point! Anyway, with a shorter lay length you would generally use a softer reed because of the short length would make it seem harder. So the converse of your basics would be
- more open and/or shorter, use a softer reed
- more closed and/or longer, use a harder reed

> You DO NOT want to make the opening bigger as you shorten up

ok, thanks for clarifying that

> I use a 1.03 tip opening with a 16mm length tip

I take it that is a Boehm mouthpiece?

I will do a bit more experimenting. It isn't easy as I live in rural Ireland and there probably isn't a shop in the whole country that actually carries a range of (indeed, any!) German clarinet mouthpieces. So far, I have bought a couple but it would be an expensive process to try them out fairly randomly, hence trying to work out what the parameters are and what is likely to be successful.

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 Re: Facing length and embouchure
Author: paulyb 
Date:   2021-10-24 20:44

Do you play French or German cut reeds? Vandoren have a range of German clarinet mouthpieces for each (see https://vandoren.fr/en/clarinet-mouthpieces/ for a list) that are certainly available in the UK (e.g. from Howarth's https://www.howarthlondon.com/accessories.aspx?cat=106&subcat=107&accinst=2). I don't know how easy it would be to get some on trial in Ireland. Perhaps drop them an email and ask.

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 Re: Facing length and embouchure
Author: farabout 
Date:   2021-10-24 22:15

Nulla regula sine exceptione.

Eg, I've been playing my Boehms, without any strain, with 1.40mm tip over 17mm lay using Vandoren Trad & Alexander Classic 3.0

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 Re: Facing length and embouchure
Author: Micke Isotalo 2017
Date:   2021-10-24 22:22

From Ireland I suppose you could easily order from Thomann in Germany, with lots and lots of German stuff. It's also possible to return items you don't want to keep, within 14 days (except such as used reeds, of course - but mouthpieces without such as tooth marks or ligature scratches has been fine).

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 Re: Facing length and embouchure
Author: mddds 
Date:   2021-10-25 08:08

hi there,

i play the german system.

on the B, i use a Playnick D2 with 2.5 Legere German reed

on the A, i use a Kuckmeier Solist N1 with 2.5 legere German reed.

i tend to take in very little mouthpiece.
i feel that they are easy setups in my opinion.
i'm not sure if they sell these mpc anymore.
sorry, i don't have the measurements.

some mpcs i didn't like were: Playnick D3, Wurlitzer 3WZ, Wurlitzer WZ2, Vandoren M30D. I think some of these were designed for French reeds.

which mouthpieces have you trialed so far?


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 Re: Facing length and embouchure
Author: kerryklari 
Date:   2021-10-25 15:02

paulyb: I'm trying German cut reeds - I got a box of Thomann own brand assorted to try but don't like any of them; I've also got a few Legeres and they seem to work fine. Thanks for the Howarth suggestion but I bought something from them a while ago and it got swallowed up in customs issues, took ages to arrive, and cost too much in extra charges to be worth it.

Micke Isotalo - Thomann is my usual source and their return policy is great. Unfortunately, the first mouthpiece I got from them with a view to trying it and maybe returning it got scratched by the lig (a GF one and the screw thread goes right across the top of the lig and has scratched the top of the mouthpiece). It's not a big scratch but it's clearly visible so I don't think they would take it back. I wish I hadn't bothered - I've got a few similar ligs that I originally bought for boehm mouthpieces and they all seem to fit perfectly well. Hey ho.

mddds: thanks for the info. I started with a basic Yamaha M3D and it's actually ok to play, I just don't think it sounds particularly great. That might be me of course. I have an old Lebü mouthpiece that came with the clarinet I have and that is tricky because it's quite narrow and all my ligs are too large (it's why I bought the GF one, I thought it would fit as it's allegedly designed for German mouthpieces) so I have to tie the reed on. That's ok but I'm not sure I really get it tight enough. I suppose I'd get better with practice, but I don't think it's a particularly great mouthpiece. The only other I have tried is an ESM KG1 - this looked interesting and Thomann had a B stock one at a pretty reasonably price. I don't really like it all that much and would return it if it hadn't got scratched. Looking through Thomann's reviews the AW Reeds D90 and the Leitner & Kraus T2 get very good reviews, esp the latter. They have quite different geometries.

Out of interest, I tried slipping a piece of paper between the mouthpiece and the reed to see how much difference there might be between the M3D and the KG1 as the stated facing length of the M3D is much shorter than for the KG1, but they were almost exactly the same. The Lebü was shorter even though it's nominally longer than the M3D.

The clarinet is a fairly old Adler.

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