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 Re: mouthpiece patina, additional thoughts
Author: Brad Behn 
Date:   2006-06-07 06:10


Here are some thoughts in response to your questions.

1. Are fully oxidized mpcs to be avoided?

I don’t think so. I have had success working on mouthpieces that have been oxidized to various extents. In fact most old mouthpieces have some oxidation and it rarely is bad enough to be of any concern at all.

I would interpret a “fully oxidized” mouthpiece as one that has had so much exposure to the elements that it is rancid and very soft at its outer surface. Usually a light cleaning accompanied by the handling during refacing, eliminates the mephitic sulfuric acid surface layer. (Soaking the mouthpiece in distilled water for 24-48 hours also helps eliminate the sour taste). The biggest problem is not the color (the mouthpiece’s color is of no consequence to how it plays) but it is the softer surface layer of the mouthpiece. The soft surface is only a concern inside the mouthpiece and where the reed makes contact with the rubber. Usually mouthpieces do not oxidize inside the chamber and bore to the extent that the outside oxidizes…because it is more sheltered from the harmful UV exposure.

2. Does the playing characteristics change much as internal oxidation takes place?

Yes, I have found that as the material inside the mouthpiece oxidizes, it gets softer. Softer hard rubber changes the sound and response. The sound may get a little more covered or darker, the resistance may increase and the response may slow down a little bit.

Because the visco-elastic characteristics of the inside of the mouthpiece surface layer changes with oxidation, the important compression and rebound of the playing experience changes as well. A good mouthpiece has a force that pushes back when you put energy into it. Some call this impedance or working resistance. With a softer surface inside the mouthpiece (and a changed physical structure of the inner surface), the moduli, and therefore the playing experience will change as well.

3. Do certain brands of mpcs have a reputation, so to speak, of oxidating faster or slower than others due to their different rubber compositions?

Yes, I have heard from many people that Vandoren mouthpieces ware out quicker and also oxidize quicker than other brands. I don’t believe it. I think Vandoren (because they are the biggest) receives the most criticism…rarely founded on fact.

I am sure some mouthpieces are made from material that resists the harmful UV rays better than other others, but I don’t know which ones they are.

4. As to rail tilt, is there any difference between a closed or open mpc as to how fast the tilt can be formed because of how hard the facing is hit with the reed?

I don’t know. Interesting.

5. Would a very thin tip with thin side walls suffer faster from rail tilt?

I suspect it would, but rail tilt is most common in my experience toward the bottom of the window (farthest from the tip).

6. Since humidity quickens the oxidation process and much has been written about adding humidifiers to clarinet cases to help preserve the wood, does this mean that mpcs should be carried separately, away from the humidified case?

No. As long as you don’t leave your mouthpiece out in direct sunlight, you shouldn’t be concerned. If your main mouthpiece oxidizes a little and changes color a little…that is normal, but with regular use, I doubt you would get severe oxidation.

I believe the humidity issue is one of creating a conduit for the oxidation to spread from one piece to another. Hard rubber will not oxidize due to direct contact with humidity or saliva or water.

Keep oxidized mouthpieces away from clean ones and you should be fine.

7. How can someone store a mpc when they live in a very humid climate like here in WA where it seems to rain all the time?

I think oxidized mouthpieces are a thing of beauty. They show their history right before us. Celebrate a little discoloration and have fun playing.

The good news is that espresso pours better in your climate…cheers

Brad Behn

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 Topics Author  Date
 mouthpiece patina, additional thoughts  new
Brad Behn 2006-06-05 18:09 
 Re: mouthpiece patina, additional thoughts  new
tictactux 2006-06-05 18:32 
 Re: mouthpiece patina, additional thoughts  new
redwine 2006-06-05 20:13 
 Re: mouthpiece patina, additional thoughts  new
David Spiegelthal 2006-06-05 20:48 
 Re: mouthpiece patina, additional thoughts  new
Gregory Smith 2006-06-05 21:31 
 Re: mouthpiece patina, additional thoughts  new
Chris Hill 2006-06-06 23:09 
 Re: mouthpiece patina, additional thoughts  new
Dan Shusta 2006-06-07 00:55 
 Re: mouthpiece patina, additional thoughts  new
Brad Behn 2006-06-07 06:10 
 Re: mouthpiece patina, additional thoughts  new
Alseg 2006-06-07 13:48 
 Re: mouthpiece patina, additional thoughts  new
GBK 2006-06-07 21:09 
 Re: mouthpiece patina, additional thoughts  new
David Spiegelthal 2006-06-08 01:41 
 Re: mouthpiece patina, additional thoughts  new
L. Omar Henderson 2006-06-08 13:37 
 Re: mouthpiece patina, additional thoughts  new
Brad Behn 2006-06-21 21:30 

 This thread is closed 
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