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 Moved from a Vandoren 3 to 3-1/2
Author: Garth Libre 
Date:   2020-03-22 07:10

For two years I've tried to move to a stronger reed. I noticed that my choice of #3 continually left me prone to wobbly pitch, errors in the altissimo, a tendency to close the reed completely at the most inopportune time, and a lack of weight to my tone. These last few weeks I didn't give up and moved from 5 minutes playing a Vandoren 3.5 to 10 minutes to a half hour and now I can play it without concern. Pitch is no longer a big problem and tonguing doesn't cause a tone wobble at the start of each note either. I don't even sound airy anymore with the harder reed. I'm glad I made the effort. I suspect I'm really going to make other improvement in all kinds of unexpected ways.

Garth, 305-981-4705.

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 Re: Moved from a Vandoren 3 to 3-1/2
Author: Erez Katz 
Date:   2020-03-22 19:48

Hi Garth.

A reed is always a personal thing, but the issues that were solved/improved by a move to a thicker reed make me suspect stem from a different cause.

The reed should not close and the pitch should stay solid even with a #2 reed.

If I had to guess, I think there is a good chance you tend to apply a lot more pressure against the reed than necessary. Does your lower lip get sore after a practice?

I would also investigate if your embouchure is firm and that reed support comes from a good cushion formed by the lower lip muscles. If the lip muscles are too relaxed, then the pressure against the reed comes from "biting" because something must stabilize the reed in order to get any pitch.
A good way to "beef up" those muscles is doing some of the warm up using a double lip embouchure, even for a minute or two. I think it is worth a try.

On a personal note, I have been gradually converting to double lip embouchure in the past few months. What I realized is that since I don't "pinch" the reed halfway with my lower lip, more of it gets to vibrate effectively and I found it beneficial to get less hard reeds, in my case I switched from Legere 3.5 to 3.25.



Post Edited (2020-03-22 19:54)

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 Re: Moved from a Vandoren 3 to 3-1/2
Author: Tom H 
Date:   2020-03-22 20:24

Erez' post certainly makes sense to me and is more detailed than I may be capable of regarding embouchure and related stuff. There may of course be a discussion in here about mouthpiece/facings (open/closed?) relating to reed strength. I've posted before about using VanD 2 1/2s since the mid 70s with at least what I see as none of the problems stated by the OP.
But I will admit most pros I've played with over the years have been surprised I use such a soft reed. Most have used at least a 3.

The Most Advanced Clarinet Book--Austin Macauley Publishers (PDF samples here)

Post Edited (2020-03-22 20:28)

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 Re: Moved from a Vandoren 3 to 3-1/2
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2020-03-22 22:00

Erez Katz wrote:

> The reed should not close and the pitch should stay solid even
> with a #2 reed.

Although in general I discourage my students from using harder reeds than necessary, I think you can take this too far. If I put a #2 reed (at least, a reed of any design I've ever tried) on my close-tipped medium-long-curved mouthpiece I will not be able to maintain good intonation at the higher reaches of the normal compass - say, above A5 and definitely not above the altissimo break without applying extra (more than usual) embouchure pressure. And the tone, whether or not it's "solid", will not be one I would ever want to be heard producing in public.

Someone not too long ago posted something about two or three major, well-known players who were using V-12 #5s on mouthpieces like B45. The point of that post, as I remember, had to do with having to use more air, but I have my doubts that there isn't a good deal more embouchure pressure in use than many of us consider ideal. If it works for the player, it works. If an approach were causing me pain or injury, I would be looking for alternatives. But the end result is what's important.


Reply To Message
 Re: Moved from a Vandoren 3 to 3-1/2
Author: vintschevski 
Date:   2020-03-23 07:45

Well done, Garth! How satisfying to identify problems and work successfully at solving them.

Which mouthpiece are you using?

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