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 RS Berkeley Adj Barrel problem
Author: OneWatt 
Date:   2021-02-14 04:44

I recently purchased an RS Berkeley adjustable barrel (also sold as a "Freedom" barrel) Model #FACB-01 and, although I'm pleased with its aluminum construction and design, I can't understand why the lower hole is significantly wider in diameter than any other barrel I have on hand. The others include two included with my Ridenour clarinet and another with an LJ Huchtens student model - all of which are nicely interchangeable and snug.

As a result, it basically falls off the upper segment of either one of my two Bb clarinets. The tenon corks on both clarinets are in excellent shape (the Ridenour is new, and its cork is still on the "fluffy" side - not compressed at all)

QUESTION: Is there something I can do (modify?) to permanently reduce insertion diameter of this Berkeley barrel? I know that teflon tape can be used to plump up the cork on the upper section of my clarinet(s), but I don't want to keep having to do this each time I switch barrels - teflon tape on/off/on/off...

Perhaps some electrical tape set inside the inner bore of the adjustable barrel will narrow its diameter? Getting that to sit right (no leaks) and stay tight could be a challenge, and not a permanent one either. Any other ideas?

I've reached out to the seller of the barrel and also sent an email to the manufacturer. Haven't gotten any reply yet from either - perhaps they come in different sizes.

The inner diameter difference (per my micrometer) is roughly 0.5mm in - but clearly that's enough to go from "snug fit" to "barrel simply falling off" in midair.

Pretty frustrating, and confusing too. Does anyone else have this problem with the Berkeley adjustable barrel (or another too-wide barrel with a solution in hand) or did I just get a poorly machined specimen?

Thanks for any insights.

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 Re: RS Berkeley Adj Barrel problem
Author: DaphnisetChloe 
Date:   2021-02-14 11:17

Mine broke in half after being dropped 10cm in rehearsal while I was changing barrels. It was also a loose fit. I think they are not very well designed, which also explains the cheaper price compared to Zoom and Behn adjustable barrels.

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 Re: RS Berkeley Adj Barrel problem
Author: donald 
Date:   2021-02-14 15:46

Well, paint the inside of the tenon with nail polish and see if that sticks to the surface. One or two layers should do the trick, IF it sticks.

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 Re: RS Berkeley Adj Barrel problem
Author: Ed 
Date:   2021-02-14 15:49

I have seen some techs put a thin shim or layer of cork inside the socket

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 Re: RS Berkeley Adj Barrel problem
Author: OneWatt 
Date:   2021-02-14 17:29

Ed: "I have seen some techs put a thin shim or layer of cork inside the socket"

Thanks, I'd considered this but assumed that cork on cork would lead to rapid deterioration of the cork on one or both surfaces and/or the seal would be pretty porous for air leaks. Is this not the case? Does a cork tenon hold well inside a corked receptacle?

Perhaps the shim material could be something else besides cork. Maybe I'm back to a thin layer of electrical tape. Or maybe just return this dang thing.

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 Re: RS Berkeley Adj Barrel problem
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2021-02-14 18:38

OneWatt wrote:

> I know that
> teflon tape can be used to plump up the cork on the upper
> section of my clarinet(s), but I don't want to keep having to
> do this each time I switch barrels - teflon tape
> on/off/on/off...
>


Is there a reason why you're switching barrels? If this were the only barrel you were planning to use, you could just replace the tenon cork with a thicker one. Is there a specific purpose in exchanging barrels?

Karl

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 Re: RS Berkeley Adj Barrel problem
Author: LFabian 
Date:   2021-02-14 19:14

Using flexiglue (from the infomercial) in little amounts in its interior may work for you. Let dry and try. Squeeze on straight. Rubber might scrape off. Just when removing, pull straight out. Don’t put glue around the inner circumference. It might work if flexi is allowed to dry. My problem with the Berkeley is removing it from my Alpha. The cork has swollen. Luckily I bring a latex glove to remove the barrel.

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 Re: RS Berkeley Adj Barrel problem
Author: donald 
Date:   2021-02-15 00:03

For nearly 10 years I played with a wooden barrel from Jimmy Yan that had the tenon receiver resized by a layer of nail varnish. You can also use epoxy or some glues (as mentioned above).

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 Re: RS Berkeley Adj Barrel problem
Author: OneWatt 
Date:   2021-02-15 01:12

Thanks to those who've replied sharing some solid ideas. While I'm loath to do anything permanent to the Berkeley adjustable barrel, perhaps that's my only option in the end.

Karl asked: "Is there a reason why you're switching barrels? If this were the only barrel you were planning to use, you could just replace the tenon cork with a thicker one. Is there a specific purpose in exchanging barrels?"

Fair question. I certainly like the barrels that came with my two clarinets (all of which are easily interchangeable with each other as far as "tenon fit" goes) and I'd be inclined to continue using them most of the time.

The adjustable barrel was intended merely to "sharpen up" a bit when playing against my own produced accompaniment tracks (440-pitch) and/or when playing piano/clarinet duets with my wife on our concert grand piano at home (also @ 440).

In each case, I seem to be running a bit flat across the board. Both clarinets are otherwise fairly easy to play in tune with themselves across registers (notwithstanding my need to touch up execution on a few notes as my technique improves).

If this Berkeley barrel would do the trick, then swapping barrels back and forth would be inevitable. Hence I don't want to start messing with the tenon corks which fit perfectly on all other stock barrels (from my Ridenour and Huchtens).

Maybe I'm avoiding the real issue? ... While I can "pinch up" my embouchure across-the-board to get into tune with these accompaniments, I prefer to play with a slightly more relaxed embouchure. So, perhaps that's my problem. Ugh.

Okay, so maybe returning the adjustable barrel and instead focusing my attention on embouchure technique is the best advice? I'm a double-lipper, so biting remains out of the question ;-)

[Then again, electrical tape (inside the Berkeley) may be worth a try, though it seems like a sloppy/temporary approach.]

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 Re: RS Berkeley Adj Barrel problem
Author: donald 
Date:   2021-02-15 04:38

Electrical tape is a bad idea in the tenon for a couple of reasons. Take my advice it will solve your problem.

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 Re: RS Berkeley Adj Barrel problem
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2021-02-15 05:35

Maybe that particular barrel was not machined correctly? I have an RS Berkeley measuring 24mm in diameter that fits great on my LeBlanc Opus and Yamaha CSG (but not short enough for that), so I assume would also be fine on a Buffet R13 as well (all the typical brands).



As for embouchure, I would prefer to play comfortably and just tweak the equipment. If you need an odder, shorter size for not much money I highly recommend the Chinese wooden barrels on EBay. They are actually quite well made and work great. You do have to wait about four months for shipping because they actually arrive in the US ............ on a ship.


I have to admit being drawn to the idea of getting one of the Brad Behn adjustables, but I am pretty old school and have not found a problem with getting in the ballpark with a standard barrel.




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



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 Re: RS Berkeley Adj Barrel problem
Author: OneWatt 
Date:   2021-02-15 05:59

Paul - Thanks for the info. Am curious as to how this one got past any kind of QC. It just falls off the upper tenon. Alas.

Donald - Could you please clarify... this is a bit confusing...

"Electrical tape is a bad idea in the tenon for a couple of reasons. Take my advice it will solve your problem."

Assuming you meant it will NOT solve the problem, sharing the reasons why it's a bad idea would certainly be appreciated!

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 Re: RS Berkeley Adj Barrel problem
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2021-02-15 16:49

Just use a strip of paper wrapped around the tenon of the socket is too wide. Simple, not permanent nor altering anything and won't leave any residue.

There are no absolute standard diameters for barrel sockets as they vary from make to make by fractions of a millimetre.

Chris.

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 Re: RS Berkeley Adj Barrel problem
Author: BethGraham 
Date:   2021-02-15 18:50

Where did you purchase this, if you're willing to divulge the information? I've been seeing them a lot on That Auction Site, where the product looks different from what's pictured on the RS Berkeley website.

I'm still considering taking the plunge and getting one of these to help --heh -- fine-tune my intonation, but don't want to spend money for a crap product. I've gone down to a 65 mm barrel and am still on the flat side, though within an acceptable range (I.e., about 5 cent flat). I'm looking forward to when I return to band rehearsals and am wanting to blend better then.

At this point, I suspect my equipment (Selmer Signet 100) rather than my technique, but can't justify upgrading my clarinet. Yet.

(Edited to add that I just spent some quality time with my mom's trusty old Bundy and the tuner, and the problem is definitely the Signet 100.)

Beth



Post Edited (2021-02-15 20:44)

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 Re: RS Berkeley Adj Barrel UPDATE
Author: OneWatt 
Date:   2021-02-16 01:29

An UPDATE for those still interested...

I spoke with Les Silver Pres/CEO at RS Berkeley (he gave me his # in reply to my email seeking guidance). He and his on-site repair tech were extremely patient. Kudos for their efforts and concern in making things work for me.

Bottom line: Having produced this (USA-made) barrel for decades, they claim its dimensional tolerances are extremely tight and consistent. Other than putting thick cork on my clarinet(s') tenons - which I'm not inclined to do given their fresh plump condition - they suggested I put either low-tack painters masking tape (typically blue) or a ring of paper (i.e., Chris P's suggestion above) inside the Berkeley barrel to snug things up. And yeah, avoid electrical tape as the adhesive can get everywhere over time.

Well, the painters tape solution has worked nicely. Two layers of 2.875" strips have seemed to do the trick. I'm guessing it'll hold up reasonably well against condensation since it's made to stand up to wet paint.

@BethGraham - Happy to reveal where I bought it... Yup, that online auction site (though not an auction, just a US$97 price tag + some funky 4-reed holder tossed in for good measure). And the seller is the same outfit (in Berkeley, NJ) that owns/operates RS Berkeley, i.e., Les Silver.

As for the Berkeley adjustable barrel itself, I must say it feels solid and reasonably well designed. Notwithstanding my diameter issue, its tooling seems precise enough - no wiggle room in opening/closing the length, which feels smooth and even.

And as for tuning effect (i.e., the whole purpose!) it does a wonderful job of going way too far sharp or way too far flat .... and each extreme invites all of the internal tuning challenges one might expect from a clarinet. Somewhere in the middle area lies my sweet spot given the rest of my setup. I'd guess it's around 64mm or so.

Regardless, having checked with my Pederson strobe tuner, I can easily dial in a lovely 440 on the Ridenour 576bc - which sounds lovely with our nicely tuned concert grand piano and accompaniment mp3s I've created for backing tracks. I don't have to overly firm up my embouchure beyond the comfortable degree to produce a tone I like.

Speaking of tone... truthfully I can't tell much difference between this aluminum barrel and the (hard rubber) barrels that come stock with my 576. Perhaps there's the slightest increase in brightness, but it's subtle enough that it could just be my imagination. In other words, not an issue for me at all.

As such, I'll praise Les Silver/RS Berkeley for their genuine interest in customer satisfaction. Time will tell, but I expect to get good use out of this adjustable barrel. Hopefully some of this is of interest to others who come across this post in the future.

[I've got no financial interest/connection with these folks.]

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 Re: RS Berkeley Adj Barrel UPDATE
Author: BethGraham 
Date:   2021-02-16 04:45

Sold!

Put in an order at my local music shop for one this afternoon. Thanks for all the good info.

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 Re: RS Berkeley Adj Barrel UPDATE
Author: OneWatt 
Date:   2021-02-16 07:59

BethGraham wrote: "Sold! Put in an order at my local music shop for one this afternoon. Thanks for all the good info."

Glad to be of some small assistance.

BTW, if you find the barrel opening is too wide for your particular top tenon cork also, here's the latest on my fix thus far...

The blue painters tape worked great... that is, until it got wet from condensation and slipped off as I disassembled the clarinet. Nothing wrong with the solution while I was playing, except how temporary it turned out to be. Taping up again each time seemed like a drag.

So now I'm trying "Scotch Electrician's Building Tape 2000" ... yeah, I know, I know, it sounds like electrical tape. But it's not.

It's actually "gaffer's tape" used on stage to hold various things together (mic cables, etc.). It's got a fairly light adhesive without residual stickiness so stage hands can break down the set after a performance. It's got a "grippy" grey fabric-like texture but it's totally plastic/nylon and comes off easily. Almost like a Post-it note in terms of adhesiveness, if that helps describe the stick.

So, with a single layer tucked inside the Berkeley barrel opening I've produced a really comfy "grab" feel against both of my clarinets' tenon corks. That seems to have narrowed the diameter down by around 0.5mm.

I'm hoping this works better than the blue paper painter's tape. Once again, time will tell.

Meanwhile, let us know how you find the Berkeley barrel to work out for you and whether it meets your needs.

Best wishes!

- - - - - - - - - -
Israel = Ancient Hebrew for "Wrestles with God"
Klarinet = Ancient Greek for "Struggles with Reeds"

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