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Clarinets change your mouthpiece, change your life!!

rob4

New Member
Messages
27
My B flat clarinet's crystal Vandoren A1 mouthpiece chipped when I knocked it on my tooth! the tooth was fine.
that was a while ago and I only got round to getting a new mouthpiece this last 2 wks.

I ordered three on trial from Wood, Wind and Reed in Cambridge, UK, after talking to a clarinet mouthpiece specialist there. He couldnt' have been more helpful.
with his advice I had a free week's trial of a Vandoren B45 (very popular & used by all kinds of players), a Vandoren 5JB (with a very open tip and known as 'the jazz mouthpiece'), and finally a Portnoy BP03 (also an open tip).
Initially I loved the Portnoy, it was incredibly easy to play and had a lovely saxophoney sound.

Meanwhile, the Vandoren 5JB sounded like Sidney Bechet - lorryloads of vibrato just waiting to happen! I liked it but it sounded a bit breathy too. I only had 2.5 reeds with me so maybe it would have sounded better on just 2s with such an open tip.

My teacher, however, reckoned the B45 had the best and fullest tone. To begin wtih I disagreed. I'd voted against it at first because it sounded the most orchestral and I wanted something a bit more raunchy. I agonised over it for a few days but in the end, after playing it and the Portnoy every waking moment I could, recording myself and playing them blind to my long-suffering girlfriend, I came to agree with him. It just sounds great, a very full and dare I say it a most beautiful sound!! (now I just need to work on those pesky fingers)
The B45, interestingly, is used by loads of classical players, but it's still got enough bite if you're playing blues or jazz. At first I'd found it harder to play than the Portnoy, but by putting the tip of the reed right up to the top of the mouthpiece, it was very different, and frankly quite a joy to play.

The process was interesting because it reminded me what you hear in your head when you're playing is not always what others hear.

the other interesting thing for me was just how different they all sounded - different to my original mouthpiece and to each other. No one bothered to tell me this before, but mouthpieces make a hell of a difference!! I only play on a student clarinet, but now it sounds so much different to before.
I'd encourage other players to trial a few mouthpieces just to see if you get a sound you like better than what you'e got.
Wiht the clarinet, I've found with this new mouthpiece I make less squeaks!! God knows why that should be the case but that is a seriously worth-it improvement alone!

Cheers
Rob
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Hi rob4!

Sounds like a very valuable experience for you, and glad that it was with a successful outcome. It is really useful to try out various mouthpieces to see what suits you best. I have quite a few for each instrument I play (sop sax, alto sax, tenor sax, trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn and trombone) and have several times done trials before choosing the one that is right for me sound wise.

WWR in Cambridge supplied me with a Bronze Neck for my Yani T901 tenor sax, and were very helpful.

Kind regards
Tom:cool:
 

Andante cantabile

Senior Member
Messages
695
I must say that I am rather envious of the fact that you can try out mouthpieces in the shops and that you are sent a selection on approval. Where i am you are lucky to be allowed to see what's in the box, and you are then supposed to buy. The problem allegedly is stems from health regulations. Add to this that you can only get things at the RRP and that the choice in the shops is very limited anyway, there is not much incentive to take this route. I fully understand that shops must be able to operate at a profit, but OTOH the market place has become much bigger for many products over the last decade. So, the best option for bods like myself is to one's homework, listen to what others have to say and then take the plunge.

Well, after this rant, I am glad that you were able to make the right decision.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
I must say that I am rather envious of the fact that you can try out mouthpieces in the shops and that you are sent a selection on approval. Where i am you are lucky to be allowed to see what's in the box, and you are then supposed to buy. The problem allegedly is stems from health regulations. Add to this that you can only get things at the RRP and that the choice in the shops is very limited anyway, there is not much incentive to take this route. I fully understand that shops must be able to operate at a profit, but OTOH the market place has become much bigger for many products over the last decade. So, the best option for bods like myself is to one's homework, listen to what others have to say and then take the plunge.

Well, after this rant, I am glad that you were able to make the right decision.
I've found buying from ebay and here has cut the cost of this a lot, and I can always sell on what doesn't work for about the price I paid for it. Not sure if it'll work so well in OZ, though. Funny (worrying?) thing is that my PPT is starting to sound just like the Rico Royal Graftonite I started with.....
 

Andante cantabile

Senior Member
Messages
695
Funny (worrying?) thing is that my PPT is starting to sound just like the Rico Royal Graftonite I started with.....
Well, they both have good reputations, but they are probably made for slightly different purposes. Maybe you have mastered both of them, and there is nothing to worry about. I sometimes use a different mouthpiece (but there is nothing really expensive in my small collection) as I think this helps me to work out areas that need more work. Of course, the reed comes into it, too.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Well, they both have good reputations, but they are probably made for slightly different purposes. Maybe you have mastered both of them, and there is nothing to worry about. I sometimes use a different mouthpiece (but there is nothing really expensive in my small collection) as I think this helps me to work out areas that need more work. Of course, the reed comes into it, too.
Now I've got a recorder, I'm going to make some recordings of the mouthpieces I have and see just how different they all sound. However I'm sure a lot of it is me adjusting my playing towards the sound I want. I really need to do something about the squeaks, though.

Interesting post Rob. I'm now beginning to see why my teacher wants my alto piece. He has an identical one, it's an old Brilhart Personaline - and they're like hens teeth. He's really worried about dropping/breaking his. When they do come up for sale here (and it isn't often) they're priced the same, or higher than new ones from Selmer, Vandoren.... There's a tenor sitting on ebay Germany at the moment, also with a Personaline on it. The tenor's worth 50-100, but the bidding is already over 250, with another day to go, it'll probably go for well over 300 cos of the mouthpiece.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
I wonder if Rico will pick up on your comparison, and promote the Graftonite thus: "Designer mouthpiece quality at Asda prices". For Pete to bear comparison with the great Arnold Brilhart is significant, but to compare the PPT to the Graftonite possibly sounds like less praise.
Important point for me is that the sound you wish to create, consciously or otherwise, maybe has more influence that we imagine, and that certain mouthpieces allow that sound to emerge. My own alto experience with the Ponzol Vintage HR is a case in point - I positively love rich, complex sax sounds, and get that much more with the Ponzol than Vandoren V16 HR, Selmer Super Session and several others.

Kind regards
Tom:cool:
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Not sure if youi know it, but Brilhart was the desgner of the Rico mouthpieces, and the more upmarket versions, the metallites are well regarded. Personally I think they're all great value for money. More edge on the metallite, but nice sounding.

But I wasn't meaning my commetn as a comparison between the PPT and the graftonite - more as a slightly rueful observation that I seem to be moving the sound of the PPT in a direction that I don't want to. Something you picked up on... So it's work for me to concetnrate on tone...
 

Andante cantabile

Senior Member
Messages
695
Nor would I want to imply that the PPT and the Rico Graftonite are much the same. Perhaps I should have made that clearer. It seems to me the Graftonite is good for people starting and probably for a fair while after that. The PPT, on the other hand, appears intended for people who already have reached a certain standard since they are in a much better position to benefit from its potential. I any of this is wrong I stand corrected and I will hang my head in shame.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Yes, yes, yes and yes! Only a bit of fun, KG. From what I've read I would say that the PPT has been compared to a Berg Larsen, and Pete's influence seemed to partly come from the Jumbo Java mouthpiece. I think that the Graftonite occupies a not dissimilar space. I would describe the sound from my Graftonite B7 Soprano mouthpiece as similar to the Berg 60/2 HR I used to use. Others comments seem to support that view.

It was only a playful comment, but backed up by some knowledge on my part as an advocate of the Graftonite as an alternative to the ubiquitous Yamaha plastic mouthpiece.

Kind regards to all
Tom:blush::cool:
 

rob4

New Member
Messages
27
I must say that I am rather envious of the fact that you can try out mouthpieces in the shops and that you are sent a selection on approval.
They sent all the mouthpieces with mouthpiece guards on, which are basically like thick bits of masking tape! I've actually kept the guard on the one I kept because it is far more comfortable than just the bare mouthpiece. Might be my weird front tteeth mind you!
 
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