All profit supporting special needs music education and Help Musicians
Tutorials

Clarinets Clarinet mouthpieces

Moz

Senior Member
Messages
855
I have recently started playing clarinet and am having trouble with squeaking (actually I'm having no trouble squeaking at all, it's stopping that's the problem). It's a brand new Hanson clarinet with no leaks that I can find so I'm not blaming the instrument.

I have been playing tenor sax for six years and my embouchure is strong and I'm wondering if that is the problem I'm having with the clarinet. I'm thinking that I need to change the mouthpiece to something with a larger opening but am having trouble equating clarinet sizes with saxophone sizes.

I thought I'd try equivalence as place to start so to sum up: I use a 7 opening with a 3.5 reed on my tenor sax, what is the equivalent on clarinet?

Cheers

Martin
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
I can't help you with the mouthpiece thing, but I have learned a couple things about the clarinet and sax that may potentially help a little bit.

First off, I don't really play either instrument well. I bought really cheap clarinet a few years ago and could never really play it very well. I'm thinking that it's mainly because it's such a cheap piece of junk. None the less I was able to learn to play it a little bit. Last year I got brave and bought a saxophone, partly because that's what I secretly wanted when I bought the clarinet. :)))

But I also heard that the sax is easier to play than the clarinet in terms of embouchure. Personally I think there's something to that because I'm doing far better with the sax in only a few months than I ever did with the Clarinet.

In any case, the sax requires a "looser" embouchure, (or so I've been told). I believe it too, because for me to get anywhere with the clarinet I really need a tight embouchure almost to the point where it hurts my lip. Of course that could be due to the fact that it's such a cheap instrument to begin with.

Anyway, what I really wanted to share with you was the ANGLE that you attack the mouthpiece. The sax mouthpiece goes into your mouth fairly horizontally. But the clarinet mouthpiece is typically held much more vertical. I noticed this specifically in some video lessons I have for the clarinet where the instructor warns about holding the horn to far out horizontally and not really vertical enough.

I also notice now, after playing the sax, I want to hold the clarinet more horizontally and attack it like as if it's a sax. But that doesn't work very well. It seems to do better to keep it more vertical which feels quite a bit different from playing the sax.

I still have the clarinet, and I've tried some new mouthpieces and reeds. But I still get squeaks and squawks from it quite a bit. It's a frustrating instrument for me. I'm not sure if it's me, or if the clarinet is just a piece of junk. But you'd think a new mouthpiece would have helped a little bit.

Anyway, this is a big post for not much help. :mrcool

But really, you can't attack the clarinet using the same style of embouchure used on a sax. The clarinet likes a more vertical embouchure and a tighter one too (or so I am told).

I do have better luck with a really tight embouchure, but it's also NO FUN to play that way! It's a struggle to play the blasted thing. I keep thinking that maybe someday I'll "get it" and it won't be a struggle anymore. But so far that day hasn't come.
 

griff136

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,048
Moz, before you go off getting clarinet GAS, try coming down a couple of reed sizes first. The squeaks could be from the mouthpiece/reed/embouchure and I agree with Sweet dreamer re the position of the clarinet and the need for a tighter embouchure.

The squeaks could also be cause by leaks - the easy way to check is to take the instument apart (i.e remove the barrel and bell then take the two joints apart. get the top joint plug the bottom of the joint with your hand with the thumb key closed seal all the holes ( as youre new to the clarinet - just think sax G - 1st 3 fingers plus the thumb hole) blow into the top of the joint if theres a leak youll hear it. Now try sucking if theres a leak you'll be able to feel that too .

do the same with the bottom joint.

if you have no leaks it could be also that you are inadvertently touching one of the other keys.

let us know how you get on.
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
Just another note about the embouchure position on the clarinet. I just got out the video I have for that and re-watched it. The woman doing the instructing say to hold the clarinet in close to your chest (well not too close), but the idea is to not hold the horn too far out.

And then the second thing is to hold your head UP! In other words, don't tilt your head down to look at the clarinet. Because then you're just following the clarinet around trying to keep it horizontal with respect to your mouth. So you want to hold the clarinet down and your head up. It's far more "vertical" than playing a sax. You'd probably do best to visit a teacher to get the best position to start with. Or at least look at some pictures on the web for the best suggested playing position.

See in this picture the clarinet it held down pretty much parallel with the chest. Yet the head is held up - looking straight forward, not tilted down toward the clarinet. This is the way the instructor on my video recommends.

hutchhandposition1.jpg

I found the following picture on the web too:
This girl is holding the clarinet pretty far out toward horizontal But at least her face it still upright and not tilted down toward the clarinet. If she were to tilt her head down a bit she'd basically be playing it horizontally. Her approach here is closer to a sax embouchure.

25054637.jpg

I'm sure there's quite a bit of leeway in what you can get away with. But you might want to try getting as "vertical" as you can (like the guy in the chair above), and then work from there toward something a bit closer to horizontal like the girl is doing.

But either way, you can't have as loose of an embouchure as you do with a sax. It's definitely going to require a firmer embouchure. The physically smaller reed is also going to respond quicker to small changes in embouchure pressures. So it's not just a tighter embouchure, but a more "detailed" embouchure as well. The whole thing is just more responsive to subtle changes.

This is like the difference between driving a large luxury car with power steering and then jumping into a tiny sports car with rack & pinion steering. ;}

I can't play the clarinet myself, but at least I have some idea of what needs to be done. :)))
 

elcheeposax

New Member
Messages
13
Hi Moz

I am not sure that I am the right person to give advice, but have been playing clarinet for a good few years, just hoping I can help you get some decent notes out. I double on tenor and my setup is a 6 lay and 3 strength rico reed 2.5 for vandoren. For the clarinet I use the stock m/pce and 2.5 rico and 2.0 for vandoren, hope this gives some indication as to reed strengths. Just maybe you are blowing too hard, can cause the dreaded squeek, try playing notes in the lower register and blow as gently as possible from the diaphragm, altering the embouchure as you play. Seems some good advice has already been offered, but a quick lesson would be worthwhile. Hope you get sorted and start playing without the squeeeeeeks.


Have fun Brian
 

Justin Chune

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,011
Our fingers have to seal the open tone holes completely. This isn't as easy as it sounds and leaks here cause squeaks. The clarinet bristles with keys whose purpose is to keep tone holes closed, and if we as much as brush against any of these, when we are playing, we get more squeaks. You'll be fine when you become more familiar with the instrument. Have fun.

Jim.
 

Moz

Senior Member
Messages
855
I get it I think

Thank you all who replied. I think I have it now, I have changed the angle of the dangle and though I find the position strange it seems not too bad. I think my MPC/reed setup is not the problem afterall (thanks, that saves me some money). I may well touch other keys occasionally as they are SOOO much smaller than the tenor sax and I have big fingers. I think my biggest cause of squeaking is the poor covering of the holes, especially the ring finger of my right hand. I suppose since I have only been playing it for four weeks I should expect less. I did think that since I am fairly experienced on sax it would just be a case of learning a few different key positions and hey presto, clarinet player! Oops, why are things never that simple.

Thanks again everyone, I shall return to this thread when I am stunningly good (don't hold breath)! ;}

Cheers

Martin
 

Morgan Fry

Senior Member
Messages
447
Yeah, clarinet is different. Different mouthpiece angle and making sure you cover the holes have been covered. Get comfortable with a lot more resistance. Don't know what mouthpiece you've got but a Vandoren B45 and #3 reed is probably the most common combination for a doubler.
 

saxnik

Member
Messages
381
Alan Barnes told me once to consider clarinet and sax as two totally different instruments, and he's right.
Clarinet needs a tighter embouchure (more 'smiley'), less air (except for the altissimo) and more fine control on the fingers. Sounds like you're doing it all the right way and will get there.

My problem with clari is usually blowing an excessive volume of air down it (my R&B tenor sax training...!), which causes it to close up a bit and sound a little stuffy. I rectified this by getting a Vandoren 5JB mouthpiece, which is as big in terms of lay as I could find (Pomarico Jazz** is another similar option). I use Vandoren V12 3.5's on it, and basically play far too loud far too much!

Good luck,

Nick
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Thank you all who replied. I think I have it now, I have changed the angle of the dangle and though I find the position strange it seems not too bad. I think my MPC/reed setup is not the problem afterall (thanks, that saves me some money). I may well touch other keys occasionally as they are SOOO much smaller than the tenor sax and I have big fingers. I think my biggest cause of squeaking is the poor covering of the holes, especially the ring finger of my right hand. I suppose since I have only been playing it for four weeks I should expect less. I did think that since I am fairly experienced on sax it would just be a case of learning a few different key positions and hey presto, clarinet player! Oops, why are things never that simple.

Thanks again everyone, I shall return to this thread when I am stunningly good (don't hold breath)! ;}

Cheers

Martin
Was doing some research a few moths ago on clarinet/sax differences/doubling.

Couple of things stuck in my mind - a lot of the sax players recommended the vito resonite student clarinet - partly because it was a good instrument and, more tellingly, because the tone holes were smaller/easier to cover for a sax player used to sax keys. They also said it would take 12 months to get used to the clarinet... Seems as if you're doing really well.
 

baritonesax

Member
Messages
256
I'm playing a lot more clarinet these days. I've owned one for 20 years and it has spent 99% of that time in the cupboard. Six months after becoming a born-again clarinetist, I'm squeaking less. The reason why is more accurate finger placement. It's very easy to be imprecise when it comes to closing clarinet tone holes neatly - and the sax does make that easy for you. I'll bet that most of your squeaks are finger placement-related. Somebody mentioned Vando B45s as good pieces, though I think B40s make a more attractive tone - they are quite similar though.

Otherwise, my own conclusions so far is that almost everything about the clarinet is harder to execute than on a sax, but tone production is easier. The clarinet is not without its bugbears in that department, to be sure, but you don't have to fill a large conical pipe with air - bell notes on the clarinet are about as easy to execute as the top of the horn. Perhaps the only technical upside about playing the "misery stick". :)

I warmly recommend reading Jack Brymer's "The Clarinet" for a lot of detailed discussion about the finer points of playing the thing. I'm getting a lot out of playing the clarinet these days, having dismissed it as palpably inferior to the saxophone (heated debate!) years ago I can see the error of my ways. I only wish Adolph Sax had spent more time working on clarinet mechanism - he'd have come up with a much more intelligent system than the Boehm - very great genius that he was, as we'd all agree.

Vito Resonite clarinets are pretty good. I got one for £50 on eBay as a backup to my "proper" horn and it's really quite good.

What mouthpiece did you get in the end?
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
the "misery stick". :)
That's a great name for the clarinet. :)))


I don't mean to be putting the instrument down, and I have great respect for anyone who can play one with great fluency. But it is definitely not an easy instrument to play!

I had purchased a clarinet several years back just because I wanted to try a reed instrument. I bought a flute at the same time. I found to the flute to be a lot easier to play, but perhaps quite demanding in terms of breath.

I became so frustrated with the clarinet I was thinking about wiring it up and making it into a lamp just as a novelty.

After reading that a saxophone is easier to play than a clarinet I decided to try one because I still wanted to try a reed instrument. Well, I've progressed on the sax in a very short time far beyond anything I could have hoped to achieve on the clarinet.

In fact, since this tread was started I got my clarinet back out again and I've been trying various things. But there is no way it will ever be as easy to improvise on as the sax is. And crossing over the break on a clarinet can be a great difficult challenge.

Just trying a few things on it this past week has me wondering who invented this instrument? Do they think they could have made a more difficult instrument to play?

So "misery stick" seems a fitting nickname for a Clarinet.
 

Moz

Senior Member
Messages
855
What mouthpiece did you get in the end?
I am still using the mouthpiece that came with my clarinet, a Vandoren something or other but I am also trying a mpc that came with a rather inferior Selmer (USA) that seems to be better than the Vandoren. However the Vandoren came with a BG ligature (similar to a Rovner) and I think that has been causing some of my problems.

Biggest problem as far as squeaking goes is that I have found I am catching the C# key with my ring finger, if I can get around it I may have to take the key off and bend it upwards a little so it's out of the way although that is a last resort.

I don't think I metioned that my clarinet is a Hanson HE-3V ebonite bought directly from the manufacturer (made in England, now there's a rarity!).

http://www.hansonclarinets.com/Hanson_Clarinet_Company._Making_Music_in_Great_Britain./Student.html

Five years warranty and free servicing. I lost a point screw and they were very quick getting me sorted out. It has a nice tone and my teacher has no problem with it. So far I would recommend it.

Cheers

Martin
 

baritonesax

Member
Messages
256
The clarinet was invented by a committee of five people that never met - or so goes the joke.

I read a nice review of a Hanson clarinet in Stephen Howard's site. He was impressed.
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
The clarinet was invented by a committee of five people that never met
I find that very easy to believe. :)))

I was thinking that it might have also been the result of someone who needed to build a flute-like horn and the only materials they could find to work with was a hollowed out billy club and a box of miscellaneous parts from old typewriters.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
I don't mean to be putting the instrument down, and I have great respect for anyone who can play one with great fluency. But it is definitely not an easy instrument to play!

...

I became so frustrated with the clarinet I was thinking about wiring it up and making it into a lamp just as a novelty.

...

Just trying a few things on it this past week has me wondering who invented this instrument? Do they think they could have made a more difficult instrument to play?
It's also said that the sax is an instrument that's very easy to play - badly. >:)

Don't put the clarinet down, it's very different to the sax, but can give super results - think Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Acker Bilk, Sydney Bechet and many others. :mrcool

The difficulty with fingering changes over the break is not something that was designed into it, more something that Sax designed out of the saxophone by using a conical bore. But this changed the sound.... :w00t:

You may find concentrating on the clarinet for a while helps a lot, as would getting a teacher, if you don't have one.
 

Justin Chune

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,011
All Hanson clarinets come with a Vandoren 5RV mouthpiece. This was Richard Vandoren's personal preference and is the only mouthpiece in their range to carry his initials, the 2RV/5RV being the same. A friend gave me one of those and I was trying it out recently. It works fine for me with my usual Rico Royal 2 reed.

Jim.
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,904
The clarinet was invented by a committee of five people that never met - or so goes the joke.
In defence of the clarinet, I have to say the the arrangements for the little finger keys are much better than on the saxophone, in my opinion. Most of the keys can be worked with either hand, so there's much less of that nasty sliding you have to do on the sax. Trying to get, eg, a smooth bottom Db-Bb transition on my tenor is just horrid. I'm not too keen on the palm/side key system for the top (non-altissimo) notes either.
 

baritonesax

Member
Messages
256
It's also said that the sax is an instrument that's very easy to play - badly. >:)

Don't put the clarinet down, it's very different to the sax, but can give super results - think Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Acker Bilk, Sydney Bechet and many others. :mrcool
Don't forget Buddy de Franco - really made the clarinet work in bebop. Some good stuff of his on YouTube.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

singlereed

Member
Messages
124
I originally started on clarinet about 40 years ago and remember slowly working the range up and down during my first lessons. That might be worth a try - just concentrating on getting a good sound on the upper part of the low register, say G to G before trying to go elsewhere. I think the exercises in a tutor or study book would start this way. It will feel very different from a tenor sax - the more closed mouthpieces like a 5RV will feel especially so but maybe that's the key as someone else noted, see it as a very different instrument, not a small saxophone. Regarding the ergonomics, I don't think they are bad at all - ever tried the double reed instruments?!
 
Saxholder Pro
Help!Mailing List
Top Bottom