Clarinet Mouthpiece Basics

It is generally accepted that at some point during your playing career, you will be on the hunt for a new mouthpiece.  Though the reasons for your search may vary, it is important to arm yourself with some basic knowledge of mouthpiece geometry and how it impacts performance before you begin wading through seemingly endless supply of options.  Below is a bit of a primer that will help guide you in the direction of the mouthpiece that best suits your needs.  It covers the VERY BASIC aspects of mouthpiece design.  I will be adding greater detail in the weeks ahead. 

ImageThe Tip Opening: The more open a mouthpiece is at the tip, the greater the resistance to and flexibility (softer) needed from the reed.

The Facing Curve: Begins above the bottom of the window and ends at the tip opening. The greater the arc (shorter) of the curve, the greater the resistance.The shallower this arc (longer), the less the resistance.

ImageChamber Sidewalls:

The sidewalls of the chamber dictate the shape or “focus” of the sound. Generally, the more narrow the walls, the more focused the sound (and greater the resistance) while wider walls create a broader sound (and more free blowing). A – Frame sidewalls prove a good hybrid and provide good focus with warmth and flexibility.  I use parallel walls for my Z series mouthpieces and an A for the JC series.  My student JCII pieces feature a modified or slight A that allows for greater ease of blowing while still providing a good core sound.  

Image

Chamber Baffle:
As a general rule, the straighter and more shallow a baffle, the more brilliant the sound while deeper and more concave baffles produce richer and darker tones.

 

 

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