More on Intonation

Dear Mr. Friedland,

I am the person who wrote to you the other day concerning intonation problems. I have spoken more with the previous owner and believe I am on to the problem. Fortunately for me this person is a reputable individual and is standing behind the horn to correct it. (You recall that it plays extremely sharp on middle “C”) With that said here are the details:

The clarinet is a Leblanc Concerto and the mouthpiece is a “Dirksmeyer”. The other missing information I learned was that for some unknown reason the horn apparently played flat when the original owner bought it and he had the barrel shortened (not by Leblanc). I believe the “modified” barrel is the likely culprit, but I will let you know if that corrects it as a new barrel is being ordered today.

Secondly, although this “Dirksmeyer” mouthpiece and Concerto produce a very nice sound with notes lower than “F” (top line on the staff) the sound becomes “thin” above that and high F, F# and G are hard to even get out. Have you heard of Dirksmeyer mouthpieces? I believe I would like to try some other mouthpieces and noted in a previous posting that you own a Leblanc Opus which I believe is similar in design. Thanks again for you help.


The clarinet is an excellent and fairly recent instrument. It is similar to the Opus. The barrel must be changed for a regular sized Leblanc barrel. But the mouthpiece is most probably the real culprit, perhaps not for the original owner, but certainly for you.

Here it is, quite simply: there are many variables when learning to play the clarinet. I’ve always felt that we must limit the variables so that, in other words, we simplify. Then, you have less with which to deal. Buy a good mouthpiece, Leblanc is has not been heretofore a good or great mouthpiece. Get a Selmer HS*, or Vandoren M13 (that is mine, try a few, it is gorgeous – at least I think so.)

Of course, there are always those who will play a “Taco Bell” mouthpiece and sound like Harold Wright and Sherman Friedland wrapped together, however, “Taco Bell” has not made its reputation with clarinet mouthpiece … lots of gas but, well, let us stop there.


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