More Mouthpieces

I have thoroughly enjoyed your suggestions to others. I have a couple of mouthpieces I have been unable to find a reed that will play decently. The first is one I purchased many years ago (1945). It is crystal, is inscribed O’Brien 5+, and has a very open tip. The second was one I purchased after reading that the mellow sound of the Vienna Symphony was due to the use of the Albert system clarinet, together with a very close-tipped mouthpiece and stiff reed. I purchased a Vandoren 11.1, and expected it would work with a Vandoren #3.5, but it simply doesn’t work. I use a variety of reeds (still looking for the perfect on after 40 yrs.), but Glotin and Rigotti #3 have worked well with a 5RV Lyre and a Woodwind K10M. The latter came with my Opus clarinet and is my favorite. Any comments? Charles
Hi Charles. This must be mouthpiece day at the O’Brien Corral, or might that be choral. I know the mouthpieces of which you speak and have played on most of them, at least to try. I am quite sure you will find these words in one of the other articles: please do not attempt to try too many mouthpieces at once or on the same read, perhaps even the same day. What could the possible reason be? NEVER throw away a mouthpiece for which one cannot find a reed … throw it away? Never! First of all, the statement is what is called a “hasty generalization” and in thinking it over, you will notice that you have never tried only two mouthpieces, or this one with every single reed your have, and then multiplied that for six months or so. As humans we would much rather make the generalization than make the actual tests. A mouthpiece for which you cannot find a reed is a mouthpiece which currently you have not found a reed for. And, most importantly, an axiom you may use at will is always play the mouthpiece that you can find the most reeds for. You do not let your standards slip; it is simply common sense to play as many of the purchased reeds as is possible. And you never change a mouthpiece to accommodate a strange reed. Now in that case, you have been let into Tiger Country, a hard place indeed … out of which to get. You know I have spent so much time looking for both mouthpieces and reeds I KNOW real hassles occur – DIMINISH THE VARIABLES!. Always have a spare good reed, or better yet several, that you know always make you sound well, or that you can relax when playing … A great part of the battle is over, For me, it was a crystal mouthpiece, picked out for me by my wife, a lady as musically sensitive as to be found on this earth. I was trying some crystal mouthpieces owned by a teacher who had asked me to try them. There must have been 6. I did not like them. they seemed to be slightly stuffy. I got to one of them, and played it for a bit and Linda said from the next room, “What’s that?” I replied that it was just one of those mouthpieces that Joe had asked me to try. “Play it some more.” She had my curiosity piqued and I began to test in earnest, and began playing on that mouthpiece. It was called GG-1, and it was actually a Pomarico. Pomaricos were made by two brothers, one living in Italy, the other in Argentina. One of the famous players who played them was my teacher Rosario Mazzeo, Bass Clarinetist of the Boston Symphony who played his bass with a Pomarico. My mouthpiece cost me 6 dollars and for a period of 10 years the only mouthpiece I ever played. It was especially loud and soft, it aided me in changing the timbre, intonation, you name it. And because I achieved great confidence from its feel, it helped me in performing in a more interesting manner. After it was broken by an oaf during an intermission in a chamber concert in Montreal, I never found another … never. C’est la Vie. As a young player, it matters, but in the grand scheme of things, that is simply the way it goes. Moral of the story: Perhaps I played some mouthpieces that were much better after the Pomarico … but I did not think so. So, it was always a tiny bit disappointing, therefore I did not shoot for that special quality, who knows. It may not be the actual mouthpiece, but the perception of the player that tells the story. Thanks for your question. I hope I have helped in some way. Good Luck in all your endeavors.


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