Thumb Rests

Your opinion about some (any) of the various clarinet thumb rests available today would be appreciated. I play R-13’s and I am aware of the adjustable thumb rest that Buffet offers. Also, I have seen the Kooiman device in the WW/BW catalog and Peter Spriggs (The Clarinet Center, B.C.) offers yet another innovative design.

The installation of these and others seems somewhat invasive, inasmuch as several screw holes must be drilled into the body of the clarinet for the mounting plates. Additionally, the mounting plates on some are quite large. One might wonder what affect, if any, that a one and one-half inch plate, screwed to the back of the clarinet, might have on resonance. Mr. Spriggs says “Absolutely none!”

I would like to believe that because I am intrigued by the idea of a more comfortable thumb rest somehow reducing right hand tension and lessening its affect on technique. Your thoughts on the topic would be welcome. Thank you,

Richard
 

questions? Send them to sherman@clarinet.cc

Hi Richard.

Sorry to take so long in responding to your questions about thumbrests. Like other additions to the clarinet, it is evocative of much thought and many more experiences.

The thumbrests that either come with a specific model of clarinet as an adjunct (price is reflected in the cost price, like ABS in a car) or the kind that you pay perhaps 50 or 65 dollars for are dubious. They may or may not help. And what do I mean by help??

That is the question. What helps?

If the thumb rest gives you pain, (either the one you now have, or the new one) that pain will almost always force you to turn your hand away from the pain, and you can literally ruin your embouchure, and/or severely affect your intonation. These extra motions that we clarinetists manifest in our development are always a pain … in the mouth usually. Yes, if your thumb aches, it shows in your mouth, no question. Therefore, you must be comfortable in your right hand position on the clarinet. If not – TIGER COUNTRY: arrested development, intonation problems, strained eyebrows (have you ever watched clarinetists and their eyebrows as they play … veddy interesting and quite telling actually.

One must have both correctness and comfort in holding the clarinet in the right hand … well, in both hands, but especially the right, (however the musculature between your right and left thumbs and the index fingers should be quite firm).

Does the thumbrest at 95 dollars help? After your repairman screws it into the clarinet and you start to play, is it better than what you had before? And how do you know? You cannot play what you had before and the new appliance for a comparison because you cannot play both at the same time??? There is NO way of knowing.

All of these thumbrests are reasonably good; but some are too big and others are too heavy. More weight on your right thumb is wrong!!!.

Want the cheap answer?? And this was given to me by a former student who taught recorder and clarinet students in a HS, had a lovely tone that was very neurotic, owned a Lada, and therefore missed frequent lessons, but very pleasant in retrospect … she later sold that Lada back to the east, for 8000 US dollars, that being a whole other article.

Anyway, she had a rather long and obscene thing on her thumbrest: perhaps an inch or so long, perhaps more, and very soft and rubbery. What was it? It was the end of the rubber/plastic tube one finds in the milk dispensers in school cafeterias. Cut a long piece off. Cut that in half. Place one of the halves on the thumbrest of your A, and the other on your Bb clarinets. It is light, it lasts almost forever, and it FEELS good. Honest, do not be intrigued by these expensive additions. Try mine. It is free.

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