Keeping a new instrument from cracking

October 19, 2004

Dear Mr Sherman,

your advice on mouthpieces was forgive the pun but music to my ears as I changed to An M13 and I have not looked back since.

However as you are aware that I have just purchased a brand new R13 Buffet and as you know it is wooden so I think you know what my question is as my friends developed a hairline cracke on the base of his.
His was two years old.
I have been told that the wood can be treated with Bore oil if this is so can you tell me how often should this be applied to the wood and is it fed through the inside of the wood rather than applied outside or can you do both sides of the wood.

I know this isnt a very musical question but I paid 1300 English pounds for my clarinet about 1,000 US Dollars and I want to keep it in good condition. Scotland, UK
——————————————————————————————–As far as crack prevention is concerned, bore oil is not the answer, at least not in my experience.
What will crack a clarinet are sudden changes in temperature, or extreme changes over the course of a short while. I would always open the clarinet case and allow the instrument to “breathe ” a bit prior to playing it. Also I would breathe some of my breath into the instrument also prior to playing same.
Always make sure that the instrument is dry before you put it away in the case and that there are no puddles of moisture, but also always make sure the the clarinet does not dry out. This can be achieved either by getting a “dampit”, the thing that string players use, or anything that will allow some moisture to keep the clarinet from drying out.
I have used orange peels because they also freshen it up a bit, if you like orange, and they are moist. When they get dry, throw them out and get some more.
Bore oil is to be used quite sparingly, especially inside the bore, and very very little outside. Do not let the oil get on the pads or you will suffer. The idea that bore oil keeps a clarinet from cracking is simply incorrect.
Buy a clarinet when the weather in your part of the world is not too dry or apt to plunge as far temperature is concerned. I prefer Spring. Certainly not in a the mean winter of the American or Canadian Northeast.

All of the above may help.

good luck/s

Also, of some possible use is advice given to me by several excellent woodwind repairpeople: Do not play the new instrument for long periods of time, rather a bit each day and then a bit more.

Buffet Mouthpieces that come with new instruments are always destroyed

October 18, 2004

Dear sir,
I have just purchased a new R13 Buffet and I am very pleased but I was interested to read your articles on mouth pieces.
I am told that the standard one supplied with the clarinet is not the best one out there so I was thinking of a Vaderoma M13 instead of the standard B45.
Can you advise on the advatages and disadvantages of both these mouth pieces and also of the Buffet one supplied which is brand new.


Traditionally the mouthpiece supplied with a new Buffet has been rather unplayable, at least in my experience. Never had one that I like or even was able to in any way tolerate.

The VD M13 is my current mouthpiece, and I have played on B45 mouthpieces also for years.
They work as most Van Dorens do. Somewhere on my site is a story I wrote about meeting Robert Van Doren when going through a terrible hassle finding a good reed.
He let me try 5 Van Dorens and they were all superior to what I had been playing on, which at the time was a Selmer.
And they played many more reeds, which of course were Van Doren as well.
Later I have played all manner of reeds, but that is another long story.
Advantages and disadvantages are manifold and are only important to you as you discover them.
They vary as do the mouthpieces themselves.
A medium mouthpieces upon which you play medium reeds is a good thing to remember and to think about.
Good luck, sf

Left-hand C problems

October 10, 2004

HI, Iíve found your responses helpful.

Iím primarily a saxophone player, although clarinet was my first instrument. I was a competent high school clarinetist 30 years ago and am trying to reclaim my technique in order to join a local community orchestra. Mostly, Iím using Hiteís books on Baermann, vol III and melodious and progressive studies.

My embouchure is returning but Iím really struggling with the left hand C on my early model (1970) Selmer Series 10. At one point, I thought that the key was out of adjustment, but my repairman, who is quite good, said that it was adjusted properly.

Do you have any suggestions on the left hand C or taking the instrument up again in general?
I also see that some of the current models have an 18th key, which is a ring around the third LH finger. What does that do? JT

The problem with the left hand C is almost surely to be one of displacement of the other fingers on the left hand when reaching for the C itself. You can determine this by looking at your playing position in a mirror when playing the left hand C both before and the moment of reaching for it. You will see your hand stretching for the C. This is when the displacement of the fingers take place, and the ensuing leakage at the displaced finger(s). I have had the same problem mainy times, and the mirror helps immeasurably.
The sax playing position and fingering position are less problematic simply because all the keys are covered. With the clarinet all of the rings are possible traps if not completely covered.
The added ring makes the playing of the Eb/Bb much simpler because all one needs to do is raise the middle finger and the note(s) are achieved. It is relatively easy to keep in adjustment. The Series 10 Selmer is a fine clarinet.
Good luck,

Transition to Eb Clarinet

October 2, 2004

Dear Sir,

I have recently began playing the E-flat clarinet at my high school. I have always played the second clarinet music so i am having a difficult transaction. I am determined to learn all of the fingerings to the higher notes and to be able to play all music clearly by the time school begins again, which is in a short 2 weeks. My biggest problem by far is getting the high notes. i can’t play them at all without starting on a lower note and playing up the scale until i get to them. I am having so much trouble getting the high notes to come out tone isn’t even an issue anymore. It is not a good thing.

My clarinet is not new, but i can’t afford a new one, and neither can my school. It is a Noblet Paris and my reeds are size 3 Rico Royal. My original thought was to just get a stronger reed, but another clarinetist I know told me that that would simply make me play out of toon. I don’t know what to do and i need help fast. I will take any advice that you have.

Thank You so much,


Hi Jessica:
The Eb can be a difficult transition especially if you are switching from a secondary part. Most Eb parts are in he high register or the principal notes of the melody.
So, having played many Eb parts in clarinet works, I suggest that first you try them on your regular Bb which hopefully will give you a better sense of the Eb part,
But better yet, the Eb reed you choose should be harder than the Bb reed, but not fuzzy or really hard to blow, (too much resistance)
What you want is a reed that plays easily but not with too much resistance. If you choose correctly you will not be more out-of-tune, but more intune.
You should not buy a new Eb clarinet, but you can well afford a good Eb mouthpiece, chosen with care.
I would imagine the mouthpiece you were given with the clarinet was really not too good, which may be the problem.
Buy a Selmer (Paris) Eb mouthpiece and make sure that it comes with a mouthpiece cap and a ligature. Try the HS* facing.
Really mouthpieces are much more crucial an issue than the clarinet itself and they are much less expensive than buying the clarinet
All mouthpieces play differently and you will have a difficult time finding more than one to try, however you will also find it is well worth the effort.
I hope this has been of some help. I always suggest buying a good mouthpiece for eith Bass or Eb and certainly Bb, for they make all the difference .
good luck, sf