Barrels and Bells

Dear Mr. Friedland–

I’m grateful, as always, for the effort and information you put into your web site. As an adult student who no longer has a teacher, it’s a truly invaluable resource. It seems like the more I learn, the more I don’t know!

My question for today: I’m reading a very interesting book on the clarinet. The author claims that new clarinets are shipped to wholesalers without the barrel and bell; these items are added by the wholesaler. This is a little shocking to me! It’s bad enough that my fine (and not inexpensive) instrument comes with a mouthpiece that might as well be a solid block of wood — now I find that a quarter of the instrument is supplied virtually at random.

The book was written in 1980 (seems like just last week to me, but I realize that it was 25 years ago now). Do you happen to know if this information was ever accurate, and if so, is it still common practice?
———————————————————————-Well bells are pretty standard, depending upon the instrument, however barrels especially these days are not. It is possible that the barrel can be chosen and matched to the particular instrument ,however I think from the publication of your book, they could come standard, expecially if the instrument is a student or perhaps intermediate level. The more expensive instruments sometimes have two barrels of different lengths and the industry is much more sensitive to the difference a barrel can make, especially let us say with the Moennig or Chadash barrel which temper the quality somewhat. I have students who have all kinds of different barrels and it is a whole little industry unto itself. I do not take it terribly seriously, perhaps to my detriment. I know the Moennig, an imnprovement because of the reverse taper and the rubber insert, and I have heard the Chadash is the same, however back to your question. It could be that the barrels came separately in 1980, maybe even now, but not I would think,on a finer instrument.
best, sherman friedland
———————————————————————- Many thanks for your quick and reassuring response! As I said, I know longer have a teacher, and all the arcane subtleties of clarinet playing can be very intimidating. So many clarinet players advise one to try 15 different barrels, 20 different mouthpieces, 10 different ligatures, then file down the reeds, etc. I don’t know when they find time to practi.
Hope your holidays are going well.

Humbly grateful as always

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