Looking for the mouthpiece at the end of the rainbow

Dear Mr. Friedland,
We have visited before, and I really appreciated your help and insightful information. I have played clarinet since the 1950’s, and I still have the Selmer HS* mouthpiece that was recommended at that time.In spite of the
fact life gets complicated when you turn 21, I always managed to have an oldclarinet around. Even during my service years in the Navy, albeit I chose
an electronic field instead of music…and that would be another story, for a different time if you are interested! With work and family my playing was tenuous at best, but never totally neglected. In my youth I listened ad nausium to Goodman, Shaw and many others. I loved trad jazz and the sound of the Dixieland clarinet, and the notes stayed in my head. A number of years ago I had the opportunity to play jazz and standards again, and it has beensuch a joy for me. I have met and worked with some wonderful players, and
continue to learn from them.

My dilemma, if you will, results mostly from trying different mouthpieces,and never finding the perfect one! Obviously my expectations are notrealistic, but my first question when I meet another clarinet player is:”what mouthpiece, what reed”. For reasons I’m not sure of, or perhaps when
I started playing again, the old clarinet I purchased had a Selmer
(student)Golden tone 3. Not giving a lot of thought about it at the time, it has a nice bright (not too bright) sound. The upper register is somewhat difficult but not impossible. Later…my friend (world class player) Scott Alberici was playing an Obrien five star, so I had to have one of those.
Wow!The most beautiful tone I can get is with this mouthpiece! However,it is much more difficult to articulate the upper register, and the ower notes are soft and do not have the carrying power. This mouthpiece requires a large bore instrument, or short barrel. Having said that, this is awonderful mouthpiece for doing beautiful old ballads and standards in a club setting. This is especially true with a quartet or small group, and the
clarinet being the only wind instrument. Another friend uses the Vandoren B45, so I tried one of those.My understanding is, the mouthpiece replace the HS* to give students a less edgy sound? I also have a Mitchell M4 anddo not notice a lot of difference from the B45.
adly, now when I try to play my old HS* it seems difficult to get nice tone! And I consider that to be the most important part of my playing!However, when I do find a decent reed that works with the HS* it is amazinghow effortlessly it plays, and allows one to articulate all registers with great speed and facility. My question, and I apologize for taking so long,please forgive! A wonderful legit clarinet group called: The Roadkill Clarinet Quintet with Mr. Russell Coleman, you may know of them. After oneof their performances we discussed mouthpieces, and he uses the Portnoy BPO2. Naturally I’m wanting to try the BPO2 now, but wonder how it may
compare to the B45 and others I have tried???
I hope it is ok if I follow up later with a few more questions, and
thoughts? It is just unbelievable to me that I could have such a
wonderful source as yourself for information. Things I havwondered about for 50 years I suppose.I came from meager beginnings living in a really small town in N.E. Missouri. All I had was an old Bundy 1400 and one of he old original H.Klose’ books. It was like a video game for me, playing all the finger busters.

Much thanks,

First and foremost you are more than welcome to write in as many questions
as you would like, it will give me pleasure to respond.
As to mouthpiece, everyone has a different choice and we all change from
time to time, changing reeds changes the equarion, so do reed strengths,
I do not like the selmer mouthpiece any longer and feel there are better
ones out there.
Portnoy was a performer in the Met Opera Orchestra if memory serves, but his
mouthpiece may suit you. All you have to do it try it or one like it once to
know. The problem is that every mouthpiece from a particular m aker or will
play differently to an extent, so by trying more you will always get
yourself into a situation wherein you stop playing out of confusion or
frustration, so my sincere recommendation is to pick a mouthpiece that
immediately plays better than the one you had or have. Then stick to that
mouthpiece for as long as it stays practical, forever being ideal.
I recommend a very inexpensive mouthpiece made by an excellent maker and
clarinet, Clark Fobes, and the mouthpiece I recommend is the Debut wich is
only about 30 dollars and they all seem to play well, and very close to one
I also prefer Van Doren M13 highly especially if you prefer a brighter sound
and they are well made and in tune.
Frankly I have never played a Portnoy, but if you could try one for just a
moment, you will know.
Daniel Bonade, one of the great teachers said that a mouthpiece must be
medium,nothing extreme in facing and that you must immediately feel as if it
is better than one you are playing currently, ….and I always use that
advice when I am asked.
Keep mouthpiece considerations simple, for there is enough complication in
I also consider if the new mouthpiece plays the most reeds as well.
If one you try only plays on one particular reed, the others less so, dumpy the mouthpiece.
There is one that will play for you, trust me, just be patient and do not get carried away with many mouthpieces. I have friends who do this, always looking for something magic.
There is nothing magic, believe me.

Goos luck and stay well.


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