Crystal Mouthpiece /synthetic reeds

Hello Sherman:

First of all, thank you sooooo much for your website-I’ve found it very useful. Recently I’ve been considering a crystal mouthpiece so I’m looking for some direction as to which brand/type to choose- I’m playing a Leblanc 1020 sonata clarinet, with a Vandoren B45 mouthpiece, both of which I’ve been really happy with, but from what I’ve heard crystal tends to provide a great range of dynamics with a clearer sound. I was wondering if you have any suggestions as well as what you know or think of some mouthpieces I’ve found online.

One of the cheapest, which some people have left good reviews about is: Pyne Poly Crystal Bb Clarinet Mouthpiece. I’m kind of skeptical about the price, but I was still wondering whether or not it’s a good deal.

Pomarico seems to get the best reviews so I’m very interested in this brand, but kind of overwhelmed by all of the options. What’s the difference between the different facing #’s? And what’s the difference between this range, and the other by Pomarico which you choose from “Emerald, Diamond, Ruby or Sapphire?”

Or would it be better to use a Leblanc mouthpiece because the clarinet is Leblanc?

Any other suggestions?

Also, what do you think about synthetic reeds? They sound like such a strange idea but from what I’ve read they are supposed to get a really great sound, with more durabilty plus they consistently play well. Sounds like a great deal – if this is all really true… Usually I use Vandoren reeds, but not very many in a box play well so I feel like I’m continuallly wasting my money.

Thank you so much for all of your help!


Hi V: I’m happy to reply because I have played a crystal mouthpiece for many years and it was really wonderful, more than I can say.
It was a GG which is the same as Pomarico, and there are many who play the mouthpiece, but in much different facings and you really cannot tell unless you try the mouthpiece. (The Pine Poly is OK, but not great)
Look up Pomarico on your browser, as I am sure that they have a site. Perhaps they will describe their various mouthpieces, however all and each mouthpiece will play slightly differently, so it is a tossup. Order from a big music house like 123 Music or WWBW because they have a 30 day return period and you can order more than one and return the one(s) you do not need.
a VD mouthpiece is far inferior for many reasons than something like a good pomarico, which will accept more reeds and will give you a better sound and range of dynamics. Or it should
(materialof the Van Doren is too glassy-sounding, tip of the hard rubber is too thin, etc)(BUT, I must add that I have played many successful concerts using Van Doren mouthpieces and reeds as well)
Look up Ridenour in your browser. He has a number of products, including reeds and mouthpieces and is very knowledgable, in fact he is the designer of both the Sonata, which you play, and the Opus.
Mouthpieces are funny that way. A lot of it is in your head, or ears or the reed or elsewhere, as there are a number of variables. There are many theories abounding and there is a bunch of money in the mouthpiece business.
Nothing however will give you the sound you hear or want, but it can be helped by a comfortable and intune mouthpiece which accepts more reeds than not.VD reeds are not that good and never were. There are many better reeds on the market now, better cane, better blanks, everything.
I prefer Gonzalez FOF, but have played also Zonda, and XL, both I think from Australia.
Gonzalez are from South America I think and have a thicker blank, and remain consistant for a longer time.
Plastic reeds are plastic, don’t forget that. Think of the sensitivity in your lips and ears, the tradition of the instrument and its heritage.
The people who sell them swear by them, but please read about my 6-month study of the Legere reed which is the best of the bunch, but in the end lacks the sensitivity, although you are right, they do last longer than cane, ….but at what price.? And, they do change, almost from day to day, in small but discernible ways.
No, Do not use a Leblanc mouthpiece, but they are not terribly bad, and are made by the woodwind company. I have played a couple that are OK, but you do not have to play one to play your best on a Sonata which is a good instrument.
Please do read my article on the plastic reeds. I really did play them for 6 months and was quite disappointed in the final analyses.

good luck in all your work and searches.

sincerely, sherman


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