On choosing your equipment, whom to ask

There is so much advertisement available for clarinets, mouthpieces and their various setups, I wonder how a student makes the choice.
It must be quite difficult, what with so many opinions out there allpushed to the background by the recommendation of a teacher, your teacher, or someone who would like to sell you something upon which he can make some money. This is why so many students end up picking equipment that will not benefit them all that much and in some cases with to them damage or keep them from improving as they might.
You must know or determine how much there is to pay for a clarinet in your budget or whomever is responsible for your musical finances.
Here are some opinions I make after more than a half century of professional playing and teaching.
The best clarinet need not necessarily be the most expensive clarinet, or the one with the exotic wood barrel or bell, and these days it need not be made of wood, for there are other materials that at least suffice if not perform better than wood. Carbo fibres and grenadilla dust make up the Buffet Greenline clarinet, and it is more stable than wood, but at a price of three thousand dollars, what are you saving? More amd more as the grenadilla reserves run out Hard rubber is being used in the manufacture ofquality instruments and their price is really quite cmpetitive with wood. The instrument does tune better, is voiced more correctly and has a better service policy, if you go to the right seller.
Beware the mouthpiece that costs rally big dollars, like more than two or three hundred dollars, and for me the vintage mouthpiece is simply more hype than anything else.
If you wish for a Kaspar mouthpiece, it is like wearing and wantng a Rolex, a watch that can be bested for accuracy by a watch costing a couple of dollars.
I find that Van Doren mouthpieces are acceptable, but only that, nothing special. Better and best if the Hawkins mouthpiece. He is a professor at Oberlin, does a lot of great playing and sells a reasonably priced mouthpiece that wil help you to improve.
There are so many makers and refacers out there. Don’t waste your money. As Tom Ridenour knows the design of a clarinet better than most, he always can provide you with a reasonably priced good mouthpiece.
I play a set of Hard rubber instruments made by Ridenour which are superb, mouthpieces by Hawkins and Redwine and I recommend Legerereeds, but you must try a few to get the strength that is correct for you. This is the most crucial part of reed selection. On finding the right strength, you will find an astounding consistancy between reeds of the same strength.
No, don’t go with the flow as it is not the correct way the flow goes in many cases but only the waves made by the people manning the oars.

good luck, sherman friedland


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