Legere Reeds, Zinners and Babbitts and the Arioso

Mt. Friedland,
Thank you for your wonderful “Clarinet Corner.” Though one may not agree with your opinions or advice 100% of the time, surely all agree with your forthrightness, professianlism, and generosity of help.

I have three unrelated questions. First, what is your current opinion of Legere reeds? I have come to play them solely, and I particularly like the “Quebec cut.” I listened in awe to Richard Hawkins playing with a Legere, though probably he could make a make a popsicle stick sound great.

Second, As I recall you have been in the process of obtaining a Lyriqe clarinet. I have an Arioso Bb which I like a great deal. I believe you also have an Arioso. If you now have a Lyrique, could you comment on the differences in it and the Arioso, and are the differences sufficent to warrant upgrading to the Lyrique?

Third, in commenting about mouthpieces, you have reffered to the Babbitt blank and Zinner blank. What are the differences in the various “blanks, and what may make one “blank” superior to another?

Hello James:
Thank you for your letter.
My opinion of Legere has changed over a couple of years, and I too am in awe of Richards playing/ He is very gifted.As a young person, I can strongly recommend that you go and play for him to get his reaction. He has to be a great teacher, further he assists Legere with their reeds and he helped design the Opus II of Leblanc, as I have been told.
There used to be so much prejudice against them, but that has softened considerably and so have my own feelings about them…. though in honesty I cannot play on them because I feel that for me at least, they are not as consistent as are cane, or more correctly, a good cane reed is more responsive to the kind of playing I do than is a Legere, though the Quebec cut comes close.
They sent me a few with three dots on the butt which also played well.
Anyone who plays them all the time is great and I hope feels more secure about them than did I . If you are using them and are successful, more power to you.
As far as he blanks are concerned, I only know how they sound which is different one from the other, but neither is better. Most of my judgements in fact, are based upon my impression of playing on them, not from taking measurements, which is not my forte.
Many prefer the Zinner because of its rich rather sensual quality, the Babbitt to me being less so, but more regular in achieving all results. Neither blank is superior. It couldn’t be, because what criteria would the player use to express his preference but useless personal adjectives which change for everyone?

I just received my Lyrique clarinet,for which actually I sold my Arioso in order to buy.
I bought the Arioso from a dealer who was dumping a few at low price.I really did think it great but had constant trouble with the bridge and two main joints binding.
I sent it to Tom a couple of times and he got it right for me, but the feeling I had about the fit still bothered me, hence my change to the Lyrique.
It is better in that it looks better and fits better than my Arioso and it is very well set up. The keys look better as well. I do not like the ergonomic register key and Tom is replacing it for me. (This purely my own background and not a reflection on the key.)
Actually it is just about the same as the Arioso. One thing is distinguishable between the two: the Lyrique is set up completely and personally by Tom Ridenour, and his set up, his very understanding of the clarinet in general is well worth the change. However,if you like your Arioso, you will be getting just about the same thing in the Lyrique.
One more thing, my A clarinet plays better than anything I have ever played in A. Years ago, when a student, we would always buy an A which played easier than the Bb because they were always so resistant and totally thick in the middle of the horn. One would have to practice on the A constantly and then the Bb was always easy to play.
The A that I have is also a Ridenour, but as I said, the best of any A I have played. This, I hardly practice the A because I will get spoiled.
Thanks for the comments about my site.
They are appreciated,
With best holiday wishes, I am , Sincerely,


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