Centered Tone Clarinet, special mouthpiece?

Mr. Friedland, thank you for your most helpful website. Two questions. First, you have referred to the “scale” of a clarinet. Please specify what exactly is meant by the “scale” of a clarinet. Is it how well in-tune each note of the instrument is?

Second, I have read that in selecting a clarinet mouthpiece, the bore of the mouthpiece should match the bore of the clarinet the on which mouthpiece will be played. Please comment on the importance of this. How can one determine the bore of a mouthpiece, particularly if ordering by mail. I play on a wonderful Selmer “Centered Tone” which I purchased new in 1958 while in the Marine First Division Band. This is a “large bore” clarinet. Do you know of any modern mouthpieces that would match the bore of this CT? Thanks for your comments.
Hello Mr. T:
Thank you so much for your note and your compliment and your question which has a considerable amount of interest to me.
While it is true that the Selmer CT clarinet has what is known as a “big bore”, it is really not that much bigger than the usual clarinet. I am sure that there are differences in mouthpiece bores, however I have to relate to my own personal experiences which are many, especially with the Selmer Company, and specifically the Centered Tone Clarinet.
When I played Principal Clarinet with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra,I played on a set of Centered Tone clarinets. I actually performed on the CT for more than 30 years.
My mouthpiece then was a Selmer with the S facing. This was a relatively open mouthpiece with a short facing. For more than ten or 15 years I played on that very mouthpiece is virtually every kind of ensemble. As far as I knew, I had had no problems with the mouthpiece, nor the clarinet.

So, I will state unequivocally that the mouthpiece has little to do with the musical product, nor does the instrument as long as it makes available the correct result for the player. Notice, the player is most important. All the rest of it is just the horn, so to speak.

The “scale” of the instrument is important, of course, for the embouchure needs to do less in the tuning process with a basic scale that is “in tune” or is easily tunable. Obviously, the clarinet is a “fixed pitch” instrument, however changes in pitch can be minimally achieved by flexibility of the embouchure.

I have played on some mouthpieces which had different bore than the usual American bore, which produce varied results in tuning. I speak of the German mouthpiece bore which produces generally a sharper scale than that which is used in North America.

As far as a mouthpiece that would match the exact bore of the CT clarinet, it is more a matter of which mouthpiece feels best and tunes best with the instrument.

I have found that mouthpieces are similar to fingerprints: there are no two alike/Try the Selmer C85 mouthpiece, which may be their best/ I have had good results with that mouthpiece in years past.

Good luck, and best regards for the New Year.

Sherman Friedland


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