Sharp 20 cents when warm

March 23, 2008

Dear Mr. Friedland,

Thank you so much for providing such a wonderful and insightful web page. I have been playing the sax for 35 years and recently began playing the clarinet. I purchased a new intermediate YCL550Al Yamaha clarinet. When beginning to play, the clarinet is perfectly in tune both with itself and at 440. After about 20 minutes of playing the clarinet gravitates to about 20 cents sharp. I’ve tried various mouthpieces with the same results. Is this something inherent in all clarinets, is it my particular clarinet or is it me?
This problem is absolutely driving me nuts.
Thank you in advance, Bill
Hello Bill:
Thank you for writing in about your Allegro, a clarinet I happen to like a lot. Though no longer made, I have had several of them.
The clarinet is playing 20 cents sharp when warm. It depends upon several things, I think first, what mouthpiece are you playing with it? This can make that difference. Van Doren mouthpieces will in general play sharp. This goes also for a Selmer .
You must try the Yamaha mouthpiece which may tune slightly lower.
Otherwise, I do not think you ought to be that concerned about it. A longer barrel may help/Perhaps 66 or 67 mm.
Most players have to pull the barrel a bit when warmed up as the open g will be sharp and also the rest of the throat.
See if pulling the barrel lowers the clarinet any when warm. You may have to ad tuning rings as well.

Actually, this could be an embouchure matter after playing the sax. Simply put, you could be taking in too much of the clarinet mouthpiece, which will certainly cause you to blow sharp.
Try these suggestions to determine if any of them help.
But again, go slowly and don’t be too concerned. Depending upon where you live and the ambient temperature, the clarinet will keep playing sharp. And it all depends upon whom else is in the group.
In matters of intonation, on a new horn, it doesn’t have to be you who is the problem.
Let me know who you are playing with and on what mouthpiece. *

Best wishes, Sherman
*A friend once told me thatone can not tell if a car burns oil for at least a month after buying it. I would suggest the same basic principle for the clarinet.


Choosing a mouthpiece, practical suggestions

March 23, 2008

Hello Everyone:
This is a mesage concerning mouthpieces which seems to be in vogue at the present time. Of course, one must remember that this may mean “it is time to buy”. Shall we say a not-so-subtle advertisement by the fleamusicmart. “Hey, its time to buy a 500 dollar Kaspar copy, guaranteed to have been copied from an old warped actual one”. What it implies very strongly is that this thing that you are going to pay a whole bunch of money for is going to make you play just like Daniel Bonade or even Louis Cahuzac. It is the Holy Grail and like Holy Grails everywhere, it doesn’t come cheap. If it did, who would want it?I’ve spent a lifetime playing the clarinet which means also playing the mouthpiece as well and after all of that, I have developed a few rules of absolute necessity in trying mouthpieces. These have served me for more than a half century.

1. One must limit the variables.
We are after all, only human and we truly cannot tell what we are listening to after a certain number of variables have been added. If our ear is the commodity which is testing the mouthpieces, can it be confused by the array of variables?
a. how good and how sensitive is our ear? How is the memory of the ear?
b. What happens if one adds another reed to this mix?
c. Lord, what happens if we add a synthetic reed to this mix?

During a long career, I have endeavored to limit the variables as much as possible.
I try as few reeds as possible, perhaps three to six at a time.

I once heard a very great and world-class teacher say that a mouthpiece must immediately feel better in order to be kept. This gentleman strongly suggested that all students use a “medium” mouthpiece, nothing extreme.(I attribute this last from M. Daniel Bonade.) Mazzeo, my mentor and friend and teacher for six years, never ever gave me a suggestion for a mouthpiece, except for Borbeck, which is OK. He later only played Pomarico on both Bb and Bass clarinet. I once sent him six for Bb after he broke one of his.

In addition I believe that one must have a good reason for trying a new mouthpiece. It is not just for fun and there is no holy grail of a mouthpiece waiting , just out there, over the horizon to bring you the riches of the world of music.(that staccato faster than a speeding bullet, range to a triple high C, and all without moving a muscle… hands even.”)

Finally , a costly mouthpiece, no matter what its provenance , new or old, is simply not worth the money. As far as artist mouthpiece makers, what is the ear with which they are trying their mouthpiece as they make it? (Nay sayers I believe are always out there to justify what they have spent.) One has to be dubious of the craftier craftsmen who speak about their shaping knives and reamers as if they were “from God’)

Will it suit your way of playing , your sensitivity, your embouchure and your ear? And how different can a mouthpiece be? What about those who purposely make asymetric facings? Well, those you have to “get used to”. And you would be surprised how you can accustom yourself to almost everything, but…..why?

With all due respect even more, it just doesn’t happen that way, at least not in my experience.Not after all this time. I did find that after I retired, I wanted to have a smattering of the many mouthpieces out there, so I tried them all, and my feelings are from doubtful to distinctly negative. They are all different, but my word, what a bunch of repeated failure, so-to-speak. Save your money, better yet, sit down and really practice. Slowly. Thoughtfully, Listening.

Play well.

Sherman Friedland

Three Intermediate Grenadilla Clarinets

March 21, 2008

Dear Mr. Friedland,

Thank you for giving out useful comments about clarinets. It’s definitely helpful for people like me who are in need of great advises regarding clarinet in all aspects.

I’ve been playing the clarinet on and off for six or seven years, and I’m going back to play again in college. I own a plastic Buffet B10, and would desperately like to upgrade to an intermediate-professional level wood clarinet. (Although there might not be any huge differences between a plastic or wooden one, yet from my experience owning a plastic, I would love to get my hands on a wooden one. I feel that there are limitations to the sound that I produce and other limitations in the B10) I considered getting a professional one, yet I’m not ready to obtain them as they are more expensive than the non-professional�� ones. I’m looking to spend around $1,000-1,600 as my budget allows me to do so in this range.

I’ve been looking into the Buffet E13 and possibly the R13 as they are more popular recommended than the other clarinet brands. I also had good experience with Selmer. I’m renting a used wooden Selmer Series 10 A clarinet and it obviously plays better that my B10 (It has a fuller and richer sound). From my experience with Selmer student clarinets, they even sound better. Is there any Selmer model now that is equivalent to the Selmer Series 10? I know that they don��t make the Series 10 anymore, or perhaps there��s a better choice for me? I’d like to know if there are any brands or models that you��d recommend for me to look for.

I’d never tried Leblanc or Yamaha, in which yould recommended for the others. Are there any similar clarinet models from these different brands? (For example: Which other clarinet brand might be similar to the Buffet E13?)

Overall, I’d like to know which brands and models that might be suitable for my level. I consider myself an intermediate-almost advanced player.

I’d been playing in concert bands in my early years and now I’m beginning to focus more on playing clarinet solo repertoires. Are there any clarinet solo repertoires that I can start looking for? I especially like the classical/romantic period style works.

I look forward to your valuable suggestions. Thank you.
Hello Joanne L. and thank you for your letter.
I am going to take the liberty of recommending a clarinet for your perusul which I have not tried
but that is well spoken of and for and that is well within your spending limit.
This is the “Andino” , the clarinet made of grenadilla wood . It can be found in the WWBW , which has an online location.
My reason for recommending the clarinet is that you have an excellent try-out period of 45 days. You can get a complete refund if you don’t not find the instrument to your liking.
It has been designed by a very well respected clarinetist, Louis Rossi , is Grenadilla wood and comes with silver keys.
Best is that the price is well within your budget.. I would think that this instrument may completely fill your requirement.
As far as Yamaha is concerned you may try the 450 or the 650, both of which being excellent.The discontinued Allegro (550) can still be found in some big-box houses.There are also many Selmer Series 10 advertised for sale that are used. I would not recommend Leblanc at this time because they were routinely rebored by a less-than-astute owner-manager, in order to get a bigger sound, which really damaged the instruments terribly and we don’t know which were affected.
The new Leblancs are really excellent, however they are also more than 3 thousand which makes them prohibitive for most .

best wishes, Sherman Friedland

best wishes,and pleaselet me know what you decide.
sincerely, Sherma Friedland 21-Mar-08, at 1:58 AM, Joanne L. wrote:

A clarinet made for Jazz?

March 13, 2008

Hello Mr.Friedland

I would like to ask you if there is such a thing as a Jazz Clarinet.
In your experience have clarinetists who play jazz used specific clarinets?

I see clarinets with larger bores and does this make the playing of jazz easier or does the larger bore contribute to the sound for jazz clarinet playing.?

Also,is there a large discrepancy between a Selmer Center Tone Clarinet or a Leblanc Dynamique Clarinet in terms of sound?
These two instruments are larger bore clarinets………For what purpose were they manufactured?

Thank You
I think I have written about this previously, but I know there is no specific “Jazz” Clarinet,per se.
People play whatever they are playing, on the horn of their choice, which could have a slightly larger or even smaller bore.
There are clarinets that have a particular aura or even reputation of being used for Jazz like the Centered Tone Selmers, which Benny Goodman advertised years ago, or the Leblanc Big Easy advertised by Pete Fountain , (who incidentally lost two or three of his horns in the Katrina hurricane), but these instruments developed the reputation after and at the hands of the folks who advertise for these firms. No clarinet is good for Jazz or Classical or whatever it is you are playing.
When I played Principal in Milwaukee years ago, I played on a set of Selmer Centered Tone clarinets. So did all the clarinetists of the Boston Symphony at the time, all except Gino, who played on a Selmer Model 55 bore.
And there we are.
Good luck.

A parent and his daughter choose a new clarinet

March 10, 2008

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your time and experience that you share with the world.

I had to upgrade my daughters clarinet. (Artley Prelude) So I had the music store pull out new R13, E11,E13 and the Sonata. I had my daughter play all of them.

We then mixed them up and had her play them again. I could not believe that she picked the Sonata 4 times in a roll. She said that she just liked the feel and the tone it had.

So, I just pruchased the Leblanc Sonata for my 14 yr. old daughter.

Her band instructor could not put it down… he loved how it felt and sounded too.

The question I have is this: What mouth peice fits this clarenit the best?

My daughter has the Hite Premire now… So our conlusion is to ask you for your help.

we both have read everything on your site.

Dear R and K:

Hello and thank you so much for your comments.
First, I too would have picked th Leblanc Sonata over all those you have mentioned. It is simply a much better made instrument, the tuning being especially good as are all the clarinets designed by Tom Ridenour during his time at Leblanc.
I am very happy for you as I too have owned a Sonata. As far as the mouthpiece is concerned, the Hite is a fine one, however my choice would be a similar priced mouthpiece, the Debut made by Clark Fobes. I own four of them and for a while thought about making it my favorite. The price is about 30.00.

Good luck, and keep practicing.

sincerely, Sherman

Polished bores on some Leblancs of recent years

March 7, 2008

Mr. Friedland:

I play the clarinet for a living. Among the clarinets I have (all Leblanc), are two Symphonie IVs.
One of them seems to have a polished(?) bore. No other clarinet I have has a bore this shiny. I have to look very hard to see any grain in the wood.
Why is the bore polished (if that’s the right term), and is it a good thing or a bad thing? Pros & cons?
Curious to know your thoughts…….
Well I do not know why this difference exists in some Leblancs. I asked the absolute best source, the designer of many of the Leblancs during the 90s, William Ridenour.Here is his response.
Frankly, I cannot answer this question. Can you help me?
thank you.

From Tom Ridenour:
Vito often had the bores of Leblanc clarinets to be rereamed once they arrived in Kenosha. Those rereamed ended up with a rough surface and with a much larger bore than they should have had. He ruined hundreds of Leblanc clarinets by reaming up the bores, making them larger to get a “big sound.” I stopped the reaming after I arrived there, showing doing so ruined the tuning.
The shiny bore is one that got through their “clarinet gauntlet”that would be my guess.