Crystal Mouthpiece, and reeds,

I currently play on a Leblanc LL clarinet with a B45 mouthpiece. I want to try a crystal mouthpiece. I play in the local symphony but also play some jazz clarinet (I like the big, fat Pete Fountain sound). Any recommendations as to the mouthpiece I should try, and the reed that would go with that? And, any recommendations as to the type (brand) of reed I might use with the B45 (I currently use Mitchell Lurie 3)? Thank you. Steve
Hello Steve:
Thank you for your note about crystal and big fat sounds. There are many who will tell you that crystal is the ideal material for a mouthpiece at least in the sense of the sound emitting quality of the material. I myself have played crystal, specifically a Pomarico, when it was eing imported by Guigui Efrain, the South American clarinetist who recently passed away. We had been together at Boston University may years ago. This mouthpiece was called GG for obvious reasons , but was a Pomarico. At that time there were two Pomarico brothers, one in Argentina, the other in Italy, and the mouthpiece was made by the Argentinian Pomarico. The particular one I had was the dream mouthpiece which did more for me at the time than anything, I thought; until a student accidentally broke it during the intermission of a chamber music concert I was playing, years ago.
That was a good place to stop and a good reason for not buying or treasuring a crystal mouthpiece. If they drop or hit a hard surface it is finished, a very good reason for using hard rubber or even wood.
The reason for the sound of Pete Fountain is Pete Fountain and certainly not his crystal mouthpiece. Of that I am absolutely sure.
As to the crystal mouthpiece these days, there is only Pomarico, but I cannopt vouch for the mouthpiece since its reputation is not as good as it once was. There is also a mouthpiece which is made by James Pyne, but that is some kind of clear plastic, and I cannot vouch for that either.
There are many crystal Obrien mouthieces still around and they frequently appear on ebay.
Another problem with crystal is the ability to work on them by mouthpiece craftsmen. Few are able to because it takes special tools and a diamond wheel, as I have been told.
I recently came across a mouthpiece used by Gino Cioffi, former principal of the Boston Symphony and a former teacher. I had it refaced by Richard Hawkins of Oberlin , who did a great job, one of the best mouthpiece craftsmen anywhere.
It is my personal belief that there are much more amenable mouthpieces than the B45, the M13 being the one I played for a while after playing a B45, and also the 5RV or the 2 RV, but any Van doren moutjpiece plays differently than any other Van Doren mouthpiece of the same facing number,although they are closer than any other mouthpiece as far as consistency within a commercially made mouthpiece. Also any mouthpiece is different from any other of the same make and number, so, in the final analyses, it is an individual choice.
I would not suggest the Mitchel Lurie reed as it is too light in the heart of the reed, will not last and will diminish in quality and high register rapidly, though they do play easily. Gonzalez or Zonda of Argentina are better reeds , better cane, longer lasting and more consistent had been my experience.
I hope that this has helped. Best wishes,
Sherman Friedland


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