What is an adjustable Thumb Rest? Are some serious?

I have never played the clarinet with an adjustable thumb rest until very recently when I purchased an Arioso Clarinet, then a Lyrique.These instruments, as is well known are made of hard rubber.Ebonite has a sweeter less strident response than does wood, any wood. I have found that the material and the excellent intonation and even quality of sound engineered by Tom Ridenour are among the best clarinets I have played. Actually they are a beautiful sounding clarinet, fun to play, and just about ideal.

They are outfitted with an adjustable thumb rest.  Defining adjustable means a thumb rest that is placed at exactly the place of the ordinary thumb rest. That is to say, parallel with the key-cup of the B/F#, or perhaps  very slightly below. At this very point it sould be at its midpoint of its adjustable mechanism, meaning it can be raised or lowered from the placement of the ordinary thumb rest. Then we would have an actual adjustable thumb rest. The thumb rest on both my Arioso and Lyrique clarinets are identical. One must lower the adjustment in order to get the thing close to the ordinary position. If not, the index and second finger will brush past the keys of the clarinet. Before you criticize the writer, remember that I have ordinary or short fingers and that I have been a successful clarinetist for more than 60 years. I have tried thousands of clarinets, both as a teacher, and as a clinician for the Selmer Company. The thumb rest of both the Lyrique and the Arioso are too high and cannot be lowered, and, they are placed in such a way as to have ones middle finger brush against the fork F# key when passing it. It is a small amount but, since I moved mine, it is much better.

Finally, I have come upon a correct adjustable thumb rest, one that is adjusted at the midpoint and able to be moved either up or down, a simple beautifullly designed adjustable thumb rest.

I have been through really agonizing difficulty with the Arioso and Lyrique thumb rests and I have sent both clarinets back to Mr. Ridenour, however he is loathe to fix or replace them. This is similar to his refusal to change that inane and insane thermonuclear register key, which does nothing but get in the way. I have stopped playing my Lyrique because I have others that play better and are more comfortable for my fingers.

I still love the clarinet , play it each and every day, still play new music and am thoroughly annoyed with supposed “down-home” kind of people disguising real intellects refusing to accept anything against their original idea.

Best wishes, keep practicing.



The thumb rest is usually located perhaps a millimeter or two below the key which is part of the f#/b, sometimes called the fork fingering. But, the thumb rest is supposed to be adjustable from this mid-position either up or down. On the Lyrique clarinet, it must be lowered as far down as possible  in order to accomodate my thumb position and it is still barely low enough. This thumb rest is also too narrow and is a badly shaped thing,too big and held down by three screws. Frankly , I have great fingers and have played for more than 60 years and I cannot get comfortable with this brutish contrivance. I have asked Tom to move it or change it, but I find him unwilling to change or move it, and finally have given up. I was fed up with the horn because of discomfort until I came across a properly constructed adjustable thumb rest, beautifully engineered, perfectly contoured and located so that it can be either raised or lowered.

How many of you out there with these adjustable thumb rests find them convenient? Frankly I wonder about the idea of them in the first place. My question is simply why? So many wonderful players never had an adjustable thumb rest. Is this thing some kind of gimmick as are so many others now being made for clarinetists? I wonder. S

A note from Tom Ridenour

This is an issue we need to discuss and I’m in the process of doing it. It may take a while  but it will be done..


4 Responses to What is an adjustable Thumb Rest? Are some serious?

  1. danop says:

    I have large hands, and I never really felt completely comfortable with the standard small clarinet thumb rest. In college, I was given a piece of surgical tubing to put on it, and it did help. On day during a lesson, my clarinet professor suggested that if my thumb rest was a little bit higher, my hand would be more comfortable. He told me that he had new holes drilled on his own clarinet to move his thumb rest up. He turned my thumb rest around (I never had new holes drilled), but I’m not sure if this really helped.

    I bought a Buffet adjustable thumb rest a few years later thinking that it might help, but it was smaller than those used today. It never was very comfortable. Many years later, I put the newer and larger Buffet adjustable thumb rest on my clarinet, and I’m still using it.

    I later read an article (I can’t remember where) which suggested that the standard thumb rest placement is probably the best; it’s the spot that is supposedly most comfortable for the right hand. I’ve been keeping my thumb rest in about the standard position. I like the Buffet adjustable thumb rest, and for me, the larger size is good. I recently bought a BG thumb cushion for it, and I finally feel that I have something comfortable.

    Sherman, I can understand your frustration. No two right hands are exactly the same, and the ideal thumb rest for one person might be a disaster for someone else. I am happy to see the wide variety of products designed to fit on the thumb rest.

  2. dhinton says:

    I ahve to agree with danop — I’ve had my clarinet thumb rests moved up for about 30 years now and it’s made a huge difference! Lately I’ve developed a bunion (or some such bump) at the thumbnail side of the middle joint and haven’t been able to stand any weight there at all. I purchased a plastic Kooiman thumbrest (the Etude) and found it helped a lot. It didn’t quite fit my hand, however, so I splurged on the Maestro2 and have found it most satisfactory. I’m back to playing several hours a day without pain! I perhaps should mention that I play a Buffet full boehm which I’ve owned since it was new in 1967! The intonation was greatly improved by switching to a Backun Barrel (his shop is just 30 minutes away from me)

    Cheers, Dallas in Vancouver, BC, Canada

  3. lwd7237 says:

    I would guess that Tom Ridenour’s thumb rest is positioned to accommodate his Thumb Saddle. It adds significant thickness to the bottom of the rest. I have been using one for awhile on my Buffet; I bought it as a corrective measure to improve the position/curvature of my right-hand fingers. It took a couple of days to get used to, but it did the trick and it’s very comfortable.

  4. Hello everyone. In the final analyses, if you have arthritis in your right hand as I have found I have, there really isn’t a thumbrest that will be perfect. Learning to cope with my hand condition is really most of the problem. The thumb is the poorest designed joint in the body. And it does the most work. As we got older, there is wear and tear and for a clarinetist, it can be considerable. Low intensity Lazer Therapy has helped me considerably. I would advise it for anyone with a thumb problem, discomfort of any kind. Also those slings which connect to a hole in he thumb rest can be of help in supporting the horn. I still thinkl the Lyrique thumbrest is placed poorly, as it shoud be lower, and also capable of moving in either direction. S.

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