Mouthpiece advice for one returning to the clarinet

Dear Mr. Friedland

I am 71 years old and reasonably had the opportunity to resume playing alto saxophone in our community band. My main instrument from years ago was the clarinet but until recently it was being used by my cousin and not available to me. It’s been 42 years since I used either the sax or clarinet. Presently I’m playing an Alto sax using a Meyer #5 mouth piece with Rico #3 reeds and it feel/sound pretty good. When I played the clarinet I used a K*8 mouth piece (if that means anything to you) My question is at this point in my life where would I begin to guess as to which clarinet mouth piece to chose. I live in a small southern Illinois town and there are no music stores that would allow one to try mouth pieces prior to purchasing one. The clarinet I have is a Selmer Paris Center tone purchased in 1953 and I assume it should suffice my playing skills.

I don’t aspire to become a world renowned clarinetist but I would again like to play as well as I can with in the community band.

Thanks in advance for your suggestions.R.W

Hi Mr W.:
Thank you for your note and question. This first I will mention is that you can order mouthpieces online at WWBW (Woodwind and Brass Wind), which is in your part of the country. They give you a 45 day tryout period and then refund you for whatever you return, minus a 4 or 5 dollar cleaning fee, which has always seemed fair to me. I have been dealing them for several years and can vouch for their honesty and integrity.
Actually, you will need that kind of time in order to make a choice of a mouthpiece that will be good for you, for many times first impressions can be misleading and in the end ,disappointing.
I would order the following to try on your Centered Tone Selmer, an instrument with which I am totally familiar having played one for for many years.
Another thing to remember is that each mouthpiece of the same facing plays just a bit differently from any other of the same designation, another reason to try them for several hours, if possible.
Van Doren is the most consistent of the mass produced hand finished hard rubber moiuthpieces. The Van Dorens that work well on the Centered Tone(in my opinin) ,are the following: B45, 5RV,M13, M13 Lyre,B40. Selmer also makes a good mouthpiece for that horn, the C85, which comes in three facings, 105,115, and 120. Many people favor the Fobes “Debut” model or the Hite “Premier”, both of which are less expensive than the others, but none of the prices are unaffordable .
I am sure that you should order several, and even more certain that you should try each carefully and several times within the period of a day.
45 days is more than 6 weeks and that be enough time for you to determine which is best for you.

Best wishes,


One Response to Mouthpiece advice for one returning to the clarinet

  1. danop says:

    R.W., your mention of the K*8 brings back some old memories. I’m a little younger than you, but when I was a young clarinet student in the 60s, my teacher recommended this as the mouthpiece to buy. I went to my local music store, but all they had in stock was the K*9. I tried it and liked it, so I called my teacher and asked if this one would be all right instead. He was usually very flexible, but on this point, he wouldn’t budge. It had to be the K*8. I specially ordered one, and played on it for several years.

    Perhaps it was me, perhaps it was the K*8, perhaps it was the LaVoz medium reeds I used at the time, or perhaps it was my old Evette clarinet. I played fairly well and was usually near the top of my school’s clarinet section, but I had a very bright sound. It didn’t bother my teachers too much, but adjudicators at solo and ensemble festivals hated it, and instructors at summer music camps hated it. A few years later, I got a better clarinet and a better mouthpiece, and I started using better reeds. My sound really improved.

    Sherman, you’ll probably know the answer to this. Was the K*8 once the “in” mouthpiece, much like the Vandorens are the “in” mouthpieces today? Did you ever use one?

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