Trying every clarinet, mouthpiece, reed will get you diminished capacity in every way.

Dear Mr. Friedland

The two questions are somewhat linked.

I’ve heard wonderful things about the Lyrique clarinets. I’m trying one out now. I find it sounds great and blows quite easily. I am 20-40 cents flat on every note except the A which is in tune. On other clarinets I am typically a bit sharp. I understand that perhaps this reflects some bad embouchure training on inferior clarinets but can I expect this to correct itself over time? I find it easy to flatten the pitch of a note but quite hard to sharpen it without stopping the reed. So in the meantime, I can’t play with other players, I am much too flat.You cannot expect this to correct itself with time, only with proper practice, guided practice.

I’ve noticed over the last few days that there are lots of no-name (names I don’t recognize like Orpheo, Vento) brand hard rubber clarinets. Some of the them, like the Vento C clarinet, look identical to the Lyrique C for half the price. I guess looks aren’t everything though. Do these clarinets sound the same as a lyrique? You mentioned in one of your previous emails that the Orpheo 450 sounded good, it sells for very cheap (I’ve seen them for $150), and has( merely ???)poorer intonation than the lyrique. Since my intonation is poor on the lyrique , i was thinking perhaps these no-name brands might be a good option for me.(The worst possible option).

I guess an easy feel to the clarinet is what I want the most, both finger wise and blow-wise.

I’ve been trying different clarinets and the best finger feel I’ve found was a brand new R13, followed by the Lyrique.

In terms of blowing ease, the Lyrique blows quite easily as does one of my friend’s student selmer 577. In fact, I bought a student selmer 577 because his was such a good instrument, but the one I purchased is not nearly as good.(Of course not, )  What determines the ease of blowing in a clarinet? I thought it might be the mouthpiece/reed combination or even mouthpiece/reed/barrel combination. Since now that I own a few clarinets, I can move mouthpiece/reed/barrel from one clarinet to another and some of them blow very easy (my friend’s selmer 577 and the lyriques) and others blow harder, requiring a much stronger embouchure and tiring more quickly. Can I do something to make a clarinet blow more easily? Might it be some subtle pad problems? The clarinets I’m comparing don’t have any obvious leaks1, and yet they blow very differently. Or is it that my combination of mouthpiece/reed/barrel is suitable for some clarinets and not for others….is experimentation the only way to find out? No, experimenting will only cause an explosion, terminally injuring any possibility you have of learning to play the clarinet.)

Thank you very much for all the questions you’ve answered in the past, your site is treasure trove of comparative clarinet information.

Dear MG:
Thank you for your letter of recent date.
It is of course, a simple matter to endlessly discuss the blowing Quality of many different clarinets. This is almost concerned mostly with the quality of the reed and the mouthpiece that the person who is dong the blowing (testing?, no, not really).

Let me concern myelf with the evident problems you have been experiencing with your Lyrique Clarinet. Without hearing or seeing you play, and knowing the Lyrique as I do, having owned and payed many,all models as they have developed, these problems have to do either with an embouchure which is very open-throated, more typical of a saxophone embouchure than that of a clarinet, and/or a mouthpiece probably not suited for any clarinet.
The Lyrique Clarinet as in tune as is any on the market, and this is considering the many many clarinets I have either payed or tested. It plays at 440-442 throughout is tessitura. I would have to know your experiences with playing the clarinet or other single reed instrumemts.
Let us simply leave these other instruments out of the discussion. They serve your discussion in no way. They only tend to make it more difficult to determine your own problems. Any instrument you play for a few minutes will give you a more pleasant response, which would soon change to a negative once you get used to the new equipment.
Concern yourself with your Lyrique clarinet and no other. It is for the record, better than any you have mentioned, no exceptions.
Accept that, and go from there. (Put all other horns away somewhere, or else sell them or bring them back.)
Any of the others have different fingering layouts which can cause difficulty in achieving notes, or not, so leave them alone. You can find out what is wrong by looking to yourself, as the quality control on the Lyrique is really much better than any other.
In order to make a clarinet play more easily, you must practice it! Get used to its finger board, the placement of the thumbs keys, both hands and the little fingers as well. Make sure all holes are fully covered each time you play, even if you have to slowly position your fingers properly. You speak as if you do not have a clue as to what to do, and that you need to spend some real time with a clarinetist, one who knows how to play, and I am not being cynical, not at all. Right now, you are not familiar with any clarinet you’ve tried.
This takes time.” Poorer intonation than the Lyrique” is very bad!

What mouthpiece are you playing, or are you playing on many? What reed(s)? Yo should avoid any plastic or synthetic reed until you have achieved an embouchure, hopefully a correct one, and I do not think you have arrived at that point.

I wish you the best of good,. non-hysterical practice habits and a good holiday season.
Best regards, Sherman

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