Lyrique Clarinet Concerns/update

Dear Mr. Friedland:

I’ve owned a Ridenour Lyrique 576BC since mid-2010 and I find myself in total agreement with the praise you’ve lavished upon this fine instrument. I’ve never before played a clarinet with such flawless regulation and even response. Investing practice time with the Lyrique is always a delight, never a chore.

The only nagging concern I have with the Lyrique is that I can’t seem to generate levels of projection and volume that are comparable with my other clarinets: a wood Noblet Normandy, and a hard rubber Pan Am 58N. I’m in an ensemble performing a lot of big-band and adult-standard material and find I just can’t get the sound out there with the Lyrique–playing in a section alongside a Leblanc Dynamic and a Selmer Centered Tone, the Lyrique is easily overwhelmed. I’m using the same vintage Selmer HS* mouthpiece, Legere 3 reed, and Rovner Dark ligature with all my horns. Should my airstream/breath support be different on the polycylindrial-bore Lyrique versus my cylindrical-bore horns? Would a different mouthpiece/reed setup help? Do I just need more time with the Lyrique? Or am I overlooking something else here?

I was sincerely hoping to just be able to use the Lyrique for everything. Thus far, however, I’m still out playing jobs with the other horns and dearly wishing they were as mechanically and ergonomically excellent as the Lyrique. Your insights would be most appreciated.

Best Regards,
G. G.

Dear G.G.

Thank you for your very interesting questions concerned with projection of the Lyrique clarinet in a section with a Leblanc Dynamic and a Selmer Centered Tone , playing big band music.

Both the horns you mention are larger bore instruments than the Lyrique, which may be part of the problem, but more to the point, you are obviously more interested in the quality of sound, its actual dimension, than are your partners. One can almost guaranty that they play different reeds, mouthpieces and are after a different quality than are you. They play with very open throated sounds, probably on Rico or La Voz reeds, their mouthpieces are focused on projection at any cost, and as you say, you are overwhelmed.

First and foremost, do not allow their open quality “whaling” bother you. You are playing on an instrument which pleases you in all the ways you mention above. They are just playing as loud as they can. Their criteria for sound and tuning are below your level because they are interested in only louder,not better in tune, or better sounding. I know that if I were listening to your group and asked each of you to play a passage alone, yours would be preferable. You have already mentioned the reasons. You are investing practice on your instrument and you are enjoying the results. One can ask for little more than that. If you are in a loud gawky section with sounds that are spread out all over the room, you can only play with your own best quality. I would suggest nothing more than that.

One could suggest that you try a more open mouthpiece,with perhaps a Rico or La Voz reed, or a softer Legere, but I would not. If you are pleased with your Legere, continue with it, or perhaps try on of their newest reeds, (the name of which escapes me). You may try a Van Doren 5JB mouthpiece, much more open than your HS*, but I also suggest that you don’t and continue on in your own way and with the quality of sound that you enjoy presently.

Should you change for the sake of volume, that would sacrifice much of the quality you admire in your Lyrique. For louder, never.

The only thing you may wish to do is to play one of your other instruments that seem to be more able to scream with the others, but of course, you will sacrifice again for projection rather than quality of sound. It is a simple choice. Sound and tuning always come first.

I hope that this has been of some help.

Keep practicing.


response from,GG:

Dear Mr. Friedland:
Please accept my belated thanks for your response.  It was indeed very helpful.  Sometimes we all need a gentle reminder of what is truly important when approaching the clarinet, as well as in life.
At rehearsal tonight, I played the Lyrique/Selmer HS* combo but with a slightly softer reed, and approached things a bit differently.  Thanks to your excellent guidance, I put ultimate loudness out of my mind, and simply played relaxed–striving for tonal focus, maximum resonance, and technical excellence rather than getting as much air through the horn as possible.  Once I did this, the Lyrique ‘did the work’–I could really feel the horn resonate in my hands, and it started to really sing.  Suddenly, with much less effort than I had been expending, my tone had that delightful ring that shimmered and sparkled over the rest of the ensemble.  It was quite a revelation.
Once again, thank you for your insightful guidance–and thank you so much for your past Clarinet Corner articles regarding the Lyrique clarinet.  I play almost exclusively in environments unfriendly to traditional wooden clarinets, and thought I’d have to invest thousands in a   greenline in order to have a truly pleasing instrument that I could play without worry. (No, not without worry. This instrument,made from fibres of grenadilla and carbon has been known to crack. frequently.In this case, you replace the joint. If it cracks at the joint, you are in deep doo-doo) Your articles opened my eyes to a most worthy, sensibly priced alternative.
Best Regards,

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