sharp with Selmer D MP double lip

February 19, 2016

Hello Sherman Friedland, I have had some long standing (30 years) tuning issues with my Selmer B flat clarinet. Generally the pitch at A440 on my tuner is sharp by 5 Hz even when I pull the tuning barrel out up to 2.5mm. I use the original mouthpiece stamped with a ‘D’. For some time I used a Vandoren 5RV lyre mouthpiece but still had the problem. With concentrated effort I can bring it back into tune but over longer sonatas etc, I feel I get sharp. I was wondering whether it is a barrel issue. I measured the barrel at 66mm long and has a bore of 13.5mm. should I seek a longer barrel? If so how much longer?


Hello and cheers

AVD  mouthpiec labeled M L 13 was recommended and it tuned well, after all the others.Their version of one by Chedeville, and I found to be superb for many years, if not superior for everything.

stay well///..



Double lip embouchure

January 24, 2016

Hello Professor Friedland,

I played the clarinet 43 years ago and just recently started studying it again. I’m trying the double-lip embouchure. It works great until I get to F on the staff. It’s here where I have problems balancing the clarinet. When I use my upper teeth I have no problem. I just can’t figure out to balance the clarinet staff and higher notes. Thank you, Marty

Dear Marty, Double lip embouchure is actually preferred by many as a way of holding the mouthpiece between your lips, instead of the teeth. It makes for more sensitivity to the sound, actually making a better sound more easily controlled and almost always preferable to any other wayc of  playing the clarinet. When first playing the f on the staff, there is no way of controlling because you are holding the instrument with only one finger, Many players simply place their left index finger above the a key, holding the instrument without using the key which will give you the control you need , momentarily. As soon as this becomes somewhat habitual, you will develop the control to hold the instrument while you are negotiating this problem..The same problem occurs when you play high c., and solved by the same method.

Good luck, and practice,sf


November 16, 2015

G clarinet.

This is really a historic tale.  sixty to 80 years ago there was an almost fierce competition beween Selmer and Buffet

Most clarinetists playing in symphony orchestras in the US played the Buffet clarinet, almost specifically the R13 model.

Gigliotti, principal in Philadelphia played the Buffet as did all others playing in virtually all US orchestras. This was when I first began to learn to play, and of course, what I wound up with was the Selmer. Why?

Because , living in Boston, where all the setion played Selmer, this was my sspration, tp play Selmer, which I finally did, after much searching.

But, as a young man, I knew of the Buffet and its use in most other US orchestras.

Of course, this has all changed now, starting with the arrival of the Selmer 10G, refering to Gigliotti in Philadelphia. Selmer, it is said, actually produced a Buffet copy, or one that was fairly close in response, to his Buffet.

The production at first, quite successful, and some played and responded very well. Others did not. I had two sets of these and frankly, didnt play well well enough to discrn the difference. At that time, we all played in university=conservatory orchestras, and frankly, unless hearing the horn played in an orchestra, a professional ensemble, your guess was as good as mine.

What has transpired since the has or have been vast improvements in all instruments, prices rising accordingly until now and including all manufacturers all clarinets have improvd exponentially , and many different orchestral players perform on both or wither of the different bore, producing a more mellow sound with better resonance. Comparison, these days is simply a matter of ones opinion, and it is all of that, nothing more.

Of course, mouthpieces and reeds have also changed exponentially, and of course, reeds made of artifical material, not cane, but a mixture of cane and plastics of all kinds. Literally everything has changed, especially all materials, wooden instruments are still favored, but many are made fromhard rubber, whichis much easier to,machine nd finshe and stands the rigors of tempeature changes much better than wood. What mouthpiece doyou play? Instrument, and reeds ae the question. Everyone learns to play very well, but the diminished number of professional orchestras are all mitigating factors. that is the whole story of SELMER AND BUFFET


sherman friedland

Decisions, Decisions, and Ridenours response

April 21, 2015


“Thanks for the recommendation.

For the record I once owned a Selmer series 9. It is a large bore clarinet and both it and the center tone are quite sharp in the right hand low register to the rest of the horn. I would avoid it if for no other reason than the tuning is not adequate to modern standards.
Otherwise, being completely unbiased on this matter, there is, in my opinion, no better clarinet to do “gigging” with than the 576 Lyrique. and, it won’t crack.”  tom

Hi Mr. Friedland,

Thank you for your wonderful blog, which is seems truly an amazing work of love!

I’m a 58 year old musician/teacher in CT. Saxophone and flute are my major “gigging” instruments. I’ve only played clarinet a little over the years. I really want to get into playing it more seriously, and the focus would be on traditional jazz and some show playing.

I now really would like to get a pro instrument ( I currently have a Buffet E11, and a Yamaha student model I play with my students with B45 mouthpieces). As you can imagine, at my age, I’d prefer to only have to make this purchase one time, haha!

I have a chance to get a Selmer Series 9, my repairman has two used ones in his shop. I’m intrigued by the CenterTone, and some have said the R13 is the safest bet.

If you had just one chance to buy just one, and were going to do the type of playing I’m doing, what would you get ( or target)?

Any suggestions or guidance would be welcome!

Thanks so much,


Dear CC:

Thank you.

First and foremost, there are no “safe bets” in any clarinet purchase.

And, there are really no “great buys”. You have only the commentaries of many people, the majority of whom simply don’t know either. They may have made a good purchase and like the instrument. Someone else may find it awful.

No offense, but any instrument being sold by a repairperson is subject to scrutiny because it , having been repaired, calls into question both the horn and the technician. These are not idle comments or those reflecting  anything save for 80  years  doing all of these things, repeatedly. I love the clarinet, love playing them, love , even more, trying them, and best of all,buying  them. It  has been a life crammed full with purchases of every horn available at a particular time.

Not only that, but any clarinet you may try, may feel terrific on one day and fairly gruesome the next.

Why? You may ask.

“the nature of the beast”We are a virtual hotbed of a can of  enormous worms, all wrapped up into complicated neurotic tendencies, changeable in nano seconds. The human condition is highly complex. Just ask me and I will reply, endlessly.

All of the above can be called variables.  In obtaining another clarinet, it is advisable to eliminate all possible variables. You mention several brands of instrument, some of which have good reputations, some, not so good .

You are going to be “giggimg” and doing shows on saxophone and clarinet and flute.

Clarinet are prone to variables, depending upon the  material of which they are made, they vary considerably when being warmed up, ready to play.

This variance is due to the ambient temperature outside of the hall, in your, car, taken out of the car and being subject to the heat of your air column, which should be high enough for you to breathe, hopefully. Cold wood hates hot breath.

And you will not be able to get the low notes of the horn high enough , until after the first intermission, while the leader glares at you, mercilessly.

Think about an instrument that is more stable than any other clarinet. better than Buffet, Selmer, Rossy, anything.

After warming up, you would prefer an instrument that tunes well, note to note, and can achieve any interval far simpler than any other. That instrument is rare among all clarinets, save for only one.

Think about the most elusive quality of all, the sound of the instrument. We think of colors like dark, light, crystal, perhaps even charteuse or fuschia. Preference amongst us , is usually called dark. a hopelessly indefinable, not connected to any color at all.Ask ten players to define dark. I know.

Eyes will roll around in the head , people will look at their watches or for any out of this important question. There is one.

Do you play out of doors? Parades? perhaps, a circus, outdoor shows? Will your clarinet stand up to the pressures of being played upon loudly, unremittingly, and endlessly? Will it stay in adjustment? Or, will the barrel become frozen to the first joint? There is really only one new instrument that can deliver these kinds of statistics, one, and only one. That instrument is made from natural hard rubber, and can be purchased for a fraction of the price of any other.

They are designed by arguably, the finest designer of clarinets ,  William Thomas Ridenour.

Tom is in Dallas, call him, speak with him, and find out my true real clarinet.

You may not have to practice as much.( or, you may lose weight, or not)

stay well, sherman

The perfect clarinet mouthpiece. The ultimate test?

January 4, 2015

As is the case with all clarinetists, indeed, all instrumentalists, we go through “mouthpiece phases”. We learn , early on, the clarinet mouthpiece is a crucial part of the process of learning music, playing the clarinet.simply everything, including auditioning, and getting a job.
There are certain graduate schools or , even undergraduate schools, wherein a new student can be subjected to a kind of bizarre musical test concerning the mouthpiece he or she is playing.
I have had many questions concerning a kind of “hazing” that goes on in some schools. One has to play a certain type and/or brand of mouthpiece.

Questions like, “when are you going to get a real mouthpiece, not the piece of junk that you are playing”? This usually means a period of a considerable outlay of money spent for trying vitually every mouthpiece made, and sometimes even paying thousands of dollars, with no direction in which to go, outside of continuing to repeat the unanswered question, “which mouthpiece to play?” Whom do you ask? and , how do you differentiate?

We all know of or become familiar with all of the makers, Kaspar, Chedeville, whose work can cost hundreds of dollars, and the price remains the same, regardless of how many times the mouthpiece has been changed. There are even many who refaced or even created “copies’ of these pieces and resell them for even more money.

In the undergraduate area, it becomes, “when are you going to get a real clarinet”? And, many of us have gone through that absurdity at an even more ridiculous outlay of funds, or their parents have.

But, in the final analysis, if we go down these many routes, how do we choose? I have seen the ads, the recommendations, which are all finally just commercials for the instruments and the mouthpieces. And, while there are many honest educated musicians and mouthpiece makers,(or craftsmen, as they call themselves) there are just as many who are not, Or who obtain a really good blank, let us say, a Zinner, from Germany, and simply put their own name on the blank and call it their own, at the usual inflated price.

The younger player can hardly go through this without considerable amounts of energy, worry , and angst.

There is a famous story about Phillip Farcas, for many years the first horn of the Chicago Symphony. They had just performed Til Eulenspiegel, by Richard Strauss. Farcas had played the many horn solos with brilliance.
A young student came and asked him,”How did you play so beautifully”? Farcas hesitated momentarily, looked up and said, “Oh My! I’ve forgotten on which mouthpiece I played!”
This is a slightly different story, not about the struggles of a student, but about one of the finest horn players who had already achieved greatness. he would play many mouthpiece, just for the fun of trying. He had achieved his discipline. Many are still searching.

More than fifty years ago, I was a young clarinetist, out of work, and hungry.
I had been Principal with the Milwaukee Symphony, at first, quite happily. then , becoming dejected with the repertoire, the conductor, and quality, finally leaving in order to pursue more advanced education. For a while, thing were fairly bleak and I received word of a Rockefeller Grant for new music, headed by Lukas Foss and Allan SApp, at the University of Buffalo. I, and about 20 others became Creative Associates, engaged to perform new music and to create the kind of ferment that might lead to more performance of New Music.
This was really a fine group of musicians, players, composers, wildly imaginative, and we were given free reign to do anything we wanted. Somehow, I became the spokesperson for the group.

And, we played any and everything. One of the first concerts included “The Shepherd on the Rock” by Schubert, on an entire concert of 19th century lieder. The official concerts by the group were performed both at the Albright-Knox gallery in Buffalo, then repeated at Carnegie Recital Hall. Yes,it was quite exciting, and I was very fortunate.

One of the faculty members of the University, with whom I played billiards, gave me the name of a young person , living in New YORK city, and we arranged to meet after one of the first concerts at Carnegie Recital Hall.

We became friendly and continued to see one another when time permitted.

As the first year ended quite successfully, I agreed to return the next semester.
During the interim , I spent some time in New York , and my friend became a better friend.

One hot summers day, we decided to go to the city, find a practice room and play some sonatas together. We started to play the Brahms F Minor Sonata opus 120.
As most of you are familiar with the work, you know that the second movement is usually played much more slowly than the first, myself preferring to play it in four beats to the measure, even though it is written in 2/4 time.

This is one of this composers best works, beautifully written for both players, a melody repeated , with accompaniment in the piano. As the clarinet starts the melody, the piano answers one beat later, a simple note played in the bass of the piano, one beat after the entrance of the clarinet.

The pianist waited a milisecond before entering , and I was shocked literally, by the entrance. The note became an accent by delay, an agogic accent , if you will, and it was both perfect and exquisite. I have and had played this work with many pianists, and this delayed accent was rendered with a maturity, I had never experienced, I was literally shocked, as it was so beautiful. It remains unforgettable in my mind.

And so, a kind of trust began at that very point, based  on that moment.

An accumulation of this trust was continued, and after a little time, we became as one, and we have been together for almost 50 years. We have four grown children , all almost that age.

In continuing to pursue my education I was enrolled in a graduate program in Massachusetts, where our children were born, four boys.(one, in New Hampshire)

During a session, I was given 6 mouthpieces to try. I asked the price and was told 6 dollars a piece. This was well within my budget, and I bought the whole bag.

When I finally had the time to examine them, I found six crystal mouthpieces, all labelled GG. They were made by the Pomarico Brothers in Argentina and had the label GG, because the fellow who sold them was GuiGui Efrain, (the late Guigui),as we later became friendly at Boston University. He was an excellent player, who played everything on a full-boehm Buffet clarinet, in one single piece, something I had never seen .

But, back to the mouthpieces. As we know, one of the brothers moved to Italy and and started the Pomarico mouthpiece company, still very much with us.

Getting to the particular point of this writing,”the Perfect Clarinet mouthpiece’ and how we choose such a thing, we cannot rely upon ourselves. We must seek the advice of someone whom we can trust. Not, some student, or perhaps not even ones teacher, but a trusted confidant.To trust someone with ones very sound is not an easy endeavor.

I was trying each mouthpiece, finding them all quite stuffy and unresponsive, when I got to the third.

From the next room, I heard, “what’s that”? I asked , what do you mean? The answer came back through the wall, “that mouthpiece”, my best friend responded. I tried them all again, and as I got to the third, I would always hear, “that one”.

This musical trust, starting with the Brahms has remained , and it is an important part of us.We are blessed.

As we play , we get much of the sound through bone conduction,and of course, our ears, but we do not hear the sound from an audience standpoint,or even the reaction to the sound from another set of ears not bothered by gauging the response, and playing.

This other set of ears, the most sensitive I have ever experienced, pointed me in the direction of that particular mouthpiece. At first, I found it still stuffy and rather difficult in choosing reeds. AS i got used to the mouthpiece, I became more and more convinced of its beauty, and it began to affect my playing in every way, legato, all articulation, and of course sound, which on crystal is accepted by many as being a preferred material.

There was a lot of new music going on which I found less and less difficult, and the audience responded with me in a very positive manner.

Then suddenly, during the intermission of a chamber music concert, one of the second violinists came to offer me “felicitations”. His raincoat got caught on my clarinet, pulling it off the chair, onto the floor, the mouthpiece shattered.
My home was close by and I went and got another, my spare crystal, with the same reed, and everything went perfectly well.

But the next morning, as I practiced I found anomalies in the response, sound, and everything I had learned to love.

For the last thirty years I have searched for a response and an ease of that crystal, never ever finding one, and have played mostly Van Doren , since then, and the mouthpieces of Richard Hawkins. For a while I had one of Gino Cioffis crystal, sent it to Richard, who refaced it for me, beautifully, but it still wasn’t the one.
Or maybe it is age, or anyones guess. But I did own and love this crystal pomarico, and suggest to anyone, try one, but if you love amd own it, take very good care.

Now, I play a Smith, refaced by Richard Hawkins

take care of yourself and stay well.


Don’t tune your own clarinet until….

November 13, 2014

when, as a young man, I used to visit as many repair shope for woodwinds as I could find, used to watch the techies working on clarinets, sometimes my teacher with me, and then, alone. Once I was able to purchase a Yamaha from a pawn shop, fairly new, and I was aware of the model and all its features. It was a model 62, and looked very good. Upon playing it when I got home, I found several bent keys and a few stuffy notes,but knew it was a fine instrument.

I brought it into Twigg Music in Montreal for a techie to obserVe. Withou even playing it, he took the instrument and pushed the entire right hand keys stRucture against the radiator next to him. Nothing else Then, gave it to me to try,,,and it played perfectly. He ws talking with the other techies as he did these simple procedure, and hardly stopped talking. I was there for maybe 10 minutes. In other words, he saw immediately the problem, and was correct in his repair.

This takes experience. Another time, I was in with my teacher concerning a tuning problem, the Technician played the horn listening, then took a small tool and rotated it into the tone hole next to the bad note, and it was fixed and in tune in a few minutes. This took the ability to hear extremely well, plus the experience necessary to adjust the opening of the correct tone hole.

Another time, I was about to play the Easley Blackwood Clarinet Concerto in Tanglewood , Gunther Schuller was the conductor. I remember it being a warm muggy night. I swabbed my clarinet prior to the performance.The swab stuck in the middle of the horn. It was immovable.(so was I) Finally, one of the members of the orchestra fixed it. He took a small wrench which he had, and unscrewed the hexagon shaped speaker key, which was on all Selmer clairnets at he time. It took three or four minutes, and I was able to get out of a real panic with the experience and his knowledge.

( speaking of swabs, I was once fired from a summer job playinh in small band n New Hampshire. Dyson Kring, the “conductor” and keeper of the meager funds we received, told me that I swabbed my clarinet too much. His name used to make me smile. I guess my attitude didn’t help things)

A clarinetist wrote me this letter “Hi Sherman I have a Selmer Series 10 II that plays well in tune and has good twelfths except for throat E –E is almost 20 cents flat, F about 10 while D is right on. I have tried many barrels and mouthpieces but with same results. I am contemplating undercutting the high end of the second finger tone hole hoping that I will not upset clarion B and C too much. Do you have think this is the right fix or is there another cure for this?

In the first instance, I think the writer meant  low e on the clarinet,but it is slightly confusing. If it is the low e, the 12th above would be the clarion b. The “throat e” would make the 12th abovehigh b and c. In either case, my advice would be, don’t touch it until you can bring it to a technician, one who is both experienced , can hear, and can work the gouger with enough of both, to help you. Thanks for your letter and question. My own experiences, reflecting upon my youth,tell me to keep away until this discipline and experience has been gained. Stay well, everyone. best regards. sherman

fed up, exhausted , In rural New Zealand, and, a response

March 15, 2014

stalled out. I play old time jazz (favorite Albert Nicholas) and hassidic/klezmer wedding music (fantasize Dave Tarras, “the Jewish Benny Goodman”) on an unique antique Buffer C 2-ring Albert system, with Boehm style long keys. I’ve had it for 35+ years and love it. I am using a 15 year old Ralph Morgan C Clarinet mouthpiece, a new Van Doren ligature (replacing Eddie Daniels) and Legere 2-3/4 Signature reeds that could be past their prime. Plays best at about A=441.(response;comment. Ralph Nicholas seems to play more like Benny Goodman, and plays well, especially in the low register, where he emulates Goodmans use of triplets outlining chords(1900-1973)/ Listening to Dave Tarras is much more fascinating, since Tarras seems to be a clarinetist who needed work and drifted into Klezmer without too many chops for Clarinet, period. The clarinet played by Mr Mermin is interesting, but only in the sense of his love for it. The C clarinet muthpiece is nothing he needs and not neceesary to duplicate. It is the length and pitch of the horn, which can be played by any Bb clarinet mouthpiece, without much sacrifice. Nobody who plays C, plays a C mouthpiece. As far as a new mouthpiece for your clarinet, I cannot suggest any better maker than Richard Hawkins, of Oberlin College. Astonishingly consistent mouthpieces, very well made.

… So maybe this is time to revisit all of the pieces.(comment: how interesting that most of us come to this conclusion, which is usually overlooked because of an impending job or , “on second thought“, maybe not. But, in your case, you can certainly use a new horn, more contemporary, which would mean “better tuned”, and perhaps those long keys you talk about, have already mention Hawkins mouthpieces, and I repeats, a c clarinet mouthpiece is simply not needed. I play c clainet withmy regular Bb mouthpece, without any problem. Most do. And , do not cut the barrel short, which would mean a trip to tiger country, a dangerous place, probably, even more so in New Zealand.

The Van Doren metal ligature with it many twists and turn and plates, is too heavy for any clarinet. A virtual shtick drek, even in France, and it is too expensive, and it is too heavy, though you may like its looks. The Eddie Daniels ligature is a fabric version of the Van Doren, expensive, and gaudy with its gilt colors. I is virtually a copy of the Rovner, which, in its simplest form, is the best ligature for your instrument and your mouthpiece.

You ask if Legere reeds wear out. My problem is the opposite. They do neither. I have never found one that has been duplcated. Crazy for a synthetic reed, the best proberty of which should be its ability to play like the next. That, dear sir is what synthetic implies .hey cannot be duplicated,therefore they cannot be revived. Forestone comes much much closer.

The cost of any so-called synthetic reed is in itself punitive, therefore prohibitive the forestone reed plays for a long time, with no real change in the quality. It doesn’t matter what your age might be. 20 bucks or more for a synthetic reed is ridiculous. Of course, when you hear a fine players demonstrated on synthetic, it does sound well. But that player sound well all the time on cane or a bird or a plane.

The best new stick or clarinet for your is Ridenour, any of the variously available models./
. Very well made, inexpensive, and doesn’t break or crack, not even in NEW zealand.

beat of luck , always, sherman