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Alto Clarinet Recommendations for mouthpiece

Discussion in 'Eb Alto Clarinet' started by bobsax, Mar 12, 2010.

  1. I posted this on the "other" site but the clarinet knowledge is much better here so I hope for much more interesting replies.

    I got a nice Leblanc and it's fun to play but a little squawky sometimes around E (r1,2,3,>1,2) (depending on the reed).
    I went to a Music store and tried a Yamaha 4C. It wasn't any easier and the plastic sound wasn't as warm as the HR Leblanc that came with the horn.
    I've been looking at the Portnoy but can't find anything about them. Their site is down or dead. He died a few years ago and I;m not sure what has happened on the manufacturing end?

    Also the Hite seems interesting .
    Here is some stuff from their site.

    J & D Hite Basset Horn/Alto Clarinet Mouthpiece
    Retail price: GBP 93.00 including UK VAT (Tax)
    Facings: One preferred facing: Medium length, .055" tip
    Often known as "the ill wind that blows no good," the alto clarinet has earned a bad reputation as sounding thin, fuzzy and weak. To improve this malady, the HITE mouthpiece has a modified channel and facing design which gives a full, golden-voiced alto tone that is truly attractive. The table is widened to accept an alto saxophone reed. Medium strength Vandoren Java cuts work well. This model is also the perfect compliment to the alto clarinet style basset horn.

    Any suggestions would be helpful or recommendations for other MP's.
    I'm sure the Grabner is great (I have one on contrabass) but I'm not really to excited about putting down big bucks for an alto clarinet mp.

    Notice I didn't say " What do pro alto clarinet players use" :D
  2. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Administrator Staff Member Administrator

    This thread mentions opening the vent to improve the sound on an alto clarinet thang again as I suspect that is most of the problem. But I can't help 'cuz I immediately bought a Walter Grabner alto clarinet piece and everyone who plays the combination luv it. It is louder and the intonation is great. Note my alto clarinet is a new Leblanc Esprit.

    I had a used Leblanc Paris alto clarinet that was very fussy. I'm luvin' the new instrument, but not the price.
  3. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    I've also heard positive things about Grabner mouthpieces, in general. I've not tried them, though.

    You do have an interesting quandry, bobsax: you have an instrument that your local music store probably won't stock a lot (if any) mouthpieces for. Is there a sympathetic dealer around you that'd order a bunch of mouthpieces for you to test?
  4. I'll look into the vent thingy.
    Couldn't find any info on Leblanc Esprit? WWBW only sells a Leblanc plastic alto.
    Pomarico seems to have dropped the Alto Clarinet mouthpiece:(
    It seem like the Rodney Dangerfield of clarinets.:D
  5. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Administrator Staff Member Administrator

  6. I like the Vandoren B40.
  7. I have an Grabner and a Hite

    The Hite suits my Evette and Schaeffer better.

  8. tictactux

    tictactux Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

    FWIW I have a refaced Bundy-signature-made-in-France HR piece. David Spiegelthal made my Bundy Alto sing.
    (I've become a fan of Bundy Signature beaks recently, even in their original facing)
  9. I have a used Leblanc Paris alto ;) It no longer sounds fuzzy since I got it worked on. I also got a Grabner for it that sounds nice. It's more resistant than I'd like though. I really would like to try a C W Fobes. I have one each for my sop and bass clarinet and never wanted to change.
  10. I'm pretty sure my local dealer wouldn't be interested in ordering a $1000 worth of mouthpieces that most people will try then buy online. Plus the demand for pro alto clarinet mouthpieces is not that big. (understatement of the year)

    Fobes lives a few miles from me but I don't think he lets people come to his door to try out mouthpieces. I think his may be the most expensive but if he tweaked it for you it may be worth it.

    Here's the post from Steve on the venting
    I've found the old Leblanc altos that the tone is not very inspired. I then slighty tweak the body octave vent (make it a slightly larger diameter) and the tone becomes more powerful and fuller (something I learned years ago in tweaking my Selmer mk VII tenor sax). As long as you don't make it too big, you won't affect the balance and playability of the instrument - but it is a "fine" line.

    Before I have major surgery done I think I'll try out a few mouthpieces from WWBW . I'm thinking the Hite and Pomerico (because they've stopped making them) and maybe the Portnoy if they're still hand made.
  11. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    Fobes might. I seem to remember that James Pyne used to do this -- he did for my former clarinet instructor and another for a friend of mine -- so you never know until you ask. Is there an e-mail address you can try?
  12. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Administrator Staff Member Administrator

    I have a J.D. Hite alto clarinet mouthpiece too for folks who borrow the instrument and don't prefer the Grabner. It's a nice piece.
  13. Hi Gandalf
    How many AC mouthpieces have you tried?
    I'm wondering how they all stack up.
    The Grabner's $220 and the Hite is $73 (U.S.)
    Is the Grabner that much better?
    Would you put the Hite as a close/distant second?
  14. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Administrator Staff Member Administrator

    For me the Grabner outplays the Hite but maybe not so much that anyone else would know. I like Hite pieces but I usually go with my favs because of small voicing issues that make it easier for me to get the sound i'm after. I could do with a Hite just fine for this instrument in the long run.
  15. tictactux

    tictactux Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

    I think it has a lot to do with "getting used to" a mouthpiece. I mean, imagine you're stranded with beak X and have nothing else at your disposal. Of course you will manage (unless it's a complete dud). Whether or not you'd choose mouthpiece A over mouthpiece B is a rather personal decision, and I'd probably not recommend anything beyond the "good enouth to get started with".

    And if you happen to play your alto in -15°C, the mouthpiece question becomes moot, as soon as you notice ice chunks forming under your pads. ;)

    I'm sure these thoughts brought you a giant step forward...that'd be $125 then, sir.
  16. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

    Does your Hite mouthpiece have the words "God Bless" stamped on the end of the tenon? I had him copy a mouthpiece for me several eons ago, and when cleaning the gunk off of it once, I noticed the little bit of Jesus stuff there.

    He probably thought it couldn't hurt to try...too bad it didn't work.

    He did do a very good job on the copy, though.
  17. That's a goos story
    I wonder if the Christian mp's are better then the regular ones?:)
  18. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Administrator Staff Member Administrator

    Well there is one more level of complexity in my case. I try to have mouthpieces that make it easier for me to move from one instrument to another. For example the openings are pretty close if not the same. If a piece doesn't work for me I go looking. When I go looking I often start with a brand that has worked in the past.
  19. I have a LeBlanc. The best mouth piece I've found is a Roger Garrett. Not necessarily recommending it just saying it's the best I've found. My alto is a bit cantankerous in the low clarion register; it wants to jump a 6th.
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