The Mouthpiece Review - reviewing a wide variety of mpcs

Discussion in 'Mouthpieces' started by Steve, Feb 22, 2008.

  1. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2008
    Messages:
    3,560
    Likes Received:
    89
    Hite Premiere

    The "Premiere by Hite" is sold as a student mpc. It is molded plastic which keeps the price down. Retail price is only about $33 and street price in the $20s.

    A ML 3.5 reed makes the tone slightly thin but still pretty good for a softer reed. A Vandy Traditional 3 really gave this mpc a nice tone. The internal dimensions somewhat mimic that of the early Chedeville - narrow width H frame and a deep baffle. This keeps the mpc material from having a large impact on tone. Design is everything sometimes.

    Response was the only issue, and only slightly. I had to play "on top" of the mpc, or articulate very slightly ahead of a faster response mpc. But other than that for the price it's top notch. This will give a student a very nice tone very similar to vintage or much higher priced mpcs. It won't have all the "special" qualities, but you'll find alot to like about the tonal qualities (and the price) .. slighty warm, nice and deep, full and 'round' tone.

    If you currently have a student mpc this is definitely a move up. If you have a high quality professional mpc and a good ear you might find that this mpc lacks in certain tonal characteristics and would be a step down, but you'll certainly save alot of money.

    For the price it definitely is an A, if it was a higher priced mpc it probably would be an B or B+ mpc. If I had some more time I might try a harder ML reed to see if the response issue was resolved while still maintaining a good tone.

    MPC CATEGORY Student
    CATEGORY Orchestra, Chamber, General

    RATING
    LL - A
    R13 - A
     
  2. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2008
    Messages:
    3,560
    Likes Received:
    89
    Original Woodwind NY

    I have in my collection one of those original Woodwind NY mpcs. This is before they started categorizing the K, G, C facings. It has no facing marking on it at all.

    At first I was playing this mpc with a Vandy Traditional 3 reed. It played pretty good. Sounded pretty good. But there are instances when a reed (or something else) just isn't right. Something slightly wrong. And when that happens sometimes nothing else really works 100%. It seems as though my articulation is slightly off and I can't quite correct it. It seems as though the keywork or my fingers are slightly off and I just can't seem to correct it.

    Well, I put on a ML 4 reed on this and everything came together again. Articulation, fingering, etc. Tonally I don't think I lost much of anything going from the Vandy to the ML, though I did not give it a good 30 minute (more like 15-20 minutes) workout which normally the MLs then tend to get soft and get thin sounding.

    The tone on this is well rounded, nice and dark and woody in the Chalumeau register. Good even tone thoughout the entire instrument. Altissimmo was not an issue as it spoke well and quickly. It has a certain level of tonal complexity, not as much as its later K9 that I have but it's pretty nice.

    It's a very nice mpc, not quite as nice as the vintage Buffet C Crown or the Woodwind K9 for Solo work but great for about everything else. There's so much competition out there even in this short writeup so far that it could easily be a great mpc for many players and their styles. For me though it's just missing some of that complexity that I like and the response just isn't spot on for me. But if you like a mpc that has some complexities to the tone (but a little clear) then this is a very good match. I can't rank it a B because it is nice, though it seems to be slightly reed picky as mentioned above.

    CATEGORY - Solo, Orchestra, Chamber, General

    RATINGS
    LL- A
    R13 - A
     
  3. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2008
    Messages:
    3,560
    Likes Received:
    89
    The Mouthpiece Review - what are we accomplishing ?

    So what are we trying to accomplish with mpc testing. Well first and foremost we are trying to give everyone the opportunity to understand the differences, though many times slight, between mpcs and how they affect the tonal quality of a particular instrument. Sometimes mpcs just don't work well with a particular instrument. That is why, sometimes I test a mpc with 3 distinctly different instruments, at least bore-wise. I use a small bore R13, a medium bore Leblanc LL and a large bore Selmer CT.

    But as a tester/reviewer there are many challenges. First and foremost there is a description.

    There are many variances that come into play that make a review of anything up to each individual, whether cars, paint colors, the best pots and pans, etc. What we have to understand is that the variance also may include experience at many different things, such as:

    • Definition of "dark" - everyone may define dark much different than the next person. After all, we all know what dark chocolate looks like because we can physical see it. But try describing the difference between dark chocolate and regular chocolate, and keep in mind that it tastes different to different people. A bright mpc to me may be someone elses dark. It's a sliding rule for each and every person.
    • Everyone has a different level of ear training. Everyone hears differently. After all, what is the tonal difference between a nice Steinway grand piano and $500 spinet special? How does it vary from a carpeted living room to an auditorium? Is there a difference? how about from a Steinway baby grand to a regular sized Steinway grand where the lower note strings are longer and thus sound more "richer" .. we're talking tonally and not the $$$ associated with bigger Steinways To the people that have more acute hearing there certainly is a difference.
    • Embouchure - your embouchure has great effect on the outcome of your tone, of course, it all depends upon how your hear too. But air support, oral cavity ... the entire "playing" thing has an effect.
    • And let's not forget about your instrument. is it properly set up - how do you define properly set up ? any minor leaks greatly affects (depending upon your perception) the tonal quality. And of course the reeds and reed strength too.

    Basically everything can affect ones tone in a certain way. But the mpc review is just that. A review of a wide variety of mouthpieces in my perception. The descriptions may make a difference and help you select a vintage type or a more modern mouthpiece, or it simply may confuse one even more.

    Either way, I hope the evaluations help as I have many more mpcs to evaluate.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2008
  4. Carl H.

    Carl H. Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2008
    Messages:
    1,057
    Likes Received:
    14
    Steve, how many of these mouthpieces have flat vs concave tables? On the ones with concave tables did switching ligatures change the way the piece responded?
     
  5. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2008
    Messages:
    3,560
    Likes Received:
    89
    Carl,

    very good question.

    I did not check that for most of the mpcs. I tend to use a very light pressure on the ligature and do vary it a tad but if a light pressure lig has a problem then I'll take a look a the table and curve.

    If you use alot of pressure on a concave table then you may end up "bending" the reed which will "create" a larger tip opening and it forces the reed to respond to the facing curve in a different way. Then, normally, the embouchure has to make up the difference and pinch to bring the reed back to the facing curve. I want to let the reed respond to the curve the way it was desgned to be, thus light ligature pressure.

    the concave table, i believe (from the picky clarinet players i've talked to) is a method of suspending the reed, and with light lig pressure you get the most "vibrant" reed. Somewhat like the various ligs but in reverse for the table.
     
  6. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2008
    Messages:
    3,560
    Likes Received:
    89
    should also mention that i've been using mainly the BG Revelation lig for most testing. This is a leather ligature but has a metal plate with vertical metal "fins" as the reed platform that maintains pressure on the reed.

    It is also very important to make sure that the screw threads are well greased - you could use cork grease, or regular grease or oil - as long as the screw(s) becomes very free moving. This allows one to apply pressure at the desired level.
     
  7. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2008
    Messages:
    3,560
    Likes Received:
    89
    Vandoren has some pretty interesting information in some of their published magazines. one such online magazine reviews Clarinet mouthpieces.

    It also has articles such as "the experience of a tester" and "how to describe sound"

    Here's a link to it.

    http://www.vandoren.fr/en/vandomag2us.pdf

    here's choosing a reed
    http://www.vandoren.fr/en/vandomag3us.pdf

    selection and quality of reed
    http://www.vandoren.fr/en/vandomag1us.pdf

    It is all very interesting reading this information from Experts in the field.

    Just like anything else it takes alot of "studying" and experimentation to be able to perceive these.differences. Not only that, but you have to be able to play to the qualities of the mouthpieces. As mentioned in a previous post, if you pinch a mpc,then you also "pinch" the sound.

    Many mpc makers who work wth professionals always recommend taking in more mpc, but keep in mind that with the angle of the clarinet going down you should be taking in a good amount of mpc as it is - your lip has to go out a bit to meet the reed versus biting UP to meet the reed.

    More often than not, most players simply do not take in enough mpc (or meet the reed correctly) and their tone suffers or shall I say is not as full as it can be (mostly unknown to them). AND it's a quick & simple solution that is only a little of effort. Of course, many simply go back to their old style of embouchure and thus end up sounding the same as before even on a variety of mpc due to this issue.

    Now my search is on to find a M15 and V-series mpc.
     
  8. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2008
    Messages:
    3,560
    Likes Received:
    89
    Vandoren B45

    Many professional players play on a Vandoren B45. I've never been a great fan of the B series. No real reason, it's just not the sound that I prefer. But this doesn't mean that it isn't a great mpc in it's own right. It certainly has alot of followers and players who swear by them.

    The B45 was created in 1968 by Bernard Van Doren. When he created it, it was adopted by many leading players. it has certain attributes such as:
    • a wider tip (wider, not larger tip opening)
    • medium length facing

    The mouthpiece is easy to play with a Vandoren 3, but intonation and sound seems to be a bit better with a Vandoren 3.5

    The sound is very nice. Very full and "round" though slightly spread tone and even throughout the registers. I was able to get great expressionism with this mpc while maintaining tonal smoothness. The tone was more on the pure side , not as much "woody" and covered tone as the M series I've tried and enjoyed.

    I would think this mpc is an excellent place to start if one is considering venturing into new mouthpieces.

    The throat is a trapazoid - "A" frame, which, when looking and trying to define how it "may" play one would think a slight spread sounding mpc. The Baffle drops down and has a smooth surface which keeps it darker though it responds well to large octave changes and doesn't require as much air stream changes to get into the upper altissimmo as I had to do with the M13 and M13lyre, so overall a very easy playing piece.

    It has rich harmonics throughout the entire range the clarinet on the LL, R13 and CT. probably moreso on the CT by a bit but a great fit across the range of small, medium and large bore clarinets.

    A very enjoyable mpc to play and have. It should be an option for everyone to try.

    CATEGORY: Solo, Orchestra, Chamber, General and probably Jazz too

    MPC: Professional

    RATING:
    LL, R13, CT - "A"
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2008
  9. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2008
    Messages:
    3,560
    Likes Received:
    89
    vintage Woodwind G5

    Woodwind company of New York made some well respected mouthpieces back in their period. This one, a Woodwind G5 is stamped G5 on the back of the body, and not the table. basically signifying that it was a later production model ... later being 1960s maybe. I'm unsure of the exact year of Woodwind production and various physical attributes to date them.

    The G series is defined for "most flexible all-round facing for dance and symphony players". It has a very slight "A" frame to the throat and the roof that goes deep into the chamber. a very slight tip baffle.

    The first thing that struck me to this piece versus the Vandoren B45 that I had just played was that it was a just a little bit brighter tonally. It played pretty well with a Vandoren 3.5, probably a bit easier and less resistant with the Vandy 3 but a little more raspier/edgy. As compared to the B45 it may have responded just a bit better too being ever so little easier to play than the B45.

    It played really nicely on the LL and R13, but seemed to have played a notch better on the CT - at least tonally the CT sounded better than with other mpcs, more full, a bit more power while still maintaining good tonal control.

    This mpc seems to be slightly more suited to the CT than the LL and R13, though would be comfortable on either. It leaves a few issues, which makes categorizing it a bit harder. If one prefers a slightly more open and brighter sound then it will suit one quite nicely. Keep in mind "bright" is no where as bright as say a Brilhart mpc. it is brighter than a Vandoren B45 but no where as bright as a Brilhart.

    MPC: Professional
    CATEGORY: General, Jazz
    CT - A
    LL, R13 - A

    CATEGORY: Soloist, Orchestra, Chamber
    LL, R13 - B
    CT- A
     
  10. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2008
    Messages:
    3,560
    Likes Received:
    89
    Reeds - softer reed play flat ?

    You probably have read me mentioning that a soft reed plays flatter. But why, well, I think I found a nice explanation of that.

    http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/jw/clarinetacoustics.html

    in other words, a soft reed (of the same make and brand) play flatter.
    of course there are some things that can be done with mpcs to make them play sharper in certain ranges. Normally student mpcs are designed this way to accomodate softer reeds. Some professional mpcs also take on these attributes .. but like with anything else there is always give and take on other attributes.
     
  11. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2008
    Messages:
    3,560
    Likes Received:
    89
    vintage Selmer (O'Brien) crystal with Tone Booster

    So what is a Tone Booster ?

    If you have ever seen on WWBW.com these little oval shaped doohickies that you put in your mpc near the tip and they are supposed to improve the response or something - that is a tone booster. O'Brien was known to have done these on a few mpcs, they are very rare and of course hard to find. I happened to have obtained one on a clarinet that I bought where I recognized the mpc as potentially an O'Brien.

    Just below the tip about 1/8 of an inch is this "rise" in the roof below the tip baffle. It's oval in shape and covers 2/3rds of the width and about 1/2 inch long. It's just a little rise, not much at all really but it provides a dramatic difference in the way the mpc plays.

    I was first introduced to O'Brien mpc back in 1980 when I purchased one for my Normandy 4. I thought it looked neat and since I needed it for High School jazz band I figured it was a good choice. There wasn't too many mpc makers and options back then like we have today. I can't say I used it much or even knew much about mpcs back then. What I was told by a few musicians and some audience was that I was clearly audible as the tone cut and projected well above a high school jazz band (even with over zealous trumpet and trombone players) and that has been reaffirmed throughout the years

    But O'Briens were also known to be used by symphony players too, not just "jazz" players.

    Recently I obtained from an old metal clarinet a Selmer crystal B facing - clearly an O'Brien made mpc. The odd, fairly quickly seen characteric about this mpc was that it was longer than my original. The window also did not open as much - more straight side rails. This mpc is perfect for a symphony player. more smooth tone, quick response and hard to discern from a good rubber mpc - but that one is for another review.

    But this mpc is a 3rd variant of the O'Briens (excluding various tip openings) that I have come across. It's design is really the same as my 1980 O'Brien except with that weird tone booster. I did not recognize the tone booster when I first tried it but I had to figure out what the difference was that really allowed this mpc to play so loudly with great ease !!

    In another review, that of the Wells Keyhole design, I mentioned how that design relied upon the player to really learn how to control the mouthpiece's ability of diverse dynamics. The mouthpiece reacted some what like an on/off switch between pianissimo and fortissimo, thus requiring alor more player control input. The Selmer/OBrien really is the better design as the player can control dynamics with great ease as the tone booster simply better accomodates the airstream variations.

    But how does it sound ?

    In a college band that i'm subbing for I had to sit in as 3rd section. They told me I had to basically fill in as the section. So at first I used this mouthpiece and the LL. Not too bad but to get the volume I had to push too much and the resistance was too high for the medium bore. So out I brought my trusted Selmer CT. Boy can you get this mpc to really wail when needed. Not wail in the sense of outlandish brash sounds but extreme dynamics. From a nice pianissimmo to extreme fortissimmos with extremem ease at anything in between. I could easily play as an entire section with this mpc. Tonal quality was very nice, though not as nice as a nice Chedeville type tonal quality. But it was an excellent match to the CT but tonal wise and being able to fill the bore as much as needed.

    On the LL it was a bit more reserved, though limited by the medium sized bore. On a Leblanc Dynamic, a large bore with smaller toneholes than a CT I am able to get more expressiveness than the LL but nowhere as near as much as the CT.

    It also was a surprisingly good match to the R13, considering that it came with an old, lost R13. The tone was a bit brighter than that of a M13 with a Vandoren Traditional 3.5. I would work a bit better with a 4 but I was not quite up to it tonight.

    tonally, across the board the mpc was a little brighter than the Vandoren M13 and M13lyre, though very much in the realm for orchestral playing.

    Dynamic-wise this was the mpc to have on any instrument from a Selmer CT to a Buffet R13. It proved well matched to any instrument. You can easily moderate your dynamics. In an earlier post I tested a Well keyhole design. That mpc was very good at pp and fff but hard to control in a smooth fashion anything in between. This mpc design is the better design for more controlled but excessve dynamics. Very nice and very easy to play. It's a regular O'Brien crystal with that special Tone Booster built in.

    Pics of Obrien crystals
    http://www.clarinetperfection.com/CLgal ... HTM#obrien

    Pics including Selmer Crystal
    http://www.clarinetperfection.com/CLgal ... HTM#Selmer


    CATEGORIES: Solo, Chamber, Orchestra, General, Jazz

    RATING
    CT, R13, LL: A
     
  12. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Administrator Staff Member Administrator

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2007
    Messages:
    5,536
    Likes Received:
    141
    Kessler sells a tone booster for saxophones. It's an insert that fits into the corked end of the neck before the mouthpiece is put on. It is said to focus the air flow a little and when I used it on the Kessler Custom I was very pleased with the result. I think Chuck turns them on a metal lathe.
     
  13. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2008
    Messages:
    3,560
    Likes Received:
    89
    Yes, here's a link
    http://www.kesslermusic.com/KesslerCust ... ooster.htm

    To me, since my dad taught me plumbing years ago ... i looks like regular copper/brass tubing that you can get from HomeDepot then use the normal tools to expand or contract it to fit a neck, and curl the end a bit (partial roll). Not too difficult to make. It centers the sound a bit more and increases the resistance a bit.

    And of course, for a Saxophone
     
  14. Bill

    Bill

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    I play a Frank Wells (Handmde) mouthpiece from the early 1970's with an R-13 from about the same time. Vandoran #4's fit the set up very nicely. I have another Well's as a spare and then a Kaspar that I use occasionally. I have not changed my set up for over 30 years. Actually I would be a little afraid to. I have played all types of music with it with no problems: classical, jazz, lead clarinet in big bands...so I have been really happy over the years. I'll be in real trouble though if it is dropped, it would be very hard to replace.

    Bill

    http://www.billpayne.wordpress.com
     
  15. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2007
    Messages:
    10,649
    Likes Received:
    378
    Hi, Bill! Nice to have you aboard!
     
  16. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2008
    Messages:
    3,560
    Likes Received:
    89
    This past weekend I had the opportunity to reface 3 mouthpieces. 1 no-name, 1 HIte and another 'made in france' and stamped N4 next to the table.

    I certainly was not expecting much from these 3, with the Hite having name recognition but being more for the jazz player. The "N4 certainly was surprising. It had this very nice ringing & woody tonal quality - reminds me of those sought after early Chedeville/Kaspers.

    This "N4" mpc could give any clarinet that sought after "ringing" tonal quality .... it just kind of oozed out of this mpc. You didn't really have to work at it at all. This just goes to show you that sometimes you find a mpc that is just combining the right materials and design, or could be the right blank, and can really surprise the player. I certainly will be on the lookout for french "N4"s from this point out ... I'm sure they go for real cheap.
     
  17. Ed

    Ed Founder Staff Member Administrator

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2007
    Messages:
    2,748
    Likes Received:
    11
    The N4's are probably Riffult blanks. I have some floating around the house and agree that they have good stuff in them.
     
  18. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2007
    Messages:
    10,649
    Likes Received:
    378
    Which can probably be removed with alcohol or bleach.
     
  19. Ed

    Ed Founder Staff Member Administrator

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2007
    Messages:
    2,748
    Likes Received:
    11
    Now that's funny! :p
     
  20. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2008
    Messages:
    3,560
    Likes Received:
    89
    Vandoren 2RV

    I haven't done a mouthpiece review lately due to lack of time. been very busy trying to get clarinets and saxes fixed up and shipped back to their owners. It's amazing how quickly one looses the comfort of a clarinet embouchure and the air support to support harder reeds. When your air support is not there a 3.5 can sound airy, but when everything "clicks" together again that airiness goes away. Now, if i can only get rid of that dizziness !!

    But even after a month reprieve (from my last concert on clarinet) I was able to quickly move up from a 3 to a 3.5 Vandoren Traditional. And my dizzness is probably due to my kids eating my lunch, rather than myself.

    I pulled out one of the boxes of mouthpieces I had and grabbed a Vandoren 2RV. Now the 2RV is supposedly the old name for the 5RV. Vandoren, due to a marketing change changed the name from 2 RV to 5 RVin the US. But they supposedly called it the 5RV in Europe. Also, there apparently was a "french" 2RV which has slightly different characteristics than the 5RV/American 2RV which had a closer facing. Anyways this changed occurred sometime before 1999 and now it is called a 5RV.

    The first thing I noticed on my Leblanc LL is that the 5 . .err .. 2RV is easy to blow, and seems reed friendly playing both the Vandoren and the Mitchell Laurie reeds quite easily, though the Vnady seems to sound better as they have more thickness in the middle to them creating a generally more fuller tone.

    The 2RV has good response top to bottom and easily speaks into altissimmo. You could push very easily with this mpc and get some pretty good fortissimmos and then get whisper quite again. A very nice mouthpiece for flexibility. But tonally it was just not spectacular for me. It didn't help provide an extremely woody tone nor much of a ring. The lower register spoke well and sounded good though wasn't reminiscent of those great soloist tone that you hear on recordings or over the radio.

    Overall I think a good practice mouhtpiece and good for students though I don't think many players will be grabbing one as their primary mouthpiece, as least not for me on my LL

    On my R13 I came to be about the same conclusions except it seems to have a bit more resistance. The tone was very nice and woody though lacks more character which I prefer. Very nice playing mouthpiece and great for blending in a larger group and for that matter, if one likes the tonal quality, great for soloing in too.

    CATEGORY: Solo, Orchestra, Chamber
    R13/LL RATING: A - B

    CATEGORY: General,
    R13/LL RATING: A

    < CT review coming soon >
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2008

Share This Page

Our staff's websites:


Loading...