If you have already purchased a Clarinet it is important that you care for it with the correct accessories.

In this article, I will highlight the perfect Clarinet Accessories available that will ensure your clarinet is ‘squeak-free’ and performs a Rhapsody that won’t make you Blue!

 

Mouthpieces

The majority of Clarinets come with a mouthpiece, ligature and sometimes some free reeds.  What if the mouthpiece and reeds aren’t suitable? What if you break your mouthpiece? Where do you go for all your mouthpiece needs? Normans… obviously!

Mouthpieces affect the intonation, articulation and tone. As such it is important that you have a good quality and suitable one.

My recommendations are based principally on performance quality. However I am also taking into consideration the price range and their value for money.

Starting out

You have just started the Clarinet. You need an inexpensive, consistent and high-quality mouthpiece. Well, there is none better than our Sonata Student Bb Clarinet Mouthpiece.   At under £25 these mouthpieces are manufactured to the highest standard, featuring durable plastic construction and a well-engineered tenon cork around the joint area enabling a good fit.  It is this quality and attention to detail that allows you to achieve an easy blowing capability and a good tone.

The mid-range options

In the mid-range, I can recommend either of the Yamaha MP range or the very popular Buffet A0101.

If you are an improving and dedicated Clarinetist who is lucky enough to own a quality instrument, it is only natural to use a high quality dedicated mouthpiece of the same brand.

The Yamaha MPCL 4C Bb Clarinet Mouthpiece is made out of high quality phenol resin and features a design based upon the top-grade Custom series. They are extremely consistent in specifications and playing quality, and offer excellent value for their price. The facing of this series is slightly shorter than that of the Custom series at 19mm with a 1.05mm lay opening, making them easier to play, and easier for improving students to achieve a rich characteristic clarinet sound.

The MPCL 6C has all of the top design features of the MPCL 4C but with a slightly larger tip opening lay of 1.2mm allowing for greater volume and flexibility, and normally fitted with a softer reed.

Also in this price range we have the superb Buffet A0101 for those lucky enough to own one of the Buffet intermediate models of Clarinet such as the B12, E13 and E11. This Buffet clarinet mouthpiece is constructed from high quality plastic and is a sturdy, reliable mouthpiece that won’t let you down!

Top of the pile

The ‘Crown Jewels’ of Clarinet mouthpieces, the Vandoren 5RV, B40, B45 and M30 really are the pinnacle of design, quality and sound production for professional musicians.

These traditional mouthpieces are micro-engineered and produced from a vulcanised rubber called ‘ebonite’.  They are a time-proven bench-mark for professionals around the world, with small, but significant differences between them. From the standard 5RV, the 5RV Lyre is more open, where the B40 has the same facing as the B45, but with a wider tip rail to produce a compact and centred sound.  The choice is yours, but you will not be disappointed by Vandoren!

 

Mouthpiece Caps

Dropped it. Lost it. Stood on it… It wasn’t my fault, it was in my case, honest!

All answers received by parents and teachers from their children as to why they don’t have their cap! (Also applicable to the forgetful-clumsy adult.)

Don’t worry, for under £5 you can have a shiny new plastic Sonata Mouthpiece Cap, and for under £10 an indestructible metal Sonata Cap.

 

Reeds

When it comes to reeds, it really is a personal preference, but you do need one!

If you have a poor quality, or a broken one… ‘Squeak’… ‘Quack’

Reeds are marked with a number. The higher the number the ‘stronger’ or harder the reed is. Beginners usually start with a 1, 1 ½ or even 2 strength reed. There are of course other variables, like what type of mouthpiece you’re using, brand of reed, ligature etc. Also remember that, particularly if you’re a beginner, you may change strength in the future so don’t buy too many!

What we have

Here at Normans we stock a full range of the most popular Clarinet reeds by the world’s most popular manufacturers; Vandoren & Rico, and all strengths from 11/2 – 4.

They are supplied in boxes of either 10 or 5 and occasionally 3.

The two main Rico models: the Rico Orange  and ever-popular Rico Royals.  The first offers unfiled cut and thinner vamp (the area where the reed has been tapered) while the Royal equivalent boasts French filed cut. This different cut makes the Royals very popular with advancing students and professional alike. Rico use the most advanced and high-tech machinery to produce these highly superior reeds. This ensure quality and consistency throughout production. The thin vamp cut allows ease of play and a consistent tonal response and articulation.

When it comes to woodwind reeds, Vandoren have been one of the first names in quality and consistency for many years.

The Vandoren Juno clarinet reed is perfect for the younger player. The type of cane that these particular reeds are made from makes it easier for young players to produce a sound from the clarinet, and are packaged in sealed packets to ensure freshness.

The Premium quality, traditional Vandoren Classic clarinet reed, offers an excellent response in all registers and provides a richness of tone which gives body and brilliance to the sound, as do the high-end Vandoren V12 with their thicker cut and longer vamp. Both of these excellent reeds by Vandoren are very popular with excelling Students, Teachers and Professionals alike.

 

Ligatures

Like reed choice, ligatures are an accessory of personal preference, from metal, plastic, rubber and even boot-lace type of construction!

For the discerning student who has misplaced (lost!) their ligature, one of our best sellers is the Sonata Bb Clarinet ligature.  Its popularity is down to being designed by Selmer, keeping your reed securely in place whilst allowing you to blow freely… oh, and it only costs £6.

Our mid-range of ligatures consist of the very good Faxx Clarinet ligature, using a thick nylon material to secure your reed. The high quality Rovner ligature is a popular choice among many clarinet players due to its innovative design allowing the reed to vibrate more freely than other conventional ligatures. This produces a warm and resonant tone which is often favoured by Classical players.

If you are fortunate enough to own a top Clarinet, it makes sense to use the equivalent outstanding ligature. This ligature is the Vandoren Leather Ligature with Cap.  A supple leather professional ligature with three interchangeable pressure plates and an elegant single screw for precision tightening. Your reed – and you – deserves it.

 

Stands

We all know how awkward it is attending to your music while trying to hold your Clarinet!

That is why a good stand can not only make life easier, but can safeguard your instrument as well.

There are stands to suit all ages and budgets. At the entry point we recommend the Sonata stand or even the equivalent Konig and Meyer model. At the other end of the spectrum you have the professional Hercules Stands. The Hercules models can also accommodate multi-instrumentalists.

All of these stands are expertly manufactured to do the job they were designed for: To protect your Clarinet and make it easily accessible.  They are all engineered with solid metal bases, with either a tri-pod design, 4 or 5 legs to make your clarinet as stable as possible.

 

Clarinet Maintenance

At Normans we have a range of Superslick pull through’s, in either Silk, Tiger Rag or Chamois. All of these materials are perfect to clean and dry the inside bore of your Clarinet. However, we also stock an all-in-one answer for the upkeep and care of your Clarinet, with our Clarinet Care Kits.

I highly recommend the kit by Rocket. With its pull through, mouthpiece brush, cork grease, cleaning cloth and pad of cleaning paper it’s got everything you could need.  At under £10 it makes a great value-for-money option. Also available are the similar Superslick Care Kit which has the addition of a Thumb Rest Cushion.

Naturally we do offer the key care items, such as Selmer and Rocket Cork grease as well as the Pad-Savers. If you are fancying a bit of a ‘march around’, the Sonata Clarinet Lyre will keep your music in place… But not necessarily your feet in step! Trust us, we’ve got it covered.

 

 

If you have any further questions don’t hesitate to contact the Normans Team.

About the author

Nick joined the Normans Sales Team after a musical career spanning 35 years; firstly as a principal trombonist in Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Band Service for 24 years, performing around the UK and worldwide, including on the Royal Yacht Britannia, and then within the education sector teaching GCSE and A Level Music and Music Technology. He is a keen Big Band, Jazz performer and Hi-Fi enthusiast.

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