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Mouthpieces

woodwind mouthpieces for clarinets and saxophones

The number and diversity of clarinet and saxophone mouthpieces on the market is staggering, add in all the technical terms banded about and players would be forgiven for becoming bewildered by the options available to them.

We have therefore below tried to explain some of the technical terms, discuss the effects of varying various specifications and unravel some of the options available.

The "Geography" of the Mouthpiece

The diagram below illustrates the main parts of the mouthpiece

In addition you may hear some of the following terms banded about:



Table the flat surface that the reed is placed upon.
Window the hole in the mouthpiece between the tip rail and table.
Side rails the side edges of the window.
Baffle the roof of the mouthpiece chamber.
Throat the back of the mouthpiece, also referred to as the bore.

Different Mouthpiece Specifications

The materials used, dimensions, profiles and specifications of all these parts of the mouthpiece can (and have) been adjusted over the years to produce different sounds.

We have isolated some of the key variables below and explained their impact on an instrument's playing characteristics and tone.

Tip Opening

Wider tip openings are free blowing and can be played more loudly. They are brighter in sound and take more control to play. Narrower tip openings conversely are more resistant to airflow, need a little less control to play, and tend to have a darker and rounder sound.

Baffle Height and Chamber Profile

The more the baffle is built into the tone chamber "a high baffle" (thus reducing its size), the more edge and brightness the tone will have. A "low baffle" creates a somewhat darker sound.

Bore

Small bore mouthpieces give a tighter more compact, focused sound. They are more individualistic in nature and less ensemble orientated. Large bore mouthpieces have a broad and open sound quality and blend well in ensemble situations.

Material Student

mouthpieces are generally made of plastic. These are strong and the manufacturing process allows them to be moulded to precise dimensions for uniformity of specification.

Professional mouthpieces are generally made from Ebonite (hard rubber) or metal - although other materials such as crystal are sometimes used.

Metal mouthpieces tend to resonate quicker than ebonite, giving a brighter more projected sound.

metal mouthpieces for woodwind instruments

Choosing Your Mouthpiece

Thus by combining these various factors together one is able to create a mouthpiece with the right characteristics for the playing you do and the sound you want to create. Generally speaking Jazz mouthpieces are brighter in tone and may be metal with a high baffle, whereas classical mouthpieces are darker and sweeter in tone and typically are made from ebonite with a larger chamber. We've listed the prices of the most popular makes and models. Most are available in a range of different sizes.

To help you choose your mouthpiece we've enclosed mouthpiece comparison charts that compare the specifications of various makes and models. For more information and advice about choosing the right mouthpiece for you please call us or look at our website.


 



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