Clarinet mouthpieces make a difference on the quality of sound produced. We will look at the different types, functions and the difference that these mouthpieces bring on the sound produced.
Picking out the right type of mouthpiece is an important aspect in getting quality sound. Choosing the wrong type of mouthpiece is as good as settling for producing poor quality of sound. Having a bad mouthpiece on the best instrument will not do much on the quality of sound. Despite the many types of mouthpieces available in the market, each type is different and produces different sound. Also there are used mouthpieces available in the market which are more affordable if you are on a budget.
Worn out mouthpieces should be replaced because they affect the quality of sound. Whether you are replacing a worn out mouthpiece or it is your first time getting one you should be careful when selecting. The wrong mouthpiece will cost you your sound’s quality, clarity, pitch and brightness. Some mouthpieces may prevent you from producing any sound. There are certain factors that one should look out for in a mouthpiece which are: the material, the tip, mouthpiece accessories and whether the mouthpiece is specific for clarinet.
The functions of a clarinet mouthpiece
The clarinet mouthpiece is located on the upper end part of the clarinet. The clarinet mouthpiece holds the clarinet reed in place. It does this along with the ligature which is circular and has a metallic or rubber material. The mouthpiece is a very important part of the clarinet as it is where the sound is produced.
The clarinet mouthpiece shapes the sound produced. It does so by tailoring the pitch of the sound and the tone color of sound. By tone color we mean the quality of sound. Depending on the kind of mouthpiece it will affect the brightness, clarity and professionalism of sound. In short the mouthpiece is in charge of the acoustics of sound. How the sound is transmitted, produced, received, controlled and the effects of it.
The types of clarinet mouthpiece
There are many types of clarinet mouthpieces. They are differentiated through material, the use of mouthpiece and the tip of it. Since there are many companies that make them it is tricky to differentiate them. The materials mainly used to make the mouthpieces are: plastic, crystal, wood and hard rubber.
The plastic mouthpieces are common among students. They are affordable and are easier for students or beginners to achieve good sound matching the value of their price. Mouthpieces made from hard rubber produces sound that is distinctive. They enhance accurate intonation of sound which makes them quite famous among clarinet artists.
Crystal clarinet mouthpieces is slowly becoming a favorite among the other types. It is hygienic since it is easy to clean unlike the other types of clarinet such as rubber which is difficult to clean. It lasts long and does not change even in years to come. However, they should be handled with care as they are fragile and can damage easily. They produce a bright tone that has a good projection. Performances such as Jazz and those done outside are well suited for this.
Wood mouthpieces are not commonly used as they offer low projection and quality of sound. They are not as stable as other types of mouthpieces. Sometimes they barely produce any sound which makes them the least favorite.
The different types of mouthpieces are:
- AB clarinet mouthpiece
- EB clarinet mouthpiece
- BB clarinet mouthpiece
- Alto clarinet mouthpiece
- Black diamond clarinet mouthpiece
- Bass clarinet mouthpiece
- Contrabass clarinet mouthpiece
- German and Austrian clarinet mouthpiece
|Parts of a clarinet mouthpiece and their functions|
|Mouthpiece chamber||It affects the tone and volume of sound|
|The tip||It determines the quality of the tone and ease of producing the sound.|
|Baffle and tip rail||It determines the brightness or darkness of sound.|
|Window and break point||The hole where the reed covers when placed on the mouthpiece.|
|Tenon||It is what fits into the barrel|
|Beak||This is where the top lip will sit.|
What should one consider when selecting a clarinet mouthpiece?
There are certain aspects to consider when choosing a clarinet mouthpiece. They are:
- The tip of the mouthpiece
The size of the tip affects the quality of tone. Tips are grouped into two: closed and open tips. The closed tip produces darkest tones while tones produced by open tips are bright. Beginners are better off using mouthpieces that have close tips as they are fairer to play.
- The material
The type of material is essential. Those made from hard rubber are the most preferred as they produce quality sound. Wood mouthpieces are least preferred since they have low projection. Plastics are common amongst students due to their affordability and durability.
Clarinet mouthpieces play a big role in the quality of sound. You cannot dismiss the type of mouthpiece you use. The clarinet mouthpiece acts as a connection between the artist and the rest of the instrument. Over time you may need to replace your mouthpiece as they wear out after some years of use. The mouthpiece affects the clarity, brightness and professionalism of sound. Factors such as type of material and the kind of tip will help in choosing the best clarinet mouthpiece.
Do clarinet mouthpieces wear out?
Yes. After using them for some years they tend to wear out. This will depend on how the owner takes care of it. Crystal mouthpieces for example need utmost care and should have a mouth cap to protect them from their own fragility. Plastic type of mouthpieces last longer compared to the other mouthpieces.
How do I choose a clarinet mouthpiece?
Consider certain factors before picking a mouthpiece. The material of the mouthpiece is one such factor. Hard materials such as crystal are good for high projection and brighter sound. Soft materials produce darker tones which are less projected. The type of tip of the mouthpiece is another aspect to consider. Which should either be closed or open type.