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991 Wildwood Land

Highland Park, IL 60035

Walter@clarinetxpress.com


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Random Musings and FAQ


Clarinet and Mouthpiece Trials - 7/18/2016

Recently I have been asked, on repeated occassions, to send out inventory without payment. In other words, the prospective customer wants to put down a deposit, say payment for one clarinet, but actually have two or three sent to choose from.

Well, I cannot do that. The answer is simple - there are theives out there - lots of them. In 2015 I lost over $4,000 to internet theives.

Also, especially in the case of mouthpieces, there are individuals who simply don't return the trial mouthpieces. Sometimes these are even famous people, names whom everyone would recognize. When this happens, I have little recourse other than to beg to get back what is legally mine.

So sorry, everything that goes out has to be paid for. I can't run a profitable business, or even stay in business otherwise.

Losing one mouthpiece, gaining another - 5/6/2016

Today I discontinued a mouthpiece - the venerable CXZ_K2e. I developed this mouthpiece fifteen or more years ago, and always had a fondness for it. In recent years, it has been a recommended mouthpiece for C clarinet players whose instruments have flat throat tones! It has been superceded ever since I came out with the K11e, the K13e, and the K14e. So it's off the website! If you really still want a CXZ_K2e, just order the CXZ_K13e.......it's pretty much the same thing.

Recently I had an unusual request from a long time customer. He wanted a mouthpiece that had a full rich sound, but required much less air be put through the mouthpiece. I immediately thought of my Chicago mouthpiece which I developed and marketed ten to twelve years ago. Well, the order was VERY WELL received, so much so that the customer started sharing them with friends and associates. One order quickly  spawned a second, then a third order. The mouthpiece got kudos from some very prominent clarinetists.

So I decided to bring it back. You can find a link on my home page, or on the mouthpieces page on my website.

Goodbye K2e - hello Chicago!


Introducing my newest mouthpiece, the Virtuoso - 3/17/2016

It is always fun introducing a new mouthpiece, but it is not something I do lightly. Almost always, the original idea is an answer to a request from a customer that I cannot satisfy with one of my existing models. The idea behind the Virtuoso , is to create a mouthpiece that is free-blowing, yet has a dark sound and fantastic response. After quite a few attempts, I found that I could acheive this through a particular technique of hand-filing and polishing the upper baffle and narrowing the tip rail. This results in a mouthpiece that is very flexible and allows easier voicing of the tone with very minor embouchure adjustments. The dark sound is retained by lengthening the facing allowing the use of harder reeds without additional strain on the lips and lungs. I have found Vandoren V12 #4 reeds to be very comfortable on this mouthpiece, and also the Peter Leuthner French Cut 4 1/2.

Tenth Anniversary of the CXZ_LB "Lawrie Bloom" bass Clarinet Mouthpiece - 3/11/2016

I was just sitting down to hand-craft some bass clarinet mouthpieces, when it suddenly occurred to me that this year is the tenth anniversary of the CXZ_LB "Lawrie Bloom" bass clarinet mouthpiece. Since then I have shipped hundreds of bass clarinet mouthpieces to clarinetists all over the world. Thanks again to J. Lawrie Bloom for all his help and encouragement. It meant a lot to me at the time, and still does.



Rubber in Old Mouthpieces - 1/5/2016

I wrote the following to a correspondent who was having trouble with his decades old mouthpieces:

Rubber is made hard by a process called vulcanization. Without it, your mouthpiece would be flexible and floppy. To vulcanize, sulfur is added to liquid rubber before it is molded. After it is molded, it is baked. As it is baked, the sulfur bonds with the rubber molecule and in the process the rubber changes to a hard and somewhat brittle state. Years ago, this kind of rubber was called "bakelite" and was used for handles on toasters and on electrical equipment.


Sadly, this compound does not have a permanent life. The resulting molecule is unstable. The sulfur wants to leach away from the rest of the rubber molecule. You know that gray/greenish coating on old mouthpieces? That's sulfur leaving the unstable compound.

This process takes many years. As the sulfur leaches away, the mouthpiece becomes softer and more rubbery. Even worse, the sulfur does not leave uniformly, which results in the mouthpiece warping and changing shape. When it gets to this point, the mouthpiece will stay "faced" for about a year, after which point the changes gradually ruin the playing qualities of the mouthpiece. Most mouthpieces can suffer though two or three re-facings, but by then the basic design is totally out the window.

I think this is what you are describing. Your old mouthpieces may just be beyond their usable life.


Happy New Year 1/1/2016

I am looking forward to a very exciting year here at ClarinetXpress. Look for a new mouthpiece by spring. I am on a quest for the deepest, darkest. most beautiful tone possible from a clarinet. Additional products, such as combinations of barrels, reeds, and ligatures will be offered, as well as the traditional  mouthpiece selections. Please check back from time to time as I work through the design and selection process, with the goal of geting you the best setup possible.

The data doesn’t lie - 12/18/2015.

 

I know that it may come as a big surprise to many of you, but sometimes, sitting here making mouthpieces, I get just a little grumpy. (This does not surprise my wife...........). The other day was one of those days.


I was sitting here wondering why my CXZ_G13 mouthpiece wasn’t selling better.


You see, originally, there wasn’t supposed to be a CXZ_G13 - only the CXZ_G11* and the CXZ_ G13*. I felt like those two were going to be adequate and would fulfill the objective I was going for.


In late 2013, I was in London, meeting customers at Howarth's. An old friend of mine showed up, Einar Johannesson. Einar is a great guy, a fabulous clarinetist, and former principal clarinet with the Icelandic Symphony.  Einar said that he really liked the tonal concept of the CXZ_G13* mouthpiece, but would like something a bit more free blowing, with a broader and less tightly focused tone. We discussed what that would feel like, and thus the CXZ_G13 was born.


That spring, I sold quite a few of the new CXZ_G13's at TMEA 2014 in San Antonio, and sporadically from my website there after. But I never thought that the G13, had really "taken off" like the other two mouthpieces. It seemed like a "poor stepchild" of the family. So, I was a little grumpy.


For some reason, I decided to count up how many of each type of mouthpiece I have sold in the last 24 months. Imagine my surprise when I found out that I sell more CXZ_G13’s than any other mouthpiece, except for the CXZ_LB mouthpiece! Grumpiness gone!


Funny how learning the real data can make such a difference.