Random Musings and FAQ
Tip for the Day - 11/15/18
I do like fibre ligatures, I find that they really do not hold well
enough for those really high and tough passages. (I am thinking
of a passage in Prokofieff's "Ouverture sur des themes juifs" as I
type). At number nine, the clarinet plays a "lick" where are 16th
notes, where you have to slur from a high F to a G#, then to an A, and
back to the F, all without tonguing. I cannot play this smoothly
on anything but a metal ligature. Right now, I am using a Rovner
"Platinum" ligature (yes, Rovner does make metal liagatures).
thing about a metal ligature that I don't like, is that sometime they
can impart a tinny quality to the sound. I counter this but putting a
thin, clear mouthpiece patch on the back of the mouthpiece where the
metal makes contact. Try it! It will make a lot of difference.
Clarinet and Mouthpiece Trials - 7/18/2016
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
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
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superceded ever since I came out with the K11e, the K13e, and the K14e.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.
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.
spring, I sold quite a few of the new CXZ_G13's at TMEA 2014 in San
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
For some reason, I
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
Funny how learning
the real data can make such a difference.