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[Mouthpiece Nomenclature] [Mouthpiece Differences and How to Play Them Correctly]
[Beechler] [Buffet] [ Chedeville] [Eaton] [Grabner] [Larry Combs] [ G. Langenus ] [ Otto Link ]
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Tip Rail - the Tip Rail is at the very tip of the mouthpiece. It is curved, the approximate same shape as the tip of a reed.
Side Rails - The Side Rails are designed as a curve from the table to the tip rail. Side rails are best when they represent a nice smooth arc. Playing and response problems can occur when these rails are uneven to each other or do not represent a nice smooth arc.
Table - The table is the flat part that the reed is placed on. Table that are perfectly flat are preferred. Table with concave sections can also be preferred but one must not over tighten a ligature as this will create issues with the reed curving away from the rails.
Window - the opening between the Table, Rails and Tip Rails. A longer, narrower window creates and even, balanced resistance. There are various shapes dependent upon design intent.
Beak - the angled portion of the mouthpiece that you insert into your mouth
Ligature Lines - Identified as the optimal place to put a ligature by lines on the Body. Place the ligature in between these lines.
Ligature - The device that holds the reed to the mouthpiece
Toothpatch - a rubber patch that is placed on the top of the beak. This allows a comfort for the teeth and protects the beak.
Reed - Cane or Synthetic material
Tip Opening - The size of the tip opening.
Facing Curve - This is the side rails as they curve away from the table. They can vary per the overall length dependent upon the design of the mouthpiece. The more the curve the larger the tip opening. Over time a player's reeds may bend and make the tip opening smaller than what it was designed for (the reason to always take the reed off of the mouthpiece and place on a flat glass or reed holder). This is also the case of the player's embouchure is too close to the tip of the mouthpiece - they will essentially close down the tip opening more than normal.
How to Identify how to play a Mouthpiece (a lesson on how they vary and how to vary your embouchure)
In general, there are certain specifications which will make mouthpieces play
a particular way (excluding the internal design), the following basic information is provided to assist in
understanding that information. This is general information, it may not be
specific to a specific mouthpiece as designs vary to overcome certain
There are 3 important items to a mouthpiece:  Facing Length;  Tip Opening; and  Your Embouchure
FACINGS - a Table Facing is the length and
shape of the "curve" that occurs from the table to the tip. The
facings helps define the Tip Opening.
In General, the shorter the facing curve the quicker the reed responds, therefore quick notes are easier to play. But, in general, lower tonal qualities are also affected and become not as sonorous as a Medium facing. Whereas, in general, a long facing has excellent low note tonal qualities but mouthpieces are slow to respond. Thus, in general, the best for most players is a medium facing.
|Facing Length||Approximate Length|
|Short||15 millimeter (0.59 of an inch)|
|Medium Short||16 mm (0.629 ")|
|Medium||17 mm (0.669 ")|
|Medium Long||18 mm (0.708 ")|
|Long||19 mm (0.748 ")|
|Very Long||20 or greater (0.787 ")|
TIP OPENINGS - The Tip Opening is the amount of
distance from the tip of the reed to the tip of the mouthpiece.
In General, the larger the tip the softer the reed that is used. This is also dependent upon the Facing Length. Manufacturers will use a variety of combinations of long facings and large tips to short facings and large tips, or any variety to obtain a certain response and flexibility. Reeds also play an important factor.
|Tip Definition||Approximate Opening|
|Very Closed||0.95 mm (0.037 of an inch)|
|Closed||1.00 mm (0.039 ")|
|Medium Close||1.05 mm (0.041 ")|
|Medium||1.10 mm (0.043 ")|
|Medium Open||1.15 mm (0.045 ")|
|Open||1.20 mm (0.047 ")|
|Very Open||1.25 mm (0.049 ")|
|Extremely Open||1.30 or greater (0.051")|
- Why do I list the Embouchure in regards to mouthpieces?
Basically, in order to obtain the "most" from a mouthpiece your embouchure has to take into account the Facing Length. If your embouchure does not then you are basically using a mouthpiece that is vastly different from what is is designed for.
For example, if your embouchure lower lip was always at the 12mm mark then no matter the Facing Length you are going to close up the reed to the 12mm mark (or you will get air leaks after your embouchure) no matter if you are using a mouthpiece with a very long facing of 20mm or a short facing of 15 mm.
This is basically shortening the Facing Length and Closing the Tip Opening because as you tighten your embouchure the reed is closing on the "curve" of the Facing Length and the tip opening is thus decreasing.
So in essence you are "choking" the sound.
Your embouchure would make most mouthpieces sound the same, and all instruments sound approximately the same. If you learn to vary your Embouchure (if you change mouthpieces), you will get the most from each individual mouthpiece and your tonal qualities per mouthpiece and instrument will vary more.
For example, let us assume that in order to use the correct embouchure that your lower lip is 2 mm farther in than the length of the Facing Length. As you used shorter or longer Facing Length mouthpieces you have to be able to identify this.
A quick test to determine a Facing Length is to use a piece of paper, or a playing card. Place this between the reed and the mouthpiece. Your lower lip should be placed about where paper stops. This is a good and quick guide on your embouchure lower lip location. If you have more than one mouthpiece try this test on them and see how they differ.
This moutpiece offers a little wider throat than normal mouthpieces. This allows more air flow, and thus a louder tone when necessary. At the tip there is a slight roll-over baffle for more brightness and faster airflow. This is more of a sax-clarinet doublers mouthpiece and good for jazz.
1930s Buffet - Evettine in top scroll - Buffet emblem below lower ligature lines
These 2 Buffet C Crown mouthpieces are from different generations. Unfortunately I forgot which was from which. One is from a 1974 R-13, the other is an earlier model. The distinct differences are that  one has a slightly longer beak;  one throat wide is wider,  and the C and the crown are spaced dfferently
C Crowns are apparently made from Chedeville blanks
1974 - This 1974 model has a close C and crown, and wide though not as wide) throat as the other model. Centered and good tonal quality.
Chedeville made fine rubber mouthpieces from the 1920s to the 1970s. Their quality does vary and many of the older mouthpieces are preferred to the newer ones.
Chedeville actually originates in France but Chedeville consisted of two brother mouthpiece makers, Charles and Henri. Charles Chedeville was based in France and produced some great mouthpieces. His production was somewhat high, though below that of bigger competition of Vandoren and Selmer. Charles provided "blanks" or unfinished mouthpieces to a variety of makers including Frank Kasper of Chicago and Ann Arbor (until about 1970) and instrument manufacturers such as Bundy and Buffet. You can find some very nice Bundy and Buffet mouthpieces that are based on Chedeville blanks through the 1970s.
In 1949 the Chedeville company was purchased by the French Landelais company. The Lelandais company had also manufactured mouthpieces that were highly sought after, primarily by American clarinetists. .
In Philadelphia USA Charles brother Henri, a woodwind repairer, used Henri Chedeville blanks to produce his own line of "Chedeville" mouthpieces.
Small Bore mouthpiece
Large bore mouthpiece - A frame vs above H frame
K11 - H frame throat (Zinner blank)
K14 - wide A frame throat (Zinner blank)
G Langenus was the New York Symphony's principal clarinetist. He was most world reknowned by his involvement in the transition to the Boehm keywork system rearranging teaching method. He was also know in his clarinet mouthpiece design and his superb and rare clarinets. He was apparently idolized by Bennny Goodman and BG apparently used Langenus mouthpieces throughout his entire career. The mouthpieces can apparently be superb though the quality is often overlooked by traditional clarinetists as their design is not normal as he was known for his "duckbill" design. His clarinets, though quite rare, are ranked with the best in the world at his time of the 1920s through 1940s. The clarinets were supposedly made by the Hofinger company. They may have had multiple models as it was noted one model had pot metal keys which are very soft and can melt easily at high heat.
LC-1 (tip 1.1mm)
Noblet mouthpieces came standard with Normandy and Noblet clarinets. The older mpcs, shown with the fancy scroll, has a very slightly warmer tone to them. Very good mpcs for the beginner and intermediate players. Advanced players may like them for their nice tone and ease of response.
O'Brien originally made the Selmer Clarion crystal mouthpieces. Identified by only a couple of flutes (indentations on the side of the mouthpiece).
The O'Brien mouthpieces quality varied over the years. In the early 1980s a cousin of the original O'Brien created mouthpieces from time to time. These mpcs were not considered the "prime" mpcs
Earlier mpcs the glass could be slightly darker, even slightly pink. On many of these models their would be a date etched on the glass. The original mpcs from the early 1940s, made by the Harry O'Brien, were less clear and had more air bubbles. So I guess the more "pure" the crystal in the mpc the less desireable they are.
There was also a mold change in the 1950s as the original mold was broken. The older mold had 3 grooves on each side (6 total). The newer 1960's mold had 1 groove on each side. The original Harry O'Brien (passed away in the 1950s) and he also manufactured clarinets. The son continued to make Selmer Primer clarinets in the 1940s as the father stopped. Pete Fountain apparently used these clarinets along with the mouthpieces. (thanks for this information goes to Michael E Obrien, grandson of Harry O'Brien - if you read this please email me, your address changed)
OCB stood for "Off Center Bore". These models were popular with jazz and classical clarinetists during the 1950s through the 1980s. O'Brien is said to have put really good facings on his mouthpieces. In general it's thought that O'Brien has been underrated as an artists just because of his status as a manufacturer and retailer. Tony Scott (pictured below) played a crystal mouthpiece during his jazz recordings years in the 1950s and 1960s. The OB* was described as a "medium" and his most popular facing.
|IDENTIFICATION||TIP OPENING (varies)|
|No 1||Very short, Close|
|No 2||Medium, French|
|No *||1.00mm Very Popular|
|No 2*||More open than OB*|
|No 5*||the most open|
Some past tip openings of mpcs I've had
|Model||Tip Opening||Facing length|
Very Early model:
This is a beautiful sounding O'Brien. I thought my 1980 model sounded good. This Selmer O'Brien (found with an old silver plated metal clarinet) sounds absolutely beautiful - rivaling my certain 1920-30s mouthpieces. This is probably from the original mold, pre 1950s. Response and tone is extraordinary across the range from low E to altissimmo.
1955 model - The original mpc came in cardboard tubes. Later ones came in plastic tubes with a sheet of paper in them (similar to the label below).
O'Brien "5" model - O'Brien and 5 etched on the top of the body (not on the table). No end cap. Frosted table and no identification etchings on the table. This was a very freeblowing O'Brien with a nice larger tip opening. This is probably from 1950s or 1960s
tip opening 1.25mm
1970s model - This has the same visual identification as the 1980 model. Looks nearly exactly the same, 3 flutes on either side, brass end cap, etc though the crystal is not as clear. O'Brien is etched on the table. In the upper left "x4" is etched and on the lower left "OCB-70" is etched. Tip opening = 1.19mm (0.04865 of an inch). 16mm length facing.
1972 model - This has the same visual identification as the 1980 model. Looks nearly exactly the same, 3 flutes on either side, brass end cap, etc though the crystal is not as clear. O'Brien is etched on the table. In the lower left "OCB*-72" is etched.
1980 model - easily recognizable with the brass cap on the end of the tenon.
3 flutes on either side. "3x" scribe on upper left of table; "OCB-80." scribed on lower left of table. "OBrien" scribed in middle right of table". Brass tenon cap. Purchased in 1980 from WoodWind Inc. (of Woodwind and Brasswind), original cork. Tip opening = 1.16mm (0.04567 of an inch)
Otto LinkSlant Sig - "Eburnated Bar"is stamped above the top ligature line. "Reg US Pat Off" is stamped just below the top ligature line. "Otto Link" slanted on the body. "Serial No 91xx" is stamped below the lower ligature lines
Reso-Chamber - "Eburnated" is stamped above the top ligature line. "Reg US Patent Off" is located below the top ligature line. "Reso Chamber" is the main emblem with Reso on top and Chamber on bottom surrounding a circle. "Otto Link" marked in the slanted chain circles. "5*" marked on the bottom of the table.
This mouthpiece has a very wide A frame throat. No very centered
playing and used for jazz.
Penzel - Mueller
SML made very fine mouthpieces. This particular model had a very centered tone and a wonderful response. Though I would not rank them in tonal qualities above the good Chedevilles as it does not contain enough 'ring' to the tone.
Stowell Wells Schneider
B3 (tip 1.25mm)
Keyhole design - This mouthpiece is interesting. As the air/sound travels through the mouthpiece the sidewalls move in to each other. This design, in short, allows the player greater dynamics and the mouthpiece is generally louder in comparison to other mouthpieces. So the player has to learn greater playing dynamics to maintain pianissimos. Another similar end result design on O'Briens has a "tone booster" on the baffle near the tip - this idea (apparently) has spawned those "tone boosters" that you buy and can stick into your mouthpiece
WC Sumner Accousticut Rubber 3
Kasper / Goldbeck & Sons
Ben Redwine has evolved a design from a past clarinet player, Ignatis "Iggy" Gennusa. Mr. Gennusa designed a mouthpiece called the "Excellente" which was a direct copy of his famous Chedeville mouthpiece. He was considered to have one of the best clarinet tones of any professional clarinetist in his generation. This included 21 years as the principal clarinetist at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
Gennusa “Retro” b-flat mouthpiece. Iggy Gennusa’s first design. Copy of his Charles Chedeville mouthpiece. He deemed this one to be a bit too bright, so rejected it. Since we’ve taken over the company, we’ve reintroduced it. It gives people a good alternative, if the “Excellente” is not quite right for the way they play and what they want to sound like. It is a bit brighter than the “Excellente” and more projecting. Blanks produced by Babbitt, with sulphur in the rubber. Facings available: custom=anything
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Gennusa “Excellente” b-flat mouthpiece. Iggy’s second design. This is the one that he liked (as do I). Dark, covered tone. Blanks produced by Babbitt. Facings available: GE-close (under 1.02 mm), GE*-medium (1.02-1.07 mm), GE**-open (over 1.06 mm). Also available in custom facing.
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REDWINE e-flat: Zinner blank. Dark sound, excellent intonation. I’m an e-flat clarinetist (US Naval Academy Band), so I have much experience with these and have produced what I feel is the best e-flat mouthpiece on the market, having tried all the rest. Custom facings.
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REDWINE bass: Babbitt blank. Projecting bass sound. Excellent intonation. Custom facings.
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1st Generation - This model HS* is identified by the old Selmer oval emblem. The emblem is located just above the tenon. The HS* can be seen at the very bottom of the table. The Throat is a A variety which allows not only centered but a nice spread tone, very flexible. Approximate age: before 1926
'Air-Flow' era 2nd generation
(pre 1938) Considered a "Special Edition" mouthpiece due to a limited production run this Selmer mouthpiece lasted a few years in conjunction with the Selmer saxophone Air-Flow models. This model started the "table" markings. This model had the normal "table HS**" stamp but above it it also had "precision garantie". between the lower ligature lines and the tenon were the words "H. Selmer" in script. Probably in the same early 1930s era as the Selmer-Johnston. Photos courtesy of Barb Tucker from Hauer Music
2.5 Generation - Model 36 - Johnston-Selmer - New York - I'm not sure where to put this as it is a Selmer USA model released with the advertising of Mr. Johnston who was touting the Selmer SBA saxophones at the time. I assume it was made around 1936 in conjunction with the lower emblem Selmer Paris mouthpieces. I cannot find a "france" stamp anywhere but it may simply be a Paris model. Marked HS* at the base of the table just like the 1st Gen Paris model
3rd Generation - Identified by the new Selmer logo on the lower part of the body. Throat the same A type frame. The word "table HS*" is imprinted on the table. To the right of the table is the Brand measuring system, which Selmer adopted used since July 1, 1938 on all Selmer and Selmer sponsored mouthpieces. This numbering system allows you to understand the exact measurements of the original facing. The first two numbers representing the length of the lay in 1/2 mm, and the second last 3 digits the tip opening in hundredths of a mm
Pre 1938 - without the Brand measuring system, lower emblem
Post 1938 - with the Brand measuring system, lower emblem
4th Generation - Logo moved to the middle of the body, though still high in comparison to modern Selmer mpcs. The "Table HS" is now inside of and oval on the table. Throat has much more vertical sidewalls than previous versions, but the walls are still wide apart in comparison to other makes. These mouthpieces were apparently provided with the Centered Tone clarinets.
5th Generation - Selmer emblem still high up the body but now the HS* identification is on the front just under the 2nd ligature line. There were apparently sold with the the 1960s (and maybe before and after)
6th Generation - Selmer emblem and HS** is slightly lower, though not in the middle as the later models. This is a HS** (larger tip than the HS*). The location of the HS and emblem may be a quirk with just the HS** - more mpc sighting have to be recorded.
6th Generation - Selmer emblem moved to the middle between the ligature lines. HS* moved more downwards from the 2nd ligature line. The HS* font is now larger than previous generations
Selmer Crystal Clarion
Selmer Crystal (1980ish)
Photos courtesy of Barb Tucker from Hauer Music. Though this is a Selmer crystal, most of the Selmer crystal mouthpieces were manufactured by O'Brien. This on in particular looks exactly like the O'Briens from the late 1970's and early 1980s, including the brass tenon cap.
Selmer - later model
This is a beautiful sounding O'Brien (Selmer). I thought my 1980 model sounded good. This Selmer Obrien (in with an old metal clarinet) sounds absolutely beautiful - rivaling my 1920s mouthpieces. This model is longer than the normal Obrien with internal variations that give it a warmer and more centered tonal quality. Response is extraordinary across the range from low E to altissimmo.
|model designation (ie, B, HS*)||tip opening in mm|
(from the Selmer Catalog)
THE STANDARD SERIES
The world over, professionals as well as students use mouthpieces from this popular series. Every player can find a suitable set up from the extensive range of tip openings and facing lengths. Standard Series mouthpieces are available for the complete clarinet family, from E soprano to BB contrabass clarinet. Standard facings - B*,
HS*, HS**. (and other sizes)
200 - Eb Soprano Clarinet
201 - Bb Clarinet
202 - Alto Clarinet
203 - Bass Clarinet
204 - EEb Contra-alto Clarinet
205 - BBb Contrabass Clarinet
THE C85 SERIES
(HARD RUBBER). Selmer (Paris) C85 mouthpieces bring a new sound to clarinets - a large sound, rich in low overtones, with a subtle blending of power and roundness. C85 mouthpieces are available for E soprano, B , and bass clarinets. Standard facing - 115. 105 & 125
220 - Eb Soprano Clarinet
221 - Bb Clarinet
223 - Bass Clarinet
CP 100 B b CLARINET
The CP 100 mouthpiece widens the B b clarinet mouthpiece range made by Selmer (Paris). The CP 100 is a very flexible mouthpiece adapting to various playing situations (from solo work to playing in the Orchestra clarinet section as well). It is an easy blowing, controllable, full tone mouthpiece with an excellent tuning balance all over the scale. An interesting professional mouthpiece. The CP 100 mouthpiece is now available for B b soprano clarinet; it is offered in three different versions (118, 122 and 125), see chart.
CP211 - B b Clarinet
|Model||normal tip opening||lay length||General Comments|
|5RV||1.065||19.5||Vandy - "World famous 5RV is virtually a professional standard of comparison"|
|5RV lyre||1.09+ per Vandoren
|20.5||Vandy - "Responsive, easy to control in all registers, excellent for students. For symphonic and chamber music"|
|5JB||1.47||22.5||Vandy - "A very open tp, long facing, the jazz mouthpiece"|
|11.6||1.16||20.5||Vandy - "Same sound quality as B45 obtained by using reeds that are a little stronger"|
|B40||1.195||21.5||Wider tip than B45 - more resistance, less bright than B45
Vandy - "Designed to use soft reeds wthout sacrificing the sound quality of a stronger reed (centered and compact)"
|B45||1.195||21.5||Larger chamber, easier blowing than B40
Vandy - "Universaly acclaimed, it is the most popular mouthpiece. Designed for the symphonic orchestra player"
|B45 Lyre||1.27||22||Vandy - "The sound of the B40 and the comfort of the B45"|
|B46||1.17+||19.5||Vandy -"Ideal for the dance musician with classical backgrounc or the symphonic clarinetist desiring more tip opening"|
|M30||Vandy - "Designed to provide more flexibility, the M30 incorporates a very long facing and a large tip rail to produce a mouthpiece similar in sonority to the B40, with easier sound production qualities"|
|B45 (dot)||Large chambered mouthpiece produces excelent full "round" sound"|
|B40 Lyre||Vandy - "The B40 Lyre sharesmany qualities of the landmark B40. The perfect blend of round sound and great tone color. Excellent sound production, especially in upper registers"|
|M15||Vandy - "At last, a mouthpiece which enables you to play strong reeds with a great blowing ease. Exceptional sonority. The musician can easily achieve a colorful spectrum of sound"|
|M13 Lyre||Vandy - "A little more open than the M13 mouthpiece, it permits easy blowing with harder reeds and produces a rich and centered sound. The M13 Lyre is recommended for symphonic and chamber music"|
|M13||Vandy - "Offers many of the characteristics of older American mouthpieces which are so widely sought after. The M13 permits easy blowing with harder reeds and produces a rich, dark, centered sound. Response is particularly sensitive"|
|AT45||Vandy - "Using advanced technology and innovative composite materials, Vandoren have produced a new generation mouthpiece that uses the same great B45 facing with a slightly brighter sound"|
Vintage Kx models
Large bore clarinet mpcs. Intonation-wise good for medium to large bore
1st Generation - Has patent numbers on the side, K9 (or other) stamped on the front, "The woodwind co New York" "steel ebonite no 36"
K7 - Table model (2nd generation)
Zinner is used for blanks for at least some of Gregory Smith, Grabner, Hawkins, Lomax, and Fobes mouthpieces. The Zinner mpcs have a "Germany" stamp to the left of the table.
A - parallel sidewalls, deep baffle
E - paralel sidewalls, higher baffle
JC - Angled sidewalls
|model designation (ie, JC2)||tip opening in mm|
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