Looking for advice for Traditional Jazz mouth piece


When I first started playing Traditional Jazz (the original old Jazz from between 1900 to 1930) nearly 25 years ago, I came across a band leader who played a crystal glass mouthpiece, and I liked his sound and bought it for myself. Unfortunately, the company doesn't make them anymore, so I'm asking for advice here.

My current mouthpiece is crystal glass one by the German company Zinner with an extra wide tip opening - or whatever the correct term is for the distance between the reed and the tip of the mouthpiece. I'm originally from Germany, so please excuse me if I use the wrong technical terms for things. When I bought it, they used the number 8 to show that this was the widest tip opening they had - not sure how that translates to other brands. I play this mouthpiece with a Vandoren reed in a strength between 2 and 2 1/2 (I start with 2 and keep clipping it down a hair until it works perfectly) because the openness makes thicker reeds very hard to play.

I also have a classical mouthpiece from my clarinet beginnings which uses a German reed (Solo Esser Gold) strength 4+, and I use that mostly for practicing to keep my endurance and strength up.

I recently heard a story of a musician who rushed to a parade gig and dropped his crystal glass mouthpiece and broke it. Desperately, he had his wife get his spare - and then dropped that... So now I am a bit concerned that the same might happen to me, and I'm wondering what advice you can give me for a spare mouthpiece.

My style of playing includes pulling notes a LOT (i.e. seamlessly change the pitch of a note to another note by use of my embouchure) which generally isn't so hard, but obviously having the largest available tip opening makes it a bit more challenging. One reason why I bought this mouthpiece is that it was considerably louder than my classical one - when I started, I had just joined a High School Dixieland Band, so volume was everything then, and it still is important to me to make myself heard. Most people seem to like my sound a lot (which is interesting given that I play a cheap student metal clarinet that was made some time before 1939 and is not well tuned at all - but it handles very well for my style of playing).

Pretty much the only type of music I play on clarinet is Traditional Jazz (or "Dixieland" in simpler and better known terms), so I'll have to compete in volume with trumpet, trombone, and a rhythm section.

I probably wouldn't mind getting another crystal glass mouthpiece, but I am also open for other suggestions.

What I'm looking for is something that allows me to play fairly loud (probably with a large tip opening again), but still gives me good control for pulling notes, and the sound shouldn't be harsh - ideally, something sweet sounding for emotional playing. And it should work with Vandoren reeds which are at least considerably wider than my other reeds, so I'm guessing that might make a difference, too.

I hope this information is helpful :)

I play a Vandoren A1 crystal mouthpiece. Until recently I mostly played an M30, but I acquired this one with a clarinet I bought for restoration. It plays wonderfully well, but some years ago I had a similar A1 crystal that didn't work for me. I once had a Leblanc crystal that played as well as the A1, but it suffered from the falling sickness and smashed into a squillion pieces. The A1 plays as loud as I want it to (I also play dixieland), but if you really want to play loudly then get hold of a large-bore clarinet. I have a Boosey and Hawkes 1010 that can drown out the brass section if you let it. It's the loudest clarinet I've ever played.
The only problem with the clarinet solution is the cost. Fortunately, the further away from the horn that you get, the less expensive the solution. So (for example), it costs a lot less to practice long tones and register shifts than it does to buy a new reed, a lot less to buy a new reed than it does to buy a new ligature, a lot less to buy a ligature than it does to replace the mouthpiece, and so on.

Competing with the brass is a no-win situation. A good MD would control them, rather than looking for a loud clarinetist (who would be struggling with things like intonation and so forth).
As usual, I have to agree with Terry. Unfortunately, volume wars are a fact of life in many groups. In terms of larger tip opening pieces, you may want to check out the John Pierce which has a large tip opening (1.40 MM), but is very free blowing, and not terribly expensive. I think I paid $60 new, although they are getting harder to find. Woodwind & Brasswind used to carry them, but I'm not finding them there now. It's a great doublers piece. I still use my old Woodwind Company G10 for classical work, but when making a quick switch from sax in big band, it's a lot more comfortable adjustment.

Also, the Ralph Morgan Jazz pieces are great - J5, J6 and J7. They are quite a bit more expensive at $200. His classical pieces are also quite good, and available in up to a 1.28 mm opening.

FWIW and IIRC, most crystal mouthpieces were from Zinner, regardless of the name stamped onto the mouthpiece.

* I agree with Terry and saxhound regarding volume wars. The only time I was able to drown the brass section was on bari sax with a Berg Larsen hard rubber mouthpiece.
* There are a lot of people that will tell you that it doesn't matter what the mouthpiece is made out of, provided it's not wood (because it warps). The dimensions of the mouthpiece are what matters. However, some people do argue that the weight of the mouthpiece makes a difference, too.
* If you're really interested in "Traditional Jazz," you could always go all the way 1920s/1930s and get a clarinet and mouthpiece from that era. eBay will help out. Or find modern large bore clarinets. You can check out one of our CE's websites and find out quite a bit about older clarinets and mouthpieces.
Thanks for all your responses.

I'll look into the items you suggested when I have a moment.

At this time, I'm not looking to buy a new clarinet - I'd just feel a bit more comfortable knowing that I'll have a spare mouthpiece on hand should something happen to the original, and I'd like that mouthpiece to have somewhat similar properties as my current one.

If I ever should run into the situation that my old banged up metal clarinet won't do anymore, then I'll look into buying a new horn, but for now it is treating me quite well.

Thanks again!
Some metal clarinets are extremely good. The Haynes Thermocouple, for instance, isn't only good, it's quite valuable. I've seen prices in the $10K range.

I used to play on a Conn Pan American (you could call it "student line"). I rather liked the tone. If I actually put money into it, it would have been a really nice horn. Mind you, that's me. Other players may have different opinions. A good mouthpiece makes a lot of difference.
Heh, my metal clarinet is so cheap they couldn't afford a brand name on it :)
It has fairly obvious tuning issues (obvious to a musician, that is) and a few dents, and according to my research they stopped making them like that in 1939 when plastic became cheaper.

But as I said, it plays beautifully, and since I found it in New Orleans 20 years ago, I haven't played Jazz on anything else.
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