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The Mouthpiece Review - reviewing a wide variety of mpcs


Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
mpc bore

In my mpc stock I have a pre 1938 and a post 1938 Selmer mpc. What significance is that .. well at first I thought the only difference was the Brand system markings on it. These were simple marking that specified the facing and tip opening.

But on prepping the pre 1938 for sale I noticed alot more differences that aren't realized by just looking. First off the mpc went on a mpc arbor much more further ( 0.58 inches - over half an inch) than the other one. So this brings forth that the internal shank bore design is much different.

But how does the shank bore affect the tonal quality of the mpc ?

It's realitively quite simply, though quite complex as even minute changes - hundreds of an inch can have some pretty drastic effects.

For example:

A smaller diameter bore can make the lower register including the throat tones relatively sharp. This can also make the higher register flat and less sonorous.

a larger diameter bore can do the opposite - make the lower register including the throat tones flat. But to the contrary make the higher register sharp but more sonorous.

Of course one can ream out the bore to be cylindrical or conical. And on a conical bore the taper will affect how the mpc plays based on the diameter at various points of the taper.

But these two mpcs have at least a 3 stage reaming .. ala polycyclindrical bore of different varying sections.

In examinging two 1926ish Selmer mpc we have the same variation. One is a HS, the other a HS*. The HS has a overall smaller diameter bore than the HS*. THe HS seems to have 2 smaller tapers, and the HS* has 3 larger tapers.

As you can see it seems as though it can get quite complex. So 2 mpcs of the same brand, and made only a few years apart, can be quite different.

A little later we'll summarize review the tip, side rails, and more importantly the roof of the mpc (opposite the window) and how slight changes to it can greatly affect intonation and timbre
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Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
Role of the Ligature

As a technician I have a good amount of material on how to repair instruments, both old and new, in addition to other writings about all areas of sound production. In one particular book from Ernest Ferron the clarinet revealed

To quote a section from this book

Ernest Ferron said:
Even with an ordinary mouthpiece, pressure tends to separate the reed from the mouthpiece which explains the role of the ligature in sound production: a ligature made from a flexible material conteracts this phenomenom.

This doesn't exactly answer all of our questions about ligatures. Some people can hear a difference and others cannot with various ligatures. To me, as the player, I can perceive differences in a wde variety of ligatures. But one important aspect is to make sure that you never over tighten a ligature. I always tighten it just enough to keep the reed in place, then a tad more.

On some ligatures, such as a Vandoren Optima there is a plate that has 4 "pins" on it. If you overtighten this plate, the pins simply dig into the reed and you are subjecting the reed to the entire flat plate. Even Rovner ligs can be overtightened. I've heard of people tightening them so much that they bend the screw ?!?!

If you take a look at a lig on the mpc, there are alot of sections where the ligature does not touch the sides of the reed. It basically holds the reed up to the mpc without creating a "squeezing" effect to the reed. On a basic Rover flexible fabric, it holds all aspects of the reed. On very old metal ligs it pinches the reed.

Several years ago I was playing clarinet for a retired pro clarinet player. I was using a standard lower double screw metal lig - yes, one of those cheap ones. Now, newer (and older) double ligs can have a cradle for the reed. I'm talking specifically about one that is simply a round band that has no cradle.

As I was playing (mostly 20s-50s tunes) he commented that my tone had a high pitch ring to it. It took me a few minutes to actually hear this anomaly (ie, ear training). But when I did, it was quite annoying. I probably tried 7 clarinets, half a dozen mouthpieces and reeds and the high squeal was still there. It was very annoying. I then grabbed one of his ligs and that squeal disappeared.

It was quite an eye (or actualy ear) opener for me and the impact a simple ligature can have.

Of course, the ligature holds the reed to the table of the mpc, and the mpc table should be as flat as possible and rails should be as even as possible. Otherwise, a bad mpc can have adverse effects no matter what ligature or clarinet you are playing.
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Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
Grabner K13

Grabner clarinet mouthpieces have been known for nice finishing and excellent playing pieces. I test played a few couple years ago such as a K11 and a K14. I plopped this customer K13 onto my LL with a Vandy Traditional 3 reed (I haven't played in a while) and it gave the instrument a very nice, full and deep low register. Very nice. Put it on the R13 and the low register was even better than the LL with a bit of ring to it. MId range was very nice, very smooth sounding tone. Upper register was also very good. Though probably would be better with a 3-1/2.

With the 3-1/2 the mpc sang nicely on the R-13. Low register was very full and deep. mid range was nice and the upper range was clear. On the LL it was a bit different at least with this reed. mid range and up it sounded just a bit stuffy though clear. Not as complex of tone as on the R-13. Back in the day (I read) Leblanc designed their clarinets to have impeccable intonation and gave up a little in the tone department. And of course Buffet went for tone and gave a little bit up in the intonation department.

The K13 was good dynamically on the R13 but less so on the LL. For some reason on the LL on higher dynamics the air going through the toneholes was slightly noisy. I ran across this on an earlier mpc of course one could simply not blow that hard and I really do not think it would be heard from the audiences perspective.

Overall a very nice mouthpiece. On well suited for a varity of work though for jazz i'd prefer a larger tip to get those higher dynamics.

Category: Solo, Orchestra, Chamber, General


Content Expert/Moderator
Staff member
Steve, I just picked up a pair of minty Sumner m/p's in original boxes.

Got a #3 Bb clarinet, and #3 bass clarinet.

I can get another #3 Bb and a #5 Bb as well from the same source.

The Bb mouthpiece plays well - a tich bright, quite sprightly.

Haven't had an opportunity to try the bass piece yet - my bass is in the shop.


Content Expert/Moderator
Staff member
Merlin have you tried the Grabner's and if so what did you think? I've been using the Grabner's on bass and contrabass clarinet to great effect.

Got to try a Grabner LB very briefly. I'd like to give one a real workout.

I have my own refaced contra piece, and I've A/B'd that with one of Clark Fobe's piece. I like mine a bit better on my horn.

Carl H.

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
How much would that #5 run? Is another Bass available?

I'm liking my Sumners on Eb, Bb and A and wouldn't mind trying one on Bass or a 5 sop.
Woodwind Mouthpiece K12

Of course, the Normandy 4 it just a high-end student instrument. But tonally, not much different from the Noblet 45 I also later added, both being larger bore clarinets.

The K9 fit well to the large bore clarinet. But for some reason I put it aside years ago when I went to Leblanc professional clarinets (medum bore) and haven't really played it much since.

In an old Woodwind ad
http://www.clarinetperfection.com/CLgal ... M#Woodwind
The K series was used mostly by symphony men.

This mouthpiece provides a nice full dark and deep tone. And surprisingly on my LL a very nice ring to the tone, maybe slightly better than on the R13.

The tone is that particular tone of a hollow, full and woody tone you get in the Chamuleau register. Very seductive in a sense. These mpcs were very highly wanted back in the day and still draw their admirers of people that know of the mpc. I'm certainly glad that I've kept mine. I'll need to compare the K9 to a K8*, K8, K7 etc that I also have. Though I would think the main (and hopefully only difference) is the tip opening. The K9 allows pretty good expressve dynamics. Great for solo and small ensembles and orchestras too. It's not as open as one would think with a "9" and thus as you increase dynamics it can get to be a bit resistance, a K10 would be better which does exist per the ad.

I found a Boosey and Hawkes Edgware SN 59238 on Ebay and was the successful bidder. I wanted to use this for salvage for my B&H Edgeware SN 89627. In the case were two mouthpieces, neither of which fit the barrel (mouthpiece barrel opening is slightly smaller than the newer B&H, they both fit the newer barrel). One of the mouthpieces was a Woodwind Steel Ebonite K12 which surprised me after reading Steve's posting and referring to the Woodwind advertisement at his website - any ideas on production and when this was made?? The other mouthpiece is an Evette & Schaeffer model C with a Buffet Crampton ligature and cap, which I would value at more than what I paid for the whole package = $46.00.

This is my first posting on The Woodwind Forum - I joined today to research mouthpieces - and I very much enjoy the postings and inside humor between members. :)
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Woodwind Mouthpiece K12 update

The original posting was my first, and the picture sizes were much too small, so I've attached them again in a larger size so the imprinting can be read. Thanks for your patience. :oops::emoji_smile:
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Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
The E&S looks to be a chedeville based mpc. normally these are quite good.

The old Woodwind K12 - i've never seen a reference to a K12 - only up to K10s - so that must be one open mpc. I never really was sure about the age of the old woodwind mpcs but I would guess that they were in parallel with the years of other makers of putting sizes on the tables which would place that mpcs in the 1930s - 40s


Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
Old Buffet & Gennusa on a Buffet wraparound

This past week I overhauled a customers old 1907 Buffet Bb clarinet with the wraparound octave lever and teapot register.

And excellent instrument, apparently handed down through the years. Unfortunately it had a replacement non-Buffet barrel but was a good match.

What we have here is not really how well either the old Buffet mpc (age specific for the Buffet) vs the Gennusa was, as the Gennusa was a very easy playing mpc. But the play test just showed how different mpcs can really be.

The Buffet a fairly long at 89.75mm with a bore width of 15.04mm and the Gennusa at 86.75mm long and 14.78mm bore.

The upper socket bore of the clarinet was 14.80mm - so more in line with Gennusa than the Buffet mpc.

Tip width is 11.9mm Buffet v 11.15mm Gennusa.

internal dimensions, are of course, very diffferent too.

In reading several books and articles about mpc design looking at the specifications (and knowing other blueprinting numbers i have for the internals) I would suspect that the two mpcs would play well but would provide different final results with the clarinet.

In this case, intonation with the Buffet was more or less fantastic top to bottom. With the Gennusa, intotation was really off in several areas especially in the upper register.

Tonally one could hear a difference too - at least from my perspective. The Buffet giving a much more full and solid tone. The Gennusa a round tone, though less full and less powerful.

The old Buffet - approximate age specific mpc really made this old Buffet sing with it's powerful and singing tone. Sounded great to me. This really is the reason fanatic clarinetists have tons of mpcs and tons of clarinets as the right combination is just glorious sometimes :emoji_relaxed:

reed: legere Quebec
ligature: 1970s Bonade, nickel plated, inverted

If I had the spare time I would have played the Gennusa on my CT, LL and R13 as another comparison.


Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member

FRANK KASPER - CHICAGO clarinet mouthpiece
3 lines down, 1 lines up for those that like to "identify" mouthpiece blanks by those ligature lines that one can so easily etch on a mouthpiece body.

I receive mouthpieces from time to time to correct their playing characteristics. Of course getting a Kasper (or Chedeville) one has to pause a bit as one doesn't want to mess it up in any way.

The visual attributes of this mouthpiece are similar to hundreds of mouthpieces out there. Upon close inspection one can find a parallel H sidewalls in the throat (looking in to the bore of the mouthpiece). Near the top of the "H" the sides slightly bend inwards. Siderails were relatively thick but nothing out of the ordinary and the tip rail was the standard thickness. There was no roll-over baffle which one would expect with the blowing easy. I have measurement (which I haven't compared to other mpcs) but I think the baffle is slightly raised throughout the length down to the throat with a slight concaveness. This would give it it's faster airflow without a roll over baffle.

In other words, it looks like any normal vintage Selmer or Vandoren mouthpiece that meets the visual identifiers.

This mouthpiece had a few balance issues in which I corrected. When correcting a mouthpiece symmetry is key, and making sure the "curve" of the rails slowly drops down to the tip, with more rake near the tip. With the proper experience just playing a mouthpiece one can identify curvature issues. If the rake is too much near the top of the rail then playing becomes more difficult (like selecting a too hard reed), and thus one can get an airy sound. But the key is a curve that allows one to use a harder reed while still very easy blowing characteristics.

After a few corrections to this mouthpiece it just sang. It's hard to elaborate until you have played a multitude of mouthpieces but air flow was faster than normal and response was super fast, tonally it was more on the bright side. But boy was this an easy mouthpiece to master to play the idiosyncrisis of playing the clarinet at a complex level. This played much better than a perfect Vandoren M13 or M13lyre, or a variety of other mouthpieces that I own. It was better than anything that I have owned before.

I didn't play this on my identified test clarinets other than my R13 as it was one of those "too good to be true" moments of a mouthpiece.

The Kasper is a legend along with those "Chedevilles" until one has played a fine specimen just like this one. This was one of those Legends. This certainly brought alive those playing characteristics that only a few have truly played.

I wish this mouthpiece was for sale as I certainly would loved to have had it.

This was definitely one of those "I think i need to save up money to buy one of these" moments.
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Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
So a few years later I have a drawer full of mouthpieces. and a shelf of misc clarinets.

I pulled out my Vandoren M13lyre and played it on a Buffet E-11 "A" clarinet and my 1964 R13. The M13 lyre seems to crack at the open altissimo C. The E-11 A has a long register vent, which I thought was the initial problem. But with the R13 and it's short register vent that is not the problem.

high C was cracking on both instruments.

The reed I was using was a 3-1/2 Legere Quebec.

This same combination I have been using for quite some time.

So I prepare to do a reed test. The synthetic Legere 3.5 vs Vandoren Blue Box 3.5

This same synthetic reed I have been using for quite some time. and These instruments I have been playing for quite some time. so either (1) I, (2) mouthpiece, (3) reed, (4) clarinet has an issue.

I hope it's not me. Just what I need ... old age causing other issues.

Thus I pulled out
vintage Buffet Chedeville C Crowns

The 1964 Buffet
a 1955 Buffet
and a Buffet E-11 "A" (Shreiber)

The M13lyre with the Legere had the cracking issue at the high C on ALL the clarinets. Airstream can correct the issue without a problem. But when one tries to attain consistency in the airstream / airpressure, & tonal aspects a airstream change unbalances all that. Not anything one will hear in a section but as a soloist it becomes very important. Fluidity is key.

The Buffet C Crown with the old Legere eliminated the cracking across all clarinets. And playing ease was, well easier. Tonal transmission was easier. flexibility was easier. Wow, these old Ched buffets are pretty nice .. and they have been sitting in a box for years.

Now I Pull out a blue box 3-1/2 reed and let it soak in water for 10 minutes.

With the Buffet mpc the reed was fantastic. Great emission and ease of playing and the high C was spot on easy to play

With the M13lyre. The same result as the Buffet - high C spot on and easy to play.

So this begs the question .. is the Legere starting to fade in it's performance. Granted I have been using it a loooooong time but is this one of the indications of the Legeres starting to go south ?

I wonder if other players have noticed the same thing.
thanks for a very extensive review. Most interesting reading.
I have -61 Selmer series 9, which came with the Selmer 85-120, nice sound but little restricted and too high resistance for my liking.
[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Surfing the web I came a cross Santy Runyon, and found a used model Jazz mouthpiece, opening 8. [/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Now it opened up, the Runyon mouthpiece is very free blowing, loud, and projects really good. (or is it just loud). Describing sound with words is risky business.
I use it when playing in a concert band, works for classic, march, jazz.
Vandoren B45 the Europe standard
[/FONT]:smile:[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif], I have the dot version, a little more open allowing for more air than the standard B45.
probably best for standard concert band type of music.

I also tried Jody jazz 7, but that did not work at all with the series 9, dull and boring, I tried it on my sons Selmer 10G now it worked better, perhaps that mouthpiece want a narrow bore to work properly.

I'm waiting for a Backun Protege´ cocobolo, I will be back with a review on how that works.
thanks for a very extensive review. Most interesting reading.
I'm waiting for a Backun Protege´ cocobolo, I will be back with a review on how that works.

I have now tried my new Backun Protege cocobolo clarinet, what came with the standard barrel and bell. Together with the Vandoren B45 dot mouthpiece sounds very smooth and tender, still free blowing with just enough resistance. And that in all registers from the bottom up all the way up to the altissimo.
The cocobolo wood works as it should creating less overtones, creating a smooth tone. Conclusion the B45 works well with the narrow bore Protége.:end:
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