The combination of the mouthpiece and reed is the most important part of a clarinet.
next most important piece is the barrel, and then the first keyed
joint. The importance decreases, so that the bell could be made out of
paper mache and no one would be able to tell the difference.
|NEVER stand a clarinet up on the floor on its bell! Always use a clarinet stand or lay it somewhere. I have seen many clarinets fall, and it results in a broken mouthpiece about 50% of the time!|
Beginning to intermediate level mouthpieces
your son or daughter is starting out on clarinet, please don't
frustrate them by skimping on second-rate reeds or a cheapo mouthpiece!
They will probably be successful with any good-working instrument if
they have a good reed and mouthpiece.Some
people think it is better to start beginners with a mouthpiece that has
a more open facing, like the first two below. This allows the student
to use a softer reed and still get a nice, round sound. Here is a list
of good, inexpensive mouthpieces for less advance players. I think plastic mouthpieces are fine for beginners. For intermediate players, go with one of the hard rubber ones below.
|Name||Model||tip opening||price||recommended for|
| Hyson LINK|| ||probably around 1.03-1.05mm || $15.99||This is my top recommendation for a cheap USA-made acrylic mouthpiece. This even comes with a mouthpiece cap and ligature. It would be a good mouthpiece to have as a spare if your favorite mouthpiece gets dropped.|
| Rico Reserve||X5 || 1.05mm|| $87.66||16May2014 This is now my top recommendation for a beginning mouthpiece in the less-than-$100 price range. See their interesting promotional video here. The 1.00mm facing would also be a good choice for a beginner. The other two more-open facings are for jazz.|
|Chedeville Prime LINK||machined from solid hard rubber stock, not molded|| 1.03mm|| $139||Highly recommended. As of 1July2012, this is the mouthpiece I play.|
| Vandoren 5RV Lyre|| hard rubber || 1.09mm || ||I have one that I feel plays similar to by best Chedeville Prime.|
| Portnoy BP02|| molded hard rubber || || $80|| Similar to Chedeville Prime|
|Fobes Debut||made of plastic||1mm||$29||beginning through Jr. High.|
I tried three of these in August 08, and all were used. They were not
consistent, and only one of them played well. However, it is unfair to
judge based on used condition. Perhaps two of them got hot and were
warped. Also I was using a Legere Quebec cut reed, which is not at all
what a beginner will use.
|Genusa||Intermediate||1.04mm||$30||beginning through Jr. High|
|Hite Primiére||made of plastic||.043 inch||$20||for beginning players, and just fine for more advanced players, high school and above. One will want to start using harder reeds earlier with this mouthpiece.|
I wouldn't hesitate to start a beginning student on this mouthpiece, particularly if that student was taking private lessons.
A Legere 2 1/2 reed works great with this for a beginning student.
you are a more advanced player, you will want a hard rubber mouthpiece.
They sound better and last longer, and the good ones start at about $70.
1July2012: I have changed to the Chedeville Prime
mouthpiece for my performing and reviewing of clarinets at this site. It gives me a more focused sound, more overtones, and probably a little less open but longer facing than my Vandoren B45. Two mouthpieces that are somewhat similar are the Tom Ridenour TR-40 (a little more closed), and the Portnoy BP02. The Portnoy BP02 is a little softer, mellower, and perhaps has a bit less focused sound. I carry the Portnoy as my backup mouthpiece. See my review at clarinetpages.info
. See the Chedeville sub-page
with information from my e-mail conversation with Omar Henderson.
[May 2013] I ordered a second Chedeville Prime because I was so happy with my first. However, when I got the second one, it did not play nearly as well as the first. Eventually, when I realized the problem, I sent it back. Omar Henderson replaced the mouthpiece for free. The second one plays better, but not up to the level of my first one. I thought that the computer guided machining process for the Chedeville line would make for great consistency. Evidently NOT! I recently played a Vandoren 5RV Lyre that plays almost like my first Prime mouthpiece, and probably more like it than the Portnoy BP02. (The VD might have that .06mm difference in tip opening shown in the specs below.)
During the days I was in grad school and teaching music, I played on a Hite D mouthpiece (tip opening .041"). Sadly,
David Hite passed away, but his mouthpieces are still being
marketed, and the prices seem quite reasonable. I haven't heard if the
quality has gone down. I have one that I purchased after David's
passing, and it plays like my other two. These days I hear great things
about Fobes mouthpieces. The Hite mouthpieces don't seem to play well with my Legere Reeds.No name mouthpieces
always bad. If it is plastic (with a very shiny appearance), then it is
doubtful that it will be good. Some hard rubber no-name mouthpieces
that came with French “stencil” clarinets are excellent.
For Advanced Students:
All are made of hard rubber. There are many fine makers and models that I have not listed.
For a good chart for Vandoren mouthpieces, see saxplus.com
|Chedeville||Prime||This is the mouthpiece that I currently play, and this is technically their student model.|| tip opening 1.03mm|
| Vandoren||5RV Lyre || || 1.09mm|
|Portnoy||BP02 || || |
|Tom Ridenour||TR40 ||The TR40 just happens to be the one I own. I would probably like a different facing better. || |
|Vandoren||B45||very nice, the mouthpiece I played after the Hite D and before my current Chedeville Prime.||tip opening 1.20mm|
|Vandoren||B46 || ||tip opening 1.15mm |
|Vandoren||3RV||a bit more open than the B45|
|Hite||D||The mouthpiece I got from Joe Allard, my teacher in Grad School at the New England Conservatory.||Medium length, .041" tip, a classical orchestral facing. I recommend a #4 reed for this mouthpiece.|
New information that I need to verify: Concerning the B45 moutnpiece that I use:
It's important to note that Vandoren Traditional mouthpieces are constructed to play at A=442, rather than the American standard of A=440. To get an A=440 tuned Vandoren one has to specify the "13 series".
Crystal and Poly Crystal mouthpieces:
I just had an opportunity to try a James N Pyne * Clarion Poly Crystal mouthpiece. It is beautiful, but I hated the way it played. I didn't like the sound or the response with my Legere Signature 3 3/4 reed.
Poly-crystal is evidently some kind of plastic. It doesn't feel at all like the cool glass feel of traditional crystal mouthpieces. The traditional crystal breaks easily when dropped. The poly-crystal won't have that problem. From a long time ago when I tried a real crystal O'Brien mouthpiece, it had a quick response and kind of a hollow sound.
Portnoy 3 has a nice open facing and should work well for this.
Brillhart 3 or 4
The older Brillhart mouthpieces were better for both clarinet and sax. Here is an example. Actually this old #2 would be great for jazz.
But don't take my word about jazz stuff. See the JAZZ page!
Good-old Mouthpieces found in cases:
These mouthpieces are often found with used horns, and I like them.
| D. Bonade||7 1/2 ||hard|
| excellent|| |
| Bonade|| Clarity|
(has three deep scores across the table)
|hard rubber ||wonderful! || |
|Vandoren||2RV||hard rubber||An old favorite for young students. Still very good.|
|Noblet||2V||hard rubber||good student mouthpiece. may not be as good as the no-number model below.||Seems to be a bit more open than my Hite D|
|Noblet||no number||hard rubber||terrific!|
|no name||X4||plastic||amazingly good|
|MUSART ||K13 ||HR ||very nice ||like B45 |
| Portnoy||2 ||hard rubber||Excellent ||Like my Hite D. |
|Selmer||HS* (star)||tip opening less than 1.05mm|
|Selmer||George Bundy 3||hard rubber||very free blowing and responsive|
| Vandoren||5RV ||hard rubber||tip opening about 1.065mm || |
For other recommendations, I would trust the people at Muncy Winds (See Links
). A good place to see technical information (like tip opening measurements) is The Woodwind&Brasswind
Many other measurements and technical information is found in this article at ClarinetPerfection.com
See this thread about beginner mouthpieces
How to measure mouthpiece facings
, discussed at woodwind.org