CUSTOM CLARINET BARRELS
"People should know about what you are doing...it's unique and really fantastic!" -Kathleen C.
"The new barrel was so much better... I have no idea about what you did. It's like a magic!" -Teppei T.
What can be gained by a truly Custom Clarinet Barrel?
Like most professional or aspiring young clarinetists, you have probably been on a 'barrel search' at some point in your career. We've all done it, and the story briefly goes something like this...
You buy an instrument that you really love, bring the instrument home, and take great pains with the breaking-in process; you certainly do not want this one to crack! After months, perhaps a full year, you have begun to learn all of the subtle tendencies and idiosyncrasies of your still new clarinet. Slowly, you begin to imagine minute ways in which this instrument could play even better than it presently does. "If only I could find that perfect barrel..." and it has happened. You have just embarked on a barrel search. Good luck! If you follow the common path, you'll need it!
Some background info and 'the new Standard'
In the early 1950s Buffet came out with a new clarinet called the Model R-13. It was a sensation, a revolution in the industry due to its improved bore design. Prior to that time many players had preferred instruments from other makers. However, the new Buffet displayed improved characteristics, and clarinetists the world over began to flock to the new horn. In the ensuing years an already prominent Philadelphia woodwind repairman, Hans Moennig, became legendary both through his quality craftsmanship and also through his unique improvements to the Buffet barrel bore. Moennig had discovered a way to improve the new Buffet still further by creating a very specific taper in the bore of the barrel.
We can fast-forward half a century and Moennig's barrels are still available today, directly from Buffet.
But will they help us in our own latest search?
Many players agree that the "Moennig" barrels now manufactured by Buffet seem to be slightly different from the barrels Hans, himself, made. We sadly lost a great craftsman when Moennig passed away, and while his own tools sometimes seemed crude and his methods rough, they indeed worked. So, we now must ask, are these barrels today best suited for our present instruments?
Realize that your R-13 is somewhat different from those made in the 1950s. Even today's Vintage model Buffet, an attempt at reproducing the original, incorporates some small changes. In addition, many of us now play on distinctly different model instruments that have been redesigned and improved in the intervening years. The wide range and selection of new clarinet models today may be a blessing ...or a curse... I'm not sure. Regardless, small variations do exist from one instrument to the next, even within the same model line. Also, we enjoy a wider selection of mouthpieces than ever before. Clearly, different mouthpieces have different bore dimensions, and we do not all play the same mouthpiece setup. You may see where I'm headed...
Today, if we hope to improve the playing qualities of our instruments, we have available an entire alphabet-soup of expensive after-market equipment and barrels to choose from. While these many examples from different makers display varying concepts of design, and while some clarinetists may indeed find a barrel that is helpful, such barrels (including the Buffet-Moennig mentioned above) all share the same basic shortcoming. They are all 'production work' and none are truly custom made to match your specific instrument when paired with your specific mouthpiece.
When Love Fades...
I'm sure you begin to see the near infinite variations. Hoping to find that ideal barrel to improve the playing characteristics of your 'setup' is like trying to find the proverbial needle-in-a-haystack. Good luck! And suppose you do succeed in finding that perfect barrel? Within less than a year, I can assure you its bore will have begun to warp, its playing properties will have begun to change, and when you come to realize these facts for yourself you'll be on the search once again. Confess... haven't you experienced a waning enthusiasm for the sound and feel of a once beloved barrel? Right... It warped.
So... stop searching! I can provide a barrel that will be truly custom made to 'match' and complement your specific instrument with your specific mouthpiece... and it will never warp.