Problems with Sound

Hi Chris.

My name is Alberto. I'm having problems with establishing that 'natural, beautiful, and easy' tone on my clarinet. I just recently brought her in for an overhaul - pads, cork, action, springs and all - and found results at first; however, I am finding now that I am getting a very airy and almost thin sound. It's not the full sound I'm looking for. After hours of frustrating experimentation and looking up proper embouchure techniques online, I am wondering from you - what can I do to make my sound better? I know you cover it, but I haven't had a chance to sit down and read all of your guide. Perhaps you could shed a little light on this issue, as it has become awfully frustrating. Thank you so much for your time!


Hello Alberto,

Thanks for writing. Perhaps, since you found results immediately after the overhaul, you should consider letting the repair-person look at the clarinet again. One pad might have slipped or a new cork bumper could be off. If your sound is airy all over the clarinet, this flaw might show up in the upper joint.

I only think of this because you did feel immediate results after the overhaul. I do not like to blame the instrument. You should read all the way through the Poor Clarinet Embouchure page and look at the photos. I can almost boil clarinet embouchure problems down to not firm enough and not biting enough. I write this because your description of 'natural, beautiful, and easy' tone alarms me a little.

It takes a good deal of work to make the clarinet tone seem ‘easy’. I thought this as a college player. I’d hear great players and watch them and it seemed and sounded SO easy to me as they played. I would then go practice and barely have the clarinet in my mouth or barely blow and it just did not work.

Also, a well-balanced reed is hard to find. Check out my reed routine here. Make sure you are rotating your reeds well. You might have that well-adjusted clarinet, but have played the same reed too long and now you’ll have that “airy/thin” sound. So, do not forget to rotate your clarinet reeds.

Again, check out Poor Clarinet Embouchure and then read Clarinet Embouchure and find a mirror to analyze possible issues. Let me know what you come up with in your practicing. Best of luck to you.


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