Starting from the top: the bass clarinet mouthpiece
While the bass clarinet is in many cases similar to other members of the clarinet family, a bass clarinet mouthpiece is a little different and can take time for a regular clarinet player to get used to.
The most noticeable difference is that the mouthpiece for the bass clarinet is larger. The reed is also wider, affecting the embouchure (the way the lips are shaped to play the instrument). When playing a reed instrument, the embouchure is important for sealing the area around the mouthpiece and controlling the vibration of the reed. Due to the bass needing more air pressure (a bigger instrument needs more ‘blow’ for the air to get through it) the new player needs to learn to balance blowing more through a bigger mouthpiece while retaining control.
As with other all clarinets, the mouthpiece can be made from various materials. The most popular for the bass instrument is molded hard rubber, but mouthpieces can also be made of plastic or even glass. The shape of the mouthpiece can have an effect on articulation and response, a particular concern for the upper register of a bass version of the clarinet. The mouthpiece is connected to the rest of the instrument by an S-shaped piece of tubing known as a crook.
Mouthpieces should be cleaned weekly, and the clarinet player should never put anything inside the mouthpiece that could scratch it, as this can effect the sound produced. As with all parts of a clarinet, the bass mouthpiece should be stored carefully when not in use. Many mouthpieces will come with their own special coverings that should fit in a regular bass clarinet case.
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