Toney Grail Mouthpiece Tests

Results of votes and identity of mouthpieces- The votes are number of mentions by commenters. Very unscientific.

1- Behn Vintage D - 3 votes
2- Antique Lelandais Chedeville - 9 votes
3- Old Portnoy refaced by a friend - 1 vote
4- Hawkins R - 4 votes

In the ongoing search for the Holy Grail of Tone, the "Toney Grail", I did some quick tone tests of four mouthpieces. They are posted here for your comments.

There are two sets of tests for each mouthpiece, the second with a bit harder reed. (Legere Signature 3.75 on the first set and 4 on the second.) The order of the mouthpieces is the same for both tests.

I tried to voice and blow the same for each, not adjust the sound in any way. The mouthpieces will be identified after I hear some feedback and votes for best sound. Which do you like from 1-4?

With 3.75 reed:
Clip 1

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Clip 2

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Clip 3

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Clip 4

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With 4 reed:
Clip 1

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Clip 2

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Clip 3

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Clip 4

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20 comments for “Toney Grail Mouthpiece Tests

  1. August 6, 2010 at

    Hi Gretchen. You know, I agree with you! Thanks for reminding me of these. I was in a different place than I am now! And this was an interesting memory to revisit. I now play something like the #4, but better, and I also play it better than back then. (they take awhile to get used to)

  2. Gretchen
    August 6, 2010 at

    David, I just listened to these clips again after how many months after you posted this, and my opinion has just changed! I like mouthpiece #3 with either the 3.75 reed, or the 4. It has a really nice singing quality to it. Just my 2 cents! 🙂

  3. December 23, 2009 at

    Results posted at beginning of original post. Thanks for your comments.

  4. EdW
    December 23, 2009 at

    The suspense is killing us! How am I going to buy mouthpieces for everyone's Christmas? I don't know which to buy!

    😉

  5. John Peacock
    December 22, 2009 at

    David: I listened again on a different computer and different earphones. This makes a significant difference, in that number 2 now sounds better than 1 on strength 4 reed. But I stick to preferring 4 on the 3.75.

    But none of these sounds like you do on the recent clip of the sonata with organ. If that was done with any of these setups, it probably just confirms the common saying that what the audience hears is very different to what you get close to the instrument.

    Regarding your comments above on "bright" vs "dark", I'd say your sound in the organ sonata isn't captured by these terms. It's "warm" (i.e. not "bright" in the sense of "thin" or "edgy", which describes what I hear from mouthpiece 2 on the softer reed) but it also has "projection", and certainly isn't "dark" in the sense of being dead. But maybe this is what you mean by "relatively dark"? Anyway, I think that clip sounds fabulous.

  6. David Niethamer
    December 21, 2009 at

    #2 with both reeds. #4 was close with the softer reed, but too muted with the harder reed – no "ring" to my ear. #3 seemed somewhat harsh with either reed, and #1 was very bright with the softer reed, and improved but still not great with the harder reed. Looking forward to the listing.

    In addition to the tone quality (such that you can tell, even with good headphones, on a computer) I found the quality of the slur to the altissimo D to be a telling characteristic of the quality of the mouthpiece.

    I agree I'd like to hear an articulation example.

  7. December 21, 2009 at

    #2 with either reed….more color and not "pinchy" at the top register.
    I think it had nice color.
    Allan Segal

    • December 21, 2009 at

      Thanks Allan. This is becoming quite interesting. I'll wait a few more days before revealing the mp identities.

  8. Arne Running
    December 21, 2009 at

    The more I listened, the more confused I became. But I will give you my opinion, for what it's worth.

    Disclaimer: I am trying to "grow up" in my ability to sort out the difference between surface attractiveness and genuine core density. But I think I still veer towards picking equipment that seems to sound rounder and darker (like so many others around the globe, I have come to like this new "international" clarinet sound—a sound that seems to be supplanting the more complex, "ringier" tone of the mid-20th century greats).

    Having said that, I found #4 a fairly clear winner with the softer reed. And I THINK the same thing with the harder reed, but in that series of tests, there seemed to be more equality amongst the four.

    • December 21, 2009 at

      Arne, You hear the same thing I hear. I like the way you have put it, as a trend, the current style, since clarinet is capable of so many different styles of sound, why not enjoy the best qualities of the current trend.

  9. Tim
    December 21, 2009 at

    I agree with EdW– I don't think it would be possible for you to sound bad. 🙂 That being said, I also agree that my favorite (and they're all incredibly close) is #2 with either reed. I'm sure you feel far more difference in the choices than we hear. I bought a Tascam DR-1 handheld digital recorder with built-in stereo condenser mics for use with my school groups last year and have begun recently to record portions of my practice sessions. I am amazed at how nuances that felt so dramatic to me come across in a very subtle fashion on the recordings. Good luck with your Toney Grail Quest!

  10. EdW
    December 21, 2009 at

    First off, they are all lovely and have certain appealing qualities. (I don't think it would be possible for you to sound bad). I tried to treat it in the manner that I prefer to choose equipment, setting up comparisons always between any 2. (a to b, the winner then goes against c, the winner of that goes against d, etc) I always find it easier to narrow it down rather than listening to to groups where I lose some perspective.

    I found with either reed, I liked #2. It seemed to have the most resonance and presence to the tone with a nice liveliness. There is a lot of color in it, where some of the others seemed to lack certain harmonics. It also seemed to have a certain freedom that would enable you to alter the timbre within a phrase the way Harold Wright did.

    I would love to hear them in a simple articulated passage (ie- F scale-tongued) where one could hear the ease of the attack and response as well as the color at the initiation of the tone.

    • December 21, 2009 at

      Got it. Will do so soon. I may take the best two from this discussion.

  11. December 20, 2009 at

    I liked 3 and 4 best. I feel the first two are a bit small-chambered(?) – at least, the tone feels small and strangled in comparison to the other two. 3 and 4 are closer to my ideals of tone.

    • December 21, 2009 at

      Joar- I'm not sure about the actual physical dimensions, but what you describe could also apply to the tone itself.

  12. John Peacock
    December 20, 2009 at

    As a preamble, are these all reasonably small tip opening? I recently tried a Legere 3.5 with my Selmer C85 120 and found it significantly too hard. I can't imagine getting any sound at all out of a 4 without going to a less open mouthpiece.

    As for the clips, for me it's a close call between 3.75 on number 4 or 4 on number 1. On either reed I find the sound of 2 & 3 not very ingratiating, with a rather buzzy quality. The 3.75 sounds too soft for 1 and the 4 is too hard for 4. In the end, I think I'd go for 3.75 on 4 – particularly for the purity of the high notes, where none of the other options does nearly as well.

    • December 21, 2009 at

      Hello John- Sorry. I apparently missed some of these comments in the email reminders I get of them. Yes, these are fairly small tip openings,

  13. Gretchen Roper
    December 20, 2009 at

    LOVE the second clip with the 3.75 reed. They are very similar with the #4 reed, but I think #2 still is my favorite.

  14. Julie VG
    December 20, 2009 at

    With the 3.75 reed I like the first clip the best, it sounds the lowest and most lovely of the four. With the size 4 reed it's a toss up between clip 1 and clip 2 (which suddenly has a much deeper sound than clip 2 did with the size 3.75).

    • December 21, 2009 at

      Thank you Julie. That's slightly different than what I expected, but it also reaffirms my personal favorites.

Comments are closed.