Custom Barrels by Allan Segal

Allan Segal, a reader of my blog, is making a custom clarinet barrel for me. His website Clarinet Concepts, describes him as Surgeon, Musician, Woodworker.

I've been trying Backun barrels again recently, and was frustrated at not being able to find a really glorious Cocobolo wood 64 length barrel to match the gorgeous 65 MoBa I bought a year ago.

In my email discussions with him I learned a lot about the facts and myths of barrels, and about some of the issues which arise with Cocobolo wood in particular.

Porous woods...coco in this case....have more dimensional instability with changes in humidity and temperature....That is the reason we make those barrels heftier. (Backun calls them Fatboys, but actually a British firm first used the term. I just call them hefty)

Color does not equate with density. Right now my stock of Cocobolo. billets is light with purplish streaks, but average in density. I do not stain. I could make anything LOOK brown just by burnishing the outside

The resistance is more of a bore issue. Outer shape may sometimes color the sound differently, but the blowing characteristic is more internal.

Another myth: Smooth bore v. porous.... If it sounds good, it is good. Opperman noted this a long time ago. Some of his barrels were rough inside. In fact, Moennig felt that some of the best clarinets were not smooth internally.

Be aware... ALL barrels narrow over time, esp. coco, and ALL barrel bores assume an ovoid shape. This will not necessarily show up with standard cylindrical bore gauges. That is why I suggest turning the barrel on the axis to find the sweet spot.

Allan has already started the process of making the barrel, from scratch. I have sent him the 65 MoBa Cocobolo for him to try to imitate the bore in the new one. He sent me some fun photos of the process, starting with a big block of wood. You can see them in the photo gallery below. (Click photo for larger view.)

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8 comments for “Custom Barrels by Allan Segal

  1. August 3, 2011 at

    I am pleased to announce the availability of a “new” breed of barrel for which I designed the bore. They are made of Hard Rubber
    by Omar Henderson (Doctor’sProducts)using a formulation of Chedeville material. Considerable effort, expense, trial+/- error, and chaos theory, went into the creation (or intelligent and not-so-intelligent design) of these. They are sonically unique.
    Allan 8/3/2011

  2. July 26, 2010 at

    That's good to know. I think he does good work. Thanks for your comment.

    • July 27, 2010 at

      thanks. I just underwent a major re-tooling. __Working on some recital pieces now. Back to work.

      • July 28, 2010 at

        Great! I'd love to try some more. Let me know.

      • August 12, 2010 at

        Will do. Right now doing some calibrating and testing some wood billets that arrived from a source that is new to me.

      • August 12, 2010 at

        Sounds good.

      • alseg
        October 21, 2010 at

        New ones are on their way, including one mpingo.

  3. Greg Lee
    July 25, 2010 at

    My son Joshua Lee loves Allan's barrels. He constantly plays with it and prefers it to many other barrels he has used. A true joy to listen to!

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