A colorful mix of lots of questions, answered personally by the master clarinet craftsman. What's your question? What would you like to learn about GEROLD CLARINETS?
Send us your question! firstname.lastname@example.org
ARE THE CLARINET BARRELS IN THE B AND A CLARINETS IDENTICAL?
Yes! You can use the barrel of the B clarinet for the A clarinet or vice versa. This makes it simple and "risk free" to change the warm, tempered barrel together with the mouthpiece. If possible, barrels of the same model series (Modesto or Amadeus) should be used.
WHAT IS MEANT BY 20µ OR 40µ SILVER PLATING OF THE MECHANISM?
The 20µ or 40µ (1µ = 0.001 mm) refers to the thickness of the layers of silver in the clarinet mechanism. (Galvanization: see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galvanization)
The mechanism of the Modesto series is silver-plated with a layer thickness of approx. 20µ; the mechanism of the Amadeus series is silver-plated with a layer thickness of approx. 40µ.
The reason for doubling the thickness of the silver-plating in the Amadeus series is that, normally, they are played for considerably longer periods of time in comparison with the Modesto series.
If well cared for and with normal use, the silver-plating in both series of models will have a lifetime of at least 10 years.
The very thick 40µ silver-plating on the Amadeus series (standard silver-plating usually uses a thickness of between 5µ and 10µ) gives the mechanism even more highly pleasing properties, making it feel rounded and soft to the touch.
This extra thick 40µ silver-plating is also available as an option with the Modesto series.
WHY DO GEROLD CLARINETS HAVE RAISED TONE HOLE PAD PLACES MADE OF GRENADILLA WOOD?
The basic reason is to allow the airflow to escape from the inner bore and the tone holes with as little obstruction and turbulence as possible.
Conventional pad places are milled into the clarinet corpus. When a key is open, the air flowing out of the inner bore is forced out between the pad and the edge of the corpus. (See sketches 1 and 2 below.)
A blockage of this sort naturally causes air turbulence, which detracts from the purity and brilliance (overtones) in the sound of the clarinet.
A further advantage of raised tone hole pad places lies in the rather long tone holes required by the construction method, which make it easier to affect the tone and the intonation of the clarinet by quite specific design.
Insets produced in a precise wood-turning process using grenadilla wood are used as tone hole pad places in GEROLD CLARINETS. In comparison to conventional tone hole pad places, which have been milled into the clarinet corpus, substance is given, rather than taken away from the sounding wood of the instrument.
The only disadvantage of this type of tone hole construction is the somewhat higher expenditure in time and materials.
WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT TO 'BREAK IN' YOUR CLARINET?
During the first 3 - 6 months a new clarinet acquires the musician's individual personal acoustic pattern.
Here is a simplified explanation of what happens when you break in your clarinet.
One of the properties of wood is that it constantly stores a small percentage of water in its interior. Irrespective of the relative humidity of the ambient air, this percentage in the grenadilla wood used for manufacturing clarinets is between 4 % and 8 %.
If tonewood is regularly caused to vibrate, one of the effects is that these water molecules stored in the wood begin to be released from their original position. That is, the main effect of regular playing of the clarinet is to displace most of these water molecules, which then find a position more favourable for vibration. These changes in the position of the molecules allow the sound waves to penetrate the tonewood more easily and with less hindrance. In other words, the tonewood vibrates more easily.
The adjustment of the molecules, however, does not happen to an equal extent throughout the entire clarinet corpus. Depending on where the sound waves form amplitude or a nodal point, this adjustment of the molecules is more or less pronounced. Therefore, this means that the molecular structure in the tonewood is adjusted to the clarinettist’s individual personal acoustic pattern and is maintained in this "new" position for a time.
If a clarinet is not played over a long period and is therefore not vibrating regularly, these water molecules regain their original positions, making it necessary to break in the clarinet once more.
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO BREAK IN MY GEROLD CLARINET?
In the first few days the playing process must be undertaken very carefully and gently. The clarinet must not be played for a continuous period of longer than half an hour. It is also advisable, after 10 to 15 minutes playing, to carefully remove the saliva from the inner bore with a clarinet swab. During shorter pauses between playing always set the clarinet upright on a clarinet stand. This allows the saliva to run downwards without any hindrance. Basically, you need to accustom the clarinet as gently as possible to the humidity and warmth, which are caused by playing the clarinet.
In particular, new clarinets must not be exposed to any marked fluctuations in temperature and, where possible, should not be played in cold rooms. (See also "How can I prevent cracks from appearing on the clarinet corpus?")
After about a week, playing time can be increased to about 1 hour. During the third week the clarinet can be played for 1 - 3 hours in separate periods of time. It is again important to clean all the saliva carefully from the clarinet after use and to give the clarinet sufficient time to "recover" (dry) by pausing in playing for relatively long periods. (In these pauses it is essential that the clarinet is not packed away in a closed clarinet case!)
The tonewood of a clarinet must be slowly accustomed to the vibrations in playing. We strongly advise that you play long notes in chromatic sequence from pianissimo to forte and back again. This additional practice will help the grenadilla wood of the clarinet to acquire your personal tone and you will also become much more familiar with the tonal characteristics of your new instrument;
After a regular weekly or fortnightly breaking-in session, you will feel that the clarinet starts to vibrate with increasing flexibility and suppleness.
At first, in order to become accustomed to the sometimes unfamiliar tone hole and key positions as quickly as possible, fingering technique exercises, such as études etc., should be played quite deliberately at half tempo. While doing this, concentrate on the finger tips, consciously feel where and how the fingers touch the keys and the tone holes, allow the motor skills of the fingers, which have often been trained over many years and which may, unknown to the player, have become stale, to relearn considerably more quickly.
WHY ARE STAINLESS STEEL NEEDLE SPRINGS OF FLAT SPRINGS NOT USED FOR GEROLD-CLARINETS?
In order to make spring steel stainless, chrome and nickel, among other ingredients, must be applied to a steel alloy. The addition of these metals reduces the elastic force and thus the "liveliness" of the spring steel.
If this liveliness is missing, the clarinet mechanism feels spongy and without definition. This does not give the clarinettist the required clear feedback, which is essential for precise, quick fingering.
Over the years a flat spring or needle spring naturally loses its elasticity and elastic force. Therefore, the flat springs and needle springs on a clarinet should be changed at the latest after 3 - 5 years as part of a general overhaul.
High-grade flat or needle springs are given a light protection against corrosion or rust by means of a special heat treatment, known as tempering or burnishing, which is recognisable by a bluish colouring. In normal use and if the clarinet is properly cared for, this protection is usually completely sufficient.
WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE FOR STORING MY GEROLD CLARINET?
A clarinet should always be cleaned before it is stored and should be stored, disassembled, in dry conditions, at a constant temperature of 18 to 25 degrees in relative humidity of between 30-70 %.
In particular, if the ambient air is too dry (below 30 %), this completely stresses the wood from which the clarinet is made. When wood becomes too dry, it becomes brittle and therefore loses elasticity, greatly increasing the risk of the wood cracking. Most especially in the winter months we therefore recommend that you use a hygrometer to keep a check on the relative humidity.
After a prolonged period of use, a clarinet should be given the opportunity for the moisture, which has built up in the interior of the wood, to evaporate slowly with sufficient air supply. The simplest method is to place the clarinet for one or two hours in its case and to leave the case slightly open.
Also, avoid storing new rubber mouthpieces in the closed case. New rubber mouthpieces give off a slight vapour, which contains sulphur. If silver comes into contact with sulphur, it takes on a dark discoloration. There are also minute quantities of sulphur (usually in connection with foodstuffs) in the sweat from our hands and in saliva. Therefore, it is also important to clean the silver-plated mechanism of a clarinet thoroughly, each time the clarinet is played, preferably with a microfiber cloth There are other ways of protecting the silver-plating from tarnishing, such as the silver protection strips made by the 3M Company. They are easy to store in the instrument case and over several months they extract these sulphurous substances from the air.
In order to prevent the tenon corks from drying out quickly and also to prevent undesired traces of cork grease being left in the clarinet case, we recommend that you use our new protective tenon sleeves.
You can find hygrometers, 3M silver protection strips and protective tenon sleeves in our online shop.
HOW CAN I PREVENT CRACKS FROM APPEARING IN THE CLARINET CORPUS?
Unfortunately even with carefully selected grenadilla wood, which has been stored in optimum conditions for years, there is no protection which will be one hundred per cent effective against cracking.
Cracks appear most usually in autumn or winter and almost always form in the upper part of the clarinet near the speaker hole or the topmost trill key. Why?
It is natural that the nearer the player's breath is to the mouthpiece, as it flows through the inner bore, the warmer it is. Together with moisture (saliva) this warmth causes expansion in the wood of the interior of the clarinet. The exterior of the clarinet corpus is forced to respond to this distension. Usually the flexibility of the wood cells allows them to compensate for this thermal expansion.
In cold dry conditions, however, this flexibility disappears. This means that if a clarinet is played in a cold room, the risk of cracks appearing is very great. If a clarinet is then also stored in very low relative humidity (less than 30 %), this is a more or less proven formula for cracks to form.
If it is absolutely necessary to play in cold surroundings, (e.g. in a church), you should warm the exterior of the clarinet, in the area below the barrel joint, in the palms of your hands. The inner bore must also be dried as often as possible with a clarinet swab.
It is basically better to avoid cold and dry atmospheres. Where possible, rapid changes in temperature must also be avoided. Therefore, never play a clarinet which has cooled and which has not been tempered!
Probably because of the greater fluctuations in temperature and relative humidity, lakeside and coastal areas are an additional stress factor for the tonewood of a clarinet.
Saliva has a considerable influence on the formation of cracks as well. If the saliva has a heightened acidity, which often occurs parallel to and at the same time as aggressive sweating of the hands, it penetrates deeper into the wood of the inner bore and this increases the swelling and expansion of the grenadilla wood. The wood cells on the outer wall of the clarinet corpus often cannot compensate for this distension and break off; in other words, a crack is formed. Heightened acidity of the saliva often occurs during puberty, during relatively long-lasting stressful situations or due to wrong diet.
As a precaution, the inner bore of the clarinet, especially in the upper section, should be regularly nourished with an organic (vegetable) oil. (More information on this can be found under "How do I oil the inner bore of my GEROLD CLARINET?")
The good news is that cracks can easily be repaired. The crack is sealed with a special adhesive and becomes barely visible. Most cracks are merely superficial and therefore do not affect the tone or intonation of the clarinet.
You can find a high-quality vegetable wood care oil in our online shop.
HOW DO I OIL THE INNER BORE OF MY GEROLD CLARINET?
GEROLD CLARINET wood care oil is a mixture of high-quality vegetable oils ideal for the care of grenadilla wood. You can apply this wood care oil in very thin layers with the cotton buds supplied or with an old clarinet swab. Another good tool for this is an flute wiper, with which a lint-free cotton cloth, lightly smeared with oil, is drawn through the inner bore. Any surplus oil must be thoroughly removed. Oil must not enter the tone holes or come into contact with the clarinet pads. Oil-impregnated clarinet swabs and cotton cloths are slightly inflammable and must be disposed of accordingly.
Vegetable oils need several hours to set. The simplest solution is to leave the oiled clarinet for one or two hours in the open instrument case with sufficient airflow and at a suitable ambient temperature. Finally, clean the inner bore several times with a clean, lint-free clarinet swab and leave it to dry for a further 3 to 4 hours.
The inner bore of a clarinet should be oiled, as soon as the grenadilla wood shows a slightly greyish, light discolouration
Occasionally it is advisable to apply a thin film of oil to the exterior of your GEROLD CLARINET. After about half an hour polish the clarinet with a soft, lint-free cotton cloth, to remove the excess oil. In this way, especially in much-handled parts of the clarinet, you can thoroughly remove unsightly sweat marks, which are dissolved away by the oil.
You can find GEROLD-CLARINET oil in our online shop.
WHICH ARE THE CORRECT MOUTHPIECES FOR MY GEROLD CLARINET?
In principle you can use the mouthpieces of almost all well-known producers. However, you must make sure that the mouthpiece has the wide Austrian inner bore (Ø 15.4 mm measured on the lower edge of the inner bore). For further information on dimensions see illustration below.
Companies such as www.playnick.at and www.maxton.at specialize in mouthpieces in the 'Austrian way' or 'Austrian lip technique'. In addition, we keep up an active exchange of information with these companies. They offer mouthpieces and facings, which are extremely suitable for GEROLD-CLARINETS.
There are differences in the mouthpiece bodies made by the various producers of mouthpieces. The hard rubber mouthpiece bodies used for decades (produced mostly by the German firm of www.hans-zinner.de) have become established as a kind of "standard" or "reference". This is also why we prefer to use these mouthpiece bodies to intonate our clarinets
MAXTON also offers plastic mouthpiece bodies (recognisable by the rubber rings instead of the tenon cork). The advantage of these mouthpiece bodies lies principally in the lower tolerance limit and the fact that they can be more accurately processed during manufacturing.
However, these plastic mouthpiece bodies are about 1.5 mm shorter than the hard rubber blanks produced by the www.hans-zinner.de company (see illustration below). Of course, this difference in length affects the intonation of the clarinet. It is possible that tones or registers as for example in the chalumeau or the flageolet intonate rather higher or that the intonation is more difficult to control. To compensate this difference in length, we recommend using a barrel joint, which is longer by 1 mm or pull out the mouthpiece by at least 1 mm.
Since 2015, the Viennece mouthpiece expert Johannes Gleichweit manufactures specifically for GEROLD CLARINETS soloist mouthpieces with Zinner hard-rubber blanks. These mouthpieces are ideally suited to the phonetic and intonational features of GEROLD CLARINETS. You can find more info about GEROLD-CLARINETS soloist mouthpieces here: https://www.gerold-klarinetten.at/en/news-info/news-detail/gerold-clarinets-soloist-hard-rubber-mouthpiece-tips-go1-/-go2-/-go3.html
BASIC INFORMATION ABOUT INTONATION
GEROLD CLARINET are intonated with a pitch of 443 Hertz at 21° Celsius, 40% - 60% relative humidity (barrel-joint length 60 mm).
Please consider that a change in temperature of 2° Celsius alters the intonation by about 1 Hertz!
For tuning we use GEROLD CLARINETS soloist mouthpieces with a total length of 91 mm (hard-rubber blanks made by Hans Zinner / Germany), a tip opening of about 0.8 mm and an Austrian bore of 15.4 mm (measured at the lowest point of the mouthpiece).
In order to make it easier for you to reach a pitch of 443 Hertz even before you have warmed up your clarinet, in our intonation techniques we have considered a 'barrel-joint extension' of approximately 1 mm in the warm condition.
That is to say, you will be able to reach a pitch of 443 Hertz even in the cold state and then in the warm state pull out the barrel-joint by approximately 1 mm. With the barrel joint in this position your GEROLD CLARINET will also attain the best possible, most balanced intonation!
If they are necessary, corrections of individual intonations should not be carried out until a minimum of a three month breaking-in or familiarisation period has elapsed.
ADJUSTING OR IMPROVING THE INNER BORE OF THE MOUTHPIECE FOR MY GEROLD CLARINET.
GEROLD CLARINETS are famous for their soft, malleable tone, rich in harmonics. We were able to create this characteristic by deliberately producing convex or concave radii on the tone holes and the inner bore. Logically, in order to perfect this acoustic pattern, the next step is to adjust the inner bore of the mouthpiece to this ideally as well. By using a specialized tool we are able to adjust the inner bore of your mouthpiece specifically to suit your GEROLD CLARINET. This adjustment ensures a well-balanced intonation, that is difficult to rival. When you buy a GEROLD CLARINET we make this adjustment for you free of charge!
Cost of the adjustment or improvement of the inner bore of a mouthpiece:
€18 including 20% VAT, plus shipping costs.
ARE CHANGES TO THE CONFIGURATION OF GEROLD CLARINETS POSSIBLE ONCE A BINDLING ORDER HAS BEEN PLACED?
There is no problem in having changes made to the configuration of your GEROLD CLARINET up to six months before the agreed date of delivery. Shortly before we start to manufacture your GEROLD CLARINET we will contact you again by e-mail on this matter.