Mouthpieces & Reeds


Now of course, the reeds you use depends on a variety of factors including your embouchure, your skill level, and the type of mouthpiece you have. All mouthpieces have different dimensions and resistance so you will have to try several different set-ups before you decide which sound works best for you, so always try new mouthpieces before purchasing them. This will prevent you from spending a lot of money on a mouthpiece only to be disappointed in your tone, your articulation, or your tuning.

Remember, no two mouthpieces are exactly alike. You need to try several, even a few of the same model. Here are just a few of the well reputable mouthpieces that work for the advancing student:

  • Brad Behn (Artist series, etc.)

  • Rico Reserve X0

  • Clark Fobes (CWF, San Francisco models, etc.)

  • Nathan Beaty (can be reached at 210-488-4462)

  • Vandoren M13 Lyre

  • Vandoren M15

  • Vandoren 5RV Lyre

  • Vandoren M30

What else do you need to know:

A more resistant mouthpiece requires a softer reed.

A less resistant mouthpiece requires a heavier/more resistant reed.


  • Vandoren Blue Box (size 3, 3.5)

  • Vandoren V12 (size 3.5, 3.5+, 4)

  • Rico Grand Concert Select Thick Blank (size 3.5, 4)

  • Rico Grand Concert Select Evolution (size 3.5)

  • Rico Classic Reserve

  • Rigotti Gold (size 3.5-4; these come with multiple gradations, such as 3.5 light, 3.5 medium, and 3.5 strong)


  1. Don’t play on the same reed every day. Rotate through your reeds every time you play. Have at least three or four reeds available in your case every day. If you keep playing on your favorite reed all the time it won’t last as long and probably won’t be your friend at your next performance.

  1. Throw away your old reeds. There’s no need to keep them around because they don’t sound good and won’t sound good again. Instead of holding on to a reed in hopes that one day it will play well again, put a new reed into your rotation.

  1. Stock up on reeds. Don’t wait until you only have two reeds left before buying a new box or two. It can seem expensive to keep buying reeds, but it will prevent the stress of having no working reeds at your performance.

  1. Don’t bite down on the reed. This happens when your reed is too resistant or unbalanced. When you put too much pressure on the reed it warps faster and won’t last as long. Make sure you’re using the right muscles in your embouchure to create a good tone instead of biting.

  1. Use the Tom Ridenour ATG Reed Finishing System or a similar product to decrease the resistance of your reeds and to balance them. If you can’t get one for yourself, ask your private teacher or band director to get one for you and your clarinetists to use.

  1. Use a slightly heavier (thicker) reed to give you more flexibility in your tone quality, your color, and your dynamics. You don’t want to go crazy and use reeds that are stiff as a board, but if you buy them a little thicker you can always take some material off of them. If you start with a reed that is too soft there’s nothing you can do and you’re stuck with it.