Clarinets

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Tone holes

The Instrument's tone hole position, size, length, and shape combined with the bore shape and diameter will, depending on the player's airspeed and mouthpiece, define the sound and intonation of the instrument. We distinguish between

1. Straight tone holes are used primarily on cheap and student instruments. They consist of just a straight cylindrical hole from the outside down to the bore. This will create a stable but inflexible intonation. This is an advantage for beginners since the tuning of the instrument will be rather stable and less dependent on their embouchure and airspeed within the piano to mezzo forte dynamic range, usually used by beginners. It also helps the beginner get used to correct intonation.
On the other hand, this will reduce the flexibility, which is often preferred if you like to play with a larger dynamic range, together with other players or like to play with bigger musical expression.




2. Tone holes with undercut enlarge their diameter towards the bore. They will allow a bigger dynamic and intonation flexibility. They are therefore the preferred tone hole shape on most professional clarinets.


Ring tone-hole and tone-hole with padseat, both with undercut

In the past, this tone hole undercutting used to be done by hand, which is one reason why instruments vary in intonation and sound from one to another.
The tone holes on many modern CNC (computer-numeric-controlled) machined instruments will have more consistent undercutting.

3. Stepped tone holes are further optimized tone holes primarily seen on oboes. They help to tune the instrument better over several registers.




4. Angled tone holes are very common on bassoons and recorders but are occasionally also used on clarinets. They help to get the finger position to a more ergonomical location without sacrificing the tuning which would require a different tone hole position.




5. Raised tone holes are seen on some professional instruments. They allow a better pitch proportion between the lower and higher registry. On some models from Selmer, they are also used to give a more stable intonation.


6.Good Intonation is designed and tuned to a specific pitch. The pitch is the point of reference and each note is tuned in a specific proportion related to the tuning tone. The standard pitch in Europe is 442/443Hz, in the US and England 440Hz at 20 Celsius or 68-70F . read more


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