The barrel is an essential connector between the mouthpiece and the instrument. It is exchangeable allowing the player a wider range of mouthpiece and barrel options. The right barrel can improve intonation as well as the sound and playability of a clarinet.
A barrel has several parameters, which in their proper combination, can help achieve an optimal feel and sound. Common problems and how to solve them is explained later.
There are 6 important parameters:
3.The bore surface
And typical problems:
1.Barrel gets stuck
5. Barrel versus tuning rings
6. Zoom barrels
7. Humidity problems
8. The original barrel 9.Choosing barrels
A longer barrel will lower the pitch of the instrument. This will lower the left hand notes more than the right hand ones.
Shorter barrels on the other hand will raise the pitch. Again this will have a larger effect on the left hand notes than on the right hand ones.
Alternatively, tuning rings can also be used. Read more about this alternative below. . Barrel bore shape
The bore of the barrel is the most influential parameter and is responsible for tuning, intonation, resistance, focus and the sound. The bore of modern Boehm clarinet barrels varies between 14.7 to 15.2mm. Eb barrels are between 12.5-14.0mm.
Barrels are available in 4 different bore shapes: cylindrical (1), tapered and reversed tapered (2), straight and tapered (Moennig style or similar)(3), or rectangular (4).
1, Bb clarinet barrels are usually cylindrical.
2. A clarinet barrels are often tapered, with the mouthpiece side having a slightly larger bore. This is done to compensate for the fact that the A and Bb clarinets are often played with the same Bb mouthpiece. Without this 12ths on the A clarinet would be more out of tune.
3. Some barrels, such as Moennig barrels, are tapered half way down mouthpiece side then become cylindrical. This is a way to get the 12th better in tune.
4. A unique shape is the rectangular bore. It never became very popular and causes many kinds of hard to control issues. We don´t have much experience with them and can´t give any advice on these. Nevertheless, the sound can be different and interesting.
The bore of a barrel can become slightly oval over time (this is also true for all other wooden parts of the clarinet). If this happens, the bore between the barrel and the top joint will no longer align perfectly. Turning the barrel to different position can sometimes help overcome this. It´s worth trying to turn the barrel in different directions to hear if it makes any significant change.
Barrel inner surface
The inner surface of the bore also has an influence on the sound. Highly polished bores will give a faster response and brighter sound that is more focused than less polished and rougher surfaces.
Barrels with a less polished bore will have a warmer sound. Polishing an existing bore to change the sound will also widen the bore, which can cause intonation changes.
New barrels often have a very shiny inner bore. They have been polished and often waxed. The bore will become rougher over time with exposure to condensation and the creation of tiny surface cracks. On the other side, the barrel will become wider over time caused by swabbing.
In different woods.
Traditional barrels are made out of the same material as the clarinet: African blackwood, also called grenadilla or Mpingo
Lately, a wide selection of other materials has become available such as: cocobolo, tulipwood, rosewood, boxwood, plastic or eloxyded allumium. This variety adds interesting new sound possibilities with variations in weight, density and surface all affecting the sound.
A couple of things should be considered when a barrel is made from a different material than the instrument.
1. Woods other than grenadilla will have a different expansion rate when exposed to humidity. Problems with sticking tenons or cracks can occur.
2. Barrels with decorative wooden barrel rings made out of a different wood than the barrel face even bigger problems since they are more fragile.
3. Synthetic materials and allumium will be very stable and may avoid these problems. They react only to temperature changes and are immune to humidity changes. This may affect the resonance and overall timbre. This is a matter of personal preference and will vary player to player.
Barrel receiver size
For most Boehm clarinets the mouthpiece receiver size is identical.
The barrel will need to correspond to the different manufacturers tenons, some of which are cylindrical and others tapered. The latter have the disadvantage of wobbling when pulled out to adjust intonation.
Gaps in the bore should be avoided. If a barrel receiver is longer than the instrument or mouthpiece tenon, tuning rings should be inserted between them. If it is not possible to measure them with a caliper, put the mouthpiece and the barrel together. If a gap is visible when looking into the bore, a tuning ring is needed. The same can be done with the barrel and the instrument.
We are able to modify receivers and tenons to allow use of various combinations of mouthpieces, barrels and instruments. >
Barrels are available in different diameters and shapes. Thinner barrels have less mass, allowing them to react faster. This often feels less powerful for the player. Because the player hears the sound both around them and also through the vibrations in the instrument through their body, this can be a misleading impression.
Thicker barrels increase the mass and thus react slower. This gives the impression of more volume and smoothness.
The DEC barrel has radiator ribs, possesses a unique shape designed to increase the outer surface area of the barrel in order to allow it to project more sound into the air.
Bent barrels are designed to help release tension in the lower arms by allowing the clarinet to be held parallel to the body with a very relaxed arm position. Most of the weight of the instrument can now be held with a neck strap. With a normal neck strap the instrument is held at an angle putting much less of the weight on the strap
The LP Balance barrel
LP Balance barrels available for all brands.
The LP Balanced Barrel is our new and unique creation, designed to achieve two goals.
Firstly, because it is heavy it restores weight balance to the instrument when the thumb rest is moved 12-15mm higher to a more ergonomic position by equalizing the weight between the thumb and the bell.
Secondly, due to its weight the response is improved and the altissimo register in particular becomes more focused.
1.Barrel gets stuck :
2.Barrel wobbels :
3.Barrel cracks :
4.Loose sockets :
5. Barrel versus tuning rings :
6. Zoom barrels :
7. Humidity problems: