Lohff & Pfeiffer

Accessories - Clarinet - Barrels


Barrels are an essential connector between the mouthpiece and the instrument. They are exchangeable, allowing improvement to both the intonation and the sound. A wider bored mouthpiece will require a different barrel than a smaller bored one. That’s why not all barrels work with all mouthpieces.

There are 6 important parameters:
1.The length
2.The bore
3.The bore surface
4.The shape
5.The material
6.Receiver size

Barrel length
A longer barrel will lower the pitch of the instrument. It is important to understand that intonation for the short-tube notes (where the air first exits close to the mouthpiece) will be influenced more than that of the longer-tube notes.

Shorter barrels will raise the pitch. Again, this will have a bigger effect on the short-tube notes. In addition to length, bore shape and diameter are very important for intonation, focus and response.

Barrel bore shape
The bore of modern Boehm clarinet barrels varies between 14.7 to 15.2mm.

Eb barrels are between 12.5-14.0mm.

Bb clarinet barrels are usually cylindrical.

A clarinet barrels are often tapered, with the mouthpiece side being wider. This is done to compensate for the fact that the A and Bb are often played with the same Bb mouthpiece. Without this, 12ths on the A clarinet would be adversely affected.

Some barrels, such as Moennig barrels, are tapered half way and then become cylindrical.

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 bores between the barrel and the top joint no longer align perfectly. Turning the barrel to different positions can sometimes help to overcome this. >

Barrel inner surface
The bore surface also has an influence on the sound. Highly polished bores will give a faster response and brighter sound with more focus than less polished or rougher surfaces. Conversely, less polished bores will have a warmer sound. Polishing an existing bore to change the sound will also widen the bore, causing major intonation problems.

The bore will become rougher over time due to its exposure to condensation.

Barrel materials
Traditional barrels are made out of the same material as the clarinet: African blackwood, also called grenadilla. More recently, a wide selection of other materials has become available, like cocobolo, tulipwood, rosewood, boxwood, plastic or epoxied aluminum. This variety adds interesting new sound possibilities as the variation in weight, density and surface will all have an effect on the sound.

It is important to note that when a barrel is made from a different material than the instrument, problems with sticking tenons or cracking can occur. Woods other than grenadilla will have a wider expansion rate when exposed to humidity. Also, barrels which have decorative wooden barrel rings, made out of a different wood than the barrel, face the same problem. Synthetic materials and aluminum will only react to temperature, not humidity.

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.

Barrel shape
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. However, because the player hears the sound not only through the air but also through the connection of his teeth to the mouthpiece, 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, with its radiator ribs, has a unique shape designed to increase the outer surface area of the barrel in order to allow it to release more energy into the air.

Bent barrels
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. Nearly the entire weight of the instrument can now be held with a shoulder strap. With a normal neck strap, where the instrument is held at an angle, much less of the weight is taken by the strap>

The LP Balanced barrel
The LP Balanced Barrel is our new and unique creation, designed to achieve two goals.

1. Due to it is heaviness, it restores weight balance to the instrument when the thumb rest is moved 12-15mm higher to a more ergonomically friendly position, causing it to equalize the resulting shift in weight to the bell end.
2. Response is improved and the high register, in particular, becomes more focused.

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