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I've recently started clarinet lessons and I've got an old (1960s) Selmer Signet Special clarinet and a new Vandoren M13 Lyre mouthpiece. I've started playing Legere synthetic reeds and wondering if I have the best strength (and wondering about the mouthpiece but currently planning to hold on to what I have for a while).

In looking at other Legere reeds, they have four cuts: Classic, Signature, German, and European. I have one European and it seems very wide for my mouthpiece.

I'm currently using a Classic cut but it seems like the Signature cuts are an update of the Classics that might be better. What really confuses me is the German cut. They say they are for German-style mouthpieces. I suspect if I had a German style mouthpiece I would know, but Vandoren doesn't list what "style" their mouthpieces are (as far as I can tell). I've also seen some mention of French-style mouthpieces, and it's not clear if that's the only other type besides German or if there are three types or more.

I suspect the (in)famous Buffet Crampon R13 is the archetype for anything French-style, so whatever Buffet is making is probably French-style, but how do I know? Is there an American style perhaps? Vandoren says the M13, M15, etc. mouthpieces are designed for American clarinets, which I think means meant for A 440 instead of 442, but I don't know if that explains why the European cut reed is so wide on the M13 mouthpiece or not.

So perhaps this question is a little more rambling than it is clear and focused. In short, what. is the difference between French style and German style mouthpieces, are there any other styles, and is there a way to tell what style a mouthpiece is if the manufacturer doesn't say?

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    +1 for the post, but opening by saying you're taking lessons begs the question: what does your teacher have to say on the subject?
    – Aaron
    Dec 29 '20 at 4:19
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    A pic. of what you already have might be useful.
    – Tim
    Dec 29 '20 at 10:44
  • @Tim Vandoren has all the specs of the M13 Lyre available on their web site. But it seems to be a fairly well known mouthpiece. You can’t see the facing details in a phone pic. Dec 29 '20 at 15:06
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    @Aaron she’s saying not to worry about it yet. But there’s like sales on reeds right now. Dec 29 '20 at 15:06
  • Aha. Well, that is certainly is sal(e)ient.
    – Aaron
    Dec 29 '20 at 16:17
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There are only two basic types of clarinet mouthpiece: Boehm (French) and German, although there are slight variations within each of these. German style clarinets have a narrower bore and need different mouthpieces, also with a narrower bore, and these need narrower reeds. Trying to play an instrument with the wrong mouthpiece style is possible if the mouthpiece fits, but the result is likely to sound terrible and be badly out of tune. For Boehm clarinets, European players often prefer instruments with a slightly different bore than American players and mouthpiece makers often offer different mouthpieces for these, although there is no problem mixing them. Conversely Austrian players often prefer a slight variation on the German style. There are also mouthpieces for German clarinet designed to use Boehm style reeds.

Vandoren's web site lists the M13 but not the M13 Lyre, but this will definitely be a mouthpiece for Boehm clarinet. Although it was probably designed to match the R13 clarinets (Buffet's "American" style bore and A=440Hz) it should work perfectly on the Selmer Signet (one of Selmer's student models for the American market). I'm not familiar with all the different cuts of the Légère reeds, but all of them except for the German cut should fit perfectly on the M13. You should use whichever one you prefer. The Légères do seem to be slightly wider than Vandoren cane reeds, you might want to try a couple of Vandorens to see how they fit your mouthpiece.

The reed strength you need will depend on a lot of factors including how long you've been playing, the mouthpiece you play on, the type of music you play, the sound you want to get, and personal comfort (harder reeds take more work). In general if you are having to work too hard or have a breathy sound the reed is too hard. If your sound is buzzy and you have difficulty controlling the sound the reed is too soft for you. Those M13 mouthpieces have a very close lay and they need a harder reed than a more open mouthpiece.

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  • Here's the specs on the M13 Lyre on the Vandoren site: vandoren.fr/en/vandoren-mouthpieces/… They might not be making it or they don't list it separately from the M13. I think the M15 is supposed to be an upgrade from it. Not sure at all what my next mouthpiece will be but I think it's best I spent a good amount of time (more than a year?) on this one mastering my embouchure before getting crazy like that. Dec 29 '20 at 21:59
  • @ToddWilcox Don't even think about changing, the M13 will be fine for at least the next couple of years.
    – PiedPiper
    Dec 29 '20 at 23:01

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