This page carries reviews of various accessories for woodwind
instruments--both exceptionally good and remarkably bad.
Click for Special Discussions on:
Stuff to Dance About!
- Pack-A-Stand: Convenient safety for your
clarinet. Yep, Pack-A-Stand is the brand name. This stand allows the clarinet to
be set vertically on the floor when not in use. Folds and stores inside the bell.
- Konig & Meyer (K&M)
Flute/Clarinet/Soprano Sax Stands. Legs and peg are all attached together to
prevent lost parts. Also, the flute peg is long enough to avoid overstressing the foot
joint, even on b-foot flutes. Won't fold as compact as a Moreschi or a B&G, but still
a very small package.
- Belmonte/Stagecraft/LA Sax/LP Saxophone Stands & Music Stands.
Good, solid stands at a decent price. Sturdy & well-designed. I don't have an address
or web link for this company, so visit your local music store and view their products for
yourself. Similar quality sax stands are made by LP and by Stageline.
- Runyon Mouthpiece Patches (clear) Protects the upper surface of
any woodwind mouthpiece from player toothmarks, and provides a slight cushion for the
player's teeth from the vibration of the mouthpiece. Not as thick or springy as Runyon
black patches or the Yamaha patches, and thus less likely to cause a student to play flat.
(that means out of tune, parents)
- Runyon Thumb Protector. Available for clarinet and saxophone. Good
design and high comfort.
- Meyer Saxophone Mouthpieces - As advanced students get to the point
where they need a better mouthpiece than the one that came on the instrument, this brand
is the first one to look at. They are among the cheapest to buy, although they have a long
tradition with top jazz players particularly on alto sax. Even on tenor or bari, the
difference between the Meyer and your old stock mouthpiece is startling. It might not be
the last mouthpiece you ever buy, but it's probably the best choice for that first step
up. Try one out before spending 2-3 times as much on metal models.
- Vandoren Woodwind Mouthpieces -
For clarinet, this brand provides the ultimate combination of low cost and professional
quality. For saxophone, they are comparable with Meyer. As with Meyer, many players come
to this brand for their first step up, and keep returning to it. Extensive information on
models and facings available online.
- The Click-Barrel for Clarinet
- Tuning the clarinet is always a thorny enterprise. When sharp, we have to pull the
barrel out, introducing possible mechanical instability. When flat, (particularly because
of a cold environment) we are in trouble. Enter the Click Barrel. It adjusts in 1mm
'clicks' from 61 to 67 mm (most clarinet barrells are 65 or 66mm) and stays all the way
down on the cork. This device is handy both for beginners and for sax players who double
clarinet. Not only does it provide a correction for flat pitch, it provides a means for
measuring how far your pitch is from the norm. For example, I normally play clarinet with
the barrel at 67-68mm, but reduce that to 66mm when playing mostly alto sax and 65mm when
playing mostly tenor sax. This helps me measure the 'sax pollution' in my enbouchure.
- Oleg Ligatures, Sax Stands and Sax Straps
- Oleg's creative and high quality products are sure to be to 21st century woodwind
players the kind of boon that Santy Runyon's products were to those of the 20th century.
Most of these are more costly, higher-end products, but his beautiful chain ligatures, his
folding alto sax stand, and his ergonomic sax strap are terrific examples of creative
invention in a field where there seemed to be nothing left to invent.
Close, but no Cigar...
- Runyon Mouthpiece Patches (black) - For some reason, several band
directors like these. I don't know why. It's like having a piece of automobile tire glued
on the mouthpiece, and may be forcing students mouths far enough open to cause intonation
problems. Try the clear model (see Picks) first.
- Yamaha Mouthpiece Patches. Available in 0.5mm and 0.3mm thicknesses.
The 0.3 might do in a pinch, but these patches seem to be too soft and springy for my
liking. As with the Runyon black patches, they may cause intonation problems with young
- Moreschi and B&G Woodwind Stands
- These are similar models which are characterized by having two separate identical parts
that fit together via complimentary slots. Their chief advantage is that when
disassembled, they are flat enough to use as a bookmark. The chief disadvantage is that
the peg on the flute model is very short, and that's a lot of stress for the foot
joint to bear alone--particularly with a younger student. The second disadvantage is that
the stand breaks down into two separate parts--one of which could be easily lost. Third
disadvantage is that they are grossly overpriced at $20 a pop. A K&M or a Spyder stand
would be a far better value.
- Fast-Fit Mouthpiece System (Musical Innovations Corp.) - Another nifty
idea from the inventors of the Click Barrel, but one which is problematic in practice. The
idea is one of making the mouthpiece and ligature a single unit and crafting reeds that
will fit in place every time. On the surface, this would seem quite practical. The problem
lies in the fact that the system can only use reeds which have a slot cut out of the
middle, and which can only be bought from--you guessed it--Musical Innovations. Aside from
their difficulties in properly assembling reeds, beginning woodwind players have a nasty
habit of snagging reeds frequently on every surface imaginable. This creates an
on-the-spot demand for reeds that makes it desirable to minimize price and maximize
availability. While I am a big fan of this company, this particular 'innovation'
gets a thumbs-down from me.
- Soft Saxophone "Gig Bags" - STAY AWAY! In the year 2000 so
far, I have had two students nearly demolish their saxophones while using these bags.
These were the only two of my students who employed such bags. Professionals have largely
turned away from these. Musicians needing lightweight cases would do well to look at cases
made by Protec, or hard-shell flight cases of a reputable brand.
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