Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Mouthpiece Review: Vandoren B45 (c.1985)

Vandoren B45

It has been a long time since I've played a Vandoren B45. The ancient specimen seen above was my main mouthpiece from about 1986 to 1989, when I was in High School. It was given to me by a teacher, so I'm not sure what vintage it is exactly--early to mid '80s is the most likely date.

The B45 was at one time considered by many as a baseline Vandoren mouthpiece--a sort of standard reference point for gauging others. I've read some internet opinions of them recently that encouraged me to pull mine out and give it another go. I was deeply impressed.

This B45 has an excellent amount of power and depth. It has a boom to the sound--especially the chalumeau--that my more diffuse and softer sounding B40 lacks. Articulation is crisper than the B40, especially clarion and altissimo attacks so common in the playing of jazz players. The tone is full and has quite a bit of "jump", though not as much for me as the Selmer C85. I'm really impressed by the smooth quality and feel of the 'piece--it's tubby quality down low when pushed seems ideal for jazz. Most gratifying is that it avoids the "fuzz or buzz" problem of so many classical mouthpieces.

For those who want a little more complexity to the sound--more layers and "ring" to the tone, the C85 series is still my preference. But this B45 has depth with room to the sound--probably more than any other mouthpiece in my collection after the C85.

Earlier on this blog, I've mentioned my opinion that players should ideally be able to play on a 'standard' Vandoren or a Selmer C85 series mouthpiece for a several reasons, including their price and availability. Playing on the B45 again has only strengthened that opinion for me--and strengthened the opinion that players should hold onto their primary mouthpieces--even several years after switching, you just might come back around to an old favorite.


Anonymous said...

Hi, Eric (MarlboroughMan)

Thought I'd say hi, given that I grew up in Cleveland (54th and Clark and later Memphis and Ridge).

I think we're some years apart in age, though, so probably don't have similar "Cleveland threads" between us, but it's good to find out than someone can make a living playing there since its rennaisance.

Bruce McGarvey

ES said...

Hey Bruce! Great to hear from a Clevelander--welcome to the jazz clarinet!


Anonymous said...

thnx for your reviews!

my daughter had been playing B45 for classical and C85 on effer.. After reading your reviews C85 on Bb seems like a logical choice for jazz band!