Ramón's Blog

News and updates about current projects and new products.

Wodkowski Mouthpieces

Jul 24, 2016


I am pleased to announce the release of my full line of Bb clarinet mouthpieces. These are the culmination of nearly 20 years of mouthpiece crafting and research, and many years working as a professional clarinettist.  My new models incorporate a wide spectrum of tip openings, curves and chamber configurations, to cater to nearly every taste. I have sold hundreds of these models during the past year, mostly through word of mouth and my travels internationally, working with players in person. I now feel ready to make them widely available through mail order sales.

I began this craft and business with a goal – to study and work with all styles of mouthpieces and players. This has involved the intensive study of  mouthpiece specifications created over the past century, and more importantly, the various ways players across the globe form their sound and voice: embouchure, airflow, oral cavity positioning, reed and instrument choice, etc.  I am fortunate to have worked with many of the finest professionals in the world and have studied the work of all makers in great detail – possibly one of the most extensive studies of clarinet concept ever undertaken.

In my opinion, we are at a crucial moment in the furtherance of the art of clarinet playing.  The clarinet and the way we play it is homogenizing, due to globalization of playing styles, commercialization of equipment and the slow extinction of the handmade mouthpiece and skilled craftsmen.  Many mouthpieces today are largely completed by machine, with little hand finishing.  This is an oversight, in my opinion, as technology is only a tool and means to realize the goal more efficiently.  Modern means are very helpful in making a mouthpiece, but no computer can substitute for the skilled and subtle hands of the master craftsman.  The clarinet seems to be on its own path in this regard, as the other instrumentalists of the orchestra still value the art of handmade crafting and skilled craftsmen – string bows, flute head joints, brass mouthpieces, etc.  These last remaining glimpses of old world craftsmanship must be protected, so that traditions continue and evolve.  It is my vision, through my new models, to offer the clarinet world fine, hand finished mouthpieces of the highest quality, which will give players more options with finding their own voice. 

Wodkowski mouthpieces are available in a wide variety of facing configurations, and are made with three proprietary chamber designs – crafted from the finest ebonite available.  These mouthpieces are not custom, but bespoke, nor are they copies of any particular design. “Custom” implies specially made for an individual and their needs.  My work is very exacting and precise, and I aim for only a few different facings and set models per each style, with maximum consistency.  What does vary are the blanks (as they are never exactly the same), which creates a positive diversity of voices in the final product.

The Wodkowski Line:PhotoBlog2

Heritage Series – inspired by the concepts and mouthpieces employed by the traditional American Philadelphia and old French schools.

1 – Close facing, medium length – large chamber blank – approx 1mm tip.  Very traditional design, inspired in part by the facings used in the original French mouthpieces produced at the beginning of the 20th century.  Nearest comparison for reference – M13lyre and D’Addario, also Hawkins

1B – Close facing, long length – large chamber blank – approx 1.03mm tip.  Inspired by the designs preferred in Philadelphia during the 1970s and 80s.  Nearest comparison for reference – M15 and D’Addario, also Hawkins

Napoleon – Close Facing, medium length – narrow chamber blank – close tip.  My reconstruction of the designs made by Charles and Henri Chedeville in the 1920s.  Nearest comparison for reference – M13lyre, M15,  D’Addario, Kaspar, etc

Midwest Series – inspired by the mouthpieces made in the American Midwest in the 1940s – 60s.

2 – Medium facing, medium length – large chamber blank – approx 1.13mm tip.  Nearest comparison for reference – Kaspar Cicero/Chicago, Vandoren BD5, M30, 

2SW – Medium facing, medium length – shallow baffle blank – approx 1.13mm tip.  Inspired in part by the designs of Kaspar Cicero and Riffault.  Nearest comparison for reference –  Kaspar Cicero, Chicago, M30

2.3 – Medium open facing, long length – large chamber blank – approx 1.15mm tip.  Nearest comparison for reference –  M30, B40

European Series – inspired by the mouthpieces preferred by many of my European clients – now catching on in America

3 – Medium open facing, medium length – large chamber – approx 1.19mm tip.  Nearest comparison for reference –  B40 and B40lyre

H – Open facing, medium length – large chamber – approx 1.25mm tip.  My personal facing, offering maximum flexibility and tonal colours, while retaining focus and stability.  Nearest comparison for reference – BD5, B40, vintage Kanter, Play Nick

4SW – Open facing, long length – shallow baffle – approx 1.28mm tip.  Made for the players of Scandinavia, who prefer an open mouthpiece with maximum warmth and colour.  Nearest comparison for reference –  B40, vintage Kanter, Play Nick

5SW – My most open facing, long length – shallow baffle – approx 1.3mm tip.  For those who favor the American mouthpieces of the 1970s. Nearest comparison for reference – B40, vintage Kanter, Pyne, Portnoy.

More information on each model will be made available soon, but I am confident there will be a model to satisfy every taste.  The listed tip openings and lengths are just a rough guide.  It is not sufficient to characterize a mouthpiece by its tip opening and facing length alone, nor can that be said of the blanks a maker uses – the entire facing and structure of the mouthpieces must be considered. 

My specialty, which I have developed from years of refurbishing vintage and contemporary mouthpieces, is adapting mouthpieces for clients’ special needs.  Custom, tailored mouthpieces are also available on request.

Wodkowski mouthpieces will be advertised shortly on my new website, but are available now – for further information, prices and orders, please contact me or my assistant Miranda Schultz directly at wodkowskimpcs@gmail.com. I encourage emails and questions from clients, as I take pride in my ability to select a mouthpiece that fits them and their individual voice. 

“Art, in any form, relies on individual expression. Our playing, and the sound we make, should be as individual as our smile.” – Reginald Kell.