Besides the mouthpiece, the barrel has perhaps the greatest affect on the playability of your clarinet. In addition, the barrel is the first piece of the clarinet to “blow out”, and by this, I mean that the dimensions of the barrel change from their stock values. This is because the barrel is exposed to the most moisture and temperature change of any part of your clarinet, which causes warping of the wood over time. The warping of the barrel can have many undesirable effects on how your clarinet plays – from tuning, to focus, to the resonance of your clarinet, but because the change is gradual, the player may not realize that the negative changes are occurring. And so replacing your clarinet barrel with an aftermarket one can greatly improve the playability of your instrument.
Perhaps the most desirable aspect that an aftermarket clarinet barrel will improve is the resonance or sound of the clarinet. A good barrel will improve the innate characteristics of your instrument, as well as assist in achieving the sound you desire. Many players don’t realize the effects that a good clarinet barrel can have, and they continue to play on the stock clarinet barrel. Even if the stock barrel is brand new and not “blown-out”, there are many things that will be lacking because of its inferior design. Any clarinet player with a professional instrument should find the best match for their clarinet in an aftermarket barrel.
“Power is nothing without control” is a popular saying in automobile commercials, but it definitely applies here. The focus of a good clarinet barrel is extremely important to avoid strident high notes and fat low notes. Of course, these sound qualities have their places, but in the majority of playing styles, focus and control are desirable. Focus of the sound will allow you to play the softest passages easier, as well as assist the loudest passages in not sounding forced.
No matter how good a clarinet sounds, it needs to be in tune. A good clarinet barrel will improve the tuning considerably and make playing easier. This is because having good tuning allows you to focus more on the music instead of fighting to keep your clarinet in tune. Sharp upper notes and flat lower notes are a problem on almost every clarinet with a stock barrel, and so the Wesley Rice Clarinet Barrels were designed to bring down the pitch of the upper register notes, while bringing up the pitch of the lower notes. Also, if the notes are plotted on a graph, the curve is much smoother with the Wesley Rice Clarinet Barrel, as most stock barrels produce erratic tuning results.
Whether you choose the Wesley Rice Clarinet Barrel or other aftermarket ones, a good clarinet barrel will improve every aspect of how your clarinet performs. I urge you to try one since it will improve every aspect of how your clarinet performs. Many websites, including mine, have a return policy which allows you to try many barrels for only the cost of shipping. If the barrel on your clarinet is more than several years old, or if you are playing a stock barrel on a professional instrument you could benefit from an aftermarket barrel. Many of my customers are completely blown away by the results of my barrels, and I think you will be too if you give them a try.