The Curious Case of the White Master

What is a White Master reed? 

Vandoren’s White Master reeds were designed to be played on German clarinet mouthpieces, although I have met few people in my life who play with these reeds on their French clarinet mouthpiece. I have never owned a German mouthpiece (since I play on French-system clarinets), however I did try these reeds on a few French clarinet mouthpieces. These reeds are much narrower and shorter than regular French b-flat clarinet reeds, so naturally one would imagine they would play better on smaller and shorter (lay) mouthpieces. Not surprisingly, my B40 (shorter lay) saw more success with these reeds than my M30D mouthpiece.

Strength

The strengths don’t translate directly. 3.5 WM reeds are MUCH too hard, whereas 2.5 White Master reeds work quite well (still more back pressure than most 3.5 reeds of other types). They work pretty well on most b-flat clarinet mouthpieces I have, however they do not work so well in the upper registers on my main (M30D) mouthpiece, probably due to its longer lay.

Can I Use Them?

Yes, in fact I have switched my e-flat clarinet reeds to the White Master 2.5 reeds. The tip and the sides fit so much better on any of my e-flat clarinet mouthpieces than any of my e-flat reeds do (most e-flat clarinet reeds don’t really fit most e-flat mouthpieces at the tip, on the sides). You might think, that can’t be- why would Vandoren do that with their e-flat clarinet reeds? I have no idea why. In any event, these reeds are much stronger (in the best way) than than most e-flat clarinet reeds, even at a whole strength lower.

Characteristics 

The sounds is beefy which seems to come from the very dense cane that is used to make WM reeds. Spine is strong yet flexible, articulation is optimized when done with more air and push of the tongue (which is so much more comfortable than the walking-on-eggshells-like feeling of playing e-flat clarinet reeds on e-flat clarinet mouthpieces), projection is good (does not thin out like regular e-flat clarinet reeds do),

Downfalls 

Well for one, obviously, the unfortunate name of the reeds must be updated. These reeds are still nowhere as popular in North America as other Vandoren reeds are, so they are much more expensive (about 10 dollars more).

However, I would still buy these over regular e-flat clarinet reeds, to play on my e-flat clarinet set up.

Good?

Yes. Use them on e-flat clarinet mouthpieces. Don’t forget to go a whole strength lower. Despite their higher price, I do believe these last longer than most “normal” French style reeds due to their very dense and resilient cane.

*My current e-flat clarinet mouthpiece set up is Vandoren M30 (e-flat) + Vandoren 2.5 White Master.

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