Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpiece

Introducing the Vintage 1940 Cicero
La Veccha Mouthpiece

Vintage 1940 Cicero La Vecchia mouthpiece

Our new mouthpiece, the “Vintage 1940 Cicero,” has a fun and very interesting background. So please indulge me while I share about my exciting new product.

First off I have to talk about two really great Masters of the clarinet, Robert Marcellus and Iggie Gennusa. Together, both players probably had the finest sounds in the country. I am very fortunate to have known both of them.

During their younger years both players were with the National Symphony, Iggie Gennusa was principal first and Robert (Bob to his friends) was principal second.

Well Bob loved Iggie’s sound as everyone did. I personally feel it was the best in the USA, probably the best in the world. He was from the old school and played with a double lip embouchure so Bob Marcellus did too because he wanted to sound as good as Iggie.

Bob moved on to the Cleveland Orchestra and spent the rest of his playing life with them until he went blind from diabetes. I wish the advances in medicine and treatment had come along in time to keep him playing but this was the 60’s and 70’s.

To continue, Iggie accepted a position replacing Mitchell Lurie with the Chicago Symphony, but it was only for a one year contract. I knew Mitchell well and we had many lunches and dinners together. I pretty much redesigned his reeds while working at Rico for 15 years. More about that later.

Iggie then went to the Baltimore Symphony and was there for about 25 years or more. It was a good position, because his wife was a violinist in the same orchestra. They were very happy and he landed a few teaching jobs as well. I studied with him for 7 years at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University.

So one time Iggie broke the tip of his Chedeville mouthpiece. Through Steve Barta I was able to get Bob’s Kaspar mouthpiece to measure it. This too was a Chedeville. I have been making mouthpieces since 1984 and in my opinion the very best Chedeville’s were around in the early days between the 1940’s and the 1960’s. Anyway, this is how I got the measurements of those great mouthpieces.

The Kaspars were really sweet mouthpieces made/adjusted from the Chedeville blanks in the 1940’s through about the 1960’s. But when the Kaspars died and that special mold was gone the company got a new mold which is nothing close to what they had.

So the name “Vintage 1940” relates to the Chedeville family and 1940 is when they were really good. They were just a shade smaller in length than they were later in the 1960’s. Most of them were not ever marked or stamped so sadly most of them are gone. They turned that weird Green because of the high sulphur content. This makes the rubber really hard.

To make the Vintage 1940 Cicero mouthpiece, I had to invent some gauges that can pretty much measure any part of a mouthpiece. I measured the baffle and chamber of the Bob Marcellus mouthpiece and the Iggie Gennusa mouthpiece, from just behind the tip to the table where the reeds rest. This measurement is as close as possible to being the exact same as my Cicero mouthpiece. I was shocked and delighted to achieve this.  Within a human hair!

Even the insides, the distance from the rails were just as close. I cannot give out the measurements of course, but trust me, they are virtually the same. The bores were the exact same too. I actually taped myself playing to make sure I was replicating the sound because I wanted to be sure my mouthpieces sound as good or better!

Although Kaspars used different sizes the number 13 was perfect. Bob favored the Cicero and just a few Chicago Kaspars. One on the Kaspar family members made the Ann Arbor Kaspars, but the were too bright, more of a very French sound. Americans always favored or learned towards a warmer sound.

Now for some silly reason both Buffet and Vandoren made American mouthpieces which tune to .440 and tried to convince us that America tunes to .440. This is just nuts. It is wrong on so many levels. In my opinion, you should not buy any Vandoren M series mouthpieces. Anything above the staff will slowly start to tune flat. This is not how music is supposed to sound! 

Anyway my friends, as M series Vandoren players went flat we have to remember oboes, flutes, usually strings, often French horn players will enter at the .442 mark.  I say screw Buffet and Vandoren for saying this is the American sound.  We don’t want the American sound.  We want a warm sound and they just don’t know how to make the instruments and mouthpieces to do this so they justified it by saying America tunes to .440.

These companies are shoving sales pitches down our throats which we never asked for.  About 20 years ago or so every major symphony player used Buffets. Have you noticed that about 80 percent of players are using Selmers and Yamahas now? Yamaha sales are strong.  Their horns work.  The German Zinner mouthpieces are very good.  But the French Zinner mouthpieces are just horrible.  They are DARK and DEAD which is the reason my no one is playing on them in any major orchestra.

Sadly, at the Clarinet Fest this past 2017 everyone sounded the same.  Flat on the upper register or had dead sounding horns.

At the festival I was busy working very hard looking down an  suddenly I heard someone sound decent.  I looked up.  It was Stanley Drucker! One other time I looked up and it was Julian Blizz stopping by to say hi.  He took one of my mouthpieces. (As an aside, at 89 I think Drucker walks like a 40 year old kid.  He doesn’t slow down.)  Also Richard MacDowell sounded excellent.

About sound.  Today the clarinet sound i s weird and not in a good way so that’s why I did something about it. I used the mouthpieces that Robert Marcellus and Iggie Gennusa used because they made the finest sounds in the country, and with my gauges and measurements I made my (very expensive) mold.

As of late July, 2017 the mold is done, but I’m still doing a lot of hand work. So each mouthpiece is pretty much still handmade or hand finished, often taking me 2 or more hours to finish.  I’m working with the molder to cut down the hours.  I may make another mold.  I’m not sure yet.  The important thing is we’ve got that Marcellus and Gennusa sound.

Now players seem to be VERY confused with the words warm and dark.  In fact up close dark sounding mouthpieces are wonderful, but 10 feet away they are dead in a concert hall and during a solo you want be heard.

A warm German sound carries.  This is what I have, that Bob Marcellus sound that carried Severance Hall in Cleveland, and the huge hall in Chicago that Gennusa played in called Orchestra Hall.  That hall is hard to fill with the present Buffet and Backun horns, also the dead Zinner mouthpieces.  We need live horns.

Once last thing.  When playing these new mouthpieces, you don’t want to sound dark and pretty up close.  Marcellus wanted a buzzy reed. In fact he helped me get the Steuer reeds on board after Morre’ died so that’s why I distribute them.  It took a few years but is so worth it.  People like Sabine Meyer sure like Steuer reeds!

Iggie liked reeds that rang and had a ping to the sound.  What does this mean.  A ring and ping meant that he was being heard way in the back of Orchestra Hall, that very last seat.  His sound carried.  It was kind of a French sound but warm and gave you goose bumps.

Now about the Rico reeds that were named for Mitchell Lurie.  As I said earlier, I redesigned them while I worked at Rico.  His sales went from selling around 500,000 reeds a year to 1.75 million when I left.  They were great student reeds.  But I got very ill from them because they have PESTICIDES on them.  If you value your health, I would avoid them!

Instead, use Steuer reeds which are pesitcide free, and give you a French sound.  You can get those here.

So back to my Vintage 1940 Cicero mouthpiece.  My mouthpieces can be tested free of charge.  Adjustments, if needed, are free of charge and you get a free box of Steuer reeds with your purchase.  You don’t have to pay $400 and up for a mouthpiece!

The Vintage 1940 Cicero mouthpiece is $255 and it will play better than any $500 to $1000 mouthpiece you’ve ever tested.  Clarinet playing should be fun, not expensive.

Since you are getting a free box of reeds, the cost of my superior mouthpiece is actually about $220.  Plus you get a short lesson on how to get that great sound.

I hope you are as excited about my Vintage 1940 Cicero mouthpiece as I am!

Vintage 1940 Cicero La Vecchia mouthpiece

Only $255
FREE SHIPPING!
Free Box of Steuer Reeds