Clarinet Concept Barrels
A review by Leslie Craven
I was talking via email to Ben Redwine (maker of Redwine and Gennusa mouthpieces) some time ago and told him about Backun barrels and bells (I reviewed these in Clarinet and Saxophone Autumn 2005) – he had heard of them and told me he was using barrels that were also custom made and put me in touch with a friend of his – Dr Allan Segal – a Thoracic Surgeon by day, wood turner and in particular a clarinet enthusiast in his “spare” time.
Dr Segal’s passion is wood, he is a craftsman who turns barrels to incredibly accurate dimensions and in wonderful exotic woods. Allan (as I found out) is not only a kind and incredibly generous person but he also possesses a wicked sense of humour and a love for dogs – something I have often been accused of in the past.
Allan designs his barrels to custom specifications – each individual barrel being made for specific players requirements.
He kindly sent me two barrels – one in Cocobolo and one in a dense Rosewood that has a beautiful pink tinge to it and a truly beautiful grain.
The two had incredibly different playing characteristics and both were superb to play.
The Rosewood (which has slightly less projection than either Mpingo or Cocobolo) produces a warm, smooth but an audibly complex, interesting sound and the Cocobolo has a wonderful round, darker, slightly more solid velvety evenness in all registers.
Both are excellent tuning wise which is testament to Mr Segal’s skill.
I had to send him one of my Leblanc barrels to give him an idea of dimensions and he commented after measuring it that it was elliptical – and completely misshapen ( hmmm, I thought – just as well I never used that one in the W.N.O. orchestra).
I was so impressed by Allan’s work that I asked him if he would consider making me some more barrels to complement my ever growing armoury of mouthpieces barrels and bells from American and Canadian manufacturers. I really think I am turning into an accessory junkie!! The amazing thing is each and every item produces subtle timbre differences that may be crucial to the sound I wish to produce for a specific composer’s work. Something struck me about Allan Segal’s barrels – they brought my clarinet even more in tune – even better than with the manufacturer’s own Barrels!! Every note up to C in the Altissimo was more in tune.
Recently he has been working on more barrels for me including a grenadilla barrel that is the largest diameter barrel I have ever used. It was amazingly stable intonation – wise and gave a rich sonorous sound to the lowest notes and a warm round sound all over the clarinet without loss of focus or clarity.
The barrels are finished with wax on the outside. Special sealant is placed on the inside and they are ready to fine-tune and perfect the voicing. If anyone out there is keen to try Allan Segal’s barrels – do bear in mind that each barrel takes at least four hours of painstaking work to make and they are made to special order and usually in the early hours in between operations when Allan is not doing his day job!!
Clarinet Concept barrels start with great materials