Mr. Fred J. Allen

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Intonation Tendencies of Wind Instruments

Flute  | Oboe  | Bassoon  | Clarinet  | Saxophone  | Brass & Percussion 

Quick-reference Guide to Clarinet Intonation Problems

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  • Pulling barrel (then middle joint) = flatter, pushing in = sharper
  • Barrel length:  Shorter and longer barrels are available
  • Range:  Throat tones are sharp on almost every instrument, especially the A and B-flat.  Altissimo register = sharp in more experienced players, though young players will often be a little flat when learning these notes.
  • Embouchure:  biting or pinching = sharp, loose = flat
  • Temperature:  cold = flat, hot = sharp
  • Dynamic level:  loud = flat, soft = sharp
  • Reed strength:  soft reed = flat, hard reed = sharp
  • Angle of entry:  held too far out = flat, held too close = sharp
  • Lay of the mouthpiece:  closed = sharp, open = flat

Low Clarinets

  • Pulled out between neck and upper joint = flat, pushed in = sharp
  • All other factors are the same as the clarinet (except barrel length)


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