In this month’s article, I would like to introduce you to Mr. Vaccaro. I met Mike via social media and from the first moment, it has been a free-flowing relationship, always talking about clarinet barrels. A few months ago, he sent me a couple of his clarinet barrels for me to try. You will be able to listen to them on our YouTube channel.


Mike took up the clarinet when he was in 4th grade and tenor sax in 8th grade. As a senior in High School he added the flute. By the time he left college, he was messing with the oboe, but not seriously. He was always interested in learning something new.  In about 9th grade he heard Count Basie’s band at Disneyland and sitting in the front row, he decided that is what he wanted to do for a living. He wanted to be a professional musician.

Mike Vaccaro always says that one cannot choose a mouthpiece without thinking of the reed, the ligature and even the barrel. It is like a four-sided marriage. To see the importance of the barrel in the sound production system, one can do a very easy test: just try to turn it by sixteenth turns and listen to the difference in response and sound with each turn.

Being and experienced musician and having played so many types of music in so many different acoustic situations, have made him see that the sound production systems in each situation varies. That, together with the fact that he is an inquisitive person, have taken him to try all sorts of mouthpieces, barrels, reeds and ligatures.

If I would have to describe Mike Vaccaro I would say he is a very experienced and multifaceted musician and I would like to tell you a small story he has told me:

Mike Vaccaro’s story is a long and very interesting story over very many years: at the age of eighteen, he started going to a mouthpiece maker and, after watching him for a few years work on mouthpieces, apart from becoming good friends, he decided to make one himself and it turned out well.

However, his busy musical life, made him press the stand-by button on the mouthpiece idea. In the meantime, he learned to play oboe and make oboe reeds. Nevertheless, when he was about sixty, he rekindled his interest in mouthpiece adjustment as he could see the music business declining for musicians because of computer technology.

The barrel construction started when he suggested the idea to a good friend of his, who is a wood lathe master. They studied all the barrels he liked and wondered what they could do to improve them and, consequently, improve the complete sound production system. After several tries and failures, they came up with the three trade secrets that they believe are improvements in the barrel concept. They have to do with weight distribution, bore adjustments and the general size of the bore.

Being an active musician, he was able to take the barrels to the recording sessions. Like that, most of the clarinetists he worked with liked them and bought them. And that was the start of the business.

One thing he can say about the barrels is that each barrel is made on the lathe three times to allow any wood change.  After that, they hand tune each barrel as many times as it takes for the correct response and intonation. Needless to say this really slows down the production time, however they feel it necessary to maximize each barrel to its best playing potential.

Subsequently they have experimented with bells and have had success with the changes they have made in them.  

The website www.MikeVaccaro.com, while being his primary informational website, also references his other businesses, and thus, other websites. So, some of the links on the left will take you to a page on the MikeVaccaro.Com website, and some will take you away to other of his websites. In addition to this website, where you can see some of his unique woodwind products, read some articles about The Business of Music, hear his music, and watch some informative videos, Mike's Woodwind Store includes many products.





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