Purdue University Graduate School
Master Thesis-Yue Zhao-PU.pdf (1.89 MB)


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posted on 2019-01-17, 13:54 authored by Yue ZhaoYue Zhao
Clarinets are perfect example of musical instruments produced from tropical wood species Grenadilla (Dalbergia melanoxylon), wood species which could have a suspicion origin. It is of high interest for producers and consumers to find a sustainable substitution for the currently used material for its production. Therefore, a case study was developed in cooperation with local clarinet producer to evaluate possible substitution of Grenadilla for a new material sourced from U.S. temperate forests. Specifically, a study was conducted on the production of clarinets from four U.S. hardwood species, Hard Maple, Black Walnut, Black Cherry and Yellow Poplar. These instruments were compared with clarinets made of Grenadilla and ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) plastic, materials currently used for clarinet production. To improve workability (machining), wood treatment with cactus juice (Methyl Methacrylate) was also investigated. Clarinets made from U.S. hardwood species and their treatment were benchmarked with traditionally made clarinets from Grenadilla and ABS plastic. Producer and users perception surveys were conducted. Seventeen experienced clarinet testers and ten experienced players evaluated eleven different instruments. All study participants were very open to the idea of using U.S. hardwoods for production of clarinets. Instruments made of U.S. hardwoods were evaluated and graded from four perspectives: appearance & color, touch & feel, tone & sound, and overall quality. Quantitative and qualitative measures were used to assess the feasibility of proposed material substitution. Study findings are supported by statistical analysis. Based on the Tukey results, clarinet made of treated Maple was comparable with both Grenadilla and ABS plastic clarinets. Mann-Whitney results show that treated Maple was also a best substitution option in all categories when compared with ABS plastic, but when compared with Grenadilla, treated Maple was comparable only in touch/feel and tone/sound aspects. Cactus juice treatment improved material properties, especially workability, which is a very important property for the production of clarinets. In conclusion, treated Hard Maple was the most promising substitution material.


Purdue FNR department funding


Degree Type

  • Master of Science


  • Forestry and Natural Resources

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Eva Haviarova

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee co-chair

Dr. Henry J. Quesada

Additional Committee Member 2

Dr. Rado Gazo

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