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Clarinets Clarinets...


Sax-Mad fiend!
Café Supporter
The Malverns, Worcs
Well the forum said not saxophones...
My 14 yo daughter plays the violin pretty well, but has decided that she fanices a change. She says she wants to learn the clarinet and the piano. I'm sure she'll cope with either or both, but as a relative beginner on the alto sax, I know nothing about the clarinet.

So, advice, please - do we rent for a while, or are 2nd hand clarinets 10 a penny? Are there any makes that would be worth looking out for (new or used) and are there any know faults that I should be looking out for (used).

Any advice grateful received.
Like saxes there are different levels - cheap junk that won't play well and that isn't worth fixing, cheap & OK, all the way up to you'll need a second mortgage....

One acid test is to ask the seller who'll fix it.... And then check.

Look for zero play in the keywork, accurate pad seating/no leaks, tight corks (no fun when a cork is loose and the thing falls apart as your daughter's playing - and get someone to demo the instrument first, full range, good intonation/sound etc. May need some setup work. Usually a good move to take an experienced player or music teacher with you, but beware of the person who only sticks to well known expensive brands - like Yamaha....

We bought a Stagg. I wouldn't buy one again. Loose crude keywork, cheap pads, poor finish. But it did it's job. For about a year. Trouble is no-one'll fix it cos the keywork's so poor that they'll never get a decent seal on the pads. Maybe they've improved, I don't know.

Clarinet is a lovely instrument. Has a lot more soul than a piano.... (And we've got both in the house, as well as cello, sax, guitar, flute and drums). Prefer the sax myself, more soul....

I'll let the others recommend brands - but Yamaha, Schreiber, Buffet are all OK. If it's a good instrument, second hand is a good way of saving some cash.
I took up the clarinet in 1996, before I learnt sax. I was lucky enough to get myself a good secondhand Corton, c.1970s. It's a wooden one and it cost me £90. I once met up with the MD of Rosetti UK, Corton's importers, who took a look at it for me. Said he'd always found them good quality instruments and it was a sad day when they stopped selling them. He also said I'd be pushed to find something of better quality and tone for under £1000 today which, for something sold as a student instrument, isn't bad going.

For a young novice you won't go far wrong with a Yamaha. Their student models aren't overly pricey, around £400 new, but are of good, consistent quality and will retain their value should you want to sell or upgrade at a later stage, probably around Grade 5 or so, so plenty of life in it. Jupiter are pretty good too, although not quite so 'depreciation-proof'. You could try asking your daughter's school too - there may be other students upgrading and wanting to sell, and some authorities have special buying arrangements with suppliers which may mean you could get something a little cheaper via the school.

If money's no object, then Leblanc are worth a look. Their instruments look and sound absolutely beautiful.

There are basically three types of material from which clarinets are made. The most expensive ones are wood. They need slightly more care than the others in order to stop them cracking, but they do have the nicest sound. The cheapest are made of plastic, but don't let that put you off. There are some very good quality plastic clarinets out there and of course, they don't suffer quite so much if you don't look after them properly. In between are the plastic/wood compounds, purporting to offer the best of both worlds. There are also some metal clarinets out there, but I've never tried one and never really heard one so I couldn't tell you any more about them.

Oh, and just a word. A music trade friend showed me a broken Lyons C Clarinet the other week, an instrument that had been taken into his shop for repair. Now, not that any self-respecting 14 year old is likely to be interested in one of these, but I can tell you the quality is dire. The one I was shown was virtually unrepairable. Plastic and of cheap quality, it looked like a child's toy. What it sounded like, I wouldn't like to hazard a guess. Thing is, apparently, they're not that cheap for what they are.
Metal clarinets are very uncommon, I don't think they're made nowadays. Some of the old jazzers used them and they can sound really good. I heard one played by a busker, was great.

One other thing to watch out for. There are quite a few different key/fingering systems. Commonest is the Boehm system. Unless there's a good reason otherwise, stick to this. German system clarinets not only have different keywork, they also have different mouthpieces and reeds, which may be hard to find outside of Germany. It's generally easy to recognise, the Boehm system have a bunch of keys (I think it's 4) where the sax right little finger goes. Others have a couple there, like a sax.

We were also confused by the key count - there's a tendancy to sell beginner models by the count of keys/rings. I found out later that it doesn't really matter, they don't add notes to the instrument's range, they just help to avoid some cross fingerings - which the student needs to learn anyway.

Pitch - look for Bb. There are quite a few C clarinets around, the big advantage is the smaller size for younger beginners - but clarinet music is scored for Bb instruments, and sooner or later you'll end up paying to switch - or become a transposition wizard.
I'd recommend you speak to Alastair Hanson .....he's one of the nicest and most helpful people you'll find...his clarinets are highly thought-of, made in England and have a brilliant after sales warranty 0800 542 9524 hansonclarinets.com

I bought a sax from him and have nothing but praise for him and his products.
I'd recommend you speak to Alastair Hanson .....he's one of the nicest and most helpful people you'll find...his clarinets are highly thought-of, made in England and have a brilliant after sales warranty 0800 542 9524 hansonclarinets.com

I bought a sax from him and have nothing but praise for him and his products.
Is the guy in Yorkshire? If it is, then it's the one that a sax colleague at band has bought from and, once again, speaks very highly of him.
Is the guy in Yorkshire? If it is, then it's the one that a sax colleague at band has bought from and, once again, speaks very highly of him.

Yes, Hanson Music is on the road from Huddersfield to Oldham (A62), just past Marsden ...there's a very visible 'transport caff-type' place just before you reach Hanson, which is not easily spotted....it's on a lh bend
(Don't park in the caff's car park....they don't like it!! Park close to the Hanson buildings, and, if necessary, you can go around to their car-park later...it's a very tricky process!)

BTW I shall be in Leicester for a coupla days at the end of this week ....looks like being a wet one!!
I would rent a clarinet to see if your daughter is going to like it. Most decent shops do a scheme where you can rent an instrument and then if you decide to purchase it you can offset the payments already made against the price.

I would ask her teacher what make and model but I can bet the answer will be:

Buffet B12 or a Yamaha YCL 250,

You can get a B12 secondhand for around £120 and the Yamaha for near the £200 mark off ebay.

both great clarinets that if bought new will hold their value.

I have a Buffet B12 for sale at £125 with a donation from me to Pete's charity. It's been recently checked over, and you can have it on approval for a fortnight and post if back if you dont take to it. All I ask is that you pay the postage both ways.

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Griff's offer is a very good one, IMO :)
However, just one more plug for Hanson!
Their HE-3V is probably the best student instrument on the market...that's the opinion of my teacher, one of whose students plays one. The ebonite body is superior to the injection-moulded plastic used in virtually every other student clt .... fantastic tone! And Hanson has both a 'buyback scheme' which is probably cheaper than renting, and their (I believe) unmatched after-sales service package/warranty. It would certainly take a player up to Grade 8 and beyond.

Oh, and I forgot their 'upgrade offer' which offsets the full price you paid, should you decide to upgrade to a pro quality instrument :)
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I would certanly agree with the 'rent first' approach. The clarinet is a great instrument to learn but there are two issues that may put a learner off after a short while.

First some little fingers find it hard to cover the tone holes which can then produce sqeaks and bad notes. This of course can be remedied but it can be frustrating.

Second thre is something called 'the break'. This is basically the change in fingering from low to middle register. Again this is not a huge problem and can be learnt but a young person may find it too hard and give up.

So, rent or buy second hand and see what happens. My first was also a Corton (£180) which I still have and love to play.
I bought a Hanson student model clarinet for my son almost 5 years ago which he's still using (Grade 8).

It has been a super purchase and the 5 years free servicing has saved me a few pounds too. (At the first service the case was even replaced as the zip had broken!) Certainly a great company to deal with.

If Walstein hadn't come along we would have had a Hanson tenor sax too.
A Brief History of Woodwind Pt III -

Recorder - Clarinet - Alto Saxophone - Tenor Saxophone - Soprano Saxophone - Baritone Saxophone - Mid Life Crisis - Busking - Homelessness - Poverty - Begging - Arrest - Cyrenians - Prison - Release - Re Arrest - more Prison etc. etc. :shocked:

Best to start off with a trumpet....;}
I've also got a Yamaha YCL 250 paired with a Vandoren B45 Mouthpiece which in the right hands (not mine) produces a lovely sound. I really should get it out and play it occasionally.

If you do buy from ebay it's probably wise to budget for a service. I got mine off ebay for £112.00 2 years ago and it looked virtually brand new, the corks around the joins still look like new due to lack of use but it did need quite a few pads replaced and the action being given a once over. All in all though, it cost just over £150 which I think is fine for such a great instrument.

I also had for a short period a Yamaha YCL 26II which I gave to a friend as a gift, that too was an ebay purchase (£102) and again, a fine instrument that is probably equal to the YCL 250 that superseded it, they can usually be picked up a touch cheaper.

Best wishes,

Hi i have a couple of student clarinets for sale if you are interested, both probably better that what i started on! Selmer signet and a trevor james artemis, im not 100% sure on price but i have private messaged you, with high estimates, so if you are interested offers would be good.
Well, if you're still around on Sunday and have transport, you'd be quite welcome to sit in with the sax choir for a couple of hours.

Thanks, RB, for the offer, would've loved-to ...whatever and wherever 'the sax choir' is :) ... but a) I'll have no sax with me (hand-baggage only!) b) I wouldn't embarrass you & me with my playing, and c) I'm spending the day in Lichfield, anyway, then going-on to my other daughter in Bletchley.
Thanks, anyway.
taiwanese instruments can be purchased new and be good horns for less. http://www.cannonballmusic.com/piacere.php.
Many times a Selmer or Buffet can be found used at a reasonable price. Do you guys in Britain have "Pawn Shops"? Many times you can find a good used clarinet in a pawn shop for $ 100 and it can be a good one. I also advise take an experienced player with you to the pawn shop (He may have to have his own reed, and the means to cleanse the mouth piece, as you don't know where it's been).

I found out for you: those clarinets come in 3 flavors:

Piacere $ 2300
Veloce $ 1900
Zeloso $ 500

I hope this helps
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