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Clarinets Lyons C Clarinet review


Well-Known Member
North West UK
Designed for the school market due to its user-repairability, light weight and easy key of C, Mr Lyons' remarkable student clarinet kinda fell by the wayside outside scholatic curriculums and developed into the trendly looking Nuvo Clarineo which is the same thing but comes apart less easily and doesn`t look like a piece of Army Kit .. I`ve just picked up a Lyons Original because of its very strengths - C key, fixable and best of all waterproof and I LIKE the Army styling (I suggested to Mr Lyons a Camoflage version ) . the whole horn weighs 200 Grammes with lig and reed fitted, that`s less than some Sax mouthpieces . no thumb ache from this !

the Lyons doesn`t have all the keys of a regular clarinet but IMO has more than enough for popular music, I`m not a classical player, in fact I`m not much of a player at all so YMMV on the keys score . the instrument is made totally of plasic - ABS and Polycarb if I remember rightly, the only metal is in some of the leaf springs (some use their plastic shape as a spring), all the keys and levers pop on and off easily for cleaning or replacement and all are available from Lyons spare parts . the Pads are neoprene cups which are superb as they`re waterproof but unlike the Vibrato Sax, aren`t the actual keys themselves thankfully, the Body is one piece, only the bell and Mpc come off .


The action of course doesn`t have the precision of even a B12 or a tatty Bundy but it`s adequate and pretty bombproof, I like the Sax-like lower levers complete with roller .. when it arrived it needed a good clean as it was well used (Bought off fleabay ) so I pulled the Mpc and bell (both on O-Rings) and scrubbed them in a mild disinfectant and then literally took Lyons to their word and scrubbed the clarinet under a tap using a bottle brush, shook it, dried it roughly, assembled, fitted a Soprano Sax reed (the Clarineo takes Bb reeds, the Lyons needs Eb Reeds but Sop reeds work fine) and it played excellent straight off the bat .

These can be picked up cheap (around £50 used) , new Clarineos are about double that and I have to say I`m impressed, I wanted a C clari and to get one which plays in the Rain and is band proof where you can fix it yourself is a massive bonus.. Lyons could do with marketing the new Clarineo to folk groups etc where a C instrument with low Maintenence is a must .

How does it Sound . pretty damn good, plenty of bite without the harshness to my less than Pro Clarinet ears, definately worth the crack, it`s probably a better clarinet than the Vibrato is a saxophone at a quarter of the price new .
A Quick Followup mainly to add a link but just have to say that if this had been the 1970s I`d have sworn this was a Clive Sinclair Product , everything from the design of the case to the Blackness of the whole package to the whacky ingenious way the thing is built and is user-repairable - Sinclair of course would have sold it as a kit with all the bits still on the kind of platic frames Airfix models are .

Sares available here

I bought Ads' other Lyons C clarinet off the yard sale, and it arrived last Friday. The case, as stated in the original post, is a really bizarre army-style affair. When I unwrapped the case at the office (where I had asked Ads to send it) a coworker immediately remarked, "Oh, so now they sell LAW's on eBay". They were surprised that what looked like a toy played like a real instrument.

Here is a small sound clip: https://soundcloud.com/jrintaha/lyons-c-clarinet

I tried to demonstrate how the sponginess of the keys makes very fast trills difficult, but you can still play trills relatively fast. So the keys really are no big deal.

It is missing a lot of the alternate fingerings a regular clarinet has, but has the same full range regardless. Two keys less in the RH pinky cluster, three keys less in the RH side keys, one key less in the LH pinky cluster. It's also missing the "chromatic B key" for the right hand - the one between the G and A tone holes - the same is true for the alternate "chromatic D#" for the left hand that sets between the D and C toneholes. There are no overlapping throat B and C notes, so you always have to use the 2nd register for those.

It's really really light. Light enough for my 3-year-old to hold properly. It also plays really easily. Said 3-year-old was able to make a proper sound on the clarinet with a 1½ reed. It's also very easy to play quiet, although that's probably mostly because of the very light reed.
Thanks for adding your review J

I like the pseudo Sax pinky paddle complete with rollers , not actually as easy to use as the proper lever setup on a normal clarinet but like the rest of the instrument , it works . mine is getting used quite a bit due to being in C, I`ve not tried playing it in the bath yet but there`s no way I`d even take A B12 out in the weather the Lyons has seen already . as I said, the easiest way to upgrade the reed is to use Soprano sax ones, they`re wider but the same length and fit under the lig anyway .

I`m amazed the rather plasticky mouthpiece is OK , it`s better than the horror buffet give with the B12 - just as well as Eb ones aren`t exactly common and I don`t think there`s an Esprit in Eb
Sorry to hijack an old thread but I'm having a massive Lyons C problem and wonder if anyone here can help.

I got a secondhand Lyons C Clarinet and it came with 2 reeds, one blue plastic Nuvo Clarineo reed and one Rico 1.5. According to this thread the Clarineo and the Lyons C take different reeds: the Lyons C taking an Eb, and the Clarineo taking a Bb. However, on the Nuvo website, under the FAQ section is says that the Clarineo takes Eb reeds: http://www.clarineo.co.uk/faq.asp. If they take the same I can use the blue plastic one on the Lyons C, if they take different reeds, it's the wrong one to use.

Secondly, I'm having a massive problem, I can blow an open G, push keys for an F and E, but as soon as I push more keys down the pressure becomes excessive and I cannot blow hard enough to get a note out. If I play an E and try to do a trill using the D, the pitch doesn't even change from an E. I played the recorder when young and know that one shouldn't have to blow harder to get notes out and that there is clearly something wrong. Is it possible that this problem is caused by having the wrong reed? (If in fact I do have the wrong reed).

Does anyone know how to solve my pressure problem? This is my first reed instrument so I'm willing to accept that it's my fault, especially as not much can go wrong with a molded tube of plastic.

Please help as this is awfully frustrating. Thanks.
I`d start by trying normal reeds, it needs Eb reeds but Soprano Sax reeds work at a push, they`re merely longer ...... pressing down more keys shouldn't make the horn harder to blow , at worst (IE if leaky) you`d get squeaks and or dull notes
Using the Rico 1.5 normal reed that was included I checked against a tuner and open it is playing a perfect G. I don't know if it is an Eb reed or not as it's not marked, but as it fits perfectly and is playing a G I suppose I am to presume that it is an Eb reed.

With no reed but blowing down the mouth piece, I can sort of hear the notes, as I push down the keys I can hear the air change pitch accordingly and no extra pressure is required. When I connect the read and blow air, instead of a note, I can still hear the pitch of the air noise change, but when I blow a note, suddenly I can't get the pressure building up massively.

Anyone got any ideas?

PS Yes, the cleaning brush is out and has been washed since...
FIXED IT! FIXED IT! The G# key, the one Lyon's labeled 21, wasn't properly pushed down. I was trying to work out why G was perfect, F was slightly off and E even further off, so I was looking at the instrument when suddenly I noticed key 21 wobble slightly. I think the spring is missing from it. Manually compressing the pad allows me to play all the way through the first octave before pressure starts to build up again. I presume I must have another key with either a dud pad or missing spring further down.
(This instrument was supposed to have been checked over by a professional before I got it, I presume that was a lie...)
Thanks all for your suggestions, they ultimately lead me to the solution. :D
I picked up a Lyons as they were dead cheap. Mine also had a problem despite 'being checked by a repairer'. It was the C#/ G# spring which a bent to strengthen it and it works now.The low note lever keys are a bit floppy which is a bit frustrating at times as the notes don't play cleanly, but it's fun to play things in C.
When you pick up a real clarinet it seems so advanced and precise after playing a Lyons. I wish they'd addressed the issue of spongy keys. I haven't seen a Nuvo clarinet but I have seen the flutes and they are very spongy. It's a shame they don't address such concerns. There are some pretty good cheap flutes beginning to surface and I'm not sure what advantage a plastic instrument has other than its cheap price.
I doubt they could de-spongify them whilst retaining the user-repairability and waterproofness of the things ..... You have to take them or leave them - they are what they are and unlikely to change without becoming something completely different and likely less useful (such as a naff "normal" clarinet but all plastic inc keywork )

The massive advantage is that they`re waterproof , can be played in the rain and washed under the tap - only the springs are metal and aren`t likely to suffer anyway as they`re leaf springs

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