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Clarinets Phoenix clarinet - a beginner's review

Dave McLaughlin

Café Supporter
Paisley, Scotland
Thought I'd take Robbie up on his 10% discount offer. PMed him 9 o'clock Monday evening, got a reply 20 minutes later with his mobile number to call during working hours. Called Tuesday morning, clarinet arrived Wednesday afternoon - that's pretty quick! I particularly like a courier service that predicts delivery in a one-hour slot and actually delivers when they say they will - that was worth the £8 fee.

Now I have to stress that my experience of playing clarinet is limited to a second-hand no-name (it came in a Selmer Bundy case, if that means anything) that cost me less than £30 on eBay (including postage). I've often had trouble with the throat notes squeaking, and I didn't know whether I was crap or the clarinet was. I was looking forward to trying a clarinet that Stephen Howard rated quite highly.

The clarinet came in a neat attache case, with the separate compartments Stephen asked for. I'd like a compartment to keep cork grease and a couple of spare reeds, but that's a minor thing.

My first impression was slightly disappointing - a breathy tone that made me think something was leaking. Then I re-set the reed and the instrument was transformed! No (well, if I'm honest, very few) squeaks. A day later, and I think I've eliminated all of them. I'm not good enough to comment on the tone, except to say that I think it's more consistent across the range than I'm used to. As a beginner, I can say it's easy to play. It came with two barrels - I found the longer one played flat, and even with the shorter one I had to lip up a bit, but I'm sure my flabby tenor sax embouchure's to blame for that.

It's LOUD. It's no sax, but it's louder than the clarinet I'm used to.

I have a couple of minor ergonomic niggles. The throat A key is very close to the first finger hole, so I need to be careful not to hit both. The thumb rest is adjustable, but it's very flat and bare metal; I'm used to one that's quite curved and with a cork pad, and now I find the edge of the rest digging into my thumb. But that's enough nit-picking. It feels solid, and I'm looking forward to spending more time with it.
A thumb cushion will sort out your problem with the thumb rest. My clarinets all have a layer of cork glued to the the metal. You could try that as well. I think the longer barrel is the standard one you should use. My clarinets came with a short tuning barrel that I've never had to use. I hope you have a lot of fun.

Hi Dave, just stumbled across your review. I agree that they are loud clarinets! I took part in a passaround but I loved it so much I never passed it around to anyone! I just bought it instead and I'm selling off my others that are sitting around here. I have a serious addiction to buying various instruments and after I got the Phoenix clarinet I thought, well, it's perfect for me and this is the one I want to use so I can't really justify having all of my others laying around not being played!
Nice to see someone else has done a write up tho :)

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