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Other Phoenix clarinet review I'd like to share

C_Claudemonster

Formerly saxgirl22
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399
Here is my review of the Academy ‘Phoenix’ clarinet based on my level of playing:

I saw the clarinet pass around opportunity on the cafesaxophone forum, read the post a few times and it didn’t really cross my mind to get in touch to give it a try as I’m not the best at clarinet these days. However, after some consideration and an enjoyable ‘Jericho’ sax pass around last year I thought ‘why not?’ nothing to lose.
So, a few days later one of the ‘Phoenix’ clarinets turned up for me to try, brand new, factory sealed all in its packaging fresh from manufacture, meaning that it had not been tested prior to dispatch to me, which is the general idea.
I was excited to unwrap the packaging and get the corks greased up so I could have a quick blast before heading off to band practice.
The clarinet fitted together perfectly with no issues or difficulty and it certainly looked very impressive with a lovely matt finish and shiny nickel key work.
As I am very used to my Buffet mouthpiece I used this for my first initial play of the clarinet.
So, straight out of the case and with no real warming up I played a full chromatic scale as high as my embouchure would allow me to, up to top G, I know there’s a top A but that’s just pushing my luck!
For no warming up I was surprised at the incredible ease of playing and comfort of the keys under my fingers, it felt so easy to play and no pun intended but a real breath of fresh air for me to be able to get a clarinet out of the case and whiz up and down a scale so easily.
I’ve always been a fan of wooden clarinets but as they are more susceptible to temperature changes I do like the consistency and reliability of a resin/composite material instrument as they seem to be more stable in varied conditions.
I then tried the mouthpiece supplied with the clarinet and it is very suitable for the instrument, probably a little better than the ones that are supplied with the saxophones, however, an upgraded mouthpiece again does make all the difference.
So, Buffet, Yamaha or a Vandoren would make a considerable difference.
On my first available evening to play the clarinet I got some old grade 8 pieces out to play, I initially thought after a warm up period that the clarinet was playing ever so slightly flat, to check this further I took it over to my parents and played a few tracks with keyboard and, no problems, tuning was spot on. From there I worked on a recording, which is to follow soon should anyone wish to listen.
I will state that I have never been the best clarinet player, I took it up before saxophone when I was 13 and have played on and off for 15 years, I took my grade 8 but had to work hard for it due to constant dental work in my teen years.
Consequently I found sax much easier and in a rebellious manner abandoned the clarinet for a while.
I am also a serial collector of musical instruments, which means I have had enough clarinets to make a decent comparison to.
My first clarinet was an Earlham, it was terrible. Next a Buffet B12 which I had for years, in all honest opinion I feel that the Phoenix clarinet is far more developed and comfortable than your Buffet and Yamaha student instruments, design and manufacture has allowed these improvements and developments over the years.
The keys, particularly throat note keys are slightly better shaped and more comfortable.
All of the keys feel at a nice ‘height’ that’s just right for playing fast runs and tricky passages.
The tone of the instrument is extremely clear and it speaks nicely in all registers, it is easy to express dynamic changes and in general it does everything you would expect, everything it says on the tin.
I watched the website video review and I agree with the opinion that the clarinet is ‘like a friend’, it certainly is to me as it’s made playing the instrument easier for me and it is quite forgiving to me!
During my two week pass around period I got in touch with Robbie at Academy to say that I did not want to send the clarinet back and I have purchased it as my main clarinet for all use in band work, it has its first gig with me on Friday this week.
There is unfortunately still some snobbery about instruments coming out of China but I consider that there has been substantial progression and there are some very high quality and very suitable musical instruments coming onto the market, which broaden horizons and expand the market place, making music accessible for everyone.
Currently in my collection of clarinets I have a B&H Emperor and a Penzel Mueller ‘Artist’ model. The Penzel Mueller clarinets are not easy to get hold of and apparently sought after for their full and jazzy tone, the Phoenix also provides this for me and it is much more crisp and clear, it doesn’t feel ‘resistant’ in any way.
Over the years I have paid a lot of money for all of my clarinets and my honest opinion is that the Phoenix does everything I want and more. It has exceeded my expectations in many areas.
This and previous experience has made me realise that it’s not all about ‘if I spend £400 on this clarinet it’s going to be fantastic’ as it may not be!

Just to condense my review here are the things I like:

A smart looking and well made instrument with comfortable key action and ease of tone and playability.
It is nice and ‘heavy’ to hold, it feels well constructed, solid and not at all uncomfortable during long periods of playing
The adjustable thumb rest is a nice touch
The clarinet can be pushed to the max and it will perform.
The case supplied with mine is a hard shell black case, there is a canvas case option I believe but I think the compact black case is smart and tough and it would be my personal preference.
A mouthpiece upgrade is a good suggestion

I don’t think there is anything I dislike, maybe the ‘Phoenix’ name is not engraved/embossed sharply onto the instrument so this may fade over time but it doesn’t bother me as I know what it is and the instrument is my personal preference, I don’t fuss for what others think if it makes me happy.

All in all I never intended to purchase another clarinet but I enjoyed playing it that much that I didn’t want to return it.
Considering it has not been through the workshop for an initial check over before meeting me I’m really impressed with being able to pick it up and play it straight away.

Highly recommended and worth a purchase, especially if there are any fellow forum members that suffer from what is know as a ‘gas attack’
It would be a worthwhile attack :)
 
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