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Clarinets What clarinet to choose?

jthole

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Five years ago, I sold my Buffet Crampon RC¸ and I have regretted it since day one. It gave me sax money (which ultimately ended up in a nice Martin "The Martin" tenor), but I didn't expect that I would miss the clarinet so much.

I decided that I want a new (or slightly used) clarinet. But since I only double on it, instead of it being my main instrument, I decided that I want to limit my budget. That means looking at intermediate clarinets, like the Buffet E11 or E13. The Yamaha 450 is also on my list, though I favored my RC over the (at the time) professional Yamaha in the late 80's.

Of course the only real way to choose, is in playing and comparing. But is there anyone with experience with both the E11 and E13? How big are the real world differences between them? How is the quality of modern Buffets? I have no doubt about the Yamaha build quality, but I remember that the Yamaha's I tried in the past had a dull tone quality, compared to my RC.

I rule out plastic clarinets, but am I doing myself a disservice by not looking at them? Are they strictly beginner instruments, or are they undervalued?

Thanks!
 

baritonesax

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Hi, can't speak for those new clarinets you mention - I would always prefer to buy something older and sexier - but in terms of materials other than wood, you may like to consider Tom Ridenour's ebonite clarinets. People have been saying nice things about them.

I have owned two plastic clarinets - just out of curiosity - and liked them both well enough, a Boosey Regent and a Mazzeo-system Bundy. Both cost about £40. The only reason to play them is if it's an outdoor gig in the rain.

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jthole

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258
My problem with older clarinets is that I don't know how the previous owners cared for the wood. However, I bought my RC second hand, and it served me very well.

I am looking for a "lifetime clarinet". The RC would have been exactly that, but as I said, I foolishly sold it. A new RC is not within my budget, as I am limited to €800.

I started on a B&H when I was a kid ... I think Boosey's are made in Eastern Europe? I am not opposed to plastic perse, but I think I would want to upgrade within a few years then.

Hard rubber might be an alternative, but I surely would want to play test, and would want to hear from longer time owners.
 
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I`m not a "Beginner" at Clarinet but a very slow learner so my recommendations are from a far from "Pro" player level

I personally don`t see the point in getting an E11/12, it`s just an overpriced B12 made from botched Grenadilla (they fill and stain poor quality wood) instead of plastic , may as well save a fortune and get a real B12, if you`re going to get a wood horn, get a decent one, I`d take a look at the Hanson SE5 in Grenadilla , it`s a superb clarinet availabel in different bores and Hanson don`t stain or fill their wood (they`re made in Yorkshire too) .. after that it`s their T series (preferably in lovely Rosewood) or the superb Buffet R series .

The best way to buy a B12 is used, they lose a fortune so a really good one can be had for £100 and the keywork is almost Pro level under the fingers, it`s the best bang for buck by far in the clarinet world , though I have to admit that mine IS a Schreiber made one, I don`t know if the latest ones are as good... I didn`t like the Yamaha 26 and 250 at all (26, Japanese, 250 Indonesian) , too resistive and the keywork wasn`t great, the open holes harder to cover than a Buffet or Hanson (I squoke more on the Yams than any other Clarinet) .

Whatever you get I`d suggest getting a Vandoren B45 mouthpiece, the supplied ones won`t make the most of the horn and the Vandoren 5RV has a too small tip opening from experience (easy blow but low dynamics and too limiting) ..
 

baritonesax

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It's always caveat emptor with wooden clarinets, new or old. New clarinets have to be played in carefully, much as you need to for old clarinets that haven't been played much. 15 minutes a day for the first week, 30 mins a day second week and so on.

The worst way to treat a wooden clarinet is not to play it. I have a few so I make sure to rotate them.

I wouldn't get too hung up on the second hand clarinet thing - if you buy one without any cracks, and you treat it well, then that's how it'll probably stay. You just need to know whether it's been in an attic for years, and if it has been you can oil the bore, put orange peel in the case, store it in the kitchen and all the other stuff that people do to keep clarinets sweet.

Talking to Alex Allen at Clarinets Direct, he reckons that Buffet are the worst offenders for cracks, then Selmer, then Leblanc and Boosey.

Hanson make nice gear, I agree!

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jthole

Member
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258
Thanks!

I kept my mouthpieces, btw, so I should be fine there.

Hanson does not have a reseller in the Netherlands, so play testing a few may be problematic.
 

kevgermany

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Keep an eye on Ebay for FA Uebel made instruments. Also Hammerschmidt & Wurlitzer. Some fine instruments and reasonable prices. Don't be misled, they're not all Geman system. And Richard Keilwerth make fine instruments too. Also available within your budget.
 

jthole

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258
Impulsive decision, that I may regret ... (but I think I could probably resell it for not much less)

I bid on this: https://www.bva-auctions.com/auction/lot/9075/3519723

Fuzzy picture, and almost certain no YCL-650 as the description somewhat suggests. But it's new (old stock), and the shop had a good reputation. Sadly they did not survive :(

Anyone an idea what Yamaha clarinet this could be, from the out of focus pictures? At least I'd say it is an older model, given the print.
 
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Greg Strange

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thesaxman71

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Plastic clarinets, easy to get by, stick to yamaha or buffet b12, NOTHING else, all others are junk..

I am the proud owner of extreme quality clarinets, a Buffet b12 and a Boosey & Hawkes Symphony 1010, wooden with silver keys.
the b&h is a different league but the b12 is VERY good for a cheaper clarinet, 10 times cheaper but not 10 times less quality and i KNOW this from having both.
 

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The problem with Hansons website it is a pain in the donkey/mule/ass to navigate around - I wanted to look at the SE range of clarinets with a view to possible purchase and the links are broken or do not exist...crazy for an on-line retailer.
Greg S.

Hmmm, Hanson aren`t Really an online retailer, they`re just doing a poor job of trying to keep up with the times (and I don`t mean this nastily, they`re really not cut out for online sales), in fact they`d prefer you visited the workshop and had a tour before testing and choosing a clarinet , the Phone is the best way to deal with Hanson .

I like their personal service.. Emails, Texts, facebook etc are such a cold inhuman form of communication, people simply don`t want to talk anymore, Hanson are taking it back to human Values . Agreed though their website sucks and they know it and it does need fixing (they are trying to) so people at least can see easily their range ..
 

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Plastic clarinets, easy to get by, stick to yamaha or buffet b12, NOTHING else, all others are junk..

In all fairness Ian, the Vito Resotone models are a good alternative to the above and I`d rate them higher than the Yam 26-II for actual handling, the Bundy Resonite Variants such as the Buescher Aristocrat and Selmer 300/1400 etc are servicable too for very little money and not what i`d call "junk", though not as good as the B12 of course .....

I`d suggest avoiding the Buffet B10 like the plague, it`s a lot less than a B12 minus the bell ring, the ferrules are plastic, the keywork isn`t as good etc, Corton and variants are hit and miss, some are wood, some are wood with a rubber bell, some are all plastic, never seen a good one though . thankfully used B12s are cheap enhough to be able to avoid these and the chinese horrors ..
 

thesaxman71

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In all fairness Ian, the Vito Resotone models are a good alternative to the above and I`d rate them higher than the Yam 26-II for actual handling, the Bundy Resonite Variants such as the Buescher Aristocrat and Selmer 300/1400 etc are servicable too for very little money and not what i`d call "junk", though not as good as the B12 of course .....

I`d suggest avoiding the Buffet B10 like the plague, it`s a lot less than a B12 minus the bell ring, the ferrules are plastic, the keywork isn`t as good etc, Corton and variants are hit and miss, some are wood, some are wood with a rubber bell, some are all plastic, never seen a good one though . thankfully used B12s are cheap enhough to be able to avoid these and the chinese horrors ..
yeah ya right, it was also a bit harsh of me to say others are junk, but a lot are tho, i guess we all make mistakes but that's life :)
 

aldevis

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Plastic clarinets?
If you ever tried a B&H 1010 in hard rubber, made for the army, you would be surprised.
I have a Pruefer silver throat (HR wit a metal lining in the upper joint) that for some gigs is really interesting. Big and fat.
this said, if the Yamaha you bought is a YCL650 we are talking about a serious bargain

My working tools are Selmer s9 and Leblanc Dynamic H. both large bore.
 

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Plastic clarinets?

My working tools are Selmer s9 and Leblanc Dynamic H. both large bore.

I prefer large bore horns. Leblanc have made some top notch clarinets in their time and I don`t know of a dud model . one bargain which may come up in hard rubber used in fleabay for under £100 is the Hanson HE3, though sometimes they just say Hanson Ebonite Made in England , they`re actually better than a B12 in some respects.... there`s a cheaper half chinese version badged "Sonata" by hanson" - it`s an HE3 with passable chinese keywork , can be had used for about £50 , the body is still 100% British made, I`d take a B12 over one of these (keywork) but potentially a great buy ..
 
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jthole

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258
The joke is on me ... I was the high bidder on a wooden Yamaha clarinet (for £250) ... but it turns out to be an A clarinet, instead of a B flat!! (The instrument comes from a shop inventory, and I can pick it up locally early next week).

That is cool, of course (I never had an A clarinet), but unfortunately not much asked for in jazz music. So I probably am going to resell it, and the quest for a B flat continues.

The good news is that I'm getting an E13 on loan (without the option to buy it), so that I can work on my embouchure again, while I continue looking for a B flat clarinet.
 

aldevis

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The joke is on me ... I was the high bidder on a wooden Yamaha clarinet (for £250) ... but it turns out to be an A clarinet, instead of a B flat!! (The instrument comes from a shop inventory, and I can pick it up locally early next week).

That is cool, of course (I never had an A clarinet), but unfortunately not much asked for in jazz music. So I probably am going to resell it, and the quest for a B flat continues.

The good news is that I'm getting an E13 on loan (without the option to buy it), so that I can work on my embouchure again, while I continue looking for a B flat clarinet.

Keep the A too! They sound great, and once you work out the transposition, a pleasure to play nasty key signatures. I took mine out for some recordings and now I love it.
 

baritonesax

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I agree with Aldevis. Show up to jams with it and call tunes in F# and C# all the time...

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