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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000089.txt from 1996/01

From: David Bourque <bassethn@-----.COM>
Subj: Bass Clarinets
Date: Thu, 4 Jan 1996 18:46:24 -0500

I have been reading with interest the comments on bass clarinets. Some
think Buffet is great, some think Yamaha is great. But the writers rarely
state what their primary use is for a bass clarinet. Only David Hattner's
comments about Mike Lowenstien refer to his solo playing and the type of
sound he needs. I feel that these factors are crucial in choosing an

It is my understanding that most orchestral players use Selmers. I
currently have a model 33 in B flat and a model 30? (to low e flat) in A
which I recently purchased from Dan Leeson. (Not the brand new model 33,
but the ones made until recently with the cantilevered side trill keys,
etc.) These instruments have the weight and power in the sound that I need
in my orchestral situation. I play in a large and loud wind section and
need this weight in my sound. The Selmers also have the flexibility and
colour that I would need in a solo or chamber music situation. I feel that
they are fine instruments.

I have not tried Yamaha in some time now, but I recently tried the new
Buffet. It, too, is a fine instrument; Rene and his team have made some
nice design changes to it. It has a fundamentally sweet sound, but I was
unable to draw out the colours that I wanted. It just did not have the
rich sound and the flexibility that my Selmer has. Maybe it would just
take some getting use to, but my initial impression was that I would
struggle to be heard as I wish to be heard in the Toronto Symphony wind
section with the Buffet. When I tried the Yamaha a while ago, I had the
same difficulty.

New purchasers of bass clarinets should consider their playing situation
before making the purchase. I would also highly recommend engaging the
services of a dedicated bass clarinet player to try out the instruments for
and with the purchaser. Investing in a bass clarinet is likely the largest
capital instrument expense a clarinet player will have. Spending a $100
for the services and opinion of an expert seems wise to me when preparing
to spend $5000-6000 for a horn.

David Bourque
Bass Clarinet, Toronto Symphony Orchestra

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