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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000358.txt from 1997/09

Subj: Manufacturing deficiencies
Date: Mon, 8 Sep 1997 14:00:17 -0400

Bill (I think) wrote:
> I guess the people I am upset with are not the repairmen, but the
> manufacturers who spit junk out the door. This may even be understanda=
> when we are talking about mass-produced student line instruments. I =
> think that when I am shelling out thousands of dollars for a
> professional-grade horn, the least they can provide me is an instrument
> that performs AS DESIGNED.

Bill and others have brought up several good points about clarinet
manufacture today and I would like to address 3 issues separately.

1. Why can't I buy an instrument in peak condition when
I am shelling out thousands of dollars for a new one?

Actually, we clarinetists are spoiled. At about an average of
$1900 for a brand new R-13 we pay far less for our instruments
than most of our colleagues. We have come to expect that Buffet,
Selmer, Leblanc, Yamaha will provide instruments at relatively low
prices. In order to do so they have become highly automated
and geared toward assembly line construction.

Further, the persistance of the
large warehouses to flood the market with heavily discounted
instruments has forced local dealers to come at least close
to matching those numbers. The BIG PLACES are happy to sell you
an instrument at less than $100 above cost because they will
never have to see you again. If a local dealer sells an instrument
part of his "package" is his individual service. If you expect him
to provide it at the same or similar price as the catalogue people
don't expect more than just a price. We all want to buy at bargain
basement and get the showroom treatment.

Do you begin to see how the EXPECTATIONS of the consumers drive

2. If David Hite can make a very good mouthpiece for students
under $40 why can't (any major brand) make a good mouthpiece.

Again, in order to keep costs down all manufacturers tend to
concentrate on the CLARINET and not the accessories. they are not so
dumb as you may think. I believe they all know that most teachers will
have their students switch to or even start on a better mouthpiece. Why
should they supply a $30 mouthpiece when they can make a $2 mouthpiece
just as a place holder? However, it is incumbent upon teacher and retailer
to recognize that most mouthpieces provided by manufaturers are merd and
should be immediately replaced by a FOBES DEBUT mouthpiece!!!:-)

3. If the material of the clarinet has very little influence on
sound why are makers NOT jumping on the wagon to save money
and trees?

Duh! If you haven't noticed the resistance to the idea of
new materials on this list and recognized that this list is a
tip of a huge iceberg then you must have your head buried in
your keyboard. Clarinetists have always been resistant to change.
5 key clarinets were used well into the 19th century even though
multiples over 10 were available after 1811? (Iwan Mueller).
Clarinetists in this country persisted on with modified Oehler
clarinets and Albert system clarinets well into the 20th century
despite the development of the Boehm system by Buffet in the 1860's.
Do you think hard rubber mouthpieces have always been in vogue?
Wood was the material of choice for almost 200 years!

Acceptance of change in design or materials takes many years. Manufactures
recognize this and are thus somewhat slow on the uptake as well.
A big shift into another material would be like Mrs fields committing
to butterscotch chips instead of chocolate. Still tast, but just
not the same!! Ok, you can come up with you won analogy. Still,
a big financial risk.

I think Buffet is to be admired for taking a very courageus step
in making a professional quality instrument out of an alternative

Clark W Fobes

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