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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000395.txt from 1997/12

From: Jonathan Cohler <>
Subj: Re: Is it worth the extra $?
Date: Tue, 9 Dec 1997 09:09:35 -0500

David Frank wrote:

>David> Here's a question for this group, I'm sure many will have
>David> opinions. I'm considering replacing my 30+ year old
>David> R13's. There's been quite a few postings over the past month or
>David> two on Greenlines, Prestige, Prestige RC, Leblanc Opus and
>David> Concerto. Clearly the top professional models ( Prestige,
>David> Prestige RC and Leblanc Opus) run $1000 to $1500 more than the
>David> R13 line and the Leblanc Concerto. Are the differences worth
>David> that additional expense? Seems hard to justify. I can read
>David> that the differences are the silver plated keys...........looks
>David> nicer, but does that make any difference otherwise. I know
>David> these models have the auxillary Eb lever, but would that really
>David> be used? Is the "Premium Grenadilla" wood really different, and
>David> worth the added expense? I'm certainly not a professional
>David> player, but a serious amateur. What do others
>David> the added expense worth it?
>David> David Frank, Seattle

I used to play Buffet R13s (in fact my first few recordings were made with
them). I played (and still own) the same set of R13s (and the same
mouthpiece- a B45) for sixteen years (no blowout here!). Every year I
would try out new clarinets: new R13s, RCs, Leblancs, Yamahas, Selmer,
Howarth, etc. Everything that came out, I tried.

Most professional models from all the various sources proved to be very
good instruments, but definitely none were better than what I already had
(and several were worse). I had been doing this process for ten years, or

When I came upon Luis Rossi's instruments (and Luis Rossi himself!), during
a tour in South America, it took me five minutes of playing to realize that
I had finally discovered an instrument that was several quantum levels
above anything else on the planet (IMHO).

IMHO, if you are going to spend the extra money, you'd be MUCH better off
going with a Rossi, which has numerous technical innovations that make it
superior to any of the Buffet, Leblanc, Yamaha, and Selmer models on the
market it today.

Much better intonation, more consistent and resonant sound, custom
hand-made instrument that is personally adjusted by Luis Rossi himself (a
great clarinetist from South America), keys and holes that are placed more
strategically to fit the human hand, design that greatly reduces water in
tone holes, design that dramatically improves pad-hole sealing, and the
list goes on...

And, by the way, I am not paid a penny by Luis Rossi to promote his
instruments (nor do I get free instruments from him).

The only other significant change I've made in equipment is that I switched
from the Vandoren B45 to the B45 lyre, which I discovered two years ago at
the Arizona ClarinetFest. Vandoren's mouthpiece designer was there (I
believe his name is Jean-Paul) and suggested the relatively new design to
me. After doing several blind (sorry, there was no easy way to make them
double blind at the festival! :-) ) listening tests with every mouthpiece
there, I (and Luis Rossi) chose the B45 lyre. The people who provided
their invaluable ears to the process for testing purposes were very
discerning individuals indeed: Luis Rossi, Ben Armato (of "The Reed
Wizard"), Ricardo Morales, and Andrew Simon (Hong Kong).

I find the B45 lyre to have a darker, more even sound than the B45 (and
yes, this does have a quantifiable, physical, scientific meaning, as I have
explained before), and I also find that it has even more flexibility and
greater dynamic range than the B45, which itself is quite flexible and

For the record, I am now a Vandoren artist, although I had no relationship
with Vandoren when I made the choice.

Jonathan Cohler

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