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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000360.txt from 1998/03

From: "Joe M. Rankin" <>
Subj: Re: Scientific American Article
Date: Fri, 6 Mar 1998 14:43:43 -0500

Howarth does indeed make a professional model "plastic" clarinet. Actually,
their home page calls it Polyvinyl Chloride. I might be the person Kevin was
thinking of that posted a message about the Howarth clarinets some time ago.
Someone else (I don't recall who it was) responded about the "plastic"
clarinet. I think they also mentioned that it cost the same as the Blackwood
model, which is correct according to their web site.

I bought a Howarth Bb in January & am most impressed w/ it. I'm anxious to
play on the "plastic" ones as well which I will do in May. My wife & I have
just decided to vacation in London where I will visit their shop in hopes of
finding an "A" to go along w/ the Bb. My intention is to choose the
instrument that plays best. If it happens to be one of the synthetic ones, I
don't think I would have a problem with that as long as it is a superior

I understand that Howarth has been making oboes & English horns for years,
and I was told by our principal oboe player that they are the preferred
instruments in England. I wonder if they have used any synthetic materials
in those as Loree has in their oboes. Maybe someone on the list knows the

Joe Rankin

Kevin Fay wrote:

> A couple of points on the plastic/wood controversy:
> First, someone posted that Howarth (U.K.) is making a pro plastic
> clarinet. I haven't seen one, but I have played on a friend's wood
> Howarth and it's a fine instrument.
> Second--abount the weight. When first made, the clarinet was not made
> of african blackwood, but the (then) more common boxwood. William
> McColl = the University of Washington (one of my teachers) had a pair of
> boxwood Buffets made for him in the 70's, which he has performed on
> continuously since that time. I think he sounds the same on wither the
> boxwood or blackwood clarinet--indeed, for a while he was using a
> blackwood A--but the boxwood horn seemed to be about 50% lighter. It
> was a joy to play because of the lighter weight.
> kjf
> ----Original Message Follows----
> Date: Thu, 5 Mar 1998 09:44:11 -0600 (CST)
> From: Roger Garrett <>
> To:
> Subject: Re: Scientific American Article
> Reply-To:
> On Thu, 5 Mar 1998, George Kidder wrote:
> > But this is a quibble, and the real problem remains. If indeed the
> shape
> > and size of the bore and its vents is the only thing that affects the
> tone,
> > loading the plastic with dense wood is merely a way to further strain
> our
> > right thumbs. As several have commented, we will never be sure of the
> > effect of clarinet material on our playing until someone makes a
> plastic
> > clarinet with the same skill and devotion as currently used on wood
> > instruments, and until some expert players are willing to give these
> > instruments an unbiased trial.
> I really like the way the Greenline clarinet looks as opposed to your
> basic, brushed Yamaha or Selmer plastic clarinet. It really looks like
> a
> wood clarinet! Maybe the wood dust helps with the aesthetic appearance?
> Roger Garrett
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