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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000678.txt from 1999/01

From: chr <>
Subj: [kl] Day at the Buffet factory at Mantes-la-ville (by Paris)
Date: Fri, 15 Jan 1999 19:35:16 -0500

Last Friday was a very interesting day for us.

We are a family of clarinetists (age 40, 39, 18, 14 and 11)

After 17 years of playing exclusively on Oehler (German) clarinets we =
are now playing Boehm system (again for the parents and first time =
for the kids). About two months ago we tried some Buffet, Leblanc =
and Selmer basset horns and Buffet and Selmer bass clarinets while =
staying in Luzern (Switzerland). We were very impressed by the =
Buffets as they seemed to naturally possess so much of the qualities =
(intonation, evenness and ease of dynamic and lyric expression) we =
have been fighting to attain in the Wurlitzer bass clarinet and =
Reidel and Mollenhauer basset horns we were playing. We decided =
right then that we would sell the bass and 3 bassets we have and =
obtain Buffets.

After trying some various Bbs (Buffet DG, R13, RC, Festival as well =
as Yamaha, Leblanc and Selmer) we decided we really liked the RC =
Prestige model and we would all get Boehm Bbs as well as 3 A =
clarinets (for our orchestra services) and an Eb. We would sell =
several of the Oehler instruments, retaining two sets (Bb and A) and =
an Eb for further playing.

In Germany we then negotiated good terms of sale with our local music =
store (Musikhaus Lange, Ravensburg) so that we could go to Buffet in =
Paris but pay through this German store (important for tax purposes). =
German stores do not stock many Boehm clarinets at all since the =
system is not popular here.

After selling our Wurlitzer bass and Reidel basset and 2 Bbs (we =
still have a Keilwerth Franz Klein model Bb and A set, a Richard =
Mueller D clarinet, and 2 Mollenhauer bassets for sale if anyone is =
interested) we had some funds to go on with this undertaking.

We took the train to Paris on Wed., 6 Jan. 1999 arriving in the =
evening. The next morning we went to Mus@-----. There we saw =
many paintings by Claude Monet. Then we went to the Cite to Notre =
Dame. Afterward we decided to take a walk past the Louvre and =
gardens and then down the Champs-Elysee. At the Place de La Concorde, =
we looked at the Egyptian obelisk which is 3,300 years old, covered =
with hieroglyphics and is 23m tall or 75 ft. and weighs more than 220 =
tons. We walked from there all the way down the long street past the =
exquisite shops to the Arc de Triomphe. We climbed to the top for an =
excellent view of the 12 avenues which merge into the square. The =
cars coming from these 12 avenues certainly appeared chaotic but =
somehow it all worked. Well, at least we didn't see any accidents =
while we were watching. We came just at dusk so we were able to see =
Paris lit up at night. There was a great view of the Eiffel tower =
too. Beneath the Arc de Triomphe lies the tomb of the Unknown =
Soldier. Every evening at 6:30, there is a little ceremony by the =
tomb which we observed.

Friday was our "Buffet Day". We had previously made an appointment =
with Fabienne at Buffet. (We never have learned her last name). We =
took an early local train from St. Lazare station to Mantes station =
(50 minute ride). The Buffet factory is just a 2 minute walk from =
the station (and Selmer is on the same street). The factory is =
actually not very big when compared to the Leblanc Vito factory we =
toured at ClarFest Chicago. In the reception area there was a little =
electronic sign giving the time and date and welcoming us by name. =
Fabienne came down and introduced us to acoustician Eric Baret and =
some others who then showed us into a trying room with about 15 Bb =
and 12 A clarinets RC Prestige to try. Some of each were GreenLine. =
We were very curious as to how the GreenLines would sound. We spent =
the whole morning playing for each other and listening carefully. We =
were very impressed with the brilliant supple tone of the GreenLines =
and chose one for each member of the family. On A clarinets we chose =
2 GreenLines and 1 wood clarinet. At 12:00 the Buffet people had to =
tear us out of the room because the factory was closing for lunch. =
We had lunch in an Irish pub by the train station with several people =
from Buffet. A French clarinet teacher and one of his students was =
also there picking an A clarinet.

At lunch we talked to the director of development about some of the =
things Buffet are now developing. He said that the company would be =
introducing student line Eb and C clarinets at the Frankfurt Trade =
Fair in March. He also described the recent work on developing the =
new bass clarinet. Also at lunch was the bass clarinetist of the =
Paris Opera. He had been fine-tuning bass clarinets all morning. =
After lunch we returned to the factory and in another room there were =
5 bass clarinets leaned up on the wall and ready to try (the fruits =
of the opera bass clarinetist's labors). They were all so consistant =
that a choice was quite difficult, but minor differences in responce =
to the lower clarion notes around where the register keys change made =
the difference. Meanwhile the others in the family had started =
trying basset horns. They are very lightweight and have a =
fascinating workmanship with even a moving part going through the =
body of the instrument (like a little tunnel). We had B-40 =
mouthpieces and a Portnoy and Hite to try the bassets with. There =
were three quite open and similar and one a little stuffier. So we =
took the three. The bassets are supplied with Vandoren B-40.

We were very impressed by the concern, helpfulness, genuine =
friendliness and competence of the various people we met at the =
factory. We had already bought a used Eb clarinet (RC Prestige) =
which we brought along so we could try barrels. When we found a =
barrel we liked, we were allowed to just trade the barrel we had for =
it! We asked about the popularity of the GreenLine in various parts =
of the world. They told us that it was doing very well in France =
where several orchestral players in Paris use them. They said that =
many American players try them and like them but still buy wood ones.

At the end of the day, with all these clarinets in various sizes =
(bassets and bass come in handy backpack cases) the Buffet people =
insisted on ordering a taxi for us back to Paris.

On Saturday we went to the Rue de Rome where there are lots of music =
stores concentrated in one area near the Conservatory to try =
mouthpieces and reeds and get case covers.

We are pursuing a two-track search in the mouthpiece area. On the =
one hand we are investigating putting German mouthpieces on the =
instruments (Bb and A) which from a tone perspective works remarkably =
well but somewhat flat in pitch. By using a "Clickbarrel" at its =
shortest setting this problem disappears.

On the Boehm mouthpiece front we have a Pomarico 3* (Vandoren White =
Master reeds), 5RV (Rico Grand Concert), B40 and a Jerry Hall =
(Vandoren Black Master). If anyone of you have suggestions for =
mouthpieces with a rather long facing and narrow opening and perhaps =
angled sidewalls in the German tradition we would be grateful if you =
pass information along to us.

We returned home from Paris on Sunday and we have been practicing =
hard since. (You don't have to follow a "breaking-in" regimen on a =
GreenLine! :))

When I first started clarinet lessons my first instrument was a =
Buffet and inside the case were the words, "the sweetest clarinet =
ever made". This, of course, is advertising, but we are very =
satisfied right now with the tonal beauty these instruments now give =

Don, Cindy, Michael, Brian and Melissa Christensen
Christensen Family Clarinets

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