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Klarinet Archive - Posting 001153.txt from 1999/05

Subj: Re: [kl] clarinet choice? DON'T BUY A NEW ONE!
Date: Wed, 26 May 1999 02:57:02 -0400

In a message dated 5/25/99 8:03:47 PM EST, writes:

<< My daughter will start college this fall as a music major, and we are
giving her a new clarinet for graduation. Right now, she's trying out a
Leblanc Concerto, and Buffet R-13, and a Yamaha 72 CS.

Dear Ms. Exner,
If I were you I wouldn't buy any of them! I suggest you take your
time and find a Used R-13 in great condition. As long as the instrument does
not have major wood cracks, It can be restored. I just rebuilt an older
Moennig Buffet for one the Orchestra players in the Virginia Symphony. It
evolved into a great clarinet. I would suggest an instrument with a serial
number of 100,000 or lower which was made before 1972 I believe. Try to find
a clarinet with a Flat spring under the C#-G# key or left hand little finger
key. Clarinets of this era were made of better wood than the instruments
being made today. The wood was cured longer and the bore was finished and
sealed with a different polishing technique. Instruments from this era were
used by some of the greatest orchestral player of the twentieth century.
There are quite a few of these legendary horns still in circulation. They are
harder to find but the wait will be well worth your time. Ralph McLane
played on this type of R-13 and so did Marcellus, Wright, Hasty, Goodman,
Bonade, Portnoy and many other Legendary players.
According to the great repairman Hans Moennig, clarinets from the
days of old were finished with a special French polishing technique which
extended the instrument's playing life and retarded wood cracks. After the
final bore reaming was completed, the makers would highly polish the bore on
a spinning mandrel. In addition to giving the clarinet bore a polished
finish, this process also removed wood fibers, burrs and reamer remnants. The
mandrel was approximately 24 inches long and 3/8 inches in diameter. A six
inch slot was placed at the end of the mandrel very similar to a screw slot
on a key rod screw. For example llllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll@-----. Next a
long strip of #600 sand paper and a strip of denim cloth were threaded
through the rod slot and wrapped around the mandrel. New the mandrel and
mounted in a lathe or bench motor. Next a liberal amount of linseed oil,
liquid shellac and diesel was applied to the cloth. Next the covered mandrel
would be inserted into the clarinet joint. The mandrel would be spun on a low
speed about 500 RPMs. The diesel diluted the shellac and caused it to fill
the open grain of the wood. The heat, created by the friction, caused the
diesel to evaporate instantaneously thus leaving a hardened coating of
shellac on the bore. The linseed oil which acts as both a catalyst and polish
creates a durable mirrored bore finish. Even today many of the older clarinet
bores have still kept their glasslike luster.
I visited a few French factories with great hopes of seeing this
legendary process. To my great disappointment, most factories have
discontinues this method as it is too costly and time consuming. Instead,
the wood is slightly sanded and Black Ink of India is applied for color.
Unfortunately, ink does not seal the wood or prevent cracks (just in case you
haven't noticed yet).
If you want to give your child a gift that is shinny and new, buy her
a necklace or a wrist watch. If you want to great musical instrument, Buy
her a real classic clarinet and not a replica. If you need an opinion on the
specific serial number group, please feel free to contact me. The older R-13
clarinets will usually play better, crack less and probably be a lot cheaper
in price. This is not a suggestion for everybody, JUST A FEW GOOD PLAYERS.

Just my 2 cents,

Alvin Swiney

Affordable Music Co.

P.O.Box 4245

Virginia Beach, VA 23454

757-412-2160 fax 412-2158

E mail

Of course, she's comparing as carefully as she can, but I thought someone
might have a suggestion or two as to what to be sure and look for--we
have only a few weeks to decide.

Jill Exner


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