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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000746.txt from 2000/09

From: "Clark W Fobes" <>
Subj: [kl] Buying Used Clarinets
Date: Sun, 24 Sep 2000 15:10:54 -0400



There are several important factors to consider when buying a used =

With regard to Buffet, some serial number groupings do have certain =
characteristics and some older groups are considered to be superior to =
current models. (This is very subjective)

I don't consider these instruments to be in that group.

I believe that the R-13's were introduced in 1950 and 50xxx should be an =
R-13. Do check the pitch carefully. Older model Buffet clarinets can be =
quite sharp.

I don't recommend buying instruments older than 20 years if they have =
been played constantly. I don't believe that clarinets get "blown out". =
but they can become "swabbed out" or "dried out". A good long oil bath =
in Naylor's Oil will help correct the latter . Constant swabbing (which =
we must do) causes a subtle polishing of the tone hole edge where it =
meets the bore. Some of this is desireable as it helps with legato. At a =
certain point, the excessive wearing at this critical juncture of bore =
and tone hole causes a lack of definition in tone. This may be what some =
players experience as "blow out".

Mechanical considerations are also important. Wiggle the keys to =
determine how much wear or end play exists. If you can, take one of the =
pivot screws out. The amount of wear on the pivot screw will tell a lot =
about how much use the instrument has seen. Another visual check is to =
look at the chimneys of the tone holes that are presented to the =
fingers. If these are still nicely defined - good. If they are worn into =
deep bowls - stay away.

Most mechanical problems can be corrected with a good overhaul, but a =
highly worn instrument wil not stay in adjustment.

Consider that a full overhaul by a qualified craftsman may cost $400- =

I am also not a fan of the older key material that was used on that =
vintage. Some players insist that the quality of nickel silver (which =
contained more silver and was softer) gave the instruments a better =
sound. They also wear a lot faster and the keys bend too easily, =
affecting adjustments

The last factor is cost. If the price is just too good to pass up , then =
consider these as a "step up" instrument. If the cost plus an overhaul =
is more than $1200 per instrument I would keep looking.

My 2 cents.

Clark W Fobes


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