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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000747.txt from 2000/09

From: "morrie backun" <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Buying Used Clarinets
Date: Sun, 24 Sep 2000 16:25:41 -0400

Hello Clark,

Actually there is no silver in nickel silver. It is an alloy (combination of
materials) that is basically a white brass material. The feel of these early
Buffet unplated keys is really great when properly cleaned and set-up.

One additional advantage is that marks from swedging. (key fitting) can be
easily removed (unlike plated keys) When properly poised and balanced these
are some of the best "feeling" keys that any clarinet player will ever find.

Many of the earlier Buffet Clarinets were "French polished" using shellac
and mineral spirits which helped to preserve the wood. This is a time
consuming and expensive "hand craftsmanship" issue that only a handful of
artisans still know how to do.

Unfortunately many of the earlier instruments have been rendered almost
useless by poor maintenance, overuse or bad repair work.


Morrie Backun
----- Original Message -----
From: "Clark W Fobes" <>
Subject: [kl] Buying Used Clarinets


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- $600.

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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