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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000014.txt from 2001/07

From: <rkabear@-----.net>
Subj: [kl] Re: [[kl] Re: [Starting a beginner]]
Date: Sun, 1 Jul 2001 15:49:01 -0400

I actually did use that same room for the test (the last one on the left =
-
same side as the repair shop.)

The difference I did with testing was that I tried each of the stock
mouthpieces on each of the instruments first. They were all (not surprisi=
ngly)
really bad for performance and pitch. I then tried a few Vandorens, a Hit=
e
Premiere, and a Fobes Debut on each of the instruments. Since all of the
instruments performed differently with all of the mouthpieces, I went for=
ease
of playing first, then pitch out of the ones I hadn't eliminated (over ha=
lf
were eliminated at the beginning because of poor workmanship and final
adjustments from the factory...at least one of each brand.)

Since my student was just starting, getting a "ring" or mature sound wasn=
't
possible for them. For them to choose which one *I* sounded best on, in m=
y
opinion, is irrelevant, since they will have an infinite amount of variab=
les,
some not even developed yet, that will be different from my playing. My m=
ain
concern was ease of playing first, then ease of playing *in tune* second.=

Tuner work would start with me after about 6 weeks of adjusting to the ho=
rn
for an absolute beginner. =

The instrument that sounded best with my Greg Smith mouthpiece was the Bu=
ffet
B12. My student could not produce any tone on my clarinet with that mouth=
piece
combination, nor with any other mouthpiece in my trial. The polycylindric=
al
resistance of the B12 was too much for someone making their first sounds =
on a
clarinet. The Vitos were horrible with all of the mouthpieces EXCEPT when=
I
paired one particular Vito with one of the 3 Debuts I tried, which played=
like
it was made for the horn. That is the combination we went with, since tha=
t
combination played so much better than all of the other instruments with =
all
of the other mouthpieces. I tried out about 20 mouthpieces with the clari=
nets
to get the combinations that were easiest to play, then reduced them furt=
her
by the tuner tests. The Vito that was so out of tune with the other
mouthpieces was a couple of cents sharp accross the board, but in tune wi=
th
itself, and could be corrected with *ever-so-slightly* pulling out the ba=
rrel.
We had a winner, and the student is doing great!

Just my observations from my recent tests...

Kelly
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Neil Leupold <leupold_1@-----.com> wrote:
> Since: (a) my R-13 Prestige has consistent on-pitch tuning throughout i=
ts
> range, and (b) my own Fobes mouthpiece nails the needle on pretty much
every
> note with minimal adjustment on my part, I used my Fobes for the entire=

test,
> using the Debut only at the very end between the final two instrument
candi-
> dates. At that point, I walked up the range of each instrument using t=
he
> Debut to ensure that the Debut didn't have any quirks which would throw=
off
> the otherwise good tuning of these two instruments. It didn't. The wh=
ole
> process, from the moment I blew into instrument #1 until she pointed to=
the
> Yamaha and said "That's the one", took two hours.
> =

> Which room at the store did you use? I've found that the only useful r=
oom
> for any purpose there is in the left back corner. The other three are =
too
> live and/or marred by humming/air conditioning noise. Also, since the =
left
> corner room is not adjacent to any of the other practice rooms, there i=
s
less
> bleed-over of sound from other players. I went to the store early spec=
if-
> ically to ensure that, if necessary, I could wait around in advance unt=
il
> that room was free before my student arrived. I remember trying
mouthpieces,
> a decade ago, at Woodwinds & Brass on 10th St. in San Francisco (not
associat-
> ed with WW/BW). The store no longer exists (Irwin Berger passed away f=
rom
> cancer, sadly; a very nice man with a wonderful German accent). Anyway=
, =

> Irwin let me go into one of his back rooms to toodle around on a few mo=
uth-
> pieces, and the acoustics were appreciably live. I walked out of the s=
tore
> thinking I'd just improved my tone quality and response two-fold, only =
to
> discover in a more controlled acoustic environment that I'd actually bo=
ught
> a dud.
> =

> When it comes to testing equipment for purchase, it's always important =
to =

> ensure that your testing environment is as close to neutral as possible=
--
> no reverb, but not completely dead either. I think we got a fair
impression
> of the instruments in the room that I chose.
> =

> Neil
> =

> --- rkabear@-----.net wrote:
> > Neil,
> > =

> > I just went through the same process for a student of mine at the sam=
e
store
> > with the same models (maybe even a few more instruments of each brand=
,
since I
> > warned Laurie and Jonathan I was coming in advance...lol.) I had very=

similar
> > results when I *first* tried the instruments. I was wondering...did y=
ou
try
> > the instruments out with the mouthpieces it came with or with other
> > mouthpiece(s)? If you tried the instruments out with other mouthpiece=
(s),
what
> > mouthpiece(s) did you use for each of the instruments? Did you try al=
l
with
> > the one, same mouthpiece, all with a group of different mouthpieces, =
or a
> > different mouthpiece for each instrument? I notice that you said you =
set
up
> > the student with a Fobes' Debut, which was exactly how we finished up=
the
> > purchase.
> > =

> > Kelly Abraham
> > Woodwinds/Computer Geek
> > New York City
> > =

> > P.S. My e-mail account at usa.net is being cancelled, since it is goi=
ng to
a
> > pay site at the end of the month. I have had problems with access wit=
h
them in
> > the past, so paying for a lackluster service is not an option. I will=
be
> > moving my klarinet linked account to another account in a week or so.=

I'll
> > keep you all posted!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`
Neil Leupold <leupold_1@-----.com> wrote:
Had the pleasurable experience this afternoon of helping a new
student pick out an instrument for herself -- no kidding, I actually enjo=
yed
it quite a lot. I showed up at the store (WW/BW on 23rd St. in Manhattan=
) 40
minutes early and had the staff grab as many as they had of each model I =
had
in mind: Buffet B-12, Vito 7212, and the Yamaha YCL-20. By the time my
student arrived -- an adult beginner, approx. 34 years old -- our practic=
e
room was populated with 6 clarinets: 3 B-12's, 2 YCL-20's, and one Vito (=
no
partridges in a pear tree, however).
=

I had her "mix up" the instruments for me and turn the brand stamps
away so I couldn't tell which was which (although the matte finish
on the B-12's made it kind of obvious in their case, not to mention
the key design when I held them in my hands). One by one, she handed
me an instrument and I proceeded to run up its range, one note at a
time, the tuner showing clearly which notes were questionable. She
found the visual feedback from the tuner very interesting and began
to invest herself in the process, recognizing in her own mind that
wide tuning variances across the range of the instrument were red
flags. We were picking out an instrument, but it also doubled as
her first lesson, and she never actually played a note.
=

The Vito was a dog from the start and we put it aside shortly after
seeing the tuner needle jump twenty cents sharp between chalumeau Ab
and A. It stayed 20 cents sharp up into the throat tones, and the
twelths above were even worse, except long B to Eb, of course, which
were much closer.
=

One of the B-12's, I'll call it B-12 #1, was a used instrument, and I
thought, "Hey, maybe it's in good shape and she'll come away with a barga=
in." =

Unfortunately, the lowest trill key had been bent upward slightly. There=
was
absolutely no evidence of trauma to the instrument, no metal fatigue in t=
hat
area, no scratches on the keys, but it clacked
against the next trill key up. It also clacked against the bridge key
when fully depressed. I thought to myself, "I'll bet Jimmy Yan would
bend this back into place for ten bucks," so I proceeded to check it
against the tuner. It wasn't outrageous in any direction, but it
was just a little inconsistent (i.e., not perfectly in tune with it-
self). I was *very* impressed, however, with the 12ths on all three
B-12's...the needle barely wiggled. I put this one next to me as a
possibility.
=

Next was one of the Yamahas (I didn't know that, of course, but I
looked at the brand stamp afterward). It was resistant compared to
B-12 #1, and a little sharp in the lower chalumeau and clarion. I
wondered to myself if a beginner would want to deal with that kind =

of resistance built into the horn. This was Yamaha "#1".
=

The next B-12, #2, had remarkably good intonation, and I came back to it
repeatedly to make sure I wasn't adjusting to any of the other instrument=
s'
quirks while measuring *their* tuning. B-12 #3 had a problem similar to =
the
Vito (albeit to a lesser degree), and I feared that maybe I was losing me=
ntal
focus and starting to pinch. So I immediately switched to B-12 #2 and th=
e
suspect notes were spot-on with this instrument. B-12 #3 was simply shar=
p in
the chalumeau, by a good 15 cents compared to B-12 #2.
=

Lastly we came to Yamaha #2. It was everything Yamaha #1 was not: free
blowing, nicely in tune, with a slightly brighter tone compared to Buffet=
#2. =

It ultimately came down to a choice between these two in-tune instruments=
:
Yamaha #2 vs. Buffet #2. They both had the most even resistance of all s=
ix
instruments from low E up to high C (i.e., atop the 5th ledger line above=
the
staff), with consistent tone quality between the three registers.Mechanic=
ally,
they were equally well-adjusted, and (I was shocked with myself) I actual=
ly
found Yamaha's keywork and spacing more fluid for my technique, even thou=
gh
the Buffet was so "recognizable" to me compared to my own R-13 Prestiges.=
=

=

I played a little Mozart, a little Weber, a little Brahms -- the same pas=
sages
on each instrument -- awaiting her feedback. After first playing B-12 #2=
, we
suspected the rest of the comparison exercise was a moot point, especiall=
y
since I kept coming back to that instrument for tuning comparisons with t=
he
other five clarinets. Yamaha #2, however, was easily the Buffet's equal =
in
all of the basic areas -- intonation throughout the range, evenness of
resistance and tone quality, mechanical integrity. Even the alternate
fingerings were impressive on both instruments. I've heard a lot of bash=
ing
of mass produced instruments, but clearly mass production has come a long=
way
over the years. I swear I was not compensating for any eggregious weakne=
sses
in any of these beginner clarinets -- tried to stay as consistent and
objective as possible.
=

In spite of her own leanings toward the Buffet throughout the trial, she
ultimately favored the Yamaha. I had to agree with her. She commented t=
hat
she literally liked the Yamaha's sound quality better than the Buffet's, =
and
that it had a "ring" to it that the Buffet seemed to lack. I never used =
the
word "ring" during that session, so she didn't get it from me. Despite w=
hat I
felt were equally lyrical and tech-nically well-executed excerpts, she sa=
id
she could hear greater effort from me on the Buffet, whereas she sensed
greater ease on the Yamaha. I was actually quite comfortable on the Buff=
et,
so this subjective comment from her was valuable in the decision-making
process. They were both very good student instruments and I would happil=
y
play either one in a pinch. The fact that she had a decisive preference =
after
the final comparison made the purchase decision an easy one, and I suspec=
t
that she will be very happy learning how to play, knowing that she got wh=
at
she felt was the best instrument for her out of the six that we tried.
=

I have to say again: that was a lot of fun. After setting her up with a =
Fobes
Debut, Vandoren 2's, a Rovner (I'll let her futz with my ligature collect=
ion
after she has basic tone production down), and a swab (the instrument cam=
e
with cork grease), we're ready for her first "real" lesson next Thursday.=
In
retrospect, I think I should have pushed for a metronome too, but she'll =
have
no problem springing for one if it comes up over the next few lessons. N=
ow I
need to go to Sam Ash and pick up a method book.
Any recommendations? =

=

Just kidding! :-)

Neil

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