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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000826.txt from 2002/05

From: Sean Osborn <>
Subj: [kl] selmer intonation
Date: Fri, 31 May 2002 11:46:48 -0400

Hmm, where to start?

To Gary, who said
regards to the clarinet there is no such thing, especially when playing
with other instruments, as perfectly in tune 12ths <<

Well, that's just not true. Unless you're talking about a standard of
"perfect" that is beyond the ability of any ear or electronic instrument to
detect. I make no adjustment when playing a middle C and a G on the top of
the staff, or any other twelfth on my instrument (except one - and one
intonation problem on the entire horn is a far cry from the usual - I have
a funny low E/long B issue).
All of the other Signatures I have ever tried also have perfectly in tune
12ths. This has been noticed by others who have tried them.

When I was referring to adjustments, I was talking about the scale not
being quite in tune. For example: when the intonation of my horns finally
settled after about 6 months (as they do), I found that the low Bb and the
top-line F were both a little sharp. Of course, since the 12th was
perfectly in tune, they were both sharp to the same degree. Tape in the
hole lowered them both equally to a point where I don't have to adjust them.

Now when I say I don't have to adjust them. I'm referring of course to
playing an average dynamic level with myself. When you play with ANY other
instrument, and at ANY dynamic level, and in ANY harmonic context, you have
to make adjustments, large or small, to play "in tune." This is especially
true in a large ensemble, like an octet or band or orchestra. This has
been ably written about in this forum by David Hattner.

>My brief reference to Selmer was related to a post describing problems
>typical of the 10G model. I know these intonation problems well, as I owned
>a 10G at one time. I also own a 9 N series and a 9*. (history) All with
>severe intonation problems compared to more contemporary instruments.

I'm sorry you had such a bad experience with them. I never noticed a large
intonation problem with them relative to the r-13. I thought they had
comperable issues. I played r-13s for a long time, then played Festivals
from 1991-1999. I liked the Buffet sound and feel, but find the Selmer
Signature's superior to them.

Now for specifics to Forest's valid questions

>I will say that your statement that the 12th are "perfect" is suspect. Are
>you saying that Selmer has found the "perfect" compromise? Can anyone buy
>a Selmer clarinet that plays as well (in-tune) as yours?

I'm saying there is no "compromise," the 12ths are not too narrow, or
wide. They are "perfect," on all 15 I tried while picking mine, and on
those of Todd Levy and Erika Shrauger, whose I've tried, as well as others
I've encountered along the way.

>You have no
>intonation issues with your Selmer clarinets? (you mention "working on tone

Addressed above.

>or perhaps whoever you had work on your clarinets while you were in

I've had work done on them in NY, Seattle, Vancouver, and at home by
myself. Everyone needs to work on them, and I mentioned the adjustments
with tape and filing I've made, but that doesn't change my assertion about
the 12ths. Out of tune 12ths are a real pain in the ass! I use to hate to
have to shade my low A with my finger and pinch on my 4th space E, or have
a flat throat F and a sharp high C. I don't have that any more.

>and what did you mean when you said, "when I work and a tone hole, it
>stays well in tune"?

I don't have to choose between registers with intonation. My C clarinet is
so bad on D/A, that I have to add or remove tape based on wether I'm
playing 1st or 2nd on a piece.

>You say, "superior sound and projection"........superior to what?

Every other clarinet I've ever tried.

>And what
>exactly is "superior sound"?

Well, I don't have to work to hold focus in any dynamic range, yet I can
get any color I want out of the horn. I have talked to people who mentioned
that they liked the focused tone and feel of the sound, but were worried
about being able to move the sound to different colors for different
expressions. I was also initially worried about that, but after playing
them for a week, I was able to do anything I wanted to with the sound.

>I suspect that the "superior sound" you talk
>about is the sound you prefer....

of course. This is, after all, my opinion only.

>Perhaps many of us prefer the sound Buffet clarinets produce.

You could. I have ENORMOUS respect for Eric Mandat, and he plays RC Buffets
- which I can't stand. The clarinet accounts for the smallest percentage
of your sound, after the way you blow (at least 70% of it [in my opinion]),
your reed, your mouthpiece, and your barrel. What is important to me is
the way they feel. Am I comfortable playing them? Do they take the
dynamics I want to give without distortion? Do they project? Are they in
tune? These are the important questions to me.

>I'll go play some contemporary Selmer clarinets and see how I like them.
>(you pitched this like a true artist rep ;-)

I'm glad you'll go try some. The pitch was not really a pitch, though this
email may sound like one. When you find something good, you want to share
it. Selmer doesn't pay me to write these emails, and I play Signatures
because I think they are the best. (Unlike some who promote clarinets from
whichever manufacturer will pay them the most, and then play whatever they
want in private)

Happy Hunting,

Sean Osborn


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