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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000862.txt from 2003/06

From: CBA <>
Subj: Re: [kl] which should i buy?
Date: Wed, 25 Jun 2003 02:53:28 -0400


You have just hit on one of the most asked questions on the
list, and one of the least answerable BY a list without more
information. How long have you been playing? Do you have a

Your teacher should be your main help in finding an instrument
ALWAYS. If you are a beginner, it is NECESSARY to have a teacher
go with you because you don't have enough of a grasp of the
instrument to make a decision on your own, and might not have
developed to the point where a new instrument is right for you.
Here's a checklist that will help us help you...

1. How long have you been playing clarinet?
2. What are you playing on right now?
3. Do you have a teacher, and if so, are they willing to help
you find an instrument, or do they think the instrument you are
playing on is ok?
4. WHERE do you live, so we can get an idea of resources for you
to access?

After these questions, if you really DO need a change, here are
a few other questions...

1. Is your instrument in good shape, or does it need an
overhaul? An overhaul is usually MUCH cheaper than a new
instrument depending on how bad the instrument is, and what
instrument you are looking to upgrade to. People here on the
list have resources for OUTSTANDING repairpeople that can make a
beginner instrument play like a dream (depending on your
location, of course.)

2. What mouthpiece are you playing? Is it a good mouthpiece?
Does it have scratches on the flat place the reed goes? does it
have chips on the top edge or inside in the chamber? A damaged
mouthpiece could make playing VERY difficult for anyone, even if
it is slightly damaged. Mouthpieces are very finicky, like a CD
with a scratch...the scratch might not do anything, or it might
make a whole song skip...depends on where the damage is. Also,
many GOOD mouthpieces are NOT meant for beginners, and would
give you the impression that your clarinet is bad, when really,
a $30-40 beginner mouthpiece could solve your problem. Even if I
have a student on a VERY good professional mouthpiece that comes
to me, I have them put the professional mouthpiece away, and
play on a beginner mouthpiece, so they can develop their
embouchure (mouth muscles) until they are ready to advance to a
professional mouthpiece. I just made the comment a few days
ago...people don't usually learn to drive on a Ferrari...not a
good plan.

3. What reeds are you playing on? If you are playing on a Rico
#1 or 1 1/2, DON'T look for a new instrument for AT LEAST a year
or two. I don't make my students play on really hard reeds,
unless their mouthpiece requires it (yes, different mouthpieces
require different size reeds) but until they are at least at a
#2, their embouchure (mouth muscles) are not developed enough to
make any decision about a new instrument, and they really DON'T
need one either. We will go down that path when the time is

There are hundreds of teachers on this list from all parts of
the world that could see you for a few lessons, and help you.
Taking lessons regularly as a beginner clarinetist is MUCH more
important than a new instrument anyway. One of the many
professionals here could really take the guesswork out of all of
this for you, plus help you progress at 10 times the rate you
would without one. The best thing about having a teacher early
on is that they can help you start GOOD habits before you form
the bad ones that will take YEARS to repair. Doing it right the
first time will make the experience SO much more rewarding for
you. A teacher can see if the instrument is a good one and in
good repair, and they can check your mouthpiece for damage, plus
see if it is hindering your progress. A good teacher will ALWAYS
help you find new equipment, unless they think you are not ready
yet for it. It's a good policy to keep students at the level
they need to be until they are ready for the next level...for
anything, not just clarinet.

If you need a new mouthpiece, might I suggest a Clark Fobes
"Debut" mouthpiece at $34 which most of my new students start
on, or as a second choice, my other students start on David Hite
"Premiere" mouthpiece at $26. I would try one of these
mouthpieces first...regardless of the playability of the
clarinet itself. I know of no other beginner mouthpieces out
there that are better, and since most mouthpieces other than
these are $50-300, these are a steal. OTHER beginner mouthpieces
for clarinet I would NOT suggest...just these two. There are
LOTS of beginner mouthpieces out there, and some for as cheap as
$8-15. With those REALLY cheap mouthpieces, you get what you pay
for...crap. If we know where you are, we can direct you to a
store that carries the Fobes Debut and/or the Hite Premiere.

If you get to the point that you are needing to buy an
instrument, I can give you an idea of the new brands most of us
suggest...used instruments are like used can't just
go on a brand could have been wrecked <grin>. I won't
even go into the used instrument market...can't be tackled in an
online setting, since it is so subjective to the individual used
instrument. The major companies for NEW clarinets are Buffet,
Selmer, Yamaha, LeBlanc, Patricola, Howarth, and these companies
make beginner models with those names, and also make other lines
with names like Vito, Noblet, Normandy. Most any of these
instruments can be good for a beginner. I prefer my beginners to
start on a plastic clarinet, as it is easier to produce a sound,
so you don't fight the instrument to play. Again, I cannot
stress enough, all instruments should be looked at by a
professional player who DOESN'T work for that store, to give you
an idea of whether it is a good clarinet. Someone on commission
won't necessarily give you a fully truthful answer if they want
to make the sale. A teacher who you take lessons from is the
best resource for this.

Welcome to the list Robert! If you would like to contact me
directly for more help off the list, feel free to at
clarinet10001@-----. You
will also find MANY people on the list here very willing to help
as well. The information on where you are, how long you have
been playing, what instrument and mouthpiece you are playing on,
and if you have a teacher is a must to help you though...Drop us
all a note back to the list, and watch the very helpful people
here go out of their way to help you!


Kelly Abraham
Woodwinds - New York City
--- Robert Khachikyan <> wrote:
> Hi,
> I just subscribed and am a newbie to clarinets.
> I was interested in purchasing a clarinet and didn't
> know which to buy. What brand or how long should
> it be or ???
> what should I look for when purchasing one? any info
> would help....really. ThanX.
> As Always,
> ...Robert

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