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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000073.txt from 2004/08

From: "Kevin Fay" <>
Subj: RE: [kl] Bore Texture
Date: Tue, 3 Aug 2004 17:43:35 -0400

Ken Shaw posted:

<<<Bill McColl, of the Soni Ventorum Quintet, had Buffet make a Bb/A pair of
R-13s make completely of boxwood. I haven't heard him play them, but
everyone who has says they sound very different from grenadilla instruments,
with a less resonant tone.>>>

I was a student of Bill McColl's my senior year of high school and for a few
years in college. (I have a couple of degrees from the University of
Washington, but didn't do all of my undergraduate work there). I have
played the clarinets in question.

Bill has a new set now, could be R-13s. The set he used in the '70s and
'80s were the S-1 model. In addition to being constructed of boxwood, he
also had the keys gold-plated, and on the Bb replaced the metal tenon rings
with ivory. The thought was to make the clarinet look much like an 18th or
early 19th century horn. A grainy picture can be found at - Bill is the second person from the
left standing up (holding a clarinet).

Most of the difference in Bill's sound isn't the horn - he uses Viennese
mouthpieces, and sounds pretty much the same on grenedilla clarinets. I
wouldn't call his tone "less resonant" or even "darker," but would note that
his sound has fewer high partials than some "French" players. I happen to
like Bill's sound very much. For much of the '80s, he didn't use the
boxwood A, but a grenedilla R-13 he liked better.

Having played his clarinets against other S-1s (and having heard him play my
clarinets at me), I can attest that the boxwood clarinets do sound a bit
different from grenedilla, probably due to the greater porosity of the wood.
The difference, while perceptible, is not nearly as great as switching
mouthpieces, reeds or barrells though.

Boxwood is considerably lighter in weight than grendilla as well - while
this may or may not affect the sound, the response or the perception of
either, it certainly makes life easier on the right thumb. For this reason
alone I coveted these clarinets for years.

. . . and they sure do look cool.


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