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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000774.txt from 2004/08

From: "John J. O'Neill" <avodah@-----.com>
Subj: [kl] Selecting a clarinet
Date: Tue, 31 Aug 2004 13:55:16 -0400

Every time I consider buying a new clarinet, I am confronted with a
zillion questions and a resultant confusion that stops me in my tracks.I
hope that list members will tolerate all my questions, and perhaps
even answer some of them. Here are my questions:

1. Is there any 'correct' way to select a new clarinet, besides playing
as many of them as possible?

2. What characteristics do you look for during a trial period? Also, in
what order should you rate these characteristics?

3. If tone is first, how much of the actual instrument determines its
tone? (For some reason, I believe that tone is determined by the barrel,
mouthpiece, reed, ligature, and the individual's oral cavity.) The rest
of the instrument (upper and lower joints and the bell) only provides
space for the vibrating air column that produces the characteristic
clarinet sound.

4. What is meant by the resistance of an instrument? Is it the same as
ease of response? Some people talk about the ease in which the altissimo
tones are produced. I have played (almost exclusively) Buffet R-13
clarinets, and I have never been able to 'whisper' those altissimo
tones. Are there clarinets that actually allow you to reach altissimo F
and F# without straining to reach and hold these tones? Sometimes it
comes down to the use of alternate fingerings. I know that air support
is part of the answer, but are some clarinets easier to play than others?

5. Do our top players really choose a brand-name instrument for its
playability, or is it all about money? I realize that top players can
make a shoehorn sound good, but what about the rest of us who are
limited by cost, geographical location, talent, etc?

6. Is a Buffet better than a Leblanc, than a Rossi, than a Patricola,
than a Yamaha, ...? (I am thinking of changing brands.)

That's all the questions for now. I hope that some of you will read and
answer them. Thank you in advance!

Sincerely,

JON

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