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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000776.txt from 2004/08

From: Curtis Bennett <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Selecting a clarinet
Date: Tue, 31 Aug 2004 14:51:22 -0400

I'm no expert by any stretch, but I think a fundamental question to answer is
what are you getting this for? If you're playing in a professional group, then
that will certainly make a difference, especially if it's a jazz group, or a
symphony orchestra. Not only the type of organization, but the level - is this
for community band?

As for myself, I play in community bands and wind ensembles, and my Selmer
Signet has worked well for me through college up to modern times. I've never
played a Buffet (never could afford one). But I also have no real need to buy
one, since my Selmer sounds just fine for what I'm trying to accomplish.

I just recently got a new mouthpiece for my Bb, and the sales lady (a
clarinetist herself) said that 90% of the sound is you, 10% is the equipment. I
don't know if I completely agree with that, since I got a 50% improvement by
switching from my Gigliotti mpc to a Vandoren B45. She also seemed to believe
that a barrel was only used for intonation (keeping it in tune), which I also
don't know that I completely agree with, but this was her opinion, so I didn't
argue with it.

I've never really figured out where professionals get all their knowledge about
different clarinets, mouthpieces, barrels, combinations, etc, etc. Unless they
work in a used clarinet factory and can try out all those combinations. At
best, someone can tell you how great *their* combination is, but only a few
people here will be able to give you a broad representation of everything that
is available. It's staggeringly complex, IMHO.

Curtis Bennett

Get your own "800" number
Voicemail, fax, email, and a lot more

---- On Tue, 31 Aug 2004, John J. O'Neill ( wrote:

> 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,
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
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