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 Bass Clarinets: Buffet or Selmer?
Author: cyso_clarinetist 
Date:   2003-03-30 22:30

I have some expierence on Bass Clarinet and now I am planning on purchasing a top of the line horn. I have heard that people usually prefer a Buffet Prestige or a Selmer and usually care for the other make very little. What are the qualities of both of these basses?

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 Re: Bass Clarinets: Buffet or Selmer?
Author: William 
Date:   2003-03-31 14:57

The Selmer has always been known for its "Big Sound", but most clarinetists that I know now prefer the playing characteristics--relative even scale and supurb intonation--of the new Buffet Prestige basses. I purchased my 1193-2 model, last Spring, at IMS (shortly after LC bought his), had seven to choose from and (while they were all great players) I think I got a "good one." After minor "tweeking" by Tom Fritz, it is absolutely in tune from botton C on up, plays easily with dynamic flexability in all registers and has all the "sound" that I need.

FYI--I use a Grabner customized mpc, a VD Optimum lig. (parallel rails) and VD 3.5 reeds (with a Legere for those summer outside "greensheet" gigs).

The only problem so far--keeping the complex mechanizm in optimum adjustment. It seems as if a butterfy flaps too closely, I'm off to the repairperson. But being a new instrument "just settling in" to the Wisconsin climate may have something to do with that. Hope this helps a bit.

Hope this is of some help.

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 Re: Bass Clarinets: Buffet or Selmer?
Author: Ed 
Date:   2003-03-31 16:03

I have one of the recent model Selmers and it is a great horn. It is easy to produce a wonderful resonant sound, it has great intonation and response. You really should try both. When looking for a bass, I played a few of the Selmers and found them to be very consistent.

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 Re: Bass Clarinets: Buffet or Selmer?
Author: David Spiegelthal 2017
Date:   2003-03-31 17:12

Although I haven't tried one of the latest model Amati low-C bass clarinets, I've heard good things about them, and the prices are certainly attractive. Might be a viable alternative to Buffet and Selmer --- at least worth a try. Contact Graham Golden at Graham's Music. Just a thought......... As for the other "Big 4" brand bass clarinets, I wasn't impressed with the two Yamaha professional-model low-C basses I tried, and I've never found a truly top-notch Leblanc bass clarinet.

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 Re: Bass Clarinets: Buffet or Selmer?
Author: LBViola04 
Date:   2003-03-31 17:31

Buffet clarinets are by far the best. You can get every type of sound you can imagine and the resonance is amazing. Try playing one compared to a Selmer and you will hear and feel the difference. Though the Selmer is more "well-known", it is not a better clarinet at all.

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 Re: Bass Clarinets: Buffet or Selmer?
Author: Ed 
Date:   2003-03-31 19:15

"Buffet clarinets are by far the best."

Opinion, not fact.

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 Re: Bass Clarinets: Buffet or Selmer?
Author: lowclarinetman 
Date:   2003-03-31 21:33

Hi there,
I haven't posted in some time, but this is a topic near and dear to my heart so I figure i need to say what i know on the subject.

For those of you who do not know, I got my master's degree in Rotterdam conservatory for solo bass clarinet performance with Henri Bok. I am currently playing bass clarinet in the Monterrey Symphony in mexico, but still trying to get that elusive solo career started.

I played on a buffet for many years, and have recently switched to a selmer. I have tried the newest models of buffet as well. I think the number one concern you should have in picking an instrument is what kind of music you are going to be playing on it.
I find that the selmers are really the only choice for solo and small chamber work. The tone has much more colour to it and versatility to it. Also I find that the slemers, unlike the buffets have very consitent registers. The tone remains the same from the low C to the super F. Now youhave to ask yourself how often will i really use that? well more often than u imagine if u start getting into the solo repertoire.

The buffets are good horns to start bass clarinet on. They play pretty simply plus the neck puts the horn at a more "clarinet" angle. The problems i had with mine were simply that it was not a solo quality horn.
It would have been well over enough to play in orchestras for the rest of my life, but it didn't have a consitent tone thoughtout all the registers and i found myself having to spend way too much effort on getting the sounds i wanted and then not having much mental capicity left over for musical intrepretations. Also my buffet prestige had some very atrocious tuning issues.. the long B, which is bad on every horn, was a bit worse than the standard. The low C# was stuffy and badly flat.

I have thoght that the new Buffets sound more like selmers than the old buffets to. They moved the Low C to the bell(am i remembering this correctly.. i think i am... i know i remember a vent down there.... )
I was happy with ti, i didn't get to put it through very many paces, but it seemed like a solid instrument.

My recommendation tends to be, if all you are interested in doing is orchestral music and maybe some bach cello suites and do not have a lot of experience on the bass clarinet... the buffet is a good choice.
But if you want to explore the solo repertoire and have flexibility in your bass clarinet playing, the selmer is by far the superior instrument.

Feel free to ask me any questions abotu bass clarinet... it is my first love.
Good luck trying horns.

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 Re: Bass Clarinets: Buffet or Selmer?
Author: diz 
Date:   2003-03-31 21:37

lowclarinetman ... a very sound and "thought about" response. Do you also play contra (think Messian et cetera) as well or just bass?

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 Re: Bass Clarinets: Buffet or Selmer?
Author: Mitch K. 
Date:   2003-03-31 22:51

From my somewhat limited experience on bass clarinet, I must "second" the comments of "lowclarinetman." I've performed on Yamaha, Buffet, and Selmer bass clarinets, and have found the Selmer that I tried to be far superior to the other. Here are some facts concerning my opinion: while both the Yamaha and the Buffet were instruments owned by the respective universities that I went to, they were both well maintained by very competent repair techs and less than 3 years old. The Selmer I used was -- at the time -- 25 years old, and professionals clarinetist's horn, and had not been touched by a repair tech in 2 years!

The resonance on the Selmer--which was lacking on the Yamaha and uneven on the Buffet--was so full and effort-less. The intonation .... well, it was better than my R13's.

What I have noticed with the Buffet bass clarinet is that when there is a small misadjustment somewhere on the horn, it wreaks havoc on the more than you would think. Consider: I was in grad school being "forced" to play clarinet for a concert with the Alexander String Quartet. One of the pad heights had adjusted itself, and the repair tech was unavailable. I had to perform the concert with a well-intuned chalumeau a horrifically out-of-tune clarion (with a painful B & C), and an altissimo that made dogs cry. After the concert the tech adjust something, and the horn played with much better intonation. Now I don't know if the same or similar would be true for the Yamaha and Selmer because, thankfully, I never had such a situation with them.

I sold my Selmer bass a few years ago when I though I was going to give up the clarinet and focus on conducting. Now I'm looking to buy a new one, and I'm going to start with Selmer.

Mitch King

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 Re: Bass Clarinets: Buffet or Selmer?
Author: Ed 
Date:   2003-03-31 23:53

"They play pretty simply plus the neck puts the horn at a more "clarinet" angle."

for those interested, you can get an angled neck of this type from Selmer, but it may be an "after market" item.

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 Re: Bass Clarinets: Buffet or Selmer?
Author: Robert Small 
Date:   2003-04-01 05:51

I tried one of Charlie Bay's necks on my Selmer 37 and it gave it a more "clarinet" angle, similar to the current Buffet bass, but I prefer the more straight in angle of the stock Selmer neck, maybe because my main instrument is bari sax. I have only spent a few minutes comparing the Selmer and Buffet basses, and this was before I had much experience on bass and therefore couldn't get much of a sound, but I immediately determined that the Selmer had a much more comfortable action and feel than the Buffet. The action on the Selmer is unbelievably smooth and fast. And like lowclarinetman I find the tone to be very consistent throughout the entire range of the horn (I can get a little over four octaves). Intonation on my 37 is good with the exception of low E which is a little flat. I use a custom made mouthpiece from Charlie Bay with a Fibracell medium reed and I can a big sound out of the horn, coming close to a bari sax in volume and power. The horn holds adjustment fairly well but any bass with automatic double register key and low C extension is probably going to need to see a tech a couple or few times a year. I'm very fond of my 37 and play it as much as I can find time for (sometimes to the point of neglecting my sax chops).

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 Re: Bass Clarinets: Buffet or Selmer?
Author: Webby 
Date:   2003-04-01 23:00

I've actually only played on a Selmer, but thought I'd relay some comments from my favorite woodwind repair specialist, who has dealt with them all (both repairing and playing).
Yamahas and Leblancs---the key mechanisms and tone holes make them inherently stuffier. The tone isn't as big or rich and he really doesn't recommend them.

Buffets are pretty good, but the tone hole by the low G is just one hole, whereas on a Selmer, it's two, and this makes it fuller, more resonant, less stuffy. The Buffet is good but the (new) Selmer is design-wise better.

Also, the neck on the new Selmers is the angled variety.
If you're considering used horns, read the article on bass clarinets, because Selmer had a model that was kind of gross for awhile. That's what I started on (school-owned low-C), and when I played it again after owning mine (a new model 37), it was really obvious. The mechanisms just aren't as good---not much in the way of positive action.

Good luck

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 Re: Bass Clarinets: Buffet or Selmer?
Author: 68fordfalcon 
Date:   2003-04-02 17:14

Having performed a lot with 'lowclarinetman' I can tell you that he is one heck of a bass clarinetist and clarinetist, and his observations should be trusted. He's all over the horn.
I use a Buffet 1193, and it works well for me.

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 Re: Bass Clarinets: Buffet or Selmer?
Author: clarinetmama 
Date:   2003-04-02 20:16

I have played on both and didn't care for the Selmer at all. I found the keywork to be clunky and unresponsive. I have a Buffet 1193 and find this horn to be terrific. Try them both with different setups if possible and make the decision yourself. I would think the prices are comparable. I second whoever said they haven't found a good LeBlanc. I tried a couple of them and they were dogs. Or is that dawgs?

Have fun, picking out a new instrument is always enjoyable.
Paying for it is anoother matter.  ;)

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