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 buffet festival
Author: clarisax 
Date:   2003-12-06 03:38

i'm a high school student who is interested in attending a conservatory to major in clarinet performance. having said this, i feel like i need a high quality instrument to get me there. right now i am using a 1960's or 70's r13 which i am borrowing from my teacher. i'm not exactly sure of its age but i would estimate it is from around that time period. she wants me to get a clarinet with an Eb lever so, my options are limited to a festival or a prestige. i'm "not aloud" to get anything but a buffet. i know that there are many people who have asked questions about festivals before, but i havent found any of the info im looking for. i was wondering....
1. is the festival made of denser prestige wood? the marketing for this instruments leads me to beleive this, however when i asked the man at my music store, he said that it was not. he said that is the only difference between the festival and the prestige.
2. is it true that the festival is "jazzier" "brighter" sounding than the prestige?
3. is my current set-up ( a richard hawkins B mouthpiece, vd 56 size 4 reeds, and an olegature) a good match with this horn's bore size and proportions?
4. in general, is the festival a better value than the prestige...considering it is about $1000 difference?
5. is it true that festivals are exactly the same as an R13 but with the extra Eb key?
- thanks, clarisax

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 Re: buffet festival
Author: Mark Charette 2017
Date:   2003-12-06 03:43

clarisax wrote:

> 1. is the festival made of denser prestige wood? the
> marketing for this instruments leads me to beleive this,
> however when i asked the man at my music store, he said that it
> was not.

I can't see any difference between the wood on the Prestige & my son's Festival. It probably doesn't matter anyway.

> 2. is it true that the festival is "jazzier" "brighter"
> sounding than the prestige?

It sounds different than an R13 (which a Prestige really is).

> 3. is my current set-up ( a richard hawkins B mouthpiece, vd
> 56 size 4 reeds, and an olegature) a good match with this
> horn's bore size and proportions?

You won't know until you try it. Even the "same" mouthpieces differ enough among themselves.

> 4. in general, is the festival a better value than the
> prestige...considering it is about $1000 difference?

I think so - YMMV.

> 5. is it true that festivals are exactly the same as an R13 but
> with the extra Eb key?

No. The register placement and tone hole spacing is significantly different - the intonation compromises on a Festival are different than the compromises on an R13.

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 Re: buffet festival
Author: contragirl 
Date:   2003-12-06 21:42

When you say Eb key, you should be careful how you use it. The Festival (I could be wrong) can be ordered with a low Eb (like an alto clarinet), which would really be of no use to a student.

As for the higher Eb above the break, the Festival and Prestige both have the additional Eb/Ab key that allows the player to have more alternate fingerings of the note that already exists on the instrument. Most people that I talk to don't like this key, because they think they will become "spoiled" using it and if they were to go back to a regular clarinet without the key, they would rely on it too much. Personally, I like this alternate key (since I play a low C bass clarinet), because it is a good option when you have your fingers in a knot on one passage.

There are a few differences between the Festival and Prestige, but when it comes to the alt Eb/Ab key, they are shaped differently. I found that the RC Prestige has a smallest, not so noticable Eb/Ab, so it is harder to mistakeningly play it when you mean to play a B/E or something. I think the Festival's key is made more like the the lowest note keys in shape, so it's bigger.

Personally, I think you may want to wait on buying a really expensive clarinet and maybe stick with a standard R13. They are fairly cheaper, and play just as well as the Festival (Without the Eb/Ab key, of course). If you can afford a Festival and you really want to stick to playing, then go ahead. I know some ppl that buy an expensive horn in HS (just an R13), spend $1800 on it, and never play it again.

I suggest reading David Pino's "Clarinet and Clarinet Playing." I'm reading it now and I find it very interesting. He says never to buy a new MPC when you buy a clarinet. You have to get used to one over the other, so you know what you like. The MPC is the most important part of the set-up. If you get the new clarinet, use your old MPC set-up, and if you feel that you need a new MPC set-up, go to the music store and try some out. He has tips on finding a MPC that fits your needs. Same with ligs.

Good luck with clarinet shopping!!

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 Re: buffet festival
Author: Mark Pinner 
Date:   2003-12-06 22:35

Maybe by denser wood you actually mean thicker walls. Both the RC and Festival have slightly thicker walls than the R13, prestige or standard. I think that the conventional wisdom is that thicker walls will help to produce more volume and projection. Whether this is true or not is speculative. The Eb/Ab lever is also available on Lebland, Selmer and Yamaha and is a useful extra but not absolutely essential. Try a Festival and if it is what you want go for it. Don't be afraid to try something else.

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 Re: buffet festival
Author: David Peacham 
Date:   2003-12-07 18:43

Sounds to me like your teacher is very dogmatic.

Why are you not allowed anything but Buffet? Plenty of pros use other instruments (though it certainly seems that there's a lot of pro-Buffet bias in the USA, so maybe your teacher is just being pragmatic.)

Why do you need an Eb lever? Plenty of pros manage very well without. Is your teacher advising it just because she has one? Or is it something about your playing, or the shape of your fingers, which makes her think that you in particular would benefit?

Contragirl - I have to disagree with you over mouthpieces, whatever David Pino may say. I have just bought a new instrument. I had intended to do what Pino suggests, to try instruments with my existing mouthpiece. However, I found that this mouthpiece, which works OK with my old clarinet, was flat and out of tune on every new instrument I tried. Now maybe what I should have done was just to buy a new mouthpiece and put the instrument purchase on hold.


If there are so many people on this board unwilling or unable to have a civil and balanced discussion about important issues, then I shan't bother to post here any more.

To the great relief of many of you, no doubt.

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 Re: buffet festival
Author: clarisax 
Date:   2003-12-08 01:55

David Peachman,

My teacher is very very pro-buffet and nothing else. I know that there are other clarinet brands and models that are probably just as good, its just that i highly respect my teachers opinions and do not want to get something she would disaprove of. I am open to different brands and models, its just that when your teacher and the rest of the clarinet world is screaming "buffet" i dont wanna be the only outcast to have a selmer or leblanc. But...if anyone has any thoughts on the signature or opus as compared to the festival, please feel free to comment.

About the Eb lever, my teacher owns many R13s all from the 50s, 60s and 70s. She says that if the option of getting an R13 with an Eb lever was around back then, she would have. But the only way she could get the Eb lever was to get a full boehm and she didnt want that. i know that many pro clarinetists have gotten along great without them, but some of the music that I've had to play, especially band arrangements of orchestral songs, need an Eb lever. We played a song by Shostakovich which had two sections of 16th notes going at about 120-130 and the ONLY possible way to play it was to quickly slide your right pinky off the Eb key down to C#. I have come across this problem more than once at band festivals.

Thanks for everyones comments on the festival, it was appreciated.


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 Re: buffet festival
Author: Vytas 
Date:   2003-12-08 02:48


You may find this interesting. Here are Mr. Francois Kloc's (Buffet factory rep.) answers to similar questions.

1. Can you explain the differences between/main characteristics of the different Buffet models (R 13 (Prestige), RC (Prestige), Festival,...), at least theoretically, i.e. what sound characteristic is intended with a certain design? I read many contradicting descriptions of the sound characteristics of
the models: "The RC has a softer/darker/brighter/duller tone than the R 13" I don't understand this.
2. Is there a difference in the quality of the wood? On the Buffet homepage one can read, that one model is of "premium" quality wood, the other of "highest" quality wood etc. But is meant the same?
3. How is the different pitch (440/442) reached? Only by length of the barrel, or are there also other differences?
4. Is the letter (A or F) in front of the serial number equivalent to the pitch, i.e. A=440, F=442?

Dear Kirk,
I'll try!!!!
1) The Bore design of the Buffet clarinet is slightly different for each model, I'll try to find the easiest way to describe it. You have the Poly-cylindrical clarinet that Robert Caree invented in1950 and I should say it is the base. Then you add dimensions to make it work. This create a total volume from the top through the bell, this total volume include the tone holes, undercutting, register tube and thumb tube. At the top of the instrument you have what we call an entry cone, then a cylinder another cylinder and a flare another little poly-cylinder and the end of the bell big flare. All those ingredients are the total volume. Now you change one of the tone hole, you raise the register tone hole, you move a tone hole up or down and you change the way air travels inside the instrument and make it sound differently and feel differently. This is the recipe (you can add salt and pepper if you want :-)

Now the differences.
The R13 is known to be a focused and darker sound instrument than the RC it is because on the RC the design is different it is an instrument very popular in Europe little bit like the R13 here. The bore design of the RC is Polycilindrical bore upper joint and conical lower joint that mean that when the player put some air in the tube the air will go down very fast and will come back slower and make the reed vibrate slaower which is what European player like. Now The R13 is totally poly-cylindrical then the air will go down
fast and come back fast which give more resistance and it is apparently what the musicians in North America like.

R13 focused and dark sound
RC bright and less focused sound
R13 Prestige focused and warm or round sound
RC Pretige Warmer sound than the RC
Festival focused, dark and somewhat flexible sound

2) For the wood it is not really a quality question we cannot use not good quality wood or instrument will sound like a cream pot if we did that. We use different wood density which is the center of the tree is used for the Prestige Line because it's very dense. Around we the center will be the R13 and RC models, which will be less dense of course.

3) Just with the barrel length

4) Yes
Francois Kloc

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 Re: buffet festival
Author: Bradley 
Date:   2003-12-08 02:57

"the only outcast to have a Selmer or Leblanc"

Guys, remember when I came up with the Buffet sheep phrase.....was I that far off?

Anyway, you don't have to agree exactly with everything your teacher says. Everyone is different- which is why they have different pro models to begin with (Prestige, Festival, Elite) which are all about on the same level. Please don't just try to "fit in" and "belong" with a clarinet world full of people that are all different. Try everything with your Buffet bias switch off, and then choose what is actually best for YOU.

Lots of people go the Leblanc, Selmer and Yamaha route- so you would be far from an outcast.

And also- don't count out the Concerto II line when trying Leblancs, because honestly now that I've gotten a Concerto II I doubt I could really like an Opus again.

But hey, if you want to be a sheep and join the herd- be my guest.


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 Re: buffet festival
Author: diz 
Date:   2003-12-08 03:32

Anyone that is completely oriented to one brand, cannot, as they've (I assume) never played anything else, have an opinion. End of story. If your teacher if Buffet mad ... let him/her live with that. Anyone THAT passionate about the branding choice needs to look at the reason they play the clarinet ... it's the music, surely? Not the tool.

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 Re: buffet festival
Author: LeWhite 
Date:   2003-12-08 04:06

Unless they ARE a tool...

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 Re: buffet festival
Author: Wes 
Date:   2003-12-08 04:13

Having played a Buffet with the Ab/Eb key for many years and a 1971 R13 also for many years without the key, I feel that I like the key but don't think it is much of a factor in choosing a clarinet.

There is a wide acceptance for the R13 in the Los Angeles area at least and with good reasons. It sounds just great and one can overcome any minor tuning situations. The resale value is quite high and the culture accepts one more readily with a Buffet because many consider it to be the standard. While the others are absolutely great instruments, the Buffet is a bargain in addition to being great. On an older R13, it might be a good idea to use a Moennig barrel to help with the tuning. Good luck!

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 Re: buffet festival
Author: contragirl 
Date:   2003-12-08 05:35

Hey, I would say I am a big Buffet fan! But I am also open to other brands. I was a bit mad when my school ordered 2 Selmer low C basses, accidently recieved 2 Buffet Prestige low Cs and sent them back. But now I think I would prefer a Selmer over a Buffet. And I started out on a Selmer Bundy in 5th grade. :)

I say try whatever clarinet YOU feel like trying. I think brainwashing a student with opinions is not a good idea. Try a LeBlanc, try a Selmer, try a Buffet... maybe a Yamaha, I admit that I disagree with a company that makes motorcycles and everything else under the sun making clarinets, but I know many ppl that love them.

I remember wanting to be a miniature of my teacher, but now I feel kind of silly about it. I think I just made up my own set-up that worked for me. Of course what works for you might not be what your teachers has. It's not like she is going to disown you for playing a Selmer.

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 Re: buffet festival
Author: D Dow 
Date:   2003-12-08 12:04

I play on Slelmer Recital clarinets...but love the sound of the Festival clarinets as well.....I would also add that in Europe the R13 is less popular than in North America. Its a matter of tonal taste!

I also have an old set of R13s that are wonderful.....I think its a matter of preference and what suits your own individual morphology/physical shape.

David Dow

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 Re: buffet festival
Author: madvax 
Date:   2003-12-08 23:28

> Festival focused, dark and somewhat flexible sound

What is a "flexible sound"?

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 Re: buffet festival
Author: LeOpus1190s 
Date:   2003-12-08 23:53

The brannen's say that the festival isn't really suited for orchestral work. I don't know if this is true but I do know that it is always safe to go for a Good R-13. Most of our players in orchestra play on the Buffet R13.

As far as your set up as mouthpieces and such it seems like you fine. It wouldn't hurt to try something like the vandoren M30, hawkins standard with Regular 4Reeds and a vandy optimum. To each their own

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 Re: buffet festival
Author: Liquorice 
Date:   2003-12-09 23:15

"The brannen's say that the festival isn't really suited for orchestral work"

Well that's strange, because many professionals in European orchestras play on Festivals!

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 Re: buffet festival
Author: Wayne Thompson 
Date:   2003-12-10 04:30

Having bought a Festival last year, I find this an interesting thread. I enjoy hearing Francoise discuss this subject. He certainly knows a lot about the instruments, but his use of English combined with the impossibility of really describing the 'feeling' of different instruments means he can't really answer the questions clearly either. He has told me directly that the Festival uses the more dense 'Prestige' wood and I believe that. I can not believe Mark Pinner's suggestion that the P and the F have thicker walls????? 'Dense' does mean 'dense'. I believe the Prestige R-13 is an R-13 in every dimension, including overall thickness.
My thoughts on the Eb lever after a year: no big deal. I practice using it whenever possible, and it helps, but I already know how to get the job done without it. I don't find I hit it by mistake, but I do have to practice using it. I tend to rotate my left hand to reach it, causing a leak and a squeak at my left index finger if I'm not careful.
'What is flexible?' Francois has used this word to me also. He said that the Festival was undercut more than the R-13, and that this led to more flexibilty. My thought is that the word means that indivdual notes can be bent, ie moved in pitch, more easily. My Festival does seem more 'flexible' to me, but I'd need much, much more experience with other horns to prove the point with respect to other models or brands.
Feature for feature, the Festival certainly seems a good value. I wonder if the Festival receives less hand finishing than the Prestige. Is anyone with lots of set up experience able to comment on how the two horns are set up at Buffet? For that matter is the non-Prestige R-13 set up that much worse than a Prestige?

Wayne Thompson

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 Re: buffet festival
Author: kenbear 
Date:   2003-12-10 20:57

I play both Festival and R13 Prestige.

The Festival is made with the same grade timber as the R13 Prestige.

It receives no less attention during manufacture than the Prestige.

In Europe and Australia prices of festival and prestige models are pretty much the same.

All of this has been discussed previously on this board. Do a search and begin wading!

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 Re: buffet festival
Author: Bill Burnham 2017
Date:   2023-07-02 23:28

I played on R13s for 40 years and happened to try an RC (RC, not RC Prestige). I liked it a lot and so I play on RCs now --- a North American clarinet who goes against the grain.

One unusual difference in sound between R13s and RCs that I noticed is this. With the R13s (A and Bb), the sound seems to come out all up and down the horn, while with the RC, the sound seems to come out the bell. This wasn't a reason to convert to the RC. I just liked its sound, intonation and feel better. But it was an interesting sensation.

My spare A and Bb are R13s (from 1968). Even after not playing them for a while, I will get them out for a head-to-head comparison sometimes and I still hear the difference. Same mouthpiece (Kaspar 11), same reed (Vandoren traditional) and same ligature (Harrison).

Has anyone else noticed this or am I nuts? If anyone has noticed the same thing, is there an acoustic or any other explanation for it? If your handlers will let you out of the asylum, could you tell me about it?


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