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 Yamaha Clarinet
Author: Karen C 
Date:   2006-08-15 02:58

My daughter is interested in continuing with playing the clarinet. She's been playing on a rental for the last 2 years and it's getting PRETTY expensive. Her teacher suggested the Buffet or the Yamaha.
Can someone give me some insights on which Yamaha model is good for a middle schooler; the going price and where to buy it without getting ripped off? I've done some research on Buffet and it seems like the new ones are $1300 which is out of my range. As for ebay, i'm a little concerned because I have no idea how to know if it's the real thing or if it's been damaged in any way. Would appreciate your help! Thanks

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 Re: Yamaha Clarinet
Author: vollkommen 
Date:   2006-08-15 04:22

I figure that the two clarinets you'll be looking at for your daughter are the Buffet B12 and the Yamaha YCL 250. Both of those can be found for between $400 and $600 if you look in the right places, but chances are the Buffet will actually end up being cheaper.

As far as playing goes, I would choose the Buffet over the Yamaha. The tone is just more pleasant (generally) and the keywork is more comfortable than the Yamaha. The nickel plating on the Yamaha seems to be more durable and long lasting than the Buffet, but this is just a cosmetic issue.

Both the B12 and the YCL 250 are plastic clarinets, but they are probably the best of that bunch. My first clarinet was a Buffet E11 which my parents bought new for about $600, with tax and all the little extras included. Although it is a bit more expensive than the B12, it will probably be a better fit for your daughter for a longer period of time since it is a wood instrument. Yamaha has several intermediate models as well, but I've never played any or had much experience with them. For better or worse most people play on Buffets, myself included (I own 3), and many clarinetists overlook the fact that there are many other reputable makers besides Buffet. Leblanc has a whole range of intermediate instruments that are definately good instruments, and yet they are vastly underplayed since people go off recommendations for Buffet. One reason for this might be because of the need to blend with a section. Different makes of clarinets, and even different models from the same maker, can have remarkably different tone qualities that can be harder to bring together into a cohesive sound. To alleviate this problem, most advanced clarinetists play Buffet R13s. My school's wind ensemble clarinet section of 9 all plays on Buffets, seven of which are R13s.

Sorry for the long-winded speech, but it is important to think about the future of your daugher's playing. While it should ultimately be a personal choice, these things should be taken into account.

Here's a list of some clarinets that you might think about having your daughter look at, in order of my preference by category.

Buffet B12 - $400
Yamaha YCL 250 - $470
Leblanc L7214PC - $470

Wood Intermediate
Buffet E11 - $600
Leblanc Rapsodie or L1012S - $820-$890
Yamaha YCL 450 - $900
Selmer CL211 - $900

If you would like to avoid having to upgrade instruments for the next few years, I would advise spending a few hundred more and getting the E11 or another wood instrument. They require more maintenance and care, but will ultimately last longer and be a better instrument to play than a plastic horn.

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 Re: Yamaha Clarinet
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2006-08-15 05:56

Depending on your budget, you might be able to find a really excellent used clarinet, maybe older Buffet or Leblanc professional models.

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 Re: Yamaha Clarinet
Author: BobD 
Date:   2006-08-15 14:20

"but will ultimately last longer and be a better instrument to play than a plastic horn."

I keep hearing generalizations like this and just don't believe them.

Bob Draznik

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 Re: Yamaha Clarinet
Author: vollkommen 
Date:   2006-08-15 17:19

What I meant when I said that was that if they go ahead and spend the money on a intermediate wood instrument, the parents can get by without having to buy an upgrade by saying "well, we already got you a good wood instrument" rather than dealing with the stigma, even if undeserved, of a plastic instrument. I own both a B12 and an E11, and while the E11 can be a better instrument it takes a lot of talent from a player to make a difference between the E11 and B12.

I don't know if it's actually true or just what I feel, but I don't think there's much difference between good plastic student horns and intermediate wood ones.

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 Re: Yamaha Clarinet
Author: David Peacham 
Date:   2006-08-15 18:50

To answer your question: the plastic Yamaha is the YCL250, the wooden ones are the YCL450 and YCL650, then come the pro models, which are out of your price range. They all have a very good reputation for quality and consistency, but the Buffet instruments have more snob value.


A wooden clarinet needs to be looked after. If your daughter is going to put it away without drying it, or leave the case in the sun, or play the instrument outdoors in less-than-perfect weather, she's better off with a plastic clarinet.

If she continues to play, sooner or later she'll probably want an expensive (> $2000) wooden instrument. If you buy the YCL450, E11 or similar, it will be pretty much redundant if/when she upgrades. If you buy the YCL250, B12 or similar, it will always be useful to play outdoor gigs in cold weather and to take on vacation.

But why not take you daughter to the shop and let her play some instruments? She's not a beginner - she's entitled to her opinion. Make her play the cheaper instruments first, telling her that's all you're willing to pay for. When she's made her choice, then offer her the chance to play some more expensive ones. If she insists the more expensive ones are better, get her to demonstrate why they are better. Don't let her play the expensive ones first, or she might cheat!

Note that she should use her familiar mouthpiece to test each clarinet, not the mouthpiece that comes with it. Otherwise she may reject a perfectly good clarinet because it comes with an unsuitable mouthpiece.


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: Yamaha Clarinet
Author: Brenda Siewert 
Date:   2006-08-15 18:52

You can certainly afford an upgrade with the money you've been spending and will spend on a rental. There's always pride in ownership for a good student, so that could be something else to consider in making the step toward buying a better instrument.

Since you mention she is continuing that means she is enjoying learning and playing the clarinet, so that's a huge positive in your direction as a parent toward going ahead with a larger investment in owning an instrument.

I've played clarinet since 1960, so that's a while now, and have had many different types of instruments as well as purchased many for students. I really like the Buffet E-11 and the Yamaha 450N for intermediate players. Your daughter isn't considered a beginner anymore if she's been playing for 2 years, so she really does need a good step-up instrument that would carry her through high school. Either the Buffet E-11 or the Yamaha 450N would do the trick.

While there are many respected sellers on eBay, I do understand your concern over buying from someone you don't know. You could try an online store like Woodwind and Brasswind (http://www.wwbw.com). They have reasonable prices and a good return policy should the clarinet have a problem. You could even have them send you several to try and have your daughter's teacher help her with selection.

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 Re: Yamaha Clarinet
Author: beantown_Bb 
Date:   2006-08-15 19:14

One other vaguely related question:

How does Yamaha's Allegro line fit into the grand scheme of the models that have been described above (250, 450, 650...)?

Are the Allegros considered a step above these models, or are they simply a "different" line where quality is by and large the same? (If so, what actually makes them distinctive?)

I have looked at the info available on the Yamaha web page, but where they fit in vis a vis the other models is still not clear.


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 Re: Yamaha Clarinet
Author: clarinetwife 
Date:   2006-08-15 19:19

Do the rental fees on your daughter's instrument go towards the purchase of the instrument? If so, are you close to owning the thing after two years? If so it would give you something to trade in or something to use for outdoor playing.


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 Re: Yamaha Clarinet
Author: Karen C 
Date:   2006-08-16 01:27

Thank you all for the wonderful guidance on the step up in clarinet. I will look into the wooden clarinet as the next step & it is a good idea for my daughter to play on the different clarinets as ultimately, she will be the one playing on the instrument!

Can someone recommend instrucment stores to shop for either the Buffet E11 or the Yamaha 450? I checked the www.wwbw and it's way over my budget. The E11 is over $1600 and the Yamaha is over $1500!

Thank you!

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 Re: Yamaha Clarinet
Author: Karen C 
Date:   2006-08-16 01:30

To Vollkommen,

You mentioned that I may be able to find the Buffet E11 for around $600? Can you provide the websites or stores? I've checked several websites and they are all priced around $1600.

Post Edited (2006-08-16 01:31)

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 Re: Yamaha Clarinet
Author: vollkommen 
Date:   2006-08-16 02:25

I'm sorry, but the best price I can find is about $700 at Musician's Friend. What I would recommend doing, rather than buying from this provider, is to purchase through WWBW. You can clink on a link through their website that says something like "Seen it for less?" and they will ask for the URL of the price quote that beats their price. Within a few days, but probably sooner, they will email you a link that you can click on and it will take you to a page for the E11 with a new price that beats the one you sent to them (even if it is only by a few dollars). I'm sorry that I couldn't do better for you. I bought my E11 several years ago, and apparently prices have gone up.

I do have a friend who works for a local music store. I can ask her about a price for an E11, but I doubt that it will be any better than $700. Purchasing an instrument that is only a year or two old could be a less expensive alternative, but it does lack some of the excitement of a new instrument.

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 Re: Yamaha Clarinet
Author: Karen C 
Date:   2006-08-16 02:44

Thank you for the info. I didn't realize that prices can be matched! It sure is helpful to know that this instrument is $700, rather than the $1600 WWBW was advertising when I looked at their website.

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 Re: Yamaha Clarinet
Author: DressedToKill 
Date:   2006-08-16 03:57

I believe the $1600 you say you saw on the web was the RETAIL price, not the actual price. Nobody on this planet in their right MIND would pay $1600 for a Buffet E11.

I am at WWBW.com right now looking at the E11 and they're selling it at $1,023, which is STILL absolutely ridiculous for such a low-level instrument.

If you're really dying for an E11, go to El Grande Auction Site. They've got SCADS of them, most under $500.

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