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 Tom Ridenour Clarinets
Author: Neal Raskin (---.236-concordia.702com.net - ISP in Moorhead, MN United States)
Date:   2006-11-22 02:05

Does anyone else agree that the professional plastic clarinets the Tom Ridenour is making sound amazing? The Concerto 2 from LeBlanc is a very nice clarinet. Any opinions about his designs?

www.youtube.com/nmraskin
www.musicedforall.com

Post Edited (2007-08-19 20:43)

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 Re: Tom Ridenour Clarinets
Author: seafaris (---.prod-infinitum.com.mx - ISP in Mexico, 09 Mexico)
Date:   2006-11-22 04:33

I think that Tom could make any clarinet sound great. He has been at this a long time and from what I have read on his site has a lot of fans. I personally like wood, but mostly for the key quality. If they made a large bore (which I play) high quality non-wood clarinet it would probably be hard to tell the difference over a wooden one.

...Jim

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 Re: Tom Ridenour Clarinets
Author: Dan Oberlin (---.math.fsu.edu - ISP in Tallahassee, FL United States)
Date:   2006-11-22 11:25

The recordings on Ridenour's website are of his (hard rubber, not plastic)
C clarinet. One expects the sound of a C clarinet to differ from that of a B flat or an A clarinet - some might say the C clarinet has a purer or more plaintive tone. At any rate, I like the way those clips sound and am interested to hear the opinions of others who have listened to them.

D.O.

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 Re: Tom Ridenour Clarinets
Author: Synonymous Botch (---.nycap.res.rr.com - ISP in Schenectady, NY United States)
Date:   2006-11-22 22:50

TR designed the current topmodels at LeBlanc (whatever your opinion of same)
and took many of the design features along when he began building the hard rubber clarinets for Brook Mays, and under his own auspice.

If you believe that an instrument that agrees well with a reference tuner and stays on pitch throughout its range (little spread along the twelfths) or has composure under all dynamic changes sounds fake, I have a lovely wooden Bundy that might serve you better.

Until you can play several instruments, side by each, without knowing the materials used - you labor under a preconception.

Preconceptions can be VERY expensive when purchasing an instrument.

Certainly it indicates a lack of familiarity with Benade, and other seminal texts discussing the acoustic properties of woodwinds.

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 Re: Tom Ridenour Clarinets
Author: madvax (---.ventca.adelphia.net - ISP in Newbury Park, CA United States)
Date:   2006-11-22 23:20

Neal Raskin wrote:
> Does anyone else agree that the professional plastic clarinets the Tom
> Ridenour is making sound "fake"?

> There is something about wood clarinets that sound natural. Just like live
> performances are generally more pleasing than recording. On his
> website, he has a couple of sample recordings of his clarinets. I
> personally think that they sound too perfect. The tone is too pure, its not
> natural.

> Any opinions?

In my opinion, TR has a beautiful tone.

Don't get too hung-up on the material of the instrument. The design, bore, and mouthpiece influence the sound much more than the material.

Sherman Friedman said it well:
"The only thing about wood is that it is traditional. Actually a fine clarinet can be made from anything, for it is not the material but the thickness of the wall and how and where and if the tone holes are undercut.. read "the myth of Grenadilla" and also please see this site for much valuable information for the clarinetist: http://clarinet.cc/"
Here's the link:
http://www.jazz-clarinet.com/comments.pl?cid=98&sid=88

My favorite story about plastic instruments was told by Alvin Swiney when he was an apprentice for Hans Moennig:
> When I moved to Philadelphia in 1978
> there was a young man in Mr. Moennig's shop having his plastic
> oboe worked on. Mr. Moennig was working on the half hole to
> improve the ascending slurs from A2 to High D and G2 to High D.
> He referred to this procedure as the High D response
> modification. Finally Mr. Moennig finished the job and had
> the young oboist to try the high D and it popped right out.
> After the customer left I leaned over to Mr. Moennig and
> asked him about the plastic oboe. I said that guy must not be
> a very good player if he is using a plastic oboe.
>
> Mr. Moennig exclaimed, "Are you crazy? Do you know who that
> was? That young boy was Dick Woodhams! He took de Lancie's
> place in the Philadelphia Orchestra this year! He likes to
> play and he feels that the plastic is much more consistent
> than wood. And most important of all, Maestro Ormandy likes
> the tone as well."
>
> From that day on I never judged another player for using
> a plastic horn. If it works for you, Great!
> Thank you, Alvin Swiney

Here's the link:
http://www.woodwind.org/Databases/Logs/1999/05/000635.txt



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 Re: Tom Ridenour Clarinets
Author: Terry Stibal (---.230.63.44.Dial1.Houston1.Level3.net - ISP in Houston, TX United States)
Date:   2006-11-23 04:40

The great Lazarus, he of the method books, played his entire career on an ebonite horn. At the other end of the scale, one of the sweetest sounding horns that I ever played was a $25.00 Vito (so help me God) that someone had apparently had serviced by a guy or gal who knew their business. Not bad for a flea market purchase!

The main reason that I would choose a wooden horn over a plastic/synthetic one is that the wooden horns tend to have far more attention paid to the design and finish issues. Things like undercut tone holes are (to put it mildly) uncommon on the synthetic instruments. You can have it done, of course, but even after that the action is always stiffer and harder to adjust.

While I've not played the soprano versions of the Ridenour horn, I have very carefully examined one of the basses. Based purely on mechanical issues alone, I'd not touch it with the proverbial ten foot pole. Very poor fit and finish, keys that were not properly seating (with testing with cellophane; I didn't have my bass mouthpiece and reeds along at the time during Hurricane Rita), and a lot of minor issues that led me to believe that whoever was shipping the horn was not serious about what they were doing. Given a choice between the Bundy I played for a while in high school and the low C Ridenour horn that was "top quality" according to the Brook Mays woman who was "showing it" to me, I'd use the Ridenour to reconnect the sewer line to my house, and keep the Bundy.

But, it may have been a bad sample...

leader of Houston's Sounds Of The South Dance Orchestra
info@sotsdo.com

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 Re: Tom Ridenour Clarinets
Author: Mags1957 (---.dsl.emhril.sbcglobal.net - ISP in)
Date:   2006-11-23 12:59

There's one huge difference between the Ridnour clarinets one has aquired the past few years from Brooks Mays, or WWBW and the ones he's making now: Tom has always designed the clarinets, but when they were called Allora or Arioso, he didn't finish them personally. He told me in an email that he always considered those horns as "unfinished", a good design, but without the necessary touches done by an expert finisher. NOW the clarinets you get from Tom called Lyrique are all made by Tom himself from start to finish. There are literally no employees at the Lyrique factory - it's just Tom by himself.

So, what you will get now is a well designed horn, designed by Tom Ridenour, with improvement in tuning and evenness over his Opus creations (according to Tom), made out of a material that is more stable than wood, and sounds just as good or better, and fully set up by one of the master craftsmen of our era. Not a bad deal for under a grand. I have ordered and "A" clarinet and it should arrive in a day or 2. I will give a full report then. You can take or leave what I have to say about it, but at least I'll have played it before I dismiss it or embrace it, unlike many others who tear something apart without the benefit of having any actual knowledge of the product.

And, by the way, there are some in other threads who bemoan the price = quality mentality that many people have in regards to the most expensive horns, mouthpieces, ligatures, etc., yet I hear no one embracing the fact that Tom Ridenour is selling horns at unbelievable prices, because he doesn't want to charge more than he needs to. And you know what? I think the professional community would be WAY more interested in his new clarinets if they cost $4500. Sad.

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 Re: Tom Ridenour Clarinets
Author: David Peacham (---.ndsuk.com - ISP in Reigate, B8 United Kingdom)
Date:   2006-11-23 13:22

Mags1957 wrote

"NOW the clarinets you get from Tom called Lyrique are all made by Tom himself from start to finish. There are literally no employees at the Lyrique factory - it's just Tom by himself."

That is not what TR's own site (http://www.ridenourclarinetproducts.com/prep.html) says.

He finishes the instruments himself. He doesn't make them. I'd guess they are made in a low-cost country - China maybe.

-----------

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: Tom Ridenour Clarinets
Author: BobD (65.54.155.---)
Date:   2006-11-23 14:54

I visited his website yesterday and my impression was that there was a Lyrique that was finished by TR himself and "the other Lyrique" that was not but was lower in price. I am happy with my TR147.

Bob Draznik

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 Re: Tom Ridenour Clarinets
Author: Neal Raskin (---.mpls.qwest.net - ISP in Denver, CO United States)
Date:   2006-11-23 15:38

Thanks for everyones replies.

I have not played on one of TR's clarinets, so I cannot create a real opinion about how they play.

I am a bit skeptical of the argument that states, "The material doesn't matter, just the bore size and the cut of the tone holes."
Maybe someone could explain a more physical side of this. I am by no means a man of science, but I am pretty confident in saying that wood resonates differently than plastic/ hard rubber, and even those resonate different;y than metal.

I believe that the material does make just the slightest difference.

Has anyone had a teacher/professor that asks you to hold a note, and he stops you, and says something to the effect, "create the tone" or "focus your sound" or "hear the sound and make it beautiful"? Then you play the same note again, and it sounds exactly the same to you, but your professor exclaims "YES! thats it! Did you hear it?" And after you think about it, you notice that there was something there, something indescribable that made your sound better and more beautifyl.

Some people are about hitting notes and having fast even fingers, and good tone, playing dynamics and phrasing. But once you have all of that, isn't there just something that each individual player needs to bring to the music? No matter how perfect a clarinet is designed, the material will always make a difference, always.

I would actually like to see 2 clarinets, one hard rubber, one wood, designed by the same person, cut exactly the same and see which one sounds better.
This would be a stretch because wood is inconsistent, but lets say a few wood clarinets were made with the same design, so at least one of them was perfect. I am sure that hands down, the wood clarinet would sound more natural and create a nice warm sound.


Thanks much,
Neal

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 Re: Tom Ridenour Clarinets
Author: jmcgann (---.c3-0.bkl-ubr1.sbo-bkl.ma.cable.rcn.com - ISP in Coldwater, MI United States)
Date:   2006-11-23 15:44

sound clips? Couldn't find them...

www.johnmcgann.com

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 Re: Tom Ridenour Clarinets
Author: susieray (---.dhcp.gnps.or.charter.com - ISP in Grants Pass, OR United States)
Date:   2006-11-23 16:02


The sound clips are at the bottom of this page:

http://www.ridenourclarinetproducts.com/ACclarpg.html

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 Re: Tom Ridenour Clarinets
Author: Mags1957 (---.dsl.emhril.sbcglobal.net - ISP in)
Date:   2006-11-23 16:39

David Peacham wrote:

>
> That is not what TR's own site (http://www.ridenourclarinetproducts.com/prep.html) says.

He finishes the instruments himself. He doesn't make them. I'd guess they are made in a low-cost country - China maybe.<

I stand corrected, I mispoke. I meant to say that Tom finishes and play-tests all the clarinets himself- that he has no assistants. Personally, I don't care who ours the rubber into the molds, it's what happens in the finishing process that is all important. Take a typical R-13 right out of the box from WWBW (or guitar center <ugh> ), take that same horn to Brannen, and try it again. Different sound and feel completely. I just thing it's a HUGE benefit to have your horn personally finished by one of the biggies, be it Brannen, Backun, or Ridenour.

I feel the sound benefits of hard rubber are already agreed upon. We all know that the mouthpiece makes the most difference in your sound - more so than the rest of the clarinet. We make mouthpieces out of hard rubber, not wood (I know there are some wood and glass mouthpieces out there). If a wood mouthpiece gave a better sound than hard rubber, we'd all be playing wood, even if you had to replace the mouthpiece every few years.

Anyway, I'll have my horn in a few days for a play test - I'll report then. I have no interest in the Ridenour clarinet per se, just think it's funny how some people want to bash it (or praise it) without hearing/playing it. I think the concept is sound, and I believe Tom is genuine when he expresses how much he likes his new horns. When the clarinet arrives, I will test it and review it on it's merits as an instrument, not on hype or pre-conceived ideas.

<edited for spelling>



Post Edited (2006-11-23 16:50)

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 Re: Tom Ridenour Clarinets
Author: stevensfo (---.pool8248.interbusiness.it - ISP in Roma, 07 Italy)
Date:   2006-11-23 16:52

-- "I would actually like to see 2 clarinets, one hard rubber, one wood, designed by the same person, cut exactly the same and see which one sounds better." --

I think that's the sort of experiment most of us would like to see. Though not just wood vs rubber.

One thing that impressed me about Tom Ridenour's site was the testing where the 'listeners' were asked to rate the sound rather than the player. Anyone who's recorded themselves knows how our perception of the sound as player can be very different from how it sounds to an audience.

But how to make it really fair? If you asked someone to play a $3000 grenadilla clarinet and $30 CSO, isn't there just the chance that, recognising the instrument, they'd play the first clarinet in a different way to the second?

If I had a lot of time on my hands- and some willing volunteers, I'd blindfold the player, attach his/her favourite MP-barrel to a number of instruments and ask him to play the same piece as soon as he had each one in his hands - ie not giving him the time to judge from feel. Then ask the audience to rate how they sound.

The same 'blind' system was introduced into wine competitions in France many years ago, resulting in some very embarrassing results!!

Shame if the R13 lost to a pink plastic cheapy from Shanghai! ;-)

Steve

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 Re: Tom Ridenour Clarinets
Author: Detru Cofidin (---.dsl.hickorytech.net - ISP in Mankato, MN United States)
Date:   2006-11-23 16:55

I don't think you can ever judge a clarinet by its recording. Actually, more important is the material of the room around the player when talking about sound quality, as well as recording equipment.

Nevertheless, the biggest influence on the sound of the clarinet is the mouthpiece/ lig/ reed setup. Tom's sound is very clear and bright.

I think I read in The Art of Clarinet Playing that players would "rather play a horrible clarinet with a good mouthpiece than a good clarinet with a horrible mouthpiece."

Nicholas Arend

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 Re: Tom Ridenour Clarinets
Author: sherman (---.dsl.bell.ca - ISP in Ottawa, ON Canada)
Date:   2006-11-23 18:06

Perhaps the best person to judge the instrument is the player, at least this is my opinion. My feeling is that when you have something that you know:
1. is intune
2. is responsive
3. allows one to play at all dynamics
4. allows the playing of desired intervals with apparent ease,

then what happens is a kind of comfort, or stability, or self-assurance allowing you to make the clarinet do your own personal bidding. You are not bothered by any part, or series of notes that you see, or better said, your are sure of what the horn will do, and .......

you play the horn where it is, so-to-speak. Of course the setup and the reed in the setup are important, but one knows with experience what a horn will do for you, all things considered.

The Ridenour instruments I have tried and played for the past several months apparently give me this assurance and confidence, therefore I am an advocate..

The fact the the material is so much more stable than any wood certainly is part of the equation. One cannot say that they do not like the sound of rubber or the sound of wood or vice-versa; it is the ease with thich the sound is produced.

As one plays a rehearsal or concert one experiences so many reactions, so many emotions, makes so many notations to remember, it can become incomprehensible. That is why players improve with experience.

How many times did I play the Brahms Sonatas before they became as perfect as I, a mere mortal, can make them? Many, many. And still when they come my way, it is never a thoughtless endeavor. Ridenour's instruments free my mind and ear as much as any.

stay well, Sherman Friedland




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 Re: Tom Ridenour Clarinets
Author: packrat (---.hsd1.tn.comcast.net - ISP in Nashville, TN United States)
Date:   2006-11-24 00:04

I just bought a clarinet from him and I'm very please with the sound. I had another person that listened while I played two different clarinets (one that was wood) with the same setup. I played the same music from a different room. We both agreed I sounded better on Ridenour's clarinet. Now that could have been because he set his up, I don't know. What I do know is that the sound and intonation was better so I bought his.

Becky

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 Re: Tom Ridenour Clarinets
Author: madvax (---.ventca.adelphia.net - ISP in Newbury Park, CA United States)
Date:   2006-11-24 02:14

Neal Raskin wrote:
> Has anyone had a teacher/professor that asks you to hold a note,
> and he stops you, and says something to the effect, "create the tone"
> or "focus your sound" or "hear the sound and make it beautiful"? Then
> you play the same note again, and it sounds exactly the same to you, but
> your professor exclaims "YES! thats it! Did you hear it?" And after you
> think about it, you notice that there was something there, something
> indescribable that made your sound better and more beautifyl.

This makes the point that it's the artist that makes the biggest difference in the tone; not the instrument.

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 Re: Tom Ridenour Clarinets
Author: Mike Clarinet (80.84.167.---)
Date:   2006-11-24 08:14

I can see both sides of the 'does the material matter?' argument. The acoustics of tubes is no respecter of materials, so what does the material matter? If a rubber or plastic (insert your favourite manufacturer / top of the range model here) clarinet was made, finished and set up appropriately, the physics says that it should sound as good as a wooden one for a given mouthpiece / reed/ lig / player combination.

The clarinet has been evolving for 200+ years, other instruments for longer. Over time, craftsmen and players have discovered that certain materials work and others don't. Wooden clarinets are (mostly) made from grenadilla. Why not pine? Why do we use Arundo Donax cane for reeds? Violin bodies are made from maple. Why not oak? Why are brass instruments not made from aluminium? For the simple reason that these materials provide what the players want in terms of responsiveness, tone, intonation, a million and one undefineable personal preferences....

In the real world, the only way non-wooden clarinets are going to become acceptable to all is if the world's top players and teachers collaborate with the large manufacturers and to produce and promote non-wooden clarinets that are as good as the wooden ones. Such is human nature.

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 Re: Tom Ridenour Clarinets
Author: Aures22 (---.nj.res.rr.com - ISP in Edgewater, NJ United States)
Date:   2006-11-24 08:38

Is there a silver-plated key version of the 'lyrique' available? I only see nickel-plated version on his website. Silver-plating is much preferable and helps me play with greater technical facility. Can it be special ordered? Its the only reason holding me back from ordering.

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 Re: Tom Ridenour Clarinets
Author: Aures22 (---.nj.res.rr.com - ISP in Edgewater, NJ United States)
Date:   2006-11-24 08:49

Also, how does the Lyrique clarinet in C compare to the Forte C Clarinet? Has anbody done a side by side comparison of the two?



Post Edited (2006-11-24 08:59)

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 Re: Tom Ridenour Clarinets
Author: ianm (---.nhs.uk - ISP in Sandridge, I9 United Kingdom)
Date:   2006-11-24 09:22

Regarding silverplating and hard rubber/ebonite, Dan Oberlin's post on the concurrently running thread states an incompatibility. I am intrigued as to why this should be thought to be the case and would appreciate if anyone can throw any light on this matter.

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 Re: Tom Ridenour Clarinets
Author: BobD (65.54.155.---)
Date:   2006-11-24 14:43

"This makes the point that it's the artist that makes the biggest difference in the tone; not the instrument"

This is not entirely true. Put a bad reed, or mp or incorrect barrel on a horn and not even an artist can make it sound good.

Bob Draznik

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 Re: Tom Ridenour Clarinets
Author: JJAlbrecht (---.dsl.sfldmi.sbcglobal.net - ISP in Northbrook, IL United States)
Date:   2006-11-24 18:15

Aures22 asked if Tom Ridenour offered silver plating as an option. I had the same question and asked Tom in an e-mail last month. His answer was that the clarinets were only available in nickel, and that silverplating was not an option. Neither was custom/optional keywork, such as aux LH Eb/Ab levers, and the like.

You could call him, yourself, but I believe the answer will not be any different.

Jeff

Edited for typos



Post Edited (2006-11-24 18:17)

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 Re: Tom Ridenour Clarinets
Author: D Dow (---.nb.aliant.net - ISP in Calgary, AB Canada)
Date:   2006-11-24 19:01


There is a subtle irony here...it seems material of any type can be just fine provided the indivual is happy with the manner an instrument plays (and performs.)

...however, Dan Oberlin's previous post really did not give a specific reason why he was unhappy with his previous clarinet....however, if what he found in the Ridenour makes him feel empowered than there likes the subtly of material over the mind.

David Dow

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 Re: Tom Ridenour Clarinets
Author: sherman (---.dsl.bell.ca - ISP in Montréal, QC Canada)
Date:   2006-11-24 20:08

There are two separate issues here: One, the material of which the clarinet is made, and Two, the work of the designer in tuning the basic instrument. Mr Ridenour seems to know the instrument as well as anyone, witness his designs of the past, such as Opus, Concerto,Sonata, and more, all of which are better in tune than most clarinets, as is the case of his Lyrique. As far as the material is concerned, one needn't discuss that in the same posting.

Sherman Friedland




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