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 choose a horn... from custom maker vs named brands
Author: Franklin Liao 
Date:   2010-06-15 18:37

On the Bboard, we have seen discussions on Chadash clarinets, and the constant talk regarding what to choose for a more serious horn.

This has been something that has left me with a growing question, and I think should be broken off from the discussions on just one maker, being that of getting that customized clarinet one desires (or at least a horn that is setup to one's own tastes).

There is no shortage of instruments that are aimed to the more upscaled market, with Leblanc Symphonie and Legacy, Buffet R13 and up, Yamaha's CSG/CSV.

Smaller makers such as Patricola and Thomas Ridenour both offer instruments for this market, with pre-packaged instruments that are supposedly set up in able hands. Customizations would mostly be done post-production.

And then, on the other side, there's the aforementioned Guy Chadash, John Weir, Stephen Fox, Wurlitzer, Schwenk & Seggelke, Rossi and others, that make hand-crafted instruments at a very limited capacity while allowing any sort of customization, albeit you don't get to choose from a wide selection when one orders from them.

Obviously, the choice is not very plentiful if one's own occupation demands for a certain maker, but that is not the case when one is simply to choose at his or her own discretion, and even more so when one's own preferences is not hindered by financial constraints.

As such, is it possible to elaborate, once more, on what sort of factors would be at play with respective posters here when presented with this plethora of options, while only guided by getting what an individual desires in an instrument.

Thank you.

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 Re: choose a horn... from custom maker vs named brands
Author: William 
Date:   2010-06-15 20:26

For me, if it sounds good, has an even scale, is reasonably in tune with itself (A=440, 442) and the key action is smooth, I would consider purchase. But only after taking it on a "test drive" in an ensemble--orchestra, band, ww quintet, etc. It is only there that you can really get the "feel" for how musically flexabile any instrument is. I've heard clarinetists sound good on just about every brand name clarinet available and I do believe what's most important is to find the ONE CLARINET that plays best for you--mainly through extensive play testing.

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 Re: choose a horn... from custom maker vs named brands
Author: Ed Palanker 
Date:   2010-06-15 21:54

It's all about personal taste. Before I choose to switch to a Selmer Signature I tried many different brands, not all, but I tried a friends Chadash and found it to be a fine instrument but it didn't do anything more for me that my R 13 already did, I tried several models of Buffets over a period of several years. I did fall in love with one Buffet Vintage clarinet that the Buffet rep. brought for us BSO players to try several years ago when they first came out with that model but when I asked later about buying it he said it was already put in inventory and could not find it so I tried several others but was not happy with any of them. One day, when taking a student to try out R 13s I tried the Selmer Signatures and other model Selmers and just fell in love with the tone and feel of one Signature so I bought it. It's as simple as that, I tried something that I loved and bought it, case closed. That's the reason for buying a new clarinet. Love at first play. ESP http://eddiesclarinet.com

ESP eddiesclarinet.com

Post Edited (2010-06-16 02:24)

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 Re: choose a horn... from custom maker vs named brands
Author: Koo Young Chung 
Date:   2010-06-16 01:07

Big makers make 10,000 or more per year,so they have accumulated know- hows over many years and every parts are made by specialist.

Some sound good,some don't; but the quality level is much higher than
instrument which is made by one person doing all the work.

It's no coincidence that many professional use big name brands.

Post Edited (2010-06-16 01:37)

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 Re: choose a horn... from custom maker vs named brands
Author: ddavani 
Date:   2010-06-16 02:39

I am accustomed to Leblanc by Backun, I play a Symphonie Bb and I'm in love with the key work, focus of the sound, etc. You living in Vancouver (or in the Vancouver area) have the greatest clarinet manufacturer right on your front door-step. Backun Musical has its factory in Burnaby, BC and the crowd there is extremely friendly and helpful. On the plus side, all of their equipment is excellent from their economy model (Bliss) to the Legacy, all of them play up to the Backun standard.

I've heard hand made clarinets such as the Rossi being played and don't get me wrong, they are great instruments. However, I just feel that there is a great standard that comes with the Backun instruments and the precision that goes into making those horns makes them as close to hand made as it gets. As well, Morrie is a genius when it comes to repairs and pairing you with the right instrument.

So, in lengthy response, the simple answer to your question would be go to Backun, and as well, it's not the biggest name brand yet, but that has nothing to do with the quality. More and more people use Backun Musical every day.

-Dave Davani

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 Re: choose a horn... from custom maker vs named brands
Author: Franklin Liao 
Date:   2010-06-16 21:52

In response to all the above, I do have my own personal findings from a few preliminary auditions with the named brand instruments...

1. It would seem that a person can become accustomed to a certain acoustic tonal profile and a certain resistance that they would lean to a particular maker (in my case, it would seem to be Backun and Symphonie for the time being)

2. The physical feel of the instrument and aesthetic factors come to play. I supposed that a higher-end instrument has to embody something more than good intonation and fluid mechanical keyworks to the user.

3. The 'mood' of the instrument relative to that of the player. I found Yoyo Ma's assessment over Davydov to oddly apply, as the more I would 'attack' a horn to make it do what I hope it would do, the less I get in return, whereas if things come naturally and only has to coax the instrument at worst, the relationship yields plenty of reward emotionally, and perhaps musically. I noticed how I would pick up a certain horn more so than others because of this synergy.

4. Making a conclusion on one example of each maker is too difficult. One cannot help but think at the back of the head that it may not be right to make a blanket statement about a particular model as all findings made are anecdotal. I therefore can definitely see myself sitting at some place going through several horns of the same model just trying to sort things out and confirm if certain traits are universal within the same line of instruments.

I feel wishy-washy suddenly, but it seems that it is not even about the few grands that would be dropped into an instrument, but rather it is the search for what the heart desires that proves to be so vague an objective.

Post Edited (2010-06-16 22:17)

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 Re: choose a horn... from custom maker vs named brands
Author: Tobin 
Date:   2010-06-16 22:51

bmcgar and I live within a couple of hours of each other. Because of a discussion of bass clarinets (and because I knew bmcgar owned Rossi clarinets) we arranged a swap of a sort. He played my Buffet Prestige bass, and I played his Rossi clarinets.

I was extremely impressed by the Rossi products. My wife and friend (both musicians) had left us to our clarineting, when they returned I played for them my '67 R13 vs the Rossi Bb. Rossi Bb hands down preferred.

Impressed with the instrument and dismayed by the price tag, we left. Talking things over later I decided that maybe I could part with the $$$$. Here's the thing: the further I got from the playing of the Rossi, the less that I could believe that it was as good as remembered, much less worth the $$$$.

bmcgar had me over again three weeks later, and I brought my Zoom H2. My impressions were again confirmed, and I brought back the proof to back it up.

All this being said, I'm about to receive my new clarinet and don't yet know whether it will equal my experiences or not (and yes, I have trepidation). I've chosen to invest the money because the disparity between the Rossi and my R13 was pronounced (and I had a high opinion of my R13 beforehand).

I have not had a chance to try Chadash's or Fox's clarinets, but I would be interested had I the opportunity.


Gnothi Seauton

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 Re: choose a horn... from custom maker vs named brands
Author: ddavani 
Date:   2010-06-17 02:14

Good choice picking the Backun. Anyone can get accustomed to the warm, dark, and focused sound of the Leblanc by Backun clarinets. As well, there is a great deal of extra sound power that goes with the Backun equipment that can power through some of the largest halls and orchestras. Also, the Morales-Backun mouthpieces come in many different sizes depending on the amount of air that you put in the horn. All of Backun's equipment is a good choice.

-Dave Davani

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