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 F-serial number Buffet RC Prestige clarinets
Author: hewy909 
Date:   2017-09-10 20:05

Hello all,

After playing clarinet in orchestras and bands for the last 15 years (UK) on the same clarinet, for the first time ever I've started researching the serial number. Initially this was to try and figure out the age of the instrument, but it has raised other issues regarding tuning!

Serial number: F440***

From looking here:

http://www.woodwindforum.com/clarinetperfection/snbuffet-serial-numbers/

It would seem mine was made somewhere around 1997-1998.

1) Could someone with more knowledge/expertise confirm that?

Secondly, I discovered whilst Google-ing and exploring these forums that Buffet RC Prestige clarinets with an F-serial number indicates A=442hz tuning.

This would make a lot of sense, as I have always had a tendency to play on the sharp side. I bought a 66mm barrel about 10 years ago which helped, but I still have to routinely pull out a bit at the barrel, mid-joint and the bell, and subconsciously who knows what adjustments my embouchure has made over the years to correct the intonation to A=440.

2) Could someone confirm that F-serial number RC Prestiges are designed for A=442hz tuning?


Many thanks!



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 Re: F-serial number Buffet RC Prestige clarinets
Author: gatto 
Date:   2017-09-11 00:00

I can confirm both. My RC Prestige in B-flat has serial number F419***, I bought it new in spring 1998. So it is very reasonable that it was built in 1996 (as the webpage claims). It was also sold as 442Hz pitched, which is the standard Boehm clarinets are sold here in Germany. The barrel length is 650mm.

The same holds for my recent RC Prestige in A, having serial number F689***, and it was said to be built in this year (though I guess it could also be 2016). Barrel length is 640mm.

My dealer (and repairs man) told me (when I asked him) that the length of the barrel is not the only difference between pitches a=440 and a=442. He told me, there is also a slight diference in the ton hole net. Though I am not sure whether he really knows this as a fact or if it is only his guess, the information on the webpage or in the catalogue of Buffet seems to confirm this indirectly for the RC Prestige, when compared with other (newer) models.

By the way. On my instruments I myself also tend to be much sharper then a=442 or even a=443. But I think this is better as being too flat.

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 Re: F-serial number Buffet RC Prestige clarinets
Author: gatto 
Date:   2017-09-11 00:04

It would be interesting to know whether there exist RC Prestige clarinets with no "F" in the serial number.

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 Re: F-serial number Buffet RC Prestige clarinets
Author: Caroline Smale 2017
Date:   2017-09-11 01:11

I certainly remember seeing RC Prestige instruments without the F prefix.

On question of actual pitch, this is a very personal thing and players playing on exactly the same set-up will not neccesarily play at the same pitch as their voicing can be quite different.



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 Re: F-serial number Buffet RC Prestige clarinets
Author: John Peacock 2017
Date:   2017-09-11 18:13

I remember reading on this Board a statement attributed to Francois Kloc (Buffet factory rep.) that the only difference between 440 and 442(F) models was that the barrel was 1mm shorter in the latter case. This sort of works out quantitatively: a Bb clarinet is 660 mm long, so a 0.5% change in frequency would require 3mm increase in length. But if you say that most of the time you're playing in mid-range with half the tube oscillating, a 1.5mm shift would do it. So supplying a 65mm barrel instead of 66 puts you in the right ballpark. Obviously on a given instrument just that change would sharpen throat notes more than bell notes and change the relative tuning. But the relative pitch of those notes depends a lot on mouthpiece and player, so I could believe that Buffet didn't think it was worth trying to tinker at that level.

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 Re: F-serial number Buffet RC Prestige clarinets
Author: gatto 
Date:   2017-09-11 20:16

But if the only difference is barrel length, why then the distinction by the prefix? This does not make sense to me.

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 Re: F-serial number Buffet RC Prestige clarinets
Author: Johan H Nilsson 2017
Date:   2017-09-11 21:07

Gatto,

"whether there exist RC Prestige clarinets with no "F" in the serial number"

They exist, from approx. serial 240.XXX (when the RC Prestige was introduced in the 80s) up to 690.XXX (recently).

I am quite sure the upper joints are different on F and non-F instruments. As you say, it makes no sense to stamp identical joints differently.

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 Re: F-serial number Buffet RC Prestige clarinets
Author: gatto 
Date:   2017-09-12 03:31

Another hint for a difference: the RC Prestige (B-flat and A) pitched a=440 and a=442 have different model numbers: BC1106 and BC1206 for a=440, and BC1107 and BC1207 for a=442.

The models Festival, Tosca, Divine, Tradition do not have different model numbers. They come with two barrels, one for a=440, the other for a=442. The RC Prestige only comes with one barrel (at least here in Germany).

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 Re: F-serial number Buffet RC Prestige clarinets
Author: Peter B 
Date:   2017-09-12 12:00

Indeed, according to the spare parts catalog (see http://www.flipbooks.buffetcrampon.com/SpareParts/spares/ ), the 440 and 442 RC Prestige versions have different upper and lower bodies and several keys are different as well.



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 Re: F-serial number Buffet RC Prestige clarinets
Author: hewy909 
Date:   2017-09-12 22:01

Just to say, thank you for all contributions. Very helpful and illuminating, greatly appreciated.

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 Re: F-serial number Buffet RC Prestige clarinets
Author: John Peacock 2017
Date:   2017-09-13 12:46

I do agree that it would make sense if the F/non-F models were different in design - I also had wondered why you would bother adding the F if the joints were identical. But I'm still not sure:

* There may be a marketing issue. For a while in the 1980s, the RCs that you saw in Britain had a "UK" stamp on them. Then they stopped, but I never heard anyone suggest there was a change in design - Buffet just wanted the Brits to feel loved. So could it be the same in reverse today? It's a lot easier to add an "F" than it is to redesign the instrument.

* I got access to two RCs from 1978/79 - one F, one non-F. I measured the length of the top joints and they were identical as far as I could tell - no more than 0.1mm difference. Scaling by pitch, 442/440 would give you a 0.8mm change.

It's possible that things have changed with time. Perhaps Kloc's statement referred to the pre-computerised days, but now it's easier to change the parameters of an instrument at the flick of a switch. It would be nice to hear from someone who works in the Buffet factory and actually knows.

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 Re: F-serial number Buffet RC Prestige clarinets
Author: gatto 
Date:   2017-09-13 18:42

@John_Peacock

I do not think that the "F" is a marketing thing, since the difference of the spare parts Peter B mentioned is really convincing (though no scientifical proof, but makes it very likely).

But I agree that it could be possible that the was no difference in the early RC Prestige. My oldest Buffet catalogue (not the spare parts catalogue) is from 1997, and there is already the difference in the model numbers (BC1106/BC1107). It would be interesting to have access to older catalogues, in particular for spare parts.

By the way, the RC (non-Prestige) was redesigned around 2014. Until then there were three different model numbers: BC1111, BC1112 and BC1113 for pitches a=440, a=444 and a=442, respectively. (See also the mentioned spare parts catalogue.) But now there is only one model, BC1114, for all pitches (maybe only a=440 and a=442, do not know; I guess, nowadays a=444 is not really important).

Of course, it seems to be an advantage for both, the company and the player, if there are fewer models. For the company logistics is easier, for the player it means (at least in theory) more flexibility in different pitch situations. The RC Prestige seems to be the only current Buffet model where there is this difference.

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