Advertising and Web Hosting on Woodwind.Org!

Woodwind.OrgThe Clarinet BBoardThe C4 standard

  BBoard Equipment Study Resources Music General    
 New Topic  |  Go to Top  |  Go to Topic  |  Search  |  Help/Rules  |  Smileys/Notes  |  Log In   Newer Topic  |  Older Topic 
 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:

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!

Reply To Message
 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.

Reply To Message
 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.

Reply To Message
 Re: F-serial number Buffet RC Prestige clarinets
Author: Caroline Smale 
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.

Reply To Message
 Re: F-serial number Buffet RC Prestige clarinets
Author: John Peacock 
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.

Reply To Message
 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.

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


"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.

Reply To Message
 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).

Reply To Message
 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 ), the 440 and 442 RC Prestige versions have different upper and lower bodies and several keys are different as well.

Reply To Message
 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.

Reply To Message
 Re: F-serial number Buffet RC Prestige clarinets
Author: John Peacock 
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.

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


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.

Reply To Message
 Re: F-serial number Buffet RC Prestige clarinets
Author: Diogenes 
Date:   2019-11-07 00:53


It was long ago this topic was active but it's never too late! :)

I have a Βb RC prestige Buffet clarinet 428xxx with no F.

1) Which year is this clarinet manufactured? Is it tuned a=442 ?
2) Are there any updates regarding the tuning of F and no-F RC prestige bouffet clarinets?

Thanks in advance!


Reply To Message
 Avail. Forums  |  Threaded View   Newer Topic  |  Older Topic 

 Avail. Forums  |  Need a Login? Register Here 
 User Login
 User Name:
 Remember my login:
 Forgot Your Password?
Enter your email address or user name below and a new password will be sent to the email address associated with your profile.
Search Woodwind.Org

Sheet Music Plus Featured Sale

The Clarinet Pages
is sponsored by:

For Sale
Put your ads for items you'd like to sell here. Free! Please, no more than two at a time - ads removed after two weeks.

Mouthpieces & Barrels
Fine makers of mouthpieces and barrels, from wood to crystal to hard rubber and plastic

Retailers and manufacturers of clarinets, both modern and early replica

Instrument repairs, restorations, adjustments, and overhauls.

Music & Books
CDs, Sheet Music, and some of the greatest reference books ever written!

Major events especially for clarinetists

Services and products too varied to categorize! Repair, recording, news

Great reeds available from around the world

Accessories that every clarinetist needs - reed makers and shapers, ligatures, greases, oils, and preservatives ... and more!

     Copyright © Woodwind.Org, Inc. All Rights Reserved    Privacy Policy    Contact