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 Market Demographics-- What's wrong with Buffet.
Author: tucker 2017
Date:   2017-10-27 22:15

The "What's wrong with Buffet" string/conversation/argument has been very interesting to keep up with in the past week or so. It made me start wondering a few things:

1) How many people on this bulletin board are "Pros"?... music performance/teaching is your main source of income. How many are casual musicians... community bands, etc.

That takes me to my next "wonder"....

2) I wonder what the market demographics are for the professional line of any "pro" level horn. What % of R13 sales are to professionals, students, or casual musicians etc.

I play in 2 concert bands. I'm actually surprised at how many professional levels horns people play in these bands. A number of R13s, Selmer Recitals, Yamaha CSVR's, Yamaha 650's, Uebels, and vintage Le Blancs.

The conversations regarding what's wrong with Buffet seem to focus on what professionals think of the horns, but what about non professionals who can afford nice horns?

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 Re: Market Demographics-- What's wrong with Buffet.
Author: echi85 
Date:   2017-10-27 23:36

I earn a comfortable living playing and teaching the clarinet. I play with two professional orchestras. Combined, they fill out a full season of playing. I have commented on the other thread so I think it's appropriate that I say something about my qualifications.

Honestly, I don't really care what clarinet you choose to play on. Neither do any of the other people I work with. All that matters is that you sound good and play in tune. Problems only arise when people start spouting out false information based off of their personal opinions. In these cases, I feel it appropriate to point out their flaws. The whole idea that Buffet is losing market share to other manufacturers is one of these ideas.

As to your second question, I think the clarinet world is, and will be for the foreseeable future, an industry lead by those who can do. That is say that those who are employed as working musicians will influence the larger amount of enthusiasts, amateurs, and students. If you live in any major city and are looking for clarinet lessons, you will probably go to those in your local orchestra or university. It's unlikely you will search out an amateur or enthusiast. There's also just less credibility studying from an amateur vs a professional.

I made a comment in the other thread about how nearly everyone in the US plays Buffet. This is crucial because the in-demand teachers (orchestral musicians) will influence what the next generation of players (students) play on. Certainly amateurs and enthusiasts have some sway, but not nearly as much as those who are employed. The fact of the matter is that most people play Buffet and most people will continue to play Buffet. I've yet to see any evidence of the contrary.

I would be interested to see the numbers, but I doubt I will ever have access to them. I also doubt that any major manufacturer cares about what is posted on this Bboard.

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 Re: Market Demographics-- What's wrong with Buffet.
Author: jeffyx 
Date:   2017-10-28 09:14

As an owner of a CSVR, when I was deciding between that and the R13, I took a bold risk in a way and got the CSVR. When we were narrowing it down, it came down to those 2. A very responsive, free blowing, projecting CSVR or a more rather resistant, better in tune R13.

As my teacher and I were discussing what instrument to get, even though he is very non biased toward clarinet brands (he has a Yamaha Eb and Buffet Bb/A), he still recommended that I get the Buffet even though the Yamaha was so much better at the things listed above.

He said that even though I like the Yamaha more, it isn't a very safe bet because not many people know how to "work" on a CSVR and make it the way I like and customize it the way I like to thus it might be a risk. He also said that with my developing embouchure (had to relearn tonguing so had to relearn brochure along with it), I might learn bad habits from my instrument and the instrument will play the music for me (i don't understand why that is a bad thing, it's a better horn). The lower register and Upper register go together so well with each other. Since the lower register is more free blowing, it has that same projecting sound that we all know and love from the upper register. This made excerpts, especially my all state one, sound SO much better! The Buffet on the other hand, had a more resistant lower register, similar to that of a student horn so transitioning between the two registers made the horn sound like 2 different instruments.

However, one flaw that I have to acknowledge is that he throat tones on the Yamaha were incredibly sharp. After a week of practicing, I have learned to control the throat tones and they sound in tune with the rest of the instrument but when I was play testing them before, I noticed that my throat tones were 25+ cents sharp compared to the Buffets 10+ cents sharp. It's all good, Learned to adjust accordingly and I never could be happier.

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 Re: Market Demographics-- What's wrong with Buffet.
Author: jeffyx 
Date:   2017-10-28 09:19

I also wanted to note that I'm not a pro, i'm a high school student.

Judging by the marketing I've noticed from both companies, I actually believe that Yamaha spends MORE money towards it.

Because I"m in marching band, we get to attend things like Bands of America. While we were competing in Fresno, it caught my attention that there was Yamaha advertising EVERYWHERE! While the bands were switching off, a Yamaha commercial would be displayed on the big screen showing off how it's the best student choice. Also, while listing off all school names, announcers have to mention the sponsors as well. Around every other school I heard was sponsored by Yamaha.

Yamaha doesn't market a lot toward the clarinet but oh boy do they market a lot for their other instruments like percussion!

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 Re: Market Demographics-- What's wrong with Buffet.
Author: zhangray4 
Date:   2017-10-29 00:56

I'm a High school senior. Been playing the clarinet since 6th grade. Started on a Buffet E11 France since that is what my private teacher recommended. Became pretty close with my teacher instantly, and he told me Buffet was most popular in America. Can't blame him though, his English is not good, so it would be quite difficult for him to come on Bboard and find out so many negative reviews on Buffet. That led to find out that Martin Frost and Sharon Kam both played on Buffet. And most people in my local honor bands played Buffet as well. So I came to my own conclusion that Buffet was the best.

Upgraded to a R13 about a year and a half ago. Tested a few instruments at the convention at my All State Honor Band. Played on an A Clarinet for the first time and loved it: was the Yamaha CSVR. Started to realize this page (Clarinet Bboard) sometime this summer and realized how much a lot of people disliked Buffet. Saw people loving their Yamahas. Now wishing I had discovered the Bboard before I bought by R13...

Thankfully since a lot of people are brainwashed, I can always sell it for a good price to buy a Yamaha

-- Ray Zhang

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 Re: Market Demographics-- What's wrong with Buffet.
Author: Kalashnikirby 
Date:   2017-10-29 02:16

Being an amateur and studying dentistry, I'm glad to be still able to play in 2 orchestras (concert bands, that is). In addition to that, I used to play 1st clarinet in an amateur symphony orchestra for 3 years
Having grown up with the german system I switched to Buffet at the age of 17 as all I cared for was getting the best performance for the €€€.
Now at 24, I still regret that decision, but made some amends with my instrument on my own and generally accepted that I was blinded by marketing and hearsay, which, I apprehend now, greatly influenced my decision.

There are 2-3 people with extremely expensive Wurlitzers or Leitner & Kraus', the other play on "standard issue" Yamahas or Schreibers (Buffet owned, teachers hate them, they've become a bit better). There is exactly zero connection to be drawn between this and their skills.

To answer your last question: Since professionals have told me some major BS about the Boehm system already and since many people keep telling me the most esoteric things about "their" favorite brand ever, I'll just say that Buffet's dominance was at some point in time justified, but nowadays there are many exciting alternatives and I'll most likely buy a nice handmade Reform Boehm from a small maker once I can afford it. Stoltzman's R13 is highly modified, don't know about Kam or Fröst, but I'm not a huge fan of either of them. Most of my favorite artists play the German system, but I'm not sure if that or the different schools affect my liking.

Best regards

Post Edited (2017-10-29 02:17)

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 Re: Market Demographics-- What's wrong with Buffet.
Author: Klose 2017
Date:   2017-10-29 02:24

Christian, I am curious to know who your favorite artists are.

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 Re: Market Demographics-- What's wrong with Buffet.
Author: Kalashnikirby 
Date:   2017-10-29 02:33

-Sabine Meyer, Karl Leister.
-Sebastian Manz with his Weber album is insanely fun, what an impressive young musician!
-Andreas Ottensamer is OK, liked him more as an orchestral musician.
-Richard Stoltzmann, his technique is unique.
-Whoever was 1st clarinet in the Shostakovich symphonies conducted by Petrenko.
-Used to like Fröst but it feels like he is selling out, but I'm clearly biased after watching his youtube commercials, if you know what I mean.

Post Edited (2017-10-29 02:59)

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 Re: Market Demographics-- What's wrong with Buffet.
Author: zhangray4 
Date:   2017-10-29 03:09

Kalashnikirby you and I share some favorite artists. I love Sabine Mayer, Karl Leister, Andreas Ottensamer, Wenzel Fuchs, Stephen Williamson, Robert Marcellus, and Harold Wright. I know some of them differ a lot from each other, and it's strange, but I like them still.

-- Ray Zhang

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 Re: Market Demographics-- What's wrong with Buffet.
Author: Philip Caron 
Date:   2017-10-30 17:13

I am the opposite of a professional. My '60's R-13s were bought in 1971 from a symphony player who had gotten new instruments. They sat in a closet for 30-something years, and now they've been played for 10. They both have tuning foibles, but who knows if they're resistant or not. I've learned to make them work to satisfy my ears and those of the few people who have heard me. I like playing them, and haven't tried any other instruments. But it's tempting.

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 Re: Market Demographics-- What's wrong with Buffet.
Author: sax panther 
Date:   2017-10-30 18:48

I'm a semi pro/advanced amateur I suppose - I have a boring day job, but studied music at university and now play for money in several bands, plus occasional pit work and session work.

I've got a Leblanc Opus that I bought in 2000, plus an older R13 (1973/1974) that I got from the auction site out of curiousity for around £350-400 a couple of years ago.

I flit between the two - they sound different, but I wouldn't say one sounds "better" than the other - I can't decide.

The Opus is less resistant, and more in tune, but I'd say the buffet's sound has a bit more "presence" in the throat tones and lower register. Might not make a lot of sense - it's hard to describe! Over the past month or so, it's the R13 that I've been taking to gigs. Next month...it might be the Opus. Depends on my mood!

If I had to pigeonhole them, I'd pick the Opus for playing light, playful stuff, and choose the R13 for more "serious" sounding stuff. To use some recent examples of pieces I've played in a concert band, my Opus sounds right for the fast, fun, perky clarinet solo at the beginning of the fast bit in Shostakovich festive overture, and my R13 fits the mood better for the clarinet solo in the slow movement of the Holst suite in F. But they're both good instruments, and obviously, given the variation between clarinets of the same model - it would be entirely possible to find someone who has the same two models as me, but whose experience is the other way round (ie resistant Opus, free blowing R13 etc)I haven't tried any Yamahas, or the newer Selmers.

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 Re: Market Demographics-- What's wrong with Buffet.
Author: Kalashnikirby 
Date:   2017-10-30 20:09

Ray, that's interesting, espicially in light of our coinciding regret about having bought Buffet.

I've recently played the last of the of the 3 Stravinsky clarinet pieces and realized that my RC feels home in the higher register and I really enjoyed playing those "aggressive" grace notes and humorous staccatos. A somewhat penetrative sound, not in a negative way.

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 Re: Market Demographics-- What's wrong with Buffet.
Author: Niclas.e.gustafsson 
Date:   2017-10-30 23:46

I am 30 years old and a freelancing pro, audio engineer and a teacher. Playing mostly bass clarinet and doing solo and ensemble stuff.
Been playing RC, Prestigue, R13 and Chadash. And my biggest problem with them was that if any one of them cracked or malfunctioned i had to relearn a new clarinet. Sound, character, intonation, everything. Even when swapping it for another of the same model.
When my kid came 4 years ago I stopped having time for change. Of any kind. I just wanted an instrument that would work. So i tried 3 different CSVR from 3 different dealers and they all played almost the same. Magic! I could easily have swapped them for each other and played a concert the same minute. Shure there was differences, but mainly in tone. And those where very small at that. The same goes for the new Vandoren Black Diamond mpc. It simply works. Along with my Legere European Cut reeds. And for me this is the ultimate goal. To be able to express myself and not struggling with an instrument. If it breaks i replace it and keep playing. I dont want to adjust, change, relearn, etc. there isnt time and there is no joy in it.
I dont care what the brands are. Its not important. The important part is that i can rely on them. I want to be able to trust my instrument like a part of my body. And i cant go through life beeing scared to never find an instrument like it again when it breaks.

And i live in sweden. Instruments breaks. Its not a question of if, but simply when. I had 3 clarinets rendered unplayable at pro level so far into my short career...

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 Re: Market Demographics-- What's wrong with Buffet.
Author: bsnake1956 
Date:   2017-10-31 01:44

I simply don't understand the vehement anti-Buffet bias. I responded to a previous thread that stated "what is wrong with Buffet."

I will say it again. There is NOTHING WRONG WITH BUFFET!!

They have made inconsistent clarinets for many years, going back to the 70's. As professionals we had to play many instruments to find the one that we liked. I bought a matched set of Buffet instruments in 1985. Yamaha and Selmer are great instrument makers but Buffet (and again it may be age bias) when you find the right one it is simply a better instrument.

I don't understand why Bob Bernardo (who I respect although I don't know him) had to post 16 threads extolling the virtues of Yamaha clarinets and bash Zinner blanks. Also, I don't understand why he is so stressed out about sprinkling pesticides on reeds. Bob, I am from a farming family, we sprayed pesticides on EVERYTHING.

I would hope that most people got it the first time.

You can't buy a tomato that does not have pesticides on it. Forget the organic crap. You are paying for a sticker. Trust me

Why does he feel that it is his personal responsibility to bash Zinner blanks. I play a Greg Smith mouthpiece (1+) that was finished from a Zinner blank (Greg, I hope that is the right term). Not only is it a fabulous mouthpiece but Greg was a great guy who actually made sure I was happy with what I was purchasing. He actually got in touch with me when I was on vacation in Panama. A super guy to work with. As a professional player I think his mouthpieces are the best.

My Buffet R-13 and Greg Smith mouthpiece are the best combination. Period!!

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 Re: Market Demographics-- What's wrong with Buffet.
Author: dorjepismo 2017
Date:   2017-10-31 01:51

Usually better not to empower/extend stuff here that gets personal. If everything that needed to get said about things being wrong with Buffet got said in the thread that got shut down, it's probably better to leave it shut down. Market Demographics.

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 Re: Market Demographics-- What's wrong with Buffet.
Author: blazian 
Date:   2017-10-31 04:17

I started clarinet in sixth grade and ended up getting my BMus in clarinet performance. I'm now a music teacher and play frequently as a local artist and occasionally in orchestras. I don't consider myself a professional musician, though in most ways I qualify.

My college professor recommended the Buffet Festival to me and I quite liked it. Whether this is because I had not played a professional-level instrument before, or I found a truly great one, I don't know. Not wholly important.

I first played clarinet on an old Artley and made a jump up to a Yamaha Allegro. I played my Yamaha all the way through to when I got my Festival. Not sure what the reason was, but I played one of my senior recital pieces on my Yamaha.

Next time I come across a briefcase full of money, I will go clarinet shopping and explore absolutely all of the options.

- Martin

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 Re: Market Demographics-- What's wrong with Buffet.
Author: bsnake1956 
Date:   2017-10-31 05:21


You are absolutely right. Let's call it a day.

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 Re: Market Demographics-- What's wrong with Buffet.
Author: thereallukasj 
Date:   2017-11-05 05:38

I am not a professional musician. I play with a rather large local symphony that is composed of mostly professional musicians. Point being, I am studying engineering and am all self and youtube taught with some advice along the way. I would call myself a rather decent clarinetist. I also play on and off with clarinet choirs. So enough about me, I currently play a Leblanc Pete Fountain clarinet that I detest. It has a very harsh and snappy "in your face" sound to it. Needless to say, I am looking for a clarinet. I play on a Vandoren 5RV, a crystal Pete Fountain mouthpiece, and a mouthpiece I designed and made myself. I use all or these for different situations. I feel Buffets marketing tactics are RUINED by people on this board with comments like "try different clarinets and find what works for you." This ruins their tactics because then people don't go and drop $9000 on a Divine just because Paul Meyer plays it or buy an RC because Fröst plays on one (sometimes). Because when pitting a Buffet R13 vs a CSVR, usually the CSVR would win if it were a blind, unbiased test.

Lukas Johnson

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