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 Restore my R13 or save up for new in a few years?
Author: Musikat 
Date:   2017-11-13 08:34

I have new clarinet fever but limited funds at the moment. I would love to try out some of the newer models (Yamaha CSVR or Backun Q or F), in addition to the higher end Buffets, but can't justify the cost right now. I play in two community bands, one quite good, and a clarinet choir, and wouldn't rule out joining a community orchestra in the future.

My R13 is a 1977, according to the serial number. I do have some minor tuning issues (mostly playing sharp on long B and C, and in altissimo), and it feels resistant in the altissimo but it could just need an overhaul. The logos are so faded people ask me what kind of instrument I have, and the nickel plating is worn off in the typical places.

I'm considering taking it for a professional overhaul, getting the logos repainted, and possibly even replating in silver. This would cost $650-$900, depending on whether I go for the replating. I'm looking for advice on whether it is worth it to restore this instrument and make it look and play as close to a "new" instrument or just get it regularly serviced and save up for one of the newer ones in a few years. It has served me well and still sounds good tone-wise.

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 Re: Restore my R13 or save up for new in a few years?
Author: zhangray4 
Date:   2017-11-13 09:04

This is a tough question, so I'm not gonna give you an answer to this question, since I think you should listen to some responses from the more experienced.

However being sharp is much better than being flat. Like in my situation, I'm always flat so I have to pinch, and that means sore upper lip for me (since I play double lip). For the long B and C, you could just pull out the bell. But it sounds like tuning is not that big of a problem for your clarinet, which is awesome. A lot of clarinets nowadays have a lot of tuning issues.

-- Ray Zhang

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 Re: Restore my R13 or save up for new in a few years?
Author: seabreeze 
Date:   2017-11-13 10:11

Many choices are not "either or" choices but rather "both and" ones. I don't think your choice is either to repair your clarinet or buy a new one. More likely it is to repair your clarinet now so it plays as well as possible (actually an honest tech who knows the business can tell you if your instrument is worth repairing) AND then save up to get something better later on.

It could turn out that your Bb Buffet (I'm assuming that's what is it) if properly serviced still has many years of life left. In that case, you might want to save up for a A clarinet to complement it. If you don't need an A clarinet or already have one, then of course you could later buy a new Bb instead. Some pros use clarinets older than yours.

All clarinets have what you called "minor issues." Even expensive Wurlitzer Reform Boehms and Buffet Toscas can have these issues. A few small tuning problems should not be enough to bring on a case of "new clarinet fever," as you term it. Wait until the "fever" has subsided and you are "well" before you start trying out other clarinets. We clarinetists need to have all our wits about us when we go clarinet-hunting, and I'm afraid that the frenzy of clarinet fever only clouds our judgement toward buying the wrong thing on impulse. .

Post Edited (2017-11-14 20:59)

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 Re: Restore my R13 or save up for new in a few years?
Author: Kalashnikirby 
Date:   2017-11-13 10:28

seabreeze aand Ray are right, once you test other instruments in reality, you might even find yourself disappointed. 1980 or earlier R13s are highly sought after as they were made in a time before Buffet started ageing the wood in a kiln and procuring some nasty measures to reduce costs.

If your instrument is in a good condition, other than worn plating, I'd overhaul it. Simply start looking for new clarinets by asking colleagues to try theirs when there's a little time, you'll surely see a number of different instruments in all the orchestras you (will) play in. They might likewise be interested to check out a vintage Buffet. Win-Win.

Not sure whether today's instrument have tuning issues. In my experience, once you pay 2k or more, there's little to worry about, perhaps because tone holes can be accurately placed using CNC.


Post Edited (2017-11-13 10:28)

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 Re: Restore my R13 or save up for new in a few years?
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2017-11-13 10:51

Hi Musikat

Really good questions here. The 1977 R13 I think was the early redesigned larger bore. Fellow readers can surely correct me on this one. So the question I have is what is it worth? If it's the smaller bore yes I would seriously consider redoing it.

First off I wouldn't silver plate the keys, unless you are deeply attached to the horn. If the horn was in the 1960's or late 1950's and played like a dream I'd think about nickel plating it. Here's why. This is just what I've noticed through many years. Nickel plated horns outsell silver plating. It's not the cost either. In fact some players go to great lengths to have the posts buffed out, removal of the plating, silver or nickel. Are they nuts? Well many years ago I worked at Rico and my horns were ripped off. Included were 3 Selmer Mark 6 saxes. People that buy these 1960's Mark 6 horns now do NOT want them plated. Just buffed out. They all claim the sound changes. In fact if they are replated/relacquered the price drops about $2000 and up.

I've actually been tempted to remove the silver plating on one of my Yamaha clarinets. Just to see if it made a difference. I know there will be a difference, but will the effort be of any benefit? The horns play so well the desire to tackle such a job just isn't worth it, but I may mess with the posts on the upper joint and start there. Then make a decision.

So if you keep your Buffet, go nickel or leave it alone. There is this cool guy that works for Yamaha, but also works on Buffet's. In fact I was talking with him about a month ago and he was working on Robert Marcellus's old clarinets! So if you decide to restore your horn this is the person I would go to. He is in NYC. Email me if you want to restore the Buffet. He even makes barrels so maybe he can fix some of the tuning issues.

The only thing I would ask of you is to test the latest horns. You may want to wait just 2 more months. The reason is Yamaha always introduces their latest new pro horns. Last year they came out with 2. I think they may do the same this year at the NAMM Convention. Leblanc was talking about a pro Bliss horn coming out. This is coming from the mouth Julian Bliss himself. We know each other a bit. It might be worth seeing if it shows up at NAMM.

Good luck! Oh, I played a mess of horns for about 8 months and went with the Yamaha CSVR's. Are there better horns? I don't know. The Selmer Signature was excellent, but it did not play like a Buffet, so you will need an adjustment period. Buffet topline horns are hard to find several of them to test. Your choice is therefore limited.

Not long ago someone that subs with the National Sym said my horns sounded better than Loren Kitt (sadly passed away) who played on CSVR's, I was a tad bit angry. Maybe I just have a better sound! So the Yamaha's are very good to test out. You do not have to play 10 or 15 Yamaha's. Just a few will do. They are set up ready to play a concert that night. If you have trouble finding a store that has one hit me up with an email.

I have a strong feeling Yamaha will have another pro line. CS - something at NAMM. A smaller bore compared to the SEVR series.

Designer of - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces and the La Vecchia mouthpieces

Yamaha Artist 2015

Post Edited (2017-11-13 11:20)

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 Re: Restore my R13 or save up for new in a few years?
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2017-11-13 11:16

I have one last thing to add. If you get your horn fixed, remember a few things. Mouthpiece bores have tapers and so few of them are accurate. Then you have barrels. Again very few are accurate. The bore in your horn surely has changed so a really great repairman can adjust this with correct reamers. Reamers are like drill bits. Some are long some are short but reamers are tapered and often handmade by good clarinet repairmen.

So let's now advance knowing that your clarinet bore is set to the right specs. You play it but some notes are out of tune. The next step is finding a barrel. There are all sorts of them. Some are tapered, some are straight, and some have a reverse taper. Some tapers may be as much as a 32nd of an inch from the top to the bottom. For me I like 1/128" reverse. Your repairman can set you up correctly with a good barrel. Often they make their own. Now if some notes are still off the repairman can adjust these using methods such as undercutting the holes, making the holes bigger, or filling some holes. With all of this work completed you may have one gem of a horn.

If you are stuck for a repairman. Bob Scott in East Lansing, Michigan is still at it at the age of 93 or something like that. He makes his own barrels. I can refer you to the man in NYC, but not online here. Drop me an email.

Forgive me, I am sure there are others, so please add to the list of excellent repairmen.

The bore on your mouthpiece should be of great concern so email me about this too; if interested. I'll give you the measurements, or buy the new Selmer mouthpiece. That bore is correct. I think it's called the Concept or the Focus. Sells for $100. Whichever is the latest mouthpiece made.

Designer of - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces and the La Vecchia mouthpieces

Yamaha Artist 2015

Post Edited (2017-11-13 11:28)

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 Re: Restore my R13 or save up for new in a few years?
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2017-11-13 12:10

I always suggest people restore their beloved clarinets instead of buying new. That way, they have the familiarity of their instrument, but a full rebuild will make it feel and play better than a new one.

It means you're not going to have the arduous task of trying everything out to find the one you like at the time, then having to take time to get used to it if it's something very different to what you set out to get.

Any pro model clarinet is worth fully restoring and that will still cost far less than the price of a brand new pro or intermediate level instrument.

Don't get bogged down by 'it's not worth spending X amount on as I only paid X amount for it' - a pro level clarinet is a pro level clarinet no matter how old or how little you may have paid for it. If you were to replace it with a new one, then you're going to have to spend thousands whereas a complete rebuild will be in the hundreds.


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 Re: Restore my R13 or save up for new in a few years?
Author: Musikat 
Date:   2017-11-13 15:39

Thanks for the responses so far. Just a couple of clarifications. I am not considering whether to service my clarinet or not. I definitely do and will have it serviced. This is about whether I go the extra mile (and expense) of having all the keys taken off and polished (or replated), refinish the logo and have it made "pretty." I do not need to save for an A, as I already have a Buffet A clarinet. It needs servicing, but a tech told me it was a really good instrument and not to sell it a few years ago when I was considering doing that. So if and when I join an orchestra I would get it fixed and I'm good to go. I have a good tech I like that is very reasonable and have contacted him for his pricing. But I am also considering going to Wesley Rice for the overhaul (which is where I got the prices, from his website)

Bob, you mentioned mouthpieces and barrels, which is interesting. I recently purchased a new mouthpiece and barrel, which did help with tuning for a while. That is one reason I wonder whether it just needs a tune-up. I definitely don't need a new mouthpiece (I purchased a Gregory Smith 1+), but I do wonder about barrels. In my mouthpiece search I also tried Grabner. It was a close decision but I liked the Smith better, but also found that Grabner's barrel opened up the sound of the Smith mouthpiece nicely, so also bought that.

I have been wondering if a Chadash (or Moennig) barrel would be worth trying. Smith recommends Chadash with his mouthpieces, I believe. I wanted to try it then but he didn't have any in stock to sell with the mouthpiece and I can't find any shops in my area that have them to try.

Lastly, does anyone know if the 1977 R13 is a "small bore" or larger bore, as mentioned above? Do I have a golden era instrument?

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 Re: Restore my R13 or save up for new in a few years?
Author: ClarinetRobt 
Date:   2017-11-13 18:05

FYI, I just had John Butler in Sugarland, TX, overhaul my Prestige and he did a hell of a job. He also can get the keys replayed. (He personally did some silver touch ups on the RH joint that looks great and saved me money.)

Saturday he let me hangout with him while he did a small adjustment on the bridge key. It made all the difference yesterday while playing a gig. I don't remember my horn playing so well. He was also kind enough to mess with my Ridenour C. As a matter a fact I'll probably ship it to him today and let him swap the Valentino pads for cork. The skin pads are having sealing issues driving me crazy.
He's a super nice man. Great sense of humor. A goggle search will get you contact info.
I agree with my peers. Fix your classic R13 before hunting for a horn. Even the A can be brought up to better than new...fix any grunting issues for example.

~Robert L Schwebel
Mthpc: Behn Vintage, Lig: Ishimori, Reed: Aria 4, Legere Euro Signature 3.75, Horns: Uebel Superior, Ridenour Lyrique

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 Re: Restore my R13 or save up for new in a few years?
Author: Steven Ocone 2017
Date:   2017-11-13 18:17

I would probably recommend against re-plating unless it is solely for your own enjoyment. Also, plating silver over nickel can be tricky.

Steven Ocone
Ann & Steve's Music

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 Re: Restore my R13 or save up for new in a few years?
Author: Ed 
Date:   2017-11-13 19:50

The plating is no issue unless you really care about the looks of the instrument. I know some who buy old horns and have this done. My instruments have gotten quite worn over the years. I don't see it. When I play, it doesn't matter.

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 Re: Restore my R13 or save up for new in a few years?
Author: dorjepismo 2017
Date:   2017-11-13 20:01

Played with people who seek out R13s of that time or older in preference to looking at new horns, and given what they do for a living, cost isn't a significant factor. Probably better to get a good overhaul and see where that gets you. B and C are sharp for nearly everyone without doing something to adjust.

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 Re: Restore my R13 or save up for new in a few years?
Author: jthole 
Date:   2017-11-13 23:04

I play a 1972 Buffet, and if yours plays anything like mine, I would cherish it indeed. I don't think I would fill in the logos. That would make it too "newish" looking for me.

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 Re: Restore my R13 or save up for new in a few years?
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2017-11-14 02:52

I've always been told that there's not a good (clean/original-looking) way to restore the logos. The ones on my 1950s Moennig Buffet (not even sure if it's an R-13 or pre) aren't deep enough to hold any kind of crayon. They'd have to be engraved deeper to be re-colored.


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 Re: Restore my R13 or save up for new in a few years?
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2017-11-14 14:34
Attachment:  PB100002 (1).JPG (708k)
Attachment:  PB100002.JPG (694k)

If the logos are stamped well so they're nice and deep into the joint surface, then restoring them is very easy.

If they're stamped lightly (with heat activated adhesive foil), stamped unevenly or printed on, then they're not easy to near impossible to restore.

Older Selmers and Leblancs have logos that are stamped or engraved well as were older Buffets, but newer ones had them stamped very shallow.


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 Re: Restore my R13 or save up for new in a few years?
Author: TomS 
Date:   2017-11-14 18:39

Restore your clarinet ... your 1977 clarinet is likely better than current production (although I like the current greenline R13s, a lot).

After restoration, you can visit the barrel/MP options. Only tweak one parameter at a time, and give yourself plenty of time to evaluate each change.

If most of your issues can't be addressed, the R13s have good resale/trade-in value. The Yamaha CSVR might be about the best upgrade for the R13.


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 Re: Restore my R13 or save up for new in a few years?
Author: Clarineteer 
Date:   2017-11-15 04:46

I just finished restoring a 1974 R13 Bb and I would put it up against a new R13 any day. This particular clarinet has it all.

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 Re: Restore my R13 or save up for new in a few years?
Author: Musikat 
Date:   2017-11-15 08:33

Thanks, everyone for all the suggestions. I have decided to have it fully overhauled, but not plated in silver. Maybe he can touch up where the nickel has worn off. I'll ask.

My logo is quite faded but he has pictures on his website of some beautiful logo restoration on Buffets, so it is worth asking anyway. It is a good horn and has served me well for many years. I just want it to look and play its best, now that I am getting my chops back and playing at a higher level.

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