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 First Thoughts on Uebel's Superior Bb
Author: ClarinetRobt 
Date:   2017-11-14 23:35

I always get a kick out of reading other's impressions on instruments. So here's my thoughts. Last night I started auditioning Uebel's Superior Bb in Wind Symphony. I swapped several times between it and my 90s Buffet Prestige (not RC).

*The instrument is heavy, literally. But it's a good thing. It feels beefy and beautifully constructed. Probably the best grenadilla I've ever seen on a clarinet - though I haven't been keeping score. The silver plating seems identical to a CSVR - certainly superior to my Prestige. The alt LH Eb seemed welled positioned for my paws.

*I know talking about sound is an esoteric thing. My random adjectives probably won't mean much to most reading this. The sound is warm, very warm - round - probably lacking some overtones compared to my Prestige. My first thought was I sounded like Dieter Klocker...kinda pingy in quality? I'll let you decide whether that's a good or bad thing. I liked it. (I was using my Behn Rod Rubber mouthpiece, Aria 4/Euro Signature Legere 3.75, Ishimori Rose Gold Ligature).

*At ff, it seems like the horn was holding me back. I couldn't push it to an almost grotesque quality. At first I was annoyed, now I'm not sure if it's not a good thing though...for quality sake. As I understand it, Uebel has other models for greater flexibility. No, I didn't try the Rhapsody in Blue gliss last night, so I'm not sure if the horn (player) can execute it. So I tried an experiment...

* I put on my Behn rod rubber barrel-hourglass. The change kept the German-ish quality, but definitely added more color to the sound. More importantly it increased my dynamic range. I really think I'm on to something.

*With a litany of other clarinets, oboes and flutes surrounding me, I didn't do any fine tuning on the horn. But within the ensemble, I seemed fine. Using resonant fingerings, seemed to flatten the throat notes too much. (I've read somewhere there's an adjustment period to the horns intonation...pretty sure that would be true with any instrument.) I needed no Eb RH pinky key for D6...that's a great thing in my book. Clarion seemed terrific and probably the horns best register. The chalumeau had the same resistance as my Ridenour Libertas...different than any Buffet I've played.

*I tried a couple of times to sneak in on a few clarion notes. (Think opening Bb in Concertino.) Yep, the horns wins hands down for beautiful ppppp entrances. You don't have to kill yourself and there's a security/confidence Buffet cannot deliver on.

*Maybe the best test of the night. The last 30 minutes I handed the Superior to my 17 year old all-stater playing 2nd. I also gave him my Fobes Europa #3 mouthpiece on the fly. -- I've asked on the Bboard about mouthpiece options (Thanks Bob can't wait for the Selmer!) to kill his overly bright sound. -- This set-up Uebel/Fobes changed his entire sound immediately. I quote my kid, "I sound like Sabine." Not sure about that, but he sounded terrific compared to his CL4/R13. Pretty sure he'd bought the horn on site if he had $4K in his pocket.

Bottom line...it's a beautiful instrument. For me, it delivered on the hype. Was it better than my hand picked, custom tailored Prestige? Ehh, probably not because I'm use to my Buffet...it has me trained to it's idiosyncrasies from playing it 20 years. But I can see why anyone would love this horn. It was ready to go out of the box with no mechanical issues that I saw or heard. Now I wait patiently for NAMM and see what Yamaha rolls out. I'll make my final decision after testing Yamaha's offerings. (I know I already love the CSVR!) I'll wait to compare/contrast the two when I have them both in my hands. Right now I'd say the CSVR and Uebel are a tie when I compare them using my mental computer.

~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: First Thoughts on Uebel's Superior Bb
Author: Kalashnikirby 
Date:   2017-11-15 00:08

ClarinetRobt wrote:

> I always get a kick out of reading other's impressions on
> instruments.

So do I :) - thanks for your thoughts on this horn! I certainly had less time testing it, but I think it's no secret by now that Uebels are real winners.
While I didn't find the ff to be limiting to me, I do agree that it somehow seems less flexible. It's all worth it for me if the notes like the Concertino Bb (tried that, too!) are so much "safer".

The mechanical quality is excellent, too. Hard to compare to Yamaha, but Yamahas remain the most affordable clarinets, while the Uebel might have a more solid keywork and nicer looking wood. It's so unfortunate Uebel had to raise the prices, I know it was available for 3k€ 2 years ago - the more than 20% increase seems unreasonable.

-Christian



Post Edited (2017-11-15 00:08)

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 Re: First Thoughts on Uebel's Superior Bb
Author: seabreeze 
Date:   2017-11-15 00:15

Robert,

Thanks for sharing your impressions. But search on Google for Uebel Superior II and Uebel Excellence clarinets for that company's latest entries on the pro clarinet market. Both are listed on one version of this site, if you can get it to come up:
http://www.uebel-klarinetten.de/index_en.html.

Uebel is introducing new models, including a "Superior II," which is supposed to have an improved (exactly how?) bore, and an "Excellence" model designed expressly for orchestral playing (so what are the other models designed for?) Also a new student "Etude" plastic model, and a rose gold version of the first Superior model. Are the newer (higher priced?) models better in some way or just more boutique? I guess we'll eventually sort it all out.

In the end, selection of a clarinet has a subjective quality that even the most objective cannot completely discard. Someone I know has a magnificent S&S 1000 Boehm clarinet with all the best wood and intricate venting and I still prefer the way they sound on their old Buffet. (But I won't tell them that).

It's good to know that Behn's barrel is adaptable enough to work on a Uebel,

I commend you for sticking to the performance qualities of the instrument and not worrying about where Uebels are "really" made. Finally, how the thing plays is the most important consideration. Your review has motivated me to try the Uebel offerings again, including the most recent additions if I can find them.



Post Edited (2017-11-15 22:02)

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 Re: First Thoughts on Uebel's Superior Bb
Author: Kalashnikirby 
Date:   2017-11-15 00:22

They seem to have as good as no marketing dept. though - as many German clarinet makers, they fail at updating their websites, delivering information, maybe even post a video... Apperently, it's an arduous task to write a short text on a clarinet's properties.
Uebel is currently having a new workshop set up at Markneukirchen, I suppose it'll take them a while until the new clarinets are produced there and then some to ship them to the US,

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 Re: First Thoughts on Uebel's Superior Bb
Author: dorjepismo 2017
Date:   2017-11-15 02:56

Is that where Fritz Wurlitzer was?

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 Re: First Thoughts on Uebel's Superior Bb
Author: Peter B 
Date:   2017-11-15 11:37

the link would actually be http://www.uebel-klarinetten.de/index_en.html



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 Re: First Thoughts on Uebel's Superior Bb
Author: Peter B 
Date:   2017-11-15 11:48

... and as good as no sales dept. either. A couple of years ago I briefly tested their Emperior bass at a clarinet festival in Ghent where they had a small stand and was quite impressed. I asked for a list of shops where I would be able to find them, but I never got an answer... I hope they're improving on that.

Peter.



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 Re: First Thoughts on Uebel's Superior Bb
Author: dorjepismo 2017
Date:   2017-11-15 17:41

Weiner, Dawkes and Howarth all list the Emperor for sale online. Haven't tried one, but also have seen nothing but positive reviews from people who would know. Sure right about the marketing; without playing one of their instruments, you wouldn't guess how good they are from their materials. Maybe they just sell all they can make and don't want to hassle an extended waiting period.

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 Re: First Thoughts on Uebel's Superior Bb
Author: Kalashnikirby 
Date:   2017-11-15 18:43

I don't know, why'd they expand their business at this speed then? The point of creating a new line of Boehm clarinets and building a new factory (AFAIK their higher level Boehms are made in Markneukirchen!) is to ship them to other countries, for there isn't a big demand here in Germany. On the contrary, a horn like the Superior needs to be marketed towards pros in the US and find its way into more important orchestras for people to notice it. And to justify the rather high price.
Buffet is aware of this and has also acknowlegded that in today's economy, teasing with new stuff, even when it's not that different from the older releases, is the way to keep the customer interested. Does anyone need a Tradition or Legende? No, but they're new, shiny and exciting, plus you can make up some b*** story about how it's a revolutionary new bore design with roots in the golden ages of clarinet making (it's a cylindrical bore from when the R13 wasn't created yet...)
Sadly for many German instrument makers, they haven't realized all this yet. So I'm puzzled at Uebel creating an entirely new Instrument, the Excellence, but there's nothing more to find out. When this one and the Superior II are availabe, I'll try them for sure.



Post Edited (2017-11-15 18:44)

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 Re: First Thoughts on Uebel's Superior Bb
Author: gatto 
Date:   2017-11-15 19:20

>And to justify the rather high price.

Is it really high? You get it for about 3700 Euro here in Germany. It's the same price level as the RC Prestige. It is the top model of Uebel's Boehm clarinets (except maybe the new Excellence). And if its quality level is as high as described here then I would say the price is more than justified. Compared to high end Oehler clarinets, not to speak of other instruments like the oboe, this is quite a low price.

When will the Superior II be available? And what will be the difference to the non-II?

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 Re: First Thoughts on Uebel's Superior Bb
Author: dorjepismo 2017
Date:   2017-11-15 21:06

"Is it really high? You get it for about 3700 Euro here in Germany." Or £3,145 at Dawkes, which is even better. The U.S. has a pretty substantial mark-up, to be polite. Also, don't know about Uebel, but the employees at a lot of the small makers either have government certification as instrument makers or are working toward that, which is a relatively high level of qualification.

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 Re: First Thoughts on Uebel's Superior Bb
Author: ClarinetRobt 
Date:   2017-11-15 23:11

I just heard back from Claire at Moe-Bleichner (super, super nice lady, very knowledgeable and helpful...goes a long way with me making an ultimate decision for my final purchase). Here's what she said about the up and coming Superior II and Excellence:
"From my understanding the main difference from the Superior to the Superior II is that the Superior II will have carbon rings on the body joints and barrels."
&
"The Uebel Excellence is going to have a different bore than the superior and also feature a special cast metal ring with floral ornamentation, metal tenons, and a metal socket on lower joint."

So in a nutshell the carbon rings will decrease weight on the instrument (some my find that a nice thing, plus change the aesthetics.) Like a car that needs to function well, it's always nice for it to look great. I suspect I could do without the floral ornamentation on the Excellence. That's just me though.

Those instruments are probably 18 months out. Not worth the wait in my book. The Superior is superior enough.

~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: First Thoughts on Uebel's Superior Bb
Author: dorjepismo 2017
Date:   2017-11-16 00:12

According to a comment on the S&S website, carbon fiber also makes it a bit freer-blowing:

"The tip rings on the barrel, bottom joint, and bell may be ordered in either the traditional style (silver-plated brass), or as a carbon fiber ring. Apart from the optical difference the latter slightly reduces the blowing resistance."

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 Re: First Thoughts on Uebel's Superior Bb
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2017-11-16 00:13

Not long ago I play tested this horn and thought it was very good. I liked it so much I almost bought it, but I didn't. Here's why. It is such a great warm sounding horn, I felt that it wouldn't fit into most US orchestras, meaning that it sounded beautiful, but not close enough to what we in America are known to hear from a clarinet sound. So I walked away from buying it.

However it is a gem. The key work is special. Everything is tight. The notes speak really well. The horn is a tad bit heavy. I think if it was less heavy the sound would meet that needs of what I was looking for. The workmanship is so excellent and clean.

I may revisit this and buy a set of horns. I really like the warmth of the sound. But is it too warm? I'm not sure. It does remind me of the beautiful Selmer Recital model. A well made heavy clarinet. But the Selmer Signature I feel has more of a ring and the sound carries better. But I only played on one Uebel. So we cannot make a true positive decision on just one instrument. This surely isn't fair. Anyway, it is a great horn for sure. I see why it is getting good reviews. It deserves it. When playing the horn I really enjoyed the low notes. Such a full rich sound. The best out of any clarinet I've ever played on. Above the high C break this one horn had some issues with tuning, but different fingering would solve this. I would have liked to have played this in my studio where I'm used to the sound. The testing room where I was had carpet everywhere and cork ceilings. Totally dead.

A note to music stores selling horns, make your testing rooms sound good! No carpets, bigger than a box, you get the idea.

STEUER REEDS Importer played by Sabine Meyer

NEWLY DESIGNED "Vintage 1940 Cicero" Mouthpieces

Yamaha Artist




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 Re: First Thoughts on Uebel's Superior Bb
Author: seabreeze 
Date:   2017-11-16 00:17

Next thing we know, they may start decorating clarinets the way they do saxes and trumpets. Maybe an engraving of the periodic table or a stargazer's map, and a different exotic wood for each segment--tulip barrel, rosewood upper joint, cocuswood bottom joint, bamboo bell, rainbow opalescent keys, and pearl rings between the joints.

Seriously, it is a shame when advertising copy does not mirror tech specifications. The little ads for the new high range models do say "new bore," not "now offering your choice of floral decoration." And, yes, all the clarinet-making companies are doing this now.

I also tried only one Uebel Superior and had many of the same questions as those raised by Bob. The Superior is weighty in the hands like a Selmer Recital and produces a lovely, round, lush sound. It is beautifully made and finely finished. Fitting the tone into accustomed categories is not easy because it doesn't have the vibrant ringing quality of a Buffet nor does it quite match the characteristic sound of an Oehler. Next time I try one, I will have a friend listen from a distance (also trade places and do the same for him or her). Also I'll try to hear projection in comparison with a good Buffet and a Yamaha CSVR.

Of course, how a clarinet projects without amplification is not always the right way of determining its value. Jazz players with mike attachments or players doing mostly studio recording work have to consider how the instrument works in those situations.



Post Edited (2017-11-20 05:38)

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 Re: First Thoughts on Uebel's Superior Bb
Author: Kalashnikirby 
Date:   2017-11-16 03:30

I don't know whether Backun or Buffet started this trend, but now everyone wants to make sleek looking clarinets. The competition is growing and perhaps manufactures need to think of something new?

Bob, you're right, I doubt the US orchestras would be well-disposed towards this extremely warm sound. It'd be the ideal horn (apart from Reform-Boehm) for me to blend into our German-clarinet-equipped orchestras, but the Excellence hopefully appeals to the Buffet-spoiled audience :)

I'm really torn. I've returned to my old symphonic amateur orchestra; sometimes, I love my RC's sound shining over everything, sometimes I feel like it could be annoying. To have just more 2 different clarinets...

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 Re: First Thoughts on Uebel's Superior Bb
Author: DG74 
Date:   2017-11-16 07:14

I'm glad to see the Uebel clarinets getting some attention! I play an Uebel Preference Bb and I couldn't be happier with it! For those of you shying away from Uebel in the US may I humbly suggest the Preference model?

The Preference is supposed to be the Uebel pro level horn closest to the American sound and feel: at least from the marketing I've encountered. However, I find it to be a fantastic blend between German and American sounds. I am partial to the German sound, but what really drove me towards the Preference was the cost which was $1000 less than the Superior.

It's no doubt the finest clarinet I've played on, my previous instruments being Buffet R13s and Festivals (Bb and A). Intonation is impeccable, altissimo is sweet and effortless, and ergonomically the key work is fantastic. I've had a few of my trusted techs look at it and do some minor upkeep, and they've all been very impressed with the craftsmanship.

I play in 2 symphonic bands, and my cohorts are always quick to compliment the tone when I play solos. I find no problems with blending or with penetrating through the ensemble, when need be.

The tone is dark, but complex, and never dull. I'm not so eloquent, but to put it simply, it sounds the way I wanted my Buffets to sound. Smooth and rich, but lively, too. And it's just so much fun to play! I felt like I was always working when I played the Buffets, but that's a thing of the past with this instrument.

And I, too, can't say enough great things about the wonderful people at Moe Bleichner in the US; they'll set up trials for you, and are readily accessible for questions or concerns. Fantastic customer service!

I kind of regret not trying out a Superior, I'm sure I would have fallen in love with it from everyone's descriptions. It was a cost thing for me. Would the Superior blend as well as the Preference? Maybe not. Would I care? Probably not! (although I don't make my living playing ;)

Unfortunately for orchestra players, the Preference only comes in Bb for now. I asked the folks at Moe Bleichner if an A was in the works but they weren't sure. At the time Uebel was concentrating on the Eb (I'd love to try one of those!). I don't see the Eb on the US website yet.

I hope Uebel gets a better presence in the US. I think the Preference, for the quality and sound, is a steal at 3 K (US). The wood quality alone could easily demand a higher price.

I've been around long enough and played with enough ensembles that I can't see any reason why the Preference wouldn't fit perfectly into an orchestral setting, at least here in the States. But maybe that's just not what the German makers hear when they play the Preference.

Anyway, just my 2 cents; obviously the Superior is a top quality horn but wanted to give my shining endorsement for the model you don't hear about as much.



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 Re: First Thoughts on Uebel's Superior Bb
Author: dorjepismo 2017
Date:   2017-11-16 18:53

Even in Berlin, where you don't play something other than German system, the two principals don't sound the same. If you talk about an "American sound" and include both Marcellus and Wright, you're not narrowing it down that much. It's true that some American orchestras have a particular sound in mind when they audition people, but a really great player with a sound that people aren't entirely used to is still going to find someplace to play. And if you listen to quintet recordings from Europe and the U.S., it can seem like European groups often emphasize blending a lot more than American ones. In lots of European orchestras now, the section might have serious differences in equipment, but you hear a nicely-blended sound. Good players will make it sound right in a section. It's certainly true, though, that if you're auditioning for second, you don't want to play with a sound that's totally different from the principal's.

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 Re: First Thoughts on Uebel's Superior Bb
Author: ClarinetRobt 
Date:   2017-11-18 02:27

Andreas Moe (R&D, Quality Control) with Moe-Bleichner Music Distribution offered some additional information concerning the Superior II and Excellence...

"Maybe another quick word about the Superior II with carbon rings: it is, as Claire pointed out, an overall lighter version of the Superior; that refers to its overall weight and wall thickness as well as to its sound. It's going to be a less "German" or romantic sounding clarinet, positioned between the Superior and the Excellence, the brightest of the trio."

I appreciate Andreas offering a quick explanation clarifying the tonality (perhaps marketing positioning) between the three models. If only other brands would do the something comparable.

~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: First Thoughts on Uebel's Superior Bb
Author: Sean.Perrin 
Date:   2017-11-19 05:26

Great clarinets! Got to try a few and they are really enjoyable to play. I love how the classic model (considered an intermediate instrument) offers an alternate E-flat lever option, silver plate, great keywork, and an unstained grenadilla look.

PS: See here for a full-length podcast episode about Uebel products (and some others) with Andreas and Victoria Moe of Moe-Bleichner Music Distribution.

https://clarineat.com/56-uebel-esm/



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