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 What good is wood?
Author: notthatricardo 
Date:   2018-03-20 02:42

I'm one of those people who foolishly gave up playing clarinet in their teens and only realised the error of their ways 40 years later.

Anyway, i'm re-learning to play and have decided to treat myself to an intermediate (hate that term) or professional-level instrument.

However, i'm unable to decide whether to opt for a wooden clarinet or one made of a composite material, such as reinforced grenadilla, or hard rubber.

I suppose my heart is saying wood (for the sound quality) and my head is saying composite/rubber (for the dimensional stability and resistance to cracking).

A strong case for the latter is provided by a couple of YouTube videos which show two prominent Backun artists (Ricardo Morales and Jose Franch-Ballester) having their $8500 MoBa clarinets re-reamed by Morrie Backun to correct perceived playing deficiencies.

Is this sort of corrective measure unusual? And, if not, why go to the bother of using CNC machines to produce wooden clarinets to incredibly tight tolerances?

Apologies if these are naive questions!



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 Re: What good is wood?
Author: Roxann 
Date:   2018-03-20 03:47

I'm curious as to whether or not the tone inconsistencies across the registers are as frequent with composite clarinets as they are with wooden. I hope folks bring this up when they reply to you.

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 Re: What good is wood?
Author: dorjepismo 2017
Date:   2018-03-20 06:14

Dedicated partisans on both sides, and on the side that it doesn't make any difference. Really, it's the kind of thing where people need to try the alternatives for themselves, or at least the ones they can plausibly afford. That said, many people happily play their wooden instruments for decades without having them re-reamed, which isn't in fact a very common practice.

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 Re: What good is wood?
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2018-03-20 16:20

Reinforced or reconstituted grenadilla is by nature weaker than natural grenadilla as the natural tensile strength of the wood is gone as it's basically sawdust mixed with glue formed into billets.


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 Re: What good is wood?
Author: jonathan.wallaceadams 
Date:   2018-03-20 18:13

Try some on both sides a reputable shop is nearby. Record the sound and choose what feels and sounds best overall. Consider the climate in your area. Would wood be all that unstable where you are?

I like the sound of dense wood but I love the feel of hard rubber.

Just an aspiring student.
Buffet Tradition
Mpc.: Hawkins "G", Barrel: Moba, Reeds: Reserve 3.5+

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 Re: What good is wood?
Author: Kalashnikirby 
Date:   2018-03-21 12:34

I yet have to come across a clarinet that exists both in wood and hard rubber or ABS. To me, there's no disadvantage in hard rubber, but so far I'm not too sure about its tonal qualities, other than being a bit less vibrant andore direct sounding, which I wouldn't view as a disadvantage.

The Legere Bass Reed I've started using for example definitely cannot be discerned by a listener as "plastic" ; a pro once send me a few recordings and in some of them used a Legere reed - I was successfully deceived, finding the "plastic" versions to actually sound more natural, as if a fresher and better reed was used.

Ultimately, you have to try out on your own as the others said. All I'm saying is that a huge part of the clarinet(ish) sound is formed in your own mind. Also, a good mouthpiece has a considerable impact and one cannot switch to a decent examplar too soon.

Best regards,

Post Edited (2018-03-21 12:37)

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 Re: What good is wood?
Author: Caihlen 
Date:   2018-03-21 17:01

I play a Backun Alpha. My teacher has played it and she prounounced it "lovely sounding". She's the principal in the local Orchestra. I also think it sounds incredible. I bought it because I just couldn't swing a Ridenour Libertas which l also think sounds incredible. I feared for a wood instrument because of the climate I live in. Playing a synthetic horn has erased those fears.

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 Re: What good is wood?
Author: EaubeauHorn 
Date:   2018-03-21 23:01

I got a Libertas because of the climate condition, extreme heat and extreme dryness to near-zero humidity. I didn't want to deal with wood.

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 Re: What good is wood?
Author: DeletedUser 
Date:   2018-03-22 06:05

Right - they are going for almost 4000 for a particle board clarinet. They have the nerve - but you have people out there that rather save the trees. OK

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