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 Student Instrument for mature beginner
Author: Darrwall 
Date:   2018-08-13 00:41

I am a 78-year old who took up the clarinet a few years ago. I play at a fairly elementary level but am endeavouring to improve, I use a Boosey and Hawkes plastic Regent instrument which I bought in 1980 and stored away and which is in very good condition.

Would I be helping myself by purchasing a modern beginners instrument like for example the Backun Alpha or Yamaha 255s? Would progress be even quicker with a professional model like the Yamaha CSG or CSVR, or would that simply be a waste of money at my stage?

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 Re: Student Instrument for mature beginner
Author: fernie121 
Date:   2018-08-13 00:59

Personally, I find the entry-pro level the best value. It will help you get a great sound which will make playing much more enjoyable. The Yamaha csvr is a great example of this. (It has a very pretty sound that sort of begs to be played). You could even find decent clarinets at this level used for a great price if you are okay with something that isn’t new and shiny. That being said, something like the Yamaha student clarinet works fine. I used one my first year in college with okay results.

I would make sure you are using a decent mouthpiece as it can mean the difference between enjoyment and constantly being frustrated.

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 Re: Student Instrument for mature beginner
Author: Caroline Smale 
Date:   2018-08-14 03:52

The B&H Regent was a decent student instrument in it's day but is a bit dated now.
You don't need a pro instrument but a decent intermediate one would work well.

A second had Yamaha 450 or even 650 is a possible choice as is the Buffet E13.
There are also very good Leblanc instruments around, often at knock down prices (as they are not considered "fashionable")

As fermie121 said the choice of a decent mouthpiece is vital. The one's that come with the Yamahas are OK, the Buffet less so.

There are plenty of threads here discussing good entry level mouthpieces.

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 Re: Student Instrument for mature beginner
Author: Darrwall 
Date:   2018-08-16 23:29

Fernie121 and Caroline Smale:

Thank you very much for your helpful advice. I will bear it in mind when I get round to buying a new instrument.

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 Re: Student Instrument for mature beginner
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2018-08-17 00:25

If you like your B&H Regent, then there's no reason why you can't spend the money on having it fully overhauled which will probably be around the cost of a brand new plastic clarinet, but it will end up much better finished than a brand new one.

I've overhauled older plastic clarinets for players that wanted them in top playing form for both full-time use as well as for sentimental value if they've had them from new back in the '70s and can't bear to part with them for next to nothing if they were to sell them in less than playable condition.

It is a shame to see older plastic clarinets that are perfectly serviceable end up gathering dust if people think they're not worth spending money on, so you have to try and justify and put things into perspective here.

What would you rather have? Something you're familiar with but put into top playing condition (and better than it ever was even when new) or a brand new one that has only just passed basic quality control criteria?


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 Re: Student Instrument for mature beginner
Author: MusicMadnessShirts 
Date:   2018-08-18 23:14

If you like what you have and it works well, there’s no need to switch. If you’re adamant about upgrading, there’s always super cheap things you can get at retailers like Sam Ash or Music and Arts. Alternatively you could get a Buffet E11 which is wooden and is a good step up/intermediate clarinet. Personally I think they are priced too high buying it new as the price has gone up in recent years. With that being said, it’s common to find those on the market used.

It may also help getting a new mouthpiece. The Vandoren B-40/B-45 is a great mouthpiece that you could pick up for about $70-$80. I just switched to a M-13 from the B-45. I have nothing bad to say about it.

Good luck on your journey, keep practicing!

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 Re: Student Instrument for mature beginner
Author: Clarineteer 
Date:   2018-08-19 07:57

Buy yourself a great used overhauled and setup R13 Bb which will hold its value if you should decide to sell it.

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 Re: Student Instrument for mature beginner
Author: Darrwall 
Date:   2018-08-20 00:14

One of the reasons I asked my original question was the assertion by one of the UK’s leading flautists (now retired) that present day student flutes were as good as top of the range instruments of 50 - 60 years ago. If that applied to clarinets then current student models should be much better than my B and H Regent which I bought in 1980 and which had probably been designed decades before that.

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 Re: Student Instrument for mature beginner
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2018-08-20 01:22

I don't think the new entry level instruments being made now are a patch on their predecessors - yes they may incorporate new production techniques to keep the costs down and some of the design features found on some pro models, but they're still not finished to a great standard due to their price and often need a fair bit of setting up when new (then again that's true with some pro level clarinets).


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 Re: Student Instrument for mature beginner
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2018-08-20 15:33

Just to put things into the frame, here are the prices of new plastic clarinets:

Howarth Academy - £349
Buffet Prodige - £439
Yamaha YCL-255 - £512
Backun Alpha - £560

Or you could have your B&H Regent completely overhauled to a professional standard for around the cost of the Howarth Academy.

If you were to buy a brand new plastic clarinet, what would become of your Regent? It would be a shame for it to end up gathering dust when it could be turned into a nice player for less than the cost of one of the big name ones.


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 Re: Student Instrument for mature beginner
Author: shmuelyosef 
Date:   2018-08-21 05:37

Just to put my two cents in...I completely agree with Chris P. When I have spare time, I buy "student" clarinets (I'm partial to Vitos) and do a thorough overhaul on them. I like the Vitos because they are inherently in tune, and the headless point screws make it easy to snug up most of the keywork.

I recently discovered a pair of B&H 1-10 clarinets languishing and purchased them and did some setup and minor mods; they certainly play as well as the Vitos, with a different but very nice timbre. The keywork isn't quite as nice as the Leblanc keys on the Vitos, but perfectly serviceable and nicely quirky (the extended Eb/Bb trill touch and LH C key with the crosshatch).

Both of these are much freer-blowing and (IMHO) more pleasant-sounding than the Yamaha 2x and 25x horns...I find the Alphas to also be superior to the Yamahas, but the price for a new one is pretty high. You can get a nice Leblanc Sonata used for less than any of the horns listed.

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 Re: Student Instrument for mature beginner
Author: Ursa 
Date:   2018-08-21 19:34

Some time ago, I had my B&H 1-10 overhauled with cork pads installed on the normally-closed upper joint keys, and leather pads everywhere else.

Thus configured, it is a joyous instrument to play, and my favorite non-wooden clarinet in terms of timbre--rich and resonant, it can put a mediocre wooden clarinet to shame.

I also have a Backun Alpha, and while the key work is superb, the tone lacks the gravity and presence of the 1-10.

Put another way: In my experience, few non-wooden instruments have ever matched the tonal opulence of the B&H 1-10/Regent. The only thing that will hold you back is not maintaining it to a high standard.

Post Edited (2018-08-21 20:05)

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 Re: Student Instrument for mature beginner
Author: Kalashnikirby 
Date:   2018-08-22 16:58

I play tested a Buffer Prodige that actually had a great finish; the keywork (especially the side LH levers) had less play then some new wooden clarinets and the pads where actually nice leather ones. Truly impressive, especially when you consider that it was (partly) manufactured in China.
With a upgrade barrel and MPC, this could be a real winner.

Actually, I'm now thinking of selling my RC and get a plastic clarinet and buy a professional model eventually.

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 Re: Student Instrument for mature beginner
Author: graham 
Date:   2018-08-23 21:47

When I started, I was on a plastic Buffet, which was rubbish. A fellow student had a Regent, which was drastically better.
I agree with Chris P. The Regent will be difficult to improve on (assuming it tunes to your local pitch).

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