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 Why are student clarinets easier to play?
Author: Maruja 
Date:   2018-08-29 19:05

I have my E13 in for servicing so got out the plastic Buffet B12 to practise on instead. It is so much easier to play! Why is this? What is it about student level clarinets that make them 'student' level? And would it be worth replacing the barrel with something in wood? I tried putting a wooden barrel on but it whistled, so I assume that it did not fit properly. I think my B12 which I bought in a charity shop dates from the 80s.

Any ideas?

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 Re: Why are student clarinets easier to play?
Author: gatto 
Date:   2018-08-29 19:41

I don't think that this is generally true.

In my opinion the classification of clarinets in beginner--student--professional instruments is nonsense. There are only cheap clarinets and (middle and high) expansive clarinets, or in other words, low quality and (hopefully) high quality clarinets. But in single cases an expansive clarinet can be of weak quality (or it might be needing adjustments), and a cheap clarinet can be quite good.

Post Edited (2018-08-29 19:42)

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 Re: Why are student clarinets easier to play?
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2018-08-29 19:54

Although the word 'cheap' comes with its own connotations - usually dismissive and meaning Chinese - built and plays like crap as opposed to a beginner level clarinet like a B12, Vito, Bundy, Artley, B&H Regent or Yamaha YCL-2x/2xx which are better instruments even if they can be bought used for a good price.

A B12 isn't a low quality or cheap clarinet as the build quality is far from being cheap - it's in a very different league compared to a cheap Chinese clarinet.

If you had the choice to fully overhaul a B12 or a no-name Chinese one, the B12 will be the worthy candidate and will give decades of excellent service when the Chinese one wouldn't be worth it due to the poor quality build.

You can't polish a turd.


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 Re: Why are student clarinets easier to play?
Author: jdbassplayer 
Date:   2018-08-29 20:55

I think you said it yourself, your E13 needs servicing.

A well set up student instrument will almost always be easier to play than a broken intermediate clarinet. However if you were to have your E13 set up by someone who specializes in clarinets then it would almost certainly be better than the B12. The majority of the time, if an instrument is hard to play the problem is usually a small leak, often caused by chipped or rough toneholes or damaged pads. A good repairman can level toneholes, replace pads and eliminate leaks, making the instrument far easier to play.

That being said, maybe your E13 is just a dud and you just happen to have a great B12. There's nothing wrong with playing the B12 and getting rid of the E13 if it isn't working for you. The best instrument is the one that works for you.


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 Re: Why are student clarinets easier to play?
Author: bmcgar 2017
Date:   2018-08-29 21:06

I think that Maruja wanted a specific answer related to his/her own clarinets.

That said, we'd need to know what "easier to play" means. Less resistance? "Better" response? Better key layout for him-her?

I would guess that what Maruja means by "easier" is resistance, which varies between clarinet models, whether "student," "intermediate," or "professional," and to a lesser extent by individual instruments.

Resistance is related to bore dimensions, tone hole size, and other things, including the mouthpiece and reed used on a particular horn. (And it can also be affected by the mechanical setup of the individual instrument, especially if there are leaks or the pad venting isn't correct.)

Yes, changing the barrel may make a difference, but it's the design of the barrel, not whether it's wood, that will make the biggest difference.

Still would like to know precisely what "easier to play" means to Maruja, though.


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 Re: Why are student clarinets easier to play?
Author: Jeroen 
Date:   2018-08-29 23:41

A good student instrument (like the B12) is designed and built for a student that hasn't yet developed a firm air support and good embouchure. It should be easy to blow with low resistance.

However, a typical student clarinet lacks resonance and tonal depth that can be found in a professional clarinet. Some professional clarinets do need a good embouchure and good air support to achieve the higher level they were designed for and are actually more difficult to play for a student.

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 Re: Why are student clarinets easier to play?
Author: Tom H 
Date:   2018-08-30 08:26

As a player, I feel my Buffet R13s have over decades, played as easy as the student models I've had. And with much better tone.
As a retired Band Director who taught 1977-1996, I noticed in the latter of those years beginning student clarinets (Yamaha and others) were of much better quality than 20 years before. And they didn't break down as easy due to student abuse. I keep a student Selmer under my chair when playing concerts, just in case my Buffet loses a pad or busts a spring.

The Most Advanced Clarinet Book--Austin Macauley Publishers
tomheimer.ampbk.com/ Amazon, Sheet Music Plus
Boreal Ballad for unaccompanied clarinet--Sheet Music Plus

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 Re: Why are student clarinets easier to play?
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2018-08-31 07:00

I am in a mild disagreement here and think that a good well maintained pro instrument such as a Selmer or a Yamaha can play better. I think some instruments such as R13's can be resistant sometimes, thus the reason why we have to test 15, R13's before picking out one that works well.

Selmer's and Yamaha's are often free blowing and you don't have this resistance issue. I'm not sure about other companies. A used Selmer 9* and any Series 10 can be really sweet horns.

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

Yamaha Artist 2015

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 Re: Why are student clarinets easier to play?
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2018-08-31 11:28

All clarinets should play as easily as one another in that you're not having to use excessive finger pressure to force pads closed, key fit is as good as it has to be (you can't have absolutely textbook key fitting on plastic clarinets) and everything is well set up and regulated so the instrument plays easily.

Although the difference between entry level models and pro level ones are what sets them apart. Just to scratch the surface, beginner level plastic clarinets usually have straight toneholes so the tuning is more secure note by note whereas pro level clarinets usually have tapered and undercut toneholes to allow more flexibility to the player.

There are pro level clarinets with straight toneholes and entry level clarinets with tapered and undercut toneholes, chambered bells, etc. etc. so not everything is set in stone.

But the important factor is all woodwind instruments should be just as easy to play over their entire range as each other. If that's not the case, then either have the problem diagnosed and rectified or look for another one that does the job - if anything is proving to be a struggle, then that's only going to cause frustration for the player.


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 Re: Why are student clarinets easier to play?
Author: Maruja 
Date:   2018-08-31 21:25

Well, I have my E13 back - fully repadded and regulated by a very good technician. And it plays well. But I still like the B12 which I bought in a charity shop - it had the technician who looked after it's sticker in it - a very well known and highly thought of person, so I reckoned that it was not only well looked after but that the technician thought that it was worth looking after...

I think that BMCGAR is right when he says that I found it easier because it was less resistant.

My teacher said that most student clarinets have wider bores so that enables you to put more air down them... is that right?


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 Re: Why are student clarinets easier to play?
Author: shmuelyosef 
Date:   2018-09-02 03:17

Part of this might be expectations. I played an R13 for a long time and didn't know any better. I used a closed tip mouthpiece with a hard reed, but wanted to play big band, folk music, klezmer and jazz more than orchestra stuff.
One day a friend let me blow his Selmer Centered Tone with a VD B45 and I was blown away by the range of sounds I could get out of it and increased tonal flexibility. I have since gotten rid of my Buffet and have a CT and a Series 9 Selmer that are my primary instruments. The Buffet was great, but the resistance it presented was optimized for intonation control, where the Selmer was clearly optimized to volume/projection and tonal flexibility.
The last couple of years, I have gotten involved in a couple of underserved public school music programs and have helped them with fixing up some of their woodwinds, including clarinets. I started playing woodwinds as an adult with sufficient means to buy nice instruments without playing "student" horns, but had at least discovered that some student horns (mostly Yamaha 3x and 4x series saxophones) could be made to play extremely competently with nice tone if they were paired with well-designed mouthpieces that had competent facings.
I have discovered recently that Vito clarinets can behave similarly and indeed, they are nearly as competent as my older Selmers to play when properly set up. In some ways the keywork is superior, particularly on the recent ones.

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