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 New instrument feels hard to play. Need help!
Author: jsantos1 
Date:   2018-08-29 23:04

So recently I bought a new clarinet (a used Yamaha YCL-25) from an online shop. The guy told me the clarinet was revised, and the corks/pads where replaced and everything was tested before sending (which I believe he did so).
But when I got the instrument, I found it a little hard to play and some notes (especially C, Eb, E and G on the throat register) and they felt leaky/hissly. I imediately send a message to the guy and he told me he could refund my money, but asked me if I wouldn like to try the clarinet for another week and see if these problems weren't just me adapting to a new instrument. Also, this is a reputable shop and I'm quite sure they revised the instrument and tested before sending me. And I have to say that I'm coming from a generic cheap clarinet (which most of you would call "clarinet shaped object").

This brings me to the question I want to ask: Is this process normal? Is it possible for this to be a adaptation step to a new instrument? Is a new instrument supposed to feel "weird" at first?

I'm kinda confused if I should send back the clarinet or if I should keep trying to play it to see if it's just a adaptation problem.

Thanks in advance!

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 Re: New instrument feels hard to play. Need help!
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2018-08-29 23:31

jsantos1 wrote:

> But when I got the instrument, I found it a little hard to play
> and some notes (especially C, Eb, E and G on the throat
> register) and they felt leaky/hissly.
> Also, this is a reputable shop and I'm quite sure
> they revised the instrument and tested before sending me.

Are you using the same mouthpiece you've been using, or are you using one that came with the instrument? If you're using a different mouthpiece but using your old reeds, try a few softer reeds (1/2 to 1 strength lower). It could be that the reeds are too hard for the mouthpiece, which can cause breathiness or hissiness in the left hand chalumeau area. Otherwise, I'd say there's something wrong with the clarinet. "Reputable" shop is not necessarily the same thing as a "good" one. A shop's quality depends on who works there and the reputation may be manufactured by strong advertising.

> Is it possible for this to be a adaptation step to a
> new instrument? Is a new instrument supposed to feel "weird" at
> first?
>
No, not in the way you describe. There could be intonation quirks to adjust to or key heights and spring tensions that feel different, but basic response shouldn't feel "weird."

> I'm kinda confused if I should send back the clarinet or if I
> should keep trying to play it to see if it's just a adaptation
> problem.

Try dropping the reed strength first. And/or get someone else whose playing you trust to try the instrument and see what he or she thinks.

Karl

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 Re: New instrument feels hard to play. Need help!
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2018-08-29 23:42

It sounds like the ventings (pad heights) could be set too low which will make the lower register stuffy and resistant,

The notes that tend to suffer the most if that is the case are the lower register C, C#, Eb, E and open G, so that covers the notes you're having trouble with. I see this a lot on both some new clarinets and also clarinets set up or overhauled by incompetents.

Chris.

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 Re: New instrument feels hard to play. Need help!
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2018-08-30 00:32

Chris P wrote:

> I see this a lot on both some
> new clarinets and also clarinets set up or overhauled by
> incompetents.
>

Chris, I agree, and that's the problem - since we don't know (and shouldn't) who the repairer is, we don't know if the work was done competently or not. If he or she is competent, a quick play-test should have pointed up the problem before it was sent out.

When I taught full time, our school district was sending district-owned instruments to be repaired at the local outlet of a national chain that markets mostly to schools. The techs were competent people. Sometimes the instruments would come back still completely unplayable. I could see new pads and I could read the invoice details, but the instrument still didn't play. Why? Because, obviously, no one was testing the instruments before they left the shop. They just went down a checklist of things to be done and then turned the instrument back around to be returned to us. I had to send a bass clarinet back three times before it came back playable (and still not wonderful) even after the complaining I did.

So, I repeat for jsantos1 (and anyone else who wants to read it again), "highly reputed" or "reputable" doesn't automatically equate to "good" or "trustworthy."

Karl

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