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 A Clarinet Recommendations
Author: meregrubbs 
Date:   2019-02-24 08:34

Hi all, I'm getting back into playing the clarinet after a three year break. I played all through school and have decided to finally make it a priority again as I really miss it! Just found this message board and am learning a lot already!

I've joined a community orchestra and they've recommended that I look into getting an A clarinet as most of the music is for A clarinet vs B flat. I've never played an A clarinet before... I'd love any pointers & advice on specific clarinets to look into trying. I've noticed in my search so far that A clarinets are harder to find in stock and I'll likely have to order one and have it shipped to the store or buy one online.

I tried a Buffet R13 B flat and really liked it (they said it was from 1962). The person at the store said the Buffet R13 A would feel similar, so I'm seriously considering finding one of those at the moment.

I haven't tried any other clarinet models yet. My current B flat is a Yamaha Allegro, but after playing the Buffet today I'm realizing how a better clarinet really does make a huge difference... I will likely upgrade my B flat at some point as well.

Thanks in advance,

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 Re: A Clarinet Recommendations
Author: Kalashnikirby 
Date:   2019-02-24 17:55

First of all, what's your budget? Do you plan to buy new instruments, could you imagine buying a pair?
Personally, I felt that having two very different instruments can be midly irritating, especially when the piece requires you to swap, which is mostly the case (ie Dvorak 8 last movement: very few bars to change!!).
My A is an Amati, while my B is a Buffet RC, and they're almost opposites of each other - while I like them the way they are, looking back I should've better bought a nicely matched pair of E13s - which by the way are fine instruments IF you select from a larger number.
Generally speaking, you should look at all the different makes like Yamaha, Uebel, Backun.
Yamaha Allegro sounds like something between the 450 and 650, which btw are fine instruments IHMO, but I'm actually not too sure which bore concept this one follows. Either way, a CSVR-A or SEVR-A could be a fine and relatively affordable match, and eventually you could replace you current B flat with a matching one from that series. Current Yamahas have found much appraisal on these forums and I too like them a lot. Great price/performance
Then of course there's Buffet. The only horn I'd recommend nowadays are well-chosen E13s (refer to the ever-lasting debate on Buffet's quality issues...), but where do you find a larger stock of them? If you must go for the R13, you might find a fine used set of them, which for various reasons might be a better idea, if you can find them in a good condition from a decent retailer.
Last but not least, you "must" give Uebels a try. I had the chance to get a good look at the Advantage A, which is great instrument for the money. Keywork, ergonomics, wood, intonation... all wonderful given the price tag. I don't live in the USA, but in the age of the internet, it seems like a viable option to make use of the trial police @

So this is are a few basic recommendations. Generally speaking, buying used isn't bad, but there's so many factors to consider that it's hardly recommandable to just buy a set from ebay, though there are some fine ones available - like CSGIIs for a pretty fair price! Rule of thumb, give any instrument a blow before you buy unless it's from some cource you can really, really trust, like a well-regarded technican

Best regards

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 Re: A Clarinet Recommendations
Author: meregrubbs 
Date:   2019-02-24 21:38

Hi Christian, appreciate the detailed response!

I definitely would eventually like to have a pair of the same model in A and B flat for the reasons you mentioned. I'll buy the A now and the B flat a bit down the road. Right now I'm comfortable with something in the $2-3k range for the A.

I actually wasn't aware of the Buffet quality issues. The person helping me at the store - who happened to be their clarinet teacher - said he thought that the R13 was one of the best, which is why I gave it a try. I'll certainly look into the issues & see if I can try the E13 somewhere. (What do you mean by saying "The E13 instruments are fine instruments if you select from a larger number"? Are you referring to the serial number?)

Will definitely give the Uebels a try too & some of the Yamahas you referred to for comparison. For some reason, the Buffet I tried at the store just felt so much smoother to play than my current clarinet and had a better sound, so I'm feeling that I'll probably end up with a different brand than Yamaha but will certainly keep an open mind.


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 Re: A Clarinet Recommendations
Author: dorjepismo 2017
Date:   2019-02-25 00:09

Buffets seem to vary between one instrument and another of the same model more than Yamaha. Only ever tried one Uebel, so I don't know how consistent they are. So, if you get a Buffet, try it first, because they're not all alike. That goes double for buying anything used. With new instruments in the U.S., shops can have a sort of arcane pricing strategy, where if you know the secret handshake, the price can be quite a lot lower. If you decide on a new horn and don't know the handshake, you might check the prices online at places like Howarth and Thomann, because sometimes it can be cheaper even with the shipping than paying full boat retail here. At very least, that might give you some negotiating leverage.

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 Re: A Clarinet Recommendations
Author: Kalashnikirby 
Date:   2019-02-25 09:41

Oh right, that's what I meant: You need to select from a larger number of Instruments. Yamaha I'd say delivers the most consistent quality, while it's hard to rate Uebel, as you'll hardly ever run across a pile of them...

If an instrument feels smoother as you put it, this might also have something to do with how well it seals overall, whereas sound quality can be hugely improved with a new mouthpiece (depending on what you already play). However, you should also consider the instrument's intonation tendencies - you might end up with a great sounding one that still makes you struggle, which isn't worth it either.

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 Re: A Clarinet Recommendations
Author: meregrubbs 
Date:   2019-02-25 20:35

That's a great tip, thank you! Will definitely compare prices as much as possible.

Thanks for the clarification! I will also consider my mouthpiece as well... probably also need a new one of those eventually :)

Reply To Message
 Re: A Clarinet Recommendations
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2019-02-27 12:39

The Yamaha CSVR A clarinet is the best I've ever played on. Plays as easy as a Bb. very free and exciting to get your hand on.

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

Yamaha Artist 2015

Reply To Message
 Re: A Clarinet Recommendations
Author: m1964 
Date:   2019-03-02 21:33

"I definitely would eventually like to have a pair of the same model in A and B flat for the reasons you mentioned. I'll buy the A now and the B flat a bit down the road. Right now I'm comfortable with something in the $2-3k range for the A.

I actually wasn't aware of the Buffet quality issues. The person helping me at the store - who happened to be their clarinet teacher - said he thought that the R13 was one of the best, which is why I gave it a try. "

Hi Meredith,
I am playing in two amateur orchestras now but at one point in my life I played professionally (mostly classical music).
I now have R13 Bb and RC A clarinets which feel very similar in keys placement and "handling".

In the past, I either played or tried:

1. Old Uebels from 1970th made in East Germany- they were student level instruments, I had a pair of Arthur Uebels and a Bb Rudolf Uebel that was even more basic clarinet than Arthur.

2. Amati from 1970th- student level.

3. Bosey and Hawkes, made in the UK - student level.

4. Buffet E11- student level but much better than anything I listed above.

5. Buffet E12- intermidiate level clarinet, sounded better than E11, intonation was good, did not
sound as good as my R13 does but it was close. Had silver plating which I like more than nickel.

6. Selmer Centered tone from 1959- sounds like a very good student clarinet to me but has tuning problems.

7. Buffets R13 and RC- profesional instruments.

IMHO, if you can afford a pair of professional Buffets - go for it. I would not get anything too old because older instruments will require more frequent service unless they were serviced properly before sale ( but you would have to pay the price).
However, for playing in an amateur orchestra I feel R13/RC is overkill.

I cannot say anything about Buffets E13 but if E13 is similar to E12 you will be happy with them too.

I cannot say anything about Yamahas or newer Uebels.

My advice is to buy clarinets that you can either try on the spot or return to the seller without incurring significant charges.

My experience with buying off the unmentioned action site was not very positive and I had to spend extra money, time and effort to bring the instruments to a playable condition (by professional standard).
Luckily, I was able to repad the RC myself saving good amount of money. I say luckily because the metal/keys and tone holes did not have any damage; otherwise I would have to pay to fix it right.
For 3K you should be able to find a pair of used R13 Buffets, but expect to invest at least $200-300 in each clarinet if buying off eBay. At least it was my experience, you can search for my older posts about it.
*** I just recently sold my E12 off CL for $675, and I repadded and adjusted it before the sale.
If you are patient in your search you will find a pair of good instruments.

Good luck.

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