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 A clarinet issues
Author: Kathyv 
Date:   2019-10-13 06:17

I’ve got a recently refurbished Buffet R13 A clarinet. It’s very nice and I’m very happy with it, for the most part. I’m finding that mid register notes, B, C, C# especially after playing a while begin to resist then eventually cut out. On occasion the issue translates into the lover sounding notes of the same fingerings, just minus the register key. I’ve adjusted the connection, I’ve made sure everything is lined up well, I’ve dried it religiously, it doesn’t appear to have any sprung key issues and it’s less than 2 months away from refurbishment by a skilled Buffet guy.

Has anyone else encountered this and what did you do to resolve it?

Any advice would be VERY welcome!

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 Re: A clarinet issues
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2019-10-13 17:22

Kathyv wrote:

> I’m finding that mid register notes, B, C, C# especially
> after playing a while begin to resist then eventually cut out.
> ...and it’s less than 2 months away
> from refurbishment by a skilled Buffet guy.
> Has anyone else encountered this and what did you do to resolve
> it?

I don't know without being in the room with you what's wrong in this specific case. But problems with response following a period of playing time (not happening when you start to play) say something is changing as a result of playing. Something is either soaking up moisture and swelling or expanding from the warmth.

If you're talking about "long" B4, C5 and C#5, there could be some piece of dreck in the register opening that's expanding a little and partially closing the register vent, which would explain producing the lower notes as if the register key were closed. Try cleaning out the register tube.

My only experience with a localized problem like this is that a slightly torn closed felt pad was absorbing water and eventually swelling to the point that it wasn't maintaining contact. Or an expanded pad could be blocking a hole when it should be open. If the repair person only selectively replaced pads he thought were damaged, he may have missed one. A leaking pad would be somewhere just above the notes that are closing up. If the C#, C or B pads are expanding and too close to the holes, you would get stuffiness, though I don't think that would cause the notes to drop into the low register.

I guess if there's a felt pad in the register key (I think unusual these days), it could be expanding and blocking the vent.

The other possibility I can think of, which would tend to affect more notes than those three, would be a reed problem - maybe too soft and getting mushy when the reed gets really wet. But that doesn't really match your description.

The problem for the repair person is that he wouldn't have (and probably won't, if he can help it) sit there and play the instrument long enough to produce the problem. But you may have to get him to let you play the instrument in his shop while he does something else and hope the symptoms appear on demand.


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 Re: A clarinet issues
Author: m1964 
Date:   2019-10-13 18:58

Kathyv wrote:
"... On occasion the issue translates into the lover sounding notes of the same fingerings, just minus the register key..."

My experience with 4 Buffet clarinets (R13 Bb, RC A, Prestige R13 Bb and A) is that on all of tnem the register key was a little low for me. I had to adjust the register key on all 4 to go up a little higher and then used thicker cork under it to maintain pad opening height.
The end result was to have the key that is a little higher and closer to the thumb, making it easier to reach with my thumb.

It also may be beneficial to ask another player to cneck the instrument.

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 Re: A clarinet issues
Author: Steven Ocone 2017
Date:   2019-10-13 21:20

If it plays well to start and starts to have issues after some playing the clarinet may have a crack.

Steven Ocone
Ann & Steve's Music

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 Re: A clarinet issues
Author: Kathyv 
Date:   2019-10-14 00:41

Thank you all! Some good things to investigate!!

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 Re: A clarinet issues
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2019-10-14 01:58

I find all of the above answers correct. Even having a Buffet tech looking at your horn. Maybe have someone else look at it. Sometimes actual Buffet techs may miss something and the horns lately coming from certified Buffet stores that have been checked out by the repair departments fail in my opinion. The pads and horns are not set up to play right out the door after you've bought them. The horns often leak and players have to pay $500 or much more to have new horns fixed! Doesn't make sense to me. This is like buying a $100,000 car without tires.

This may be your problem. It might be worth it to send your horn to Steve, who posted just above. A good guy. They've been doing Buffet repairs for years. Added the A clarinets can be a bit stuffy, maybe this is part of your problem and some repair shops are using a SHORTER OCTAVE TUBE replacement which helps this area you are having issues with. Buffet techs don't do this as far as I know. Unless they've been schooled in this new repair. If you look down the bore of a Bb Buffet clarinet and an A Buffet clarinet bore you will notice the longer Octave Tube on the A clarinet. Well lets face it when air hits this you have resistance. So lets make it a bit smaller. Also swaps often get stuck in these. It's a pain to get them out.

There is a minor articulation issue when replacing this tube. In the upper register sometimes on some A clarinets if the tube is too short you can hear your tongue hit the reed before the sound is heard. This is only in the upper register and probably why Buffet makes this tube longer. I personally would rather not have a resistant horn and have this shorter tube. You can also set up the opening of the octave key with the shorter tube correctly and that sound of the tongue hitting the reed won't be heard; or very little. Using light articulation practice can surely benefit, meaning your tongue hardly touches the reed. Constant daily practice on this works wonders.

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

Yamaha Artist 2015

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 Re: A clarinet issues
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2019-10-14 12:50

Does the problem start suddenly at the C# i.e. D is still completely fine even when C# doesn't come out? Or is it gradual i.e. D is better than lower notes, but also affected somewhat?
Does it get worse the lower you go i.e. E/B is worse than F/C which is worse than F#/C#? Or are all three notes just as bad?

Since the problem affects the low notes too (F#, F, E) it's unlikely to be the register key opening or clogging.

A leak near most of the top area (throat notes, trills, etc.) usually affects the upper clarion most, so that is also not so likely.

Open pads swelling wouldn't cause notes to not come out, and the most I've ever seen a pad swelling is not enough except to make a note slightly more stuffy.

A closed pad swelling like was mentioned is possible. If only those three notes are affected it could be the F/C, but that pad usually doesn't get much water.
It could be the Ab/Eb pad. This would affect those notes plus the G/D to a less degree. It's possible that it's enough to make the G/D just a little worse but significantly affect F#/C#.

Is it consistent that it gets worse after some playing, or does it suddenly start? It could be some mechanical problem is caused by playing.
An example I remember is the top trill key was rubbing the second key, making it not close fully. This happened sometimes when that key was played or accidentally pressed when assembling. It's not that on your clarinet since it would cause a different problem, but maybe a similar thing.
For example a rod is not tightened and moves, causing a key to bind sometimes.
Though this wouldn't explain why it is back next time you play (assumed that is the case from your post).

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 Re: A clarinet issues
Author: Kathyv 
Date:   2019-10-28 06:42

It comes on quickly after playing for a while. There’s a note or 2 of resistance then it’s done. It doesn’t seem to affect the D, but stops sound from B, C and C#, no matter which fingering, (right pinky or left) I use doesn't seem to matter.

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 Re: A clarinet issues
Author: donald 
Date:   2019-10-28 09:07

Here is another possibility... One of the "flat springs" may be stopping a key from closing. For most of this year I had a problem that my Festival Bb would play fime, then out of nowhere I'd have trouble starting a tone (oddly it almost never happened in the middle of a phrase???).
As I play professionally this was quite alarming, and caused me to squeak in rehearsal much to a music directors annoyance.
Twice techs thought the had isolated the problem, but to no avail. As it was very intermittent it was hard to work out what was causing it.
Eventually I discovered that a groove had been worn on the metal plate under the throat A spring, and that every so often the spring would dig in, and the key would remain slightly open. Something like this could conceivably happen with side trill keys. Just an idea.

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 Re: A clarinet issues
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2019-10-28 18:03

Wow! You are still having trouble? Have you had it looked at? If no one was able to fix it well email me. I'll fix it at no charge. This is nuts. It's been 3 weeks. You need a horn. I hate doing repairs but I'll help you and your horn, it will play like new or better. Since Buffets don't play when new! Just remember you have to have tried to get this repaired first, because I don't like doing repairs.

Donald, your advice is correct. But the only issue I have is there aren't any flat springs in the lower joint. This seems to be where the problem is I think? Who knows at this stage. However, it's possible the upper joint is causing the lower joint troubles. Surely not uncommon. It's probably a 3 minute fix and nothing major.

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

Yamaha Artist 2015

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 Re: A clarinet issues
Author: Philip Caron 
Date:   2019-10-28 19:40

Have you played A clarinets much? The A clarinet is longer, and the distance between individual holes is wider. Your fingers need to stretch more, and this particularly applies to the pinky keys. You might be pulling one of your other fingers, such as the r. ring finger, slightly off the corresponding hole when your adjacent pinky is reaching for the keys to play the notes you mention. If so, the leak thereby caused could produce the symptoms you describe.

This would become more likely after you've been playing a little while and fatigue from the unaccustomed stretching sets in. It's worsened by the position of the thumb rest on the R13 A clarinets, which is lower than it should be - lower than the thumb rest on R13 Bb clarinets, even accounting for the added length of the joint. That low position contributes to hand fatigue, and might lead to similar issues of fingers moving slightly off the tone holes they're supposed to be covering.

My smallish hands had this very problem. I've worked on stretching as part of every warmup, and I alternate Bb and A clarinets on succeeding practice days so the fingers will keep accustomed to the extra stretch.

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 Re: A clarinet issues
Author: Kathyv 
Date:   2019-10-31 01:08

It seems to be working well if I’m not playing it for long stretches, leads me to think it’s a swelling pad issue. I have contacted the service guy I use, he’s got some thoughts but wants to spend time playing it to see if it does it for him. In the mean time, I have my back up A which has never done this. So I’m good to go for various upcoming Christmas events!

Thank you all for your advice! I really appreciate everything!

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