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 Worth it?
Author: KatieAschoff 
Date:   2020-03-13 07:02

Hello!

I am primarily a saxophone player, but have also taken clarinet lessons and think it would be good for me to get a clarinet, even if it is not a professional one (since I cannot afford it and am still fairly new to it). There are some for sale in my area, including a Yamaha student clarinet for $80 and a Boosey & Hawkes clarinet for $100. I know the B&H clarinet is wooden, and am assuming the Yamaha is plastic. The Yamaha looks newer, but the B&H one is described as having no cracks and is only missing one small pad on the "a" key.

Does anyone have any recommendations on which would be better to pursue? I would hopefully be able to play/test them before buying but am unsure. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you!

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 Re: Worth it?
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2020-03-13 07:12

You won't be able to play test a clarinet that's missing the pad from the A key. That would be about the same as a sax missing the pad from one of the palm keys.

Karl

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 Re: Worth it?
Author: Dan Shusta 
Date:   2020-03-13 09:13

Katie,

I suggest putting a small piece of sticky tape securely over the "a" hole. You should be able to test the chalumeau notes (the lowest range notes) below the "a" note as well as the notes in the clarion region when you push the register key.

Key functionality should also be quite evident as well as any other bad pads.



Post Edited (2020-03-13 10:06)

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 Re: Worth it?
Author: Ursa 
Date:   2020-03-13 13:03

A Yamaha in playable condition is an excellent deal at $80.

B&H clarinets are, for whatever reason, hard to resell--with that missing pad, you should be able to negotiate a lower price. I'd shoot for $75 or even less.

I have a Yamaha and two .593"-bore B&H clarinets in my rotation. The two types of instruments are very different from each other in terms of voicing, blowing resistance, and ergonomics. If you're interested in exploring the possibilities of the clarinet, why not buy both?

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 Re: Worth it?
Author: ACCA 
Date:   2020-03-13 15:23

$80 for a yamaha in playable condition is a good deal, and a decent tech should easily manage anything needed to bring it up to scratch. If & when you're ready to upgrade you can probably resell it for at least $80 if it's in good condition. Be careful with old B&H instruments- they are long out of production, the larger bores on some of them need to be coupled with matching mouthpieces or they play badly out of tune. The wood may be cracked or prone to cracking and the keywork a poor quality soft metal. Just personal experience with some, not all from this brand. I personally would go with the Yamaha and then upgrade if & when you're ready to.

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 Re: Worth it?
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2020-03-13 15:46

>> You won't be able to play test a clarinet that's missing the pad from the A key.>>

Well, you MIGHT:-)

Tony



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 Re: Worth it?
Author: Tom H 
Date:   2020-03-13 23:01

I bought a used Yamaha student one for $100 Canadian years ago. It lasted about 10 years of practicing. It still plays, but needs work--not worth it to repair for $300. Bought a NEW Selmer student one last year for $150 CAD.
Can't complain about the Yamaha at all--even used it occasionally in public with amateur jazz groups in Florida. $100 for 10 years, that's $10 a year.
For some reason (other than the missing pad), I'd stay away from the wooden B&H.

The Most Advanced Clarinet Book--Austin Macauley Publishers
tomheimer.ampbk.com/ Amazon, Sheet Music Plus
austinmacauley.com/author/heimer-tom
Boreal Ballad for unaccompanied clarinet--Sheet Music Plus
(902)-225-3276

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 Re: Worth it?
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2020-03-14 10:30

Tom H wrote:

"I bought a used Yamaha student one for $100 Canadian years ago. It lasted about 10 years of practicing. It still plays, but needs work--not worth it to repair for $300."

YES IT IS! Tell me how much a brand new Yamaha would cost you. Also consider an overhauled one SHOULD be finished to a much higher standard than a factory finished one if done by a competent repairer and not limited to a few hours of bench time.

I'd personally rather buy a used clarinet that's been rebuilt than buy a factory fresh one as many factory finished instruments of all levels only just pass the minimum quality control criteria before leaving the factory.

I have a '70s YCL-24 which I've used for outdoor playing and went as far as not just fully overhauling it with mostly cork pads, but also adding a LH Ab/Eb lever and LH forked Eb/Bb mechanism even though it's an entry level plastic clarinet so I can use those fingerings as I use on my old Selmers. Old Yamahas are incredibly well built clarinets and put many brand new pro level instruments made today to shame with their build quality.

"Can't complain about the Yamaha at all--even used it occasionally in public with amateur jazz groups in Florida. $100 for 10 years, that's $10 a year."

That may have been the purchase price, but it's no reflection on the value of the instrument. Just because it cost you $100 doesn't mean it's only worth $100. If you were to insure it, then you'd insure it for what a new one is worth and not what you may have paid for it.

"For some reason (other than the missing pad), I'd stay away from the wooden B&H."

Why? It's only missing a pad. Pads and corks are consumables and can be replaced and on the whole, B&H produced some decent instruments in their time as well as some dogs - their clarinets were mostly the decent ones.

It would also be interesting to know what model B&H it is - the lower order ones from the '50s (Regent and "77" with serial numbers in the 100000s) had nickel plated die cast "mazak" (zinc alloy) keys which were very soft and can't be repaired easily if they break, whereas most have drop forged nickel silver keywork, either nickel or silver plated depending on the level.

Chris.

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 Re: Worth it?
Author: Tom H 
Date:   2020-03-14 22:14

In reply to Chris P.

--Agree about the $100 for a used Yamaha I bought 10 years ago. It was probably "worth" a fair bit more. One of those bought from a school student who quit and they probably just wanted to get rid of it.
--What would a new Yamaha student model cost--I don't know. But the new Selmer cost me $150 CAD plus tax.
--Was the new Selmer a better idea than $300 to get the old Yamaha fixed?
I WOULD THINK SO.
--Buy used instead of new? Disagree. That Selmer gets practiced basically daily and no problems for 2 years. My Buffet R13 bought new in 1999 had to have one pad replaced--that's it. Granted, I only used it for my rehearsals (7) and concerts (7) each summer and practice on it only once monthly rest of the year. My previous R13, bought in 1979 lasted 20 years with no problems, and I practiced on that a lot more. I have no problems with the quality of new instruments.
--Cost of a new student model circa 1985 (Yamaha/Bundy, etc.) as I recall as a Band Director was maybe $400 in 1985 dollars. They apparently went down a lot.
--Why would I not go with the wooden B&H? Wood doesn't hold up over time as much as plastic. But of course there can be some great wooden clarinets as well.
I use my plastic student model(s) when it may be in a place (car) for a while in cold or hot weather. Not good for wood. I've dragged my Buffet around with me at times due to weather rather than trusting it would be fine in heat/cold. When scuba diving and having my Buffet in the car in July in NY it was put on top of an ice chest in the shade.
--Overhaul vs. new-- Really hard to say But--I've not had problems to speak of with any new one I've bought. I have had problems (different than the ones that existed) after getting one back from a repairman. I guess if you thoroughly know how good the repair guy is that might be a factor. Also, are you in an area where you have a choice as to which music store to bring it? I'm not. The reason I didn't spend the $300 to get the old Yamaha fixed as opposed to buying the $150 new Selmer was because when I took the Yamaha to the shop and instructed them that I didn't want a ton of work, just "fix the 2 or 3 major problems so all the notes play reasonably well" he said--"Can't do that. We'll only do a really good job which will cost a MINIMUM of $300, probably $400)". Perhaps that is an unusual approach by a store though.
I still have the old $100 Yamaha and can practice on it in a pinch.

Don't get me wrong--I'm not necessarily saying you are wrong about new models (pro or otherwise) being inferior to overhauled ones. But, I'd like you to provide info. as to your conclusion. You can get a lemon in a new car too, but I'll take my chances over a "previously owned" (as they say today) one.

The Most Advanced Clarinet Book--Austin Macauley Publishers
tomheimer.ampbk.com/ Amazon, Sheet Music Plus
austinmacauley.com/author/heimer-tom
Boreal Ballad for unaccompanied clarinet--Sheet Music Plus
(902)-225-3276

Post Edited (2020-03-14 22:39)

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 Re: Worth it?
Author: smokindok 
Date:   2020-03-14 23:06

Tom H wrote:

"But the new Selmer cost me $150 CAD plus tax."


Have to say, this intrigues me. 150 Canadian is about 110 USD. That seems to be more the typical price range for an off brand chinese clarinet. Is Selmer slapping their name on cheap chinese imports? The lowest priced Selmer I have seen, the Prelude, was closer to $400 USD. Are clarinets that much cheaper in Canada?

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 Re: Worth it?
Author: Tom H 
Date:   2020-03-14 23:15

Yes, it seemed awfully cheap to me. Probably even less than $110 now with coronaV attacking the C$.
Even $400 US seems cheap since I recall those prices 35 years ago.

The Most Advanced Clarinet Book--Austin Macauley Publishers
tomheimer.ampbk.com/ Amazon, Sheet Music Plus
austinmacauley.com/author/heimer-tom
Boreal Ballad for unaccompanied clarinet--Sheet Music Plus
(902)-225-3276

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 Re: Worth it?
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2020-03-15 00:08

I've overhauled many plastic beginner level clarinets to the same standard as I overhaul pro level clarinets and they're infinitely better playing instruments as a result compared to a brand new one that's come straight from the factory. Yes they can always be bought for next to nothing used, but that doesn't mean they're worth nothing as long as they're structurally sound which most are, apart from the usual degradation of consumable and replaceable parts.

The reasons being I use much better quality pads, corks and other materials and deal with all the other issues that were overlooked when it was made, such as key fitting and spring balancing, tonehole work and whatnot. Plus the amount of bench time devoted to overhauling a clarinet is far greater and not restricted compared to a factory finished one put together in relative haste to reach company targets. While plastic clarinets don't require any oiling or need as much tonehole work doing, the rest of the work is just as extensive as it is when overhauling a pro level clarinet as they're pretty much mechanically identical (talking regular 17 key 6 ring Boehm systems here).

It's all about educating people and having them realise what they have is worth it. i even had someone say they didn't think spending however much for an overhaul on their Yamaha 62 piccolo was worth it as it only cost them that to buy used, when a brand new YPC-62 is around the £1200 mark - the cost of an overhaul is a fraction of that and shouldn't be based on what it cost them to buy.

If these instruments are considered worthless, then what would become of them if they don't get restored and put back into good use? They're not single use plastics to be binned off when it's time to upgrade as they have generations worth of playing in them if they're maintained well. If you buy a used car you don't question how much you spend on it to have reliable everyday motoring, so the same should apply to any well made musical instrument.

Chris.

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 Re: Worth it?
Author: Tom H 
Date:   2020-03-15 00:32

Chris-- Obviously you are a fine and experienced technician and have explained how your work (and materials) may easily be an improvement over something you may buy new.
Of that 1,200 pound new cost of a YPC-62-- what would you charge for a complete overhaul on it?
I certainly have no real experience with repair and bemoan the fact that as a college music major we had no course at all in it. That would have been too practical. But I guess I did know the extreme range of the Q flat violin.
I agree that a well maintained clarinet can last generations. But also that you can literally put a million miles on a car if you spend the money and keep replacing stuff endlessly. Or at some point, like most people, you buy a new car.

The Most Advanced Clarinet Book--Austin Macauley Publishers
tomheimer.ampbk.com/ Amazon, Sheet Music Plus
austinmacauley.com/author/heimer-tom
Boreal Ballad for unaccompanied clarinet--Sheet Music Plus
(902)-225-3276

Post Edited (2020-03-15 00:34)

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