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 What makes for consistency
Author: SecondTry 
Date:   2021-09-22 01:54

Ok--maybe this is more anecdote than fact. Maybe I'm painting with broad strokes here, having only experienced this phenomenon from the Buffet brand side of things.

That said, talk is that Yamaha professional clarinets are remarkable consistent.

Talk (and personal experience) is the Buffet professional clarinets are not.

Of course this isn't to say that a suboptimal Yamaha doesn't rear its ugly head now and then--possible remediated through bench work (or not.) And when one does come across a Buffet that "checks all the boxes" in almost seems worth the testing of less than great ones.

But assuming some truth to these stories, what interests me is the factors that go into Yamaha's relatively better consistency. It might be one thing if Yamaha wasn't also using African Blackwood and made their pro clarinets with some more dimensionally stable material.

Does Yamaha have access to better wood, better production methods, craftspeople, etc.

Or maybe the story is more myth than substance.

What do you think/know?

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 Re: What makes for consistency
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2021-09-22 02:31

One thing for sure is that Buffet kiln dries their wood in an effort to "crank out" the numbers they need in instruments. Thus rushed process can have an effect on the wood's stability. That said I'm sure Yahama must do something similar......it just hasn't affected their horns as much.

What happens between manufacture (where they tune the horns) and delivery (when you get the horn) is a lot of waiting and a lot of transportation. There could be less care in transportation for Buffets (cheaper by far to pick slower methods that don't use any temperature control). But I don't know if Yamaha bothers to do that differently either. However, on the Buffets, the wood "settles" or "changes" more than it should during this interim. Tone holes will lose round and or change dimension. Just minute differences in the tolerance of a tone hole can really jack up the intonation.

Just some thoughts.

................Paul Aviles

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 Re: What makes for consistency
Author: nellsonic 
Date:   2021-09-22 08:57

I agree with your observations - it's a big part of why I play Yamaha instruments and recommend them to my students when they upgrade. I don't insist on Yamaha - I just explain what one must watch out for and probably spend extra money on with Buffet. My Yamahas play very much like really good Buffets....

It's a mystery to me as to why Buffet is mired in this. Francois Kloc, the president of Buffet is very nice man and makes himself available often for clarinet events. So far though, I've only heard him refuse to acknowledge that quality control is an issue for them. This despite the fact that there is a thriving cottage industry in selecting and fixing new brand new Buffets.

The one nice thing is that it does leave plenty of room for other brands despite Buffet's dominance. This has been a very long-standing issue and has probably resulted in more diversity in professional level clarinets. Not a bad thing unless you have a financial stake in Buffet.


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 Re: What makes for consistency
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2021-09-22 22:47

I tried a lot of expensive clarinets when I went to try mine and the Yamaha Custom CX (£1.8k) seemed to stand head and shoulders above all the more expensive (up to £2.4k) models from Buffet and even from Yamaha. I just really liked the tone and the ergonomics of it. I tried a Selmer and they keys seemed to be in all the wrong place for me.

Somehow Yamaha just seemed to have got it right with the CX.

I have also heard a lot of people say that Yamahas are really consistent, but I don't know about that, because I only tried one copy of each model.

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 Re: What makes for consistency
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2021-09-23 03:40

That's just it. I had a shop bring in ONE example of a Yamaha CSG fifteen years ago and bought in on the spot (offering up my Buffet R13 of that time up to defray some of the cost).

They are that good.

..................Paul Aviles

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 Re: What makes for consistency
Author: nellsonic 
Date:   2021-09-23 05:28

I tried a couple dozen CSVR-Bb's at the Atelier when I was shopping. I would have been happy with ANY of them. There were only very slight differences in tone due to the fact that no two pieces of wood are identical.


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 Re: What makes for consistency
Author: gwie 
Date:   2021-09-23 18:59

I selected my last set of CSVR's from the Atelier from dozens and dozens of available ones. The mechanical consistency (and excellence) was demonstrated all across the board, and intonation tendencies were surprisingly on the dot, with only very minor variation from one clarinet to the next. After checking the essentials, I had the freedom to select the instruments that had the tonal qualities I was interested in, and even then it was only because my colleague and I were extremely picky about some characteristics. Honestly, I would have been happy playing on any of them!

Glad to not have to pay into the cottage industry of having to overhaul a brand new clarinet just to have it play the way it is supposed to!

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 Re: What makes for consistency
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2021-09-23 20:15

I have to put in a word for the "cottage industry."

Back in the 70's and 80's Bill Brannen made quite a name for himself beyond the boundaries of the Chicago metropolitan area by offering his "overhauls" that came to be known as Brannenization. What that was though was MAINLY getting a really workable, consistent spring tension going across the horn. For example, a lot of horns come with really tight "sliver" keys. There's no need for that. Then the rings only have to be tight enough to spring back up with a little authority. Then Brannen coupled that (and other spring tension anomalies) with a heavy weight key oil. This made everything feel (and play) buttery smooth. Couple that with all the pads at the top in cork (a Moenigization) and custom triple skinned pads at the bottom and you had a much better horn no matter how well it came from the factory.

So it's not so much that Buffets are that pathetic off the shelf (though they often seem to race to the bottom on that score) but rather that the pickier clarinet players wanted their horns "suped up."

......................Paul Aviles

Post Edited (2021-09-24 00:21)

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 Re: What makes for consistency
Author: Jarmo Hyvakko 
Date:   2021-09-26 10:22

Talking about consistency, what if it is a deliberate choice to make a less consistent instrument? Nowadays many clarinetists prefer a very stable setup, that the sound quality is even and stays safely that way. And i am one of them.
Once upon a time i tested a Yamaha instrument in a concert hall and my wife was listening. We decided to do some blind testing. I played various excerpts with the Yamaha and my trusted Rc Prestige. My wife recognized every time which was which and liked the Buffet better.
But then i started to play the beginning of Debussy's Rhapsody. My wife got interested: "in this excerpt i like this Yamahas lighter and more transparent sound better!"
Only that i was playing with the Buffet...

Jarmo Hyvakko, Principal Clarinet, Tampere Philharmonic, Finland

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 Re: What makes for consistency
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2021-09-26 11:17

That's really interesting Jarmo. Do you think it is the same playing in a small hallway, or did the concert hall make a difference?

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