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 wooden clarinet
Author: trish 
Date:   2001-07-18 17:44

Our daughter is going into 10th grade and has a plastic student Selmer. We were advised to upgrade the mouthpiece with a Vandorn 5RV Lyre. Any opinions on these? Also she auditioned and got into Wind Ensemble section, and it is recommended she have a wooden clarinet. Teachers mentioned the Buffet clarinets. Any suggestions as to new, used, where to buy and brands? She will be in band thru high school but is not sure about going into college band. Thanks for any help.

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 RE: wooden clarinet
Author: Ken Shaw 
Date:   2001-07-18 18:27

Trish -

The Vandoren 5RV Lyre is a good, middle-of-the-road machine-made mouthpiece, with a tip opening slightly larger than dead-center medium. It blows freely and has a nice sound. The 5RV (without the lyre) is the same design, but slightly less open. Your daughter should try both and see which she prefers. The 5RV will need slightly harder reeds to play the same as the 5RV Lyre -- neither an advantage nor a disadvantage -- just a difference. Vandoren mouthpieces have a lot of variation from sample to sample, so she should play several of them to pick out the best one. It would help to have her teacher or an experienced player along.

Frankly, for less money than the Vandoren ($75 or so), she can get a better mouthpiece -- one of the student models from Fobes, Hite or Pyne ($30-$50).

In my opinion, "step-up" or "intermediate" wood clarinets are little better than the plastic ones. Used top-of-the-line clarinets are available for the same money, or even less. It's very important to have your daughter's teacher or an experienced player along when you try them out, though. You must check intonation very carefully, since older instruments may have been altered, and you also need to check condition. Clarinet wood doesn't wear out, but it can crack, and keys can be bent out of shape.

You should stick with the "big 4" makers, Buffet, Selmer, Leblanc and Yamaha. While there are other fine instruments, these stand out and hold their value better. I play on Buffet clarinets because I prefer their sound, but that's a very individual thing. In the used instrument market, however, I suggest that you stick with Buffet, since there are a lot more of them to choose from. Yamaha is a relatively recent entrant into the top-line clarinet market, so used ones are uncommon. There are lots of Selmers around, but the older ones have large bores and are best for jazz, not wind ensemble. Leblanc has made "classical" clarinets for a long time, but in smaller numbers than Buffet.

The Buffet R-13 model with serial numbers between 90,000 and 150,000 (from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s) are a good choice -- old enough to be affordable ($600-$700 on eBay) and young enough to be in good shape. However, you should never buy one without a written agreement with the seller that it can be returned if you don't like it after, say, a 10 day tryout.

Good luck.

Ken Shaw

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 RE: wooden clarinet
Author: Eb 
Date:   2001-07-18 20:19

I bought a wooden E-11 Buffett for my daughter going into 10th grade also. She absolutely loves it. She got hers from www.muncywinds.com hope I helped


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 RE: wooden clarinet
Author: Dee 
Date:   2001-07-18 20:30

To invest in a professional level clarinet (new or used), I think a student ought to have a desire to continue to play after high school. This does not mean she has to plan a career in music or plan to be in college band. Some people like to play for their own enjoyment/relaxation or whatever. Other people play in local community groups.

With a good mouthpiece, good reeds, and good technique, a player should be able to produce a quality sound and the listener should not be able to tell much difference between instruments.

Many adult amateurs do treat themselves to pro horns as they do plan to play on a regular basis. Pro clarinets, compared to many instruments, are a reasonable price for an adult hobby (certainly less than many people spend on, oh say, bass fishing).

If your daughter's interest is high enough and *she* believes that she will continue, go for a used pro horn. If this is still uncertain, don't get one just to satisfy the band director's opinion of what equipment she ought to be using. Wait until she has given more thought to her future direction.

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 RE: wooden clarinet
Author: willie 
Date:   2001-07-19 07:19

The 5RV and 5RV Lyre are both good MPs, but since everyones chops are different as are clarinet set up, you might want to try as many different MPs as possible. what works for me or my daughter might not work for you. Later on when her embouchure strengthens, she want to try something different. As for the wooden horn, don't discount that plastic one with the right setup it can play preety good. If she goes into themarching band you might want to keep it for that and use a wooden one for practicing and playing during concert season. An alterative to keeping up two clarinets would be to get a Buffet greenline.

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 RE: wooden clarinet
Author: Brenda Siewert 
Date:   2001-07-19 15:20

Ditto on the greenline R-13. But, be sure you get a good one by buying from someone who has play-tested and knows what they're doing. I have used Lisa Argiris at International Musical Suppliers for several years now and have only had a couple of instruments that weren't what I wanted. They let you have them for 2 weeks on approval and you can have a couple sent to you if you like.

I'm about to buy a greenline for my own personal use, and I have asked Lisa to select a really good one for me.

I don't remember the 800 number right now and am away from my desk at home, but I think you can find it around Sneezy somewhere.

I would highly recommend getting her a professional-level instrument. In my experience, the intermediate clarinet is a waste of money that could be invested in a good buy on a pro model. After playing clarinet for 40 years, I've played about every model and brand and can tell you from my personal experience that the pro horns make all the difference in the world to the player. Better intonation, easier key-action, better response--better sound--better everything! And, for the money, you can't go wrong with an R-13, unless you don't get a good buy on a good one!

Also, you might look into buying something like an entry-level Leblanc pro model--such as the Esprit. If you call International Musical Suppliers, ask them if they have any of those, or what they would recommend.

No, I'm not on the payroll--and I pay the same prices as everyone else when I buy from them.

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 RE: wooden clarinet
Author: Jack Kissinger 
Date:   2001-07-19 22:38

This question opens several major cans of worms, musical, social and political, not to mention financial. You haven't told us alot about your daughter's interest and ability but from what you have said, I suspect that she enjoys the instrument and band (perhaps as a social activity?) and plays reasonably well for her age (she made the wind ensemble) but music (or at least the clarinet) isn't her life ;^) (she's not sure whether she'll want to continue with band as an extra-curricular activity in college -- but be aware that there are scholarships, some quite good) and she's probably not ready to challenge for a chair in the first section yet.

As far as the clarinet is concerned (and ignoring the mouthpiece issue for the moment), the alternatives I see are:

1. a new professional clarinet (wood or greenline)
2. a used professional wood clarinet (used greenlines are, in my experience, as scarce as hens teeth and, when they do show up, they still sell for $1,200 or more and may need repair work, effectively eliminating them as a reasonable option)
3. an intermediate wooden clarinet
4. status quo (stay with the plastic instrument, perhaps with a new mouthpiece)

If your daughter is taking private lessons and you have a good relationship with her teacher, then I recommend you pose your question to her teacher and ignore all of us on the bulletin board. A good teacher who works with your daughter individually will know whether she is ready for/needs any equipment changes.

If your daughter is not taking private lessons and my assessment of her level of interest/skill is close to accurate, unless your financial situation is such that money is not an issue, I cannot recommend that you spend $1,700+ for a new professional clarinet. I don't think she's ready for that yet. (and the money you save by adopting one of the other options will buy her quite a few private lessons, if she is interested).

The second option is a good used wooden professional clarinet. If your daughter is ready for a step up, and the instrument isn't too old (say late 60's on) this is perhaps (at least in theory) the best option. The biggest obstacle (and it is a big one) is finding such an instrument at a good price. Unless you live in a large city, the selection within your immediate area at any point in time will probably not be good. The few you find at local music stores will likely be overpriced (perhaps only a couple hundred dollars less than a new one, particularly from a mail-order house) and the ones available from individual sellers are hard to evaluate, may have subtle hidden damage, and will probably need work that can add significantly to the cost. If you choose this option, it is essential that you have an experienced clarinetist along to help with the evaluation and to indicate what work is likely to be necessary and what it will cost. If your daughter is not taking private lessons (unless you play, yourself, and are comfortable evaluating instruments), you probably should forget about this option.

The fourth option I listed is to stay with the plastic instrument. If your daughter is not ready for a step-up to a professional horn, this may be the best musical/economic decision. But I'm sure you realize that the decision is not necessarily a musical one alone. Your daughter's teachers are recommending (pushing for) the wooden instrument and, as the experts (at least through her eyes), their suggestion may have alot of weight with her. If your daughter is impressionable (and she's certainly at that age) if you don't go along with their suggestion, your decision may affect your relationship with her. (You must be the judge here.) The sad thing is that your daughter may also have some fallout at school. If most of the wind ensemble members do have wooden clarinets, particularly if your daughter is only of average talent, you may find her the target of subtle discrimination by the teachers. (Unless they have worked closely with your daughter in the past, their recommendation sounds more like "wood is good and we want everyone in our wind ensemble to have it" than "I've been following your daughter's progress for some time now and I think she has reached a point where a better instrument will help her development.") There is also the issue of peer group pressure. At this point, you have to consider whether, improving the odds that she will have a good musical experience through high school isn't worth a few hundred dollars.

Which brings us back to option three, an intermediate (step-up) wooden instrument. Using Buffet's prices as a guide, a new one will probably run somewhere between around $600 (E11) and $1,300 (E13). (Selmer, Yamaha and Leblanc (Noblet) also make instruments in this range. I have no experience with these, except for a Noblet Model 45 that I like so I will limit my comments to Buffets.) I am not as much against this option as some of the earlier respondents (and some members of the Klarinet list). I own a Buffet B12 (plastic student model) and an E11 (wooden student model per Buffet but some dealers classify it as an intermediate or step-up model). I also own an older E12 and E13. (There are lots of clarinets lying around my house.) Based an admittedly small sample (the instruments I own and a couple of other B12's and E11's I have played), I consider the E11 a definite step up in quality from the B12. I can't point to any specific design differences to make it superior. It just plays better for me. There are a couple of E11's in the summer band I'm playing with this year. Their owners are good clarinetists who also have professional instruments. And their owners like the E11's very much. I also know a couple of professional musicians who use E11's as their "doubling" instrument. If you can afford $600 (less if you have someone who can evaluate a used instrument), you can buy a clarinet for your daughter that will almost certainly be some improvement on what she currently has, that (IMO) will be good enough to carry her through college in any capacity except clarinet major if she decides to keep up the instrument, and that she will be able to use as an adult in a community band. If she decides to quit next year, you will probably be able to sell it for around $400 (almost certainly not less than $300) because these instruments are in demand and hold their value, e.g., on eBay. On the other hand, if her interest takes off and she eventually needs a professional instrument, she will be older and better capable to choose an appropriate one ... and the E11 will make a good backup. BTW, I would recommend the E11 rather than the E12 or E13. For the extra $400 or so, the E12 really isn't that much of an improvement over the E11 and if you can afford the E13, an R13 would be a better choice. I would also recommend that, if you buy your daughter a wooden clarinet, keep the plastic instrument for marching band and/or outdoor bad weather performances if you can afford it.

Now (if you're still with me) to the mouthpiece. I have heard that it is not as rare as it should be for band directors (particularly those who are not clarinetists) to specify a particular mouthpiece for every clarinetist in the band. In some cases, I suspect that it is an attempt to bring everybody up to a minimum standard of quality (i have seen kids playing some real garbage and damaged garbage at that) but I have heard that, in some cases, it was a misguided attempt to assure a uniformity of sound. I agree entirely with Willie that, where mouthpieces are concerned, one size definitely does not fit all. Individual differences in clarinets, facial structures, embouchures and other physical attributes make mouthpiece selection an individual choice. The selection for someone your daughter's age and at her level, would best be performed with the help of a competent clarinetist/teacher who knows her playing well and has no conflict of interest. That said, if you can afford it, and she doesn't already have a good quality mouthpiece, the path of least resistance might be to order a few 5RV's from a mail-order house (most will let you keep three for a week trial) or go to a local store if you have a good one that does alot of business in clarinets and has good selection) and try a few, using several different reeds. According to Vandoren's specifications, the 5RV should be a fairly easy-blowing middle-of-the-road mouthpiece, so there's a good chance she will be comfortable with it. If it works for her, then keep one but, if she isn't comfortable with it, then don't buy one to satisfy the band director. On the other hand, if she's quite comfortable with her current mouthpiece and can produce a pleasant sound with it, there is probably no real reason to change it. (And you probably shouldn't consider the mouthpiece issue until you've decided what you are going to do about the clarinet.)

Two final comments. First, an earlier respondent noted that for less than the cost of a Vandoren mouthpiece, you could purchase a student model from Fobes, Hite or Pyne. I will disagree slightly with this recommendation. I would not give the Hite serious consideration at your daughter's stage of development. The Hite is an extremely close (non-resistant) mouthpiece made for new beginners. In that capacity it is an excellent mouthpiece. My daughter used one when she started and it was great. She outgrew it, however, within about two years. The Fobes is also designed for beginners but I find it somewhat more resistant. My daughter switched to a Fobes after she outgrew the Hite and was very happy with it. I have even performed on a Fobes Debut (when I didn't want to take a more expensive mouthpiece with me). IMHO, I think that if you are going to consider a plastic student mouthpiece, the Fobes will likely be a better bet than the Hite. I can't comment on the Pyne because I have never tried one. (The Vandoren is hard rubber, BTW.)

Second, be aware that, as mail order houses go, International is almost always more expensive than Muncy Winds, Woodwind and Brasswind, or Fred Weiner. (Weiner's trial period is shorter, though.) Check around. It's your money.

Well, there's my $.02

Best regards and let us know what you decide.

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 RE: wooden clarinet
Author: mw 
Date:   2001-07-19 22:57

I agree w/Jack's assessment ... spend the $600 for an (good) Intermediate (the Buffet E-11 in my opinion). If your daughter takes good care of the Buffet E-11 for 2-3 years, you will get 90% of your money out it @ a venue like eBay. (The E-11 won't tune as well as a R-13, but then all the young kids are sharp anyway! Ask some band directors around here)

In 2-3 years you can get most of your money back & not be out the interest lost to the more expensive horn.

If you daughter is REALY ready to steup-up in 2-3 years, buy an R-13 at that time. No foul ball, no harm done. If she is out of music, no money will have been wasted, you'll be able to get whole or pretty close. Your daughter will have had a great (cultural & learning) experience in the meantime & not have been compromised by poor equipment.

There are kids in different parts of the U.S. that would love to have a Buffet B-12 or Yamaha YCL-20 .... & those kids are players, too!

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 RE: wooden clarinet
Author: C. Hogue 
Date:   2001-07-20 20:03

Don't forget to check the Sneezy classifieds. Most of us selling there will stand behind our horns.

I'm a great believer in intermediate horns. The name brand intermediates are MUCH better than plastic models and there's a market for used intermediates if you opt to buy a pro horn later. Also, Dave Spiegelthal often has high-quality, lesser-known brands for sale.

If you wish to pursue this, please contact me privately as I am offering several intermediates for sale.

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 RE: wooden clarinet
Author: Roger 
Date:   2001-07-22 17:30

Prior comments on this subject are comprehensive and I did not really read them closely. I would advise, however, that the plastic horn be retained for marching band. NEVER, NEVER NEVER march a wooden clarinet or intermediate to pro grade clarinet (no matter what the material.

Marching clarinets are subject to fun things like cold and rain. A wooden instrument would be more likely to crack if exposed to the cold and rain can ruin pads.

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 E11 question
Author: RI mom 
Date:   2006-08-14 22:18

Dear Clarinetists,
My daughter has been playing for a few years on a B12 and is going into high school so we got her an E11. I'd appreicated tips on care and usage. We've got the bore oil, new swab and ordered a cloth to clean the silver plated keys. It's her first wooden clarinet and she's 14 so any don't let your teenager..... stories would be appreciated!
Many Thanks!

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 Re: wooden clarinet
Author: Bob A 
Date:   2006-08-14 23:29

Of course there is always the 'snob-appeal' and the peer-pressure to be factored in. It may also influence the resale value when she gives up!
Bob A

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 Re: wooden clarinet
Author: clarinet@55 
Date:   2006-08-15 01:38

I'm presently restoring my Malerne wooden clarinet. My entire 4 years with our hs band , when tuning with an electronic tuning meter, it was always flat. The only way I was in tune was to lip the pitch up, so to speak.
Good luck with a wooden clarinet. I don't know if this applies to all wooden calrinets or just to the Malerne that I have.

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 Re: wooden clarinet
Author: Vytas 
Date:   2006-08-15 02:56

> *** .... it was always flat" .... "I don't know if this applies to all wooden calrinets or just to the Malerne that I have". *** <

It applies to the length of the barrel and the bore size of your mouthpiece.

Vytas Krass
Professional clarinet technician
Custom clarinet mouthpiece maker
Former professional clarinet player

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 Re: wooden clarinet
Author: clarinet@55 
Date:   2006-08-15 23:32

Thank you for responding to my comment about the Malerne always being flat. I used the barrel that came with it,but later, do to damage to the original mouthpiece, it got chipped on the end , I had to get the Selmer HS that it now has, but it still would not tune unless I lipped the note up, by tightening the emobochure (spelling may not be right here), this put it in tune with the electronic tuning meter the band used.

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 Re: wooden clarinet
Author: Jack Kissinger 
Date:   2006-08-16 02:31

RI mom,

The first thing I would do is throw away the bore oil. She doesn't need it and is likely to do more harm than good if she tries to use it. Also, IMO, a clean piece of pure cotton is adequate for wiping keys on a day-to-day basis -- no nasty chemicals to get on hands and wood. But then I wouldn't wipe keys on a daily basis. They may stay shiny longer but are at risk of being bent.

Others on the board will likely disagree.

Best regards,

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 Re: wooden clarinet
Author: BobD 
Date:   2006-08-16 13:36

How do these ancient posts get resurrected?

Bob Draznik

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 Re: wooden clarinet
Author: DressedToKill 
Date:   2006-08-16 13:55

My guess is that new-ish posters have a question, but fear The Wrath, so instead of starting a new thread and bearing the bombardment of "If you knew how to use the Search function...", they do a search, find an applicable thread, and add to it.

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 Re: wooden clarinet
Author: Bob A 
Date:   2006-08-16 13:57

Or, they are as 'forgetty' as us oldsters.
Bob A

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 Re: wooden clarinet
Author: ElBlufer 
Date:   2006-08-16 14:37

I was 14 when I received my R13 (I am 15 now), and I find that the accessories that I need most are as follows:

-A good swab
-Cork Grease
-A polishing Cloth
-A screwdriver for adjusting loose screws

Also, a few things that I recommend, even though they do not relate to care of her new clarinet:
-A good mouthpiece, which helps your sound tremendously (I recommend Walter Grabner from www.Clarinetxpress.com)
-Mouthpiece Patches
-A tuner/metronome
- A clarinet stand

I hope that this helps

My Setup:
R13 Clarinet (Ridenour Lyrique as my backup/marching instrument)
Walter Grabner K11 mouthpiece
Rico Reserve 3.5's
Bonade ligature

Post Edited (2006-08-18 15:06)

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