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 Consistency of Buffet Tosca and Prestige bass clarinets
Author: Micke Isotalo 2017
Date:   2023-07-12 20:17

The Buffet soprano clarinets are well known for variances between specimens of the same model, and it's not uncommon with prospective buyers trying out a lot of specimens to find "the right one" - or even "a good one".

How are the Buffet Tosca and Prestige basses in this regard?

And, are there certain "faults" that are beyond repair and such specimens should thus be avoided (as some "incurable" tuning issues)? If so, which are such faults?

I don't mean problems or malfunctions from poor regulation or similar (as in the state in which they seem to leave their factory), but in which way and to what degree fully adjusted and fully functional Tosca and Prestige basses may differ from each other.

Post Edited (2023-07-12 22:21)

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 Re: Consistency of Buffet Tosca and Prestige bass clarinets
Author: jdbassplayer 
Date:   2023-07-12 22:19

Unless someone has messed with the bore or the tone holes you will not come across a Prestige or Tosca with uncurable intonation issues. I would even argue that those trying out multiple soprano clarinets are more likely to end up with the instrument with the best setup rather than the best acoustics. At least that's been my experience trying out dozens if not hundreds of R13s, the best examples are usually those that have been overhauled by a skilled repair tech. Most instruments these days are made using computer controlled mills and lathes and other automated manufacturing processes so the variation between different instruments as far as dimensions go is minimal. I would argue that most variation in intonation between instruments comes down to pad height, which is of course something that is relatively easy to address. I would still recommend looking for any cracks, large knots or other defects in the wood in instruments that you are considering, but other than that pretty much everything else can be addressed by a good repair tech.


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 Re: Consistency of Buffet Tosca and Prestige bass clarinets
Author: Daniel Frazelle 
Date:   2023-07-12 22:48

I owned a Prestige bass and probably played 5-6 professionally in my career. I've now had my hands on about 6-7 Toscas, own one and am in possession of another provided by the Navy Band. They are shockingly consistent instruments. I don't know what this is, but the Tosca basses are among the most consistent clarinets of any type I've come across.

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 Re: Consistency of Buffet Tosca and Prestige bass clarinets
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2023-07-13 14:59

The main variant between Buffet basses is the quality of the finishing as each finisher may do something different, or the same finisher may even do something different on each instrument they finish in terms of touchpiece positions, setting the venting or spring tension which will be noticed in the feel of the instrument.

Buffet's finishing is far from perfect and a lot of the time the pads aren't even seated correctly which is across the board with all their clarinets, not just their basses.

With such large instrument bodies produced in the same manner and the same degree of undercutting, the acoustic differences between them are going to be marginal as having large toneholes will give more wiggle room for minor discrepancies should a certain tonehole be cut deeper than that same one on another instrument when that will have more of an effect on the top joint of a soprano clarinet due to the much smaller tonehole diameters near the top end.

Former oboe finisher
Howarth of London
1998 - 2010

The opinions I express are my own.

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 Re: Consistency of Buffet Tosca and Prestige bass clarinets
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2023-07-14 10:18

Overall they are very consistent. When I bought a Prestige I got to try about 15 of them to choose from and there wasn't much difference between them. A couple of them had build/adjustment issues that made trying them tricky (e.g. on one of them the bell tenon cork was too thick to assemble). Intonation was pretty much the same. I ended up just choosing by "feel" and to be honest I could probably go for another and it would end up the same.

I got to try a few dozen more over the years and they also felt more or less the same, except I did occasionally try one that was different in terms of tone and intonation. Not necessarily in a good or bad way. I'm not sure if they changed the acoustic design along with other changes (e.g. they lowered cost by making some key shapes a bit more industrial and less curvy).

I didn't try as many Toscas, maybe about ten in total, with only two or three of them at the same time. They also felt consistent. I can't say if ones I tried a few years apart felt the same, too much time to be sure. The ones I tried next to each other felt as consistent as the Prestiges. With the Prestige it's easier to notice because I constantly play mine. I like the Prestige a little better than the Tosca but it's only preference, neither is better than the other in an objective way.

It's one of the few clarinet models I wouldn't mind buying without trying first. Or rather without trying the specific one. I haven't tried one that couldn't be very good after some adjustment (or in some cases a lot of adjustment). I wouldn't buy one without trying at least another of the same model though. Some people really like or don't like the model concept in general (e.g. in comparison with a Selmer Privilege).

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