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Topics - DaveLeBlanc

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All about Clarinets / I finally started to play clarinet again!
« on: January 17, 2020, 08:26:49 PM »
Guys, I haven't played clarinet recreationally in 2 years at this point.

I decided to pull my old contra alto clarinet out of storage, dust it off, and give it a go.

I have to say, it's very nice to be back in the saddle. I can't tell you how much I truly missed the sweet, low, and resonant sound of the contra clarinet.

All about Clarinets / Pinned but no cracks?
« on: December 16, 2019, 08:25:06 PM »
Iím currently working on a nice 1982 Buffet A.

However Iíve found a total of 6 patches that appear to align with 3 metal pins.

HOWEVER I cannot detect any trace of any cracks, anywhere. Why would there be pins, much less 3 of them if there are no actual cracks?

All about Clarinets / 1997 Charles Bay Customized R13 Report
« on: December 08, 2019, 07:57:32 PM »

It's quite difficult to find original prices for clarinets, as most contemporary advertisements do not have the prices listed, and half the time store catalogs didn't either.

So most of the time we have to go from personal recollections. I recently acquired a 1997 Buffet RC with silver plated keys (considered to be a "evolution" to the R13 - but completely failed to overtake the R13 in market share) that was purchased new for $2500 in 1997 - about $4,000 in 2019 dollars.
This is the exact price a new Buffet R13 with silver keys sells for in 2019 - so we can assume that RC and R13 models were priced about the same.

This Charles Bay Custom R13 was purchased for $3,000 in 1997. This tells me that Bay additions probably were an additionally $500, or 20%. This might seem like a lot, but consider the fact that simple silver-plating on the keys of a modern Buffet R13 boosts the cost from $3600 to $4000 - an additional 11%, and the clarinet is functionally identical.

I would estimate the barrel/mouthpiece set to be about $200 new, so you really only are paying $300, or 12% premium for Bay's customizations (tone hole alterations and, adjustments, and other minor modifications), which certainly sounds like a reasonable price to me.

Here are all of the customizations I can see on the clarinet (going from top to bottom)
Charles Bay Duckbill mouthpiece (hand-dated to 1997)
Charles Bay composite barrel
specially beveled register key cork pad
undercut tone hole on F# pad
Charles Bay custom extension-thing on F# ring
left-chamfer on F# hole
slight chamfer on C hole
"Charles Bay Customized Clarinets" metal badge on rear side of lower joint
Charles Bay custom thumbrest
Shaved-down upper post of 3-ring key
Widening of crow's-feet notches
chamfering on low Ab, F#, F, and E tone holes

Upon comparison with the similarly-aged and constructed Buffet RC (which for my purposes I assumed to be physically identical to the R13) I found that:
1. The Bay thumbrest is amazing
2. The Bay F# ring extension is pointless and gets in the way. I'm sure it's great for some people, but I didn't find it useful at all. You need to keep half of your finger over the ring-hole anyways, so the extension sort of makes it even more difficult to play higher, altissimo-register notes.
3. The side-chamfer on the C hole is great for smooth finger movements
4. The shaved-down post on the 3-ring key is sort of interesting. It's a sharp edge that I guess could be an issue after a crazy extended play session, but I never in my life even noticed it was a problem. I suppose it's a great solution to a problem that nobody knew they had.
5. The chamfering on the lowest notes is very useful. It gives better projection and a clearer sound to the low notes. Chamfering of a tone hole allows the air to escape the hole at a lower height than before, allowing it to escape earlier, and hence reducing any stuffiness in sound. [Keep in mind this might just be a placebo effect with the visuality of the chamfered holes. I don't have an solid evidence to back up my claim]

I found virtually no difference between the Charles Bay barrel and the R13 barrel. I suppose it's a tad lighter, if that makes any difference.

The widening of the crow's feet notches are absolutely pointless. They actually look somewhat haphazardly done, so I don't really get it. Maybe Bay wanted to practice the chamfering on a less-visible part of the clarinet to get accustomed to the wood's character? Who knows...

The Duckbill mouthpiece is good, but I actually prefer my Rico Reserve X5. I felt like I got a somewhat better response out of the Reserve than the Duckbill, but maybe I'm just not used to it.

I think the main differences worth paying for are the thumbrest and the chamfered tone holes [again, placebo?]. Charles Bay's touch can really be seen in the chamfering, as it takes an expert to be able to do this correctly. It's easy to overdo it and then there's literally impossible to reverse the damage.

Yamaha's YCL-230 plastic alto clarinet is definitively a stencil made by Vito.

This is proved by the shape of the keys, especially the F# plate. This doesn't have the kidney-bean key touches, but not all Vitos have that either.

The smoking gun is the factory-original pads are are marked "Vito" on the cardboard backing.

All about Clarinets / Better to sell Bb and A clarinet as a SET or SINGLE?
« on: November 14, 2019, 04:07:26 PM »
I never really put too much thought into this question, but I have a client who has a set of R13 - a Bb and an A

Does one maximize profit by selling them separately or as a set in the double case?

All about Clarinets / Ultimate Clarinet Buying Guide (INPUT NEEDED)
« on: November 12, 2019, 07:19:47 PM »
I also wanted to make a Ultimate Clarinet Buying Guide for clarinets of all materials and and all budgets.

Hard Rubber:
Budget Range -
Mid Range - Kenny Woodwinds (modern) - $360
High Range - Ridenour Lyrique 576 (modern) - $960

Budget Range - Vito Reso-Tone 3 (semi-vintage) - $50-$100
Mid Range - Buffet B12 (modern) - ~$200
High Range -

Budget Range - Normandy 5, 7, 8, 10 - $300
Mid Range - Selmer Centered Tone (vintage) - $800
High Range - Buffet R13 (vintage through modern) - $1200-$1500

Budget Range -
Mid Range -
High Range - Selmer Paris (vintage) - $800

All about Clarinets / Ultimate Mouthpiece Buying Guide (INPUT NEEDED)
« on: November 12, 2019, 07:15:26 PM »
Hey all,

I wanted to collate a list of the best mouthpieces of all materials, and all price points, and unify everything into the Ultimate Clarinet Mouthpiece Buying Guide.
Mouthpieces are arguably one of the most important aspects of a clarinet's sound, and a good one can make a $20 clarinet sound like gold; a bad one can make an R13 sound like trash.

I'm not a super expert, but I'll start with my recommendations.

Budget Range - Geo M Bundy 3 (vintage) - ~$25
Mid Range - Selmer HS* (vintage) - ~$50
High Range - Rico Reserve X5 (modern) - $100

Budget Range - Yamaha 4C (modern) - ~$15
Mid Range -
High Range -

Budget Range -
Mid Range -
High Range -

Budget Range - (are there really any budget options here?)
Mid Range -
High Range - Pomarico Sapphire - ~$130

All about Clarinets / What is this tone hole alteration called?
« on: November 07, 2019, 03:08:40 PM »
This Charles Bay customized clarinet has this sort of tone hole modificationon many of the holes - what is the actual term used to describe it?

In a few days I will be accepting delivery of a 1997 Buffet R13 with Charles Bay customization on a consignment deal. I wanted to find out the "value" of Bay's work, so here's how I determined it.
It's always hard to find the original purchase price of things, so often we have to go off of personal recollections.

I have a sample size of two:
1. 1997 Buffet RC (silver plated)
2. 1997 Buffet R13 w/Charles Bay customizations

1. The 1997 Buffet RC was purchased new, for $2500. Putting this into an inflation calculator, $2500 in 1997 is $4,000 in 2019 dollars.
Since the RC was considered an "evolution" of the R13, it is reasonable to place both instruments in the same tier.
Looking up prices of a brand new Buffet R13, silver plated, from, we find it selling for $4,000.
Since the inflated price of the RC and the current price of the R13 are identical, we can assume that both the RC and R13 sold for the same price.

2. The 1997 Buffet R13 w/Bay customizations was purchased new in 1997 for $3,000. This inflates to $4,800, or about the cost of a new Tradition, Festival, or R13 Greenline A clarinet.
The Bay customizations included the following:
adjustment and fine-tuning by Bay himself
custom adjustable thumbrest
Bay mouthpiece and barrel

I will estimate the cost of the Bay mouthpiece and barrel by themselves at $200, or $322 in 2019.

The difference in price between a factory R13 ($2500) and the Bay R13 ($3000) is $500, or a 20% premium.

We can subtract the price of the bell and barrel and end up with $300, or a 12% premium for Bay's other services including the thumbrest and adjustments.

Percentage-wise, a new R13 with nickel keys costs $3600, while a new R13 with silver costs $4000, a difference of $400, or an 11% premium.

So for just 1% more than the cost of silver-plate upgrade, the original buyer got a Bay bell, barrel, and adjustment by the man himself.

Sounds like a good deal to me!

What are your thoughts - would you rather pay a 20% total premium for a premium mouthpiece, barrel, thumbrest, and adjustments by a legend? Or, would you rather pay to upgrade to a Festival or Tradition?

All about Clarinets / Buffet RC vs R13
« on: October 05, 2019, 09:26:20 AM »
I have noticed that the Buffet RC sells for less, and less often than the R13.

Why is that? The RC is supposed to be an upgrade, or evolution of the R13, but they sell only infrequently on eBay. Checking sold listings, they sell as low as $800 as-is, and I don't see any recent sales for a restored one.

Compared to the R13, which sells like hotcakes.

It this just because the R13 is a household name, whereas the RC is not?

On a related not, does this make the RC the greatest sleeper?

All about Clarinets / Risking the biscuit with a Zero Feedback eBay buyer...
« on: September 26, 2019, 09:38:32 PM »
I've had this nicely restored Buffet R13 for like 4 months with virtually no interest. It was burning a huge hole in my pocket and I just wanted it gone.

Along comes a brand new eBay buyer, with 0 feedback - generally a huge red flag.

She is ready to buy and puts in an offer for $1200. Low, but acceptable after so long with no interest.

Knowing full well that the odds were heavily against me, I went for the sale.

Lo and behold, The buyer paid in full immediately after I accepted the offer. Within a day of receipt, I receive a positive feedback.

Whew, dodged a bullet I did there.

The things I do for money... One time I was trying to sell a Selmer K series. I wanted $360; the guy literally only brought $300. SO I JUMPED IN HIS CAR AND GUIDED HIM TO THE NEAREST ATM.
Needless to say, I got my money, he got his clarinet, and I nearly wet my pants for fear of getting organ trafficked.

All about Clarinets / Why don't clarinets come standard with low-Eb?
« on: September 15, 2019, 08:19:32 PM »

It just involves one extra key and like 2 more inches of material. So why is a low-Eb soprano clarinet like $500 more expensive?

For that matter, why are some alto and bass (and even contra alto!) clarinets NOT extended to low Eb?
I have personally played on larger clarinets with no Eb.
V. Kohlert wood alto
Conn hard rubber bass
Selmer Paris rosewood contra alto

Why in the world would they even make a larger clarinet without the extension?

This topic has been moved to [Make and Model lists and research].

Trading Post / MOVED: Who was Henry Gunckel?
« on: August 31, 2019, 11:59:37 AM »
This topic has been moved to [Make and Model lists and research].

All about Clarinets / When did pads transition from leather to bladder?
« on: August 14, 2019, 12:21:15 PM »
The very early square-keyed clarinets seem to have had pads made out of a square of felt or some kind of cloth.

Later, with circular keyed clarinets starting in probably 1860 leather pads were pretty much universal.

At some point, clarinets transitioned almost entirely from leather to bladder. Does anybody know when and why this happened?

Leather is objectively more durable and is immune to the pad mite.

Why then did clarinet makers depart from nearly 100 years of leather pads to use skin-covered felt?

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