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Topics - DaveLeBlanc

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All about Clarinets / "Carbon Fiber" clarinet?
« on: June 20, 2019, 11:42:43 AM »
Backun recently popped out "the world's most technologically advanced clarinet."

This is made of cocobolo with a carbon fiber "shell." Looking at the pictures it appears to be at least 75% wood (and 100% wood where it matters, namely the bore). Only the outer "shell" is carbon fiber.

My question is - does the carbon fiber shell do anything at all for overall sound, tone, or timbre? Since it's mostly wood anyways, I feel like this will sound indistinguishable from a standard cocobolo wood clarinet from Backun.

What are your thoughts about the newest development in the clarinet world?

All about Clarinets / "Too geeky to be fraudulent"
« on: June 10, 2019, 11:57:14 PM »
Yesterday I met with a lady who was interested in a reconditioning of her Buffet R13.

She found me on ClarinetPages, and happened to live just 10 miles away so we met up at a Starbucks.

She was naturally a bit hesitant to hand over a $1500 instrument, but I explained things with enough technical detail to convince her I was the real deal.

She also dropped this bombshell:
"When I found you online I decided you were probably too geeky to be fraudulent"

AMAZING. To be honest, clarinet repair is, without a doubt, such a geeky and niche thing that it would, in fact, be much to geeky to have anybody running fraudulent scams about it.

I got a laugh from it.

All about Clarinets / What is the most OVERHYPED clarinet?
« on: May 31, 2019, 10:28:44 PM »
The clarinet world, like most other industries, has "name brands" that dominate in price and market share, often for no other reason than the simple brand name of the product.

In your opinion, what are the most overhyped clarinets? In terms of price, market share, or visibility?

For me, I think the Buffet R13 is overvalued and overhyped. It is true that the Golden Age R13s are really primo products, but does that justify the $1300 asking price for a used, 40 year old instrument? (I recently sold a restored GA R13 for $1300, so I know the price is realizable).

You can get just about any premium offering from Selmer or LeBlanc in the same "Golden Age" time period for usually half or three-quarters the price of an R13.

Heck, unrestored, "as-is" R13s regularly go for $800. For that price, you could purchase a freshly restored Selmer Centered Tone AND a premium mouthpiece (my max price for CT sale is $750 restored).

That's just my opinion. What are yours?

All about Clarinets / Case "CHALLENGE"
« on: May 25, 2019, 06:24:42 PM »

This guy "challenges anyone to find a case with the same design and color"

I wonder what the prize for winning is...

An advertisement from 1960 shows the Normandy 14P (resonite) retailing for $149.50, and the Normandy 5P (wood) retailing for $159.50.

Adjusting for inflation:

Normandy 14P: $1290
Normandy 5P: $1377

For comparison, you can buy a new LeBlanc L225 intermediate wood clarinet for $1600 new.

It's interesting how vintage clarinets sold for so much new, but nowadays we can get them for next to nothing.

I purchased a Normandy 140P for like $80 one time.

All about Clarinets / Buffet Identification Guide
« on: May 16, 2019, 05:25:04 PM »
One of the most common questions I get is to identify someone's mystery Buffet clarinet.

Here's a quick guide, and PLEASE comment with any update/clarification/additional info.

Buffet clarinets are generally produced in one of two places: France and Germany.

French-made clarinet are usually wood, and usually of a more premium quality. These are often made by Buffet themselves.

German-made clarinets are either wood or plastic, and of a relatively lesser quality (at least, compared to top-of-the-line French ones). These are usually made by a stencil manufacturer, often Schreiber.

That being said, let's ID your Buffet.

If it says MADE IN FRANCE it could be:
Buffet R13
Buffet "pre"-R13
Buffet C13/International
Buffet E13
Auguste Buffet
Most modern and vintage premium line instruments (RC, Divine, Legende, etc)

Is your Buffet an R13?
1. look for is any indication of a metal or other kind of tag attached to the upper section. The premium line clarinets often have a metal tag (such as the RC or Tosca).
IF there IS a tag, it is NOT an R13.

2. Look for any indication of a PHYSICALLY STAMPED Buffet logo. R13 always had a stamped logo; the E11 for example often used a transfer-stamp that did not physically alter the wood.

3. Look for PLASTIC/composite tone hole inserts. If the tone hole inserts are NOT wood, it is NOT an R13.

4. Check out this serial number chart:
If the date appears to be earlier than 1955, it is NOT an R13.

If your Buffet is made in France and is NOT an R13, and is NOT modern (ie, within the last 20 years), and it DOES have plastic tone hole inserts, then it is either a C13 or E13. Flip a coin on this one, although E13 seems to be slightly more common than C13, since many C13s were marked "International."

Buffet B10
Buffet B12
Buffet E11
Buffet E12
Buffet Prodige

German-made clarinet can be either plastic (B-series) or wood (E-series).

Is your plastic Buffet a B10?
1. Look for BLACK rings on each body section and the bell. If the rings are black, then you almost certainly have a B10

Is your plastic Buffet a B12?
1. Look for SILVER rings on each body section and bell. If the rings are black, then you almost certainly have a B12.

Is your wooden Buffet an E11?
1. Look for a transfer-stamp-style logo. There will be a small "E11" directly underneath the logo.

If you KNOW it's a Buffet and simply cannot see the logo and/or model designation, then there's probably a 80% chance it's an E11, since E12 seems to be significantly less common than the E11.

Finally, if you purchased your buffet NEW for less than $200 then it is a Chinese counterfeit.

All about Clarinets / The Legend of the Propeller Wood Clarinet
« on: May 10, 2019, 04:32:38 PM »
The Legend:
These clarinets were made out of the wooden propellers of decommissioned or destroyed WWII aircraft.
There was a shortage of African blackwood (grenadilla) due to the rationing of the war.
Additionally, it was difficult to source large, solid pieces of wood to make instruments with.
So, C.G. Conn Ltd. directed their Pan-American division to scavenge the unused propellers of downed aircraft.
These propellers were the perfect size to make instruments with, and thus, the propeller wood clarinet was born!

The Truth:
In fact, nothing of the sort happened. It sounds great and may have been used in marketing or salesmanship lip-smacking, but there are zero indications that Conn actually used aircraft propellers to make these instruments.
In fact, Conn seems to have referred to these as "violin finish" themselves, and does not seem to have made any official announcements about the propeller-nature of the instruments.
Conn also made oboes out of this "propeller wood," but these are even rarer than Conn clarinets.

The wood itself seems to be some sort of laminated something. There may be some truth in the wood shortage, but that doesn't explain how every single other manufacturer seemed to have no problem producing grenadilla clarinets...
If the French could churn out countless stencils in the early to mid 1940s, then it seems unlikely that here in America the wood shortage was so severe that aircraft propellers had to have been used.

Additionally, some sources seem to indicate that this clarinet was not produced in the 1940s at all! Instead, they seem to have been made in the early 50s.

I still like the propeller story better.

Question of the year.

What, exactly, makes a professional clarinet considered professional-level?

There are three main components of a clarinet:
Key Quality
Key System

Most professional level clarinet (except Ridenour) are made of high-quality Grenadilla or ebony wood. This is a given.

Most professional clarinets have strong, sturdy, silver-plated keys. Some are nickel plated, but silver is generally seen as a signifier of higher quality.

How about key system?
In oboes, for example, professional models generally have more keys, allowing for more advanced fingerings.

However, in clarinets, more keys does not necessarily mean a more professional instrument. The most advanced key system possible for Boehm clarinets is the Full Boehm. This includes: articulated C#/G#, Eb bis key/third ring, left hand Ab/Eb, and low Eb key.

However, full Boehm clarinets are actually fairly rare as far as professional clarinets go. Most high end clarinets are "simple Boehm" - with none of the above features, just your standard Boehm.

Buffet, Selmer, Backun, Patricola, and most other high-end, high-cost clarinets stick with standard, simplified Boehm.

So the key system is inconclusive.

Other parts of a clarinet include:
bore type
tone hole type
quality control

Most high end clarinets, alas most modern clarinets in general have a poly-cylindrical bore. Standard bores are usually only seen in very old, or very low quality clarinets. So a poly cylinder can't be a signifier of professional level.

Tone hole type. Cheap clarinets usually have a tone hole insert, which is a tone hole made of either a separate or similar material, and then glued into the tone hole's place. Higher end clarinets usually lack this feature, with the notable exception of the Buffet C13/International which has inserts.

So with all this being said, does it really come down to quality control as the single most important thing one can point to? Most of the other features are inconclusive.

Lower-end materials can be made into higher-end instruments with good quality control (Ridenour) or with modifications (Windy Dankoff's adventures in Chinese clarinets).

What are your thoughts?

All about Clarinets / I broke a critical part of an Eb
« on: March 31, 2019, 12:10:55 PM »
On an Eb clarinet the lower stack 3-ring key shares a post with the upper stack A/D ring/bridge key.

That post has a little copper nub sticking out of both sides of the post for each of the keys to secure into.

I broke the nub that holds the A/D key in place.

I brought it to a local music shop and the guy said there was no way to fix it without finding a donor post from another Eb.

Does anybody have any ideas on how to fix this?

I was considering gluing the nub back on, but Iím not sure how strong that would be.

All about Clarinets / Is there any reason for a saxonette to exist?
« on: March 30, 2019, 08:31:17 PM »

As far as I can tell, the saxonette is nothing more than a standard Bb soprano clarinet with a curvy metal barrel and a curvy metal bell.

There doesn't seem to be any functional reason for this thing to exist. There may be a small argument that the upturned bell helps "project" the sound, but if you REALLY need that much extra projection then you can just play a bit louder for all the good the bell will do for you.

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