Author Topic: new review: Cheap Chinese No-Name A clarinet  (Read 199 times)

Offline philpedler

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new review: Cheap Chinese No-Name A clarinet
« on: November 11, 2018, 05:52:36 PM »
The Berkeley (Chinese) A clarinet that I got last year required a lot of work to get it playing well. However the results were so good, and it was so cheap that I wanted to get another. I will position one in Indonesia and one in the USA, so I don't have to take a clarinet with me each time I make that trip— twice per year. The Berkeley A clarinets was not available this month on eBay, but I found a very similar one. ($167 with free shipping!)

This no-name clarinet is the same in physical details, but it plays slightly better than the Berkeley did right out of the box.
https://sites.google.com/a/clarinetpages.net/www/hard-rubber/chinese-hard-rubber/2018-cheap-chinese-no-name-a-clarinet

Offline windydankoff

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Re: new review: Cheap Chinese No-Name A clarinet
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2018, 09:29:22 AM »
Phil - I have one of these as well. It has a wonderful sound.

These are made by the same outfit as the C clarinets that I fine-tune for sale (and perform on). Quality is fundamentally good, but beside some tone hole sizes, they are careless about cutting barrels and joints to proper length - like your barrels being too long. Nevertheless, these instruments are well worth investing in a good fine-tuning.

Regarding the A:  If you figure out how to raise the pitch of the lowest notes without raising the low clarion too much, please clue me in. I'd like to get mine running right.
Windy / BLACK • HOLE Clarinets
C & G CLARINETS refined to concert standards
Thanks to The Clarinet Pages

Offline Dibbs

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Re: new review: Cheap Chinese No-Name A clarinet
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2018, 03:57:42 AM »
Stephen Fox says that the flare in the lower joint is intended to mitigate the wide 12ths in the lowest notes though it is only partially effective. 

see:  http://www.sfoxclarinets.com/baclac_art.htm  (adjacent to the conical/poly-cylindrical diagram)

Perhaps a morse taper reamer could help here.

Offline windydankoff

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Re: new review: Cheap Chinese No-Name A clarinet
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2018, 08:04:26 AM »
Dibbs, you may be onto something, at least in theory. My research on the Pruefer Silver Throats (PST) teaches a lesson on this. For most of the production period, they had a very long and large bottom flare.  In the last few years of production, they narrowed the bore to a more conventional standard (along with making tone holes normal/smaller). It caused the low notes to go flat while low clarion stayed in tune. Why they did it, I can't imagine. But it does lead to think that enlarging bottom of the A would help. Unfortunately, to do an optimal job it would require moving and resizing tone holes as well.

Of note, the original PST with it's big bottom flare was about 1/4 inch shorter than a typical Bb clarinet (including their later, flawed version). Another note, on the newest, very late PST that I have, they RETURNED to the big bottom flare! Go figure.

So I don't think there is a simple hack for this A horn, not one that wouldn't cause more problems. I'd love to be wrong though. I do love playing mine. Considering the entire MP/barrel/horn, WHERE would a modification lower ONLY the bottom few notes?  (A Genius Award is waiting.)
Windy / BLACK • HOLE Clarinets
C & G CLARINETS refined to concert standards
Thanks to The Clarinet Pages

Offline Dibbs

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Re: new review: Cheap Chinese No-Name A clarinet
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2018, 09:15:40 AM »
Looking at Phil's figures:

1. The low E is a a bit flat (9 cents) and the corresponding B a 12th above a tad sharp (4 cents)
2. The low F and G are very flat (28 and 18 cents), the corresponding C and D a 12th above are a bit flat (11 cents).  I presume the F#/C# is similar.

My suggestion would be:

1. Ream the end of the lower joint enough to bring the C and D more into tune.  Hopefully the F and G will come up even more and be less flat.
2. Assess the low E and the B a 12th above.  I would expect the B to be significantly sharp by now.  Maybe pull the bell out (and add a tuning ring) to bring the B into tune.

Instead of (or as well as) reaming, (undercutting to those hole might help too.

Offline Dibbs

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Re: new review: Cheap Chinese No-Name A clarinet
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2018, 09:27:29 AM »
Dibbs, you may be onto something, at least in theory. My research on the Pruefer Silver Throats (PST) teaches a lesson on this. For most of the production period, they had a very long and large bottom flare.  In the last few years of production, they narrowed the bore to a more conventional standard (along with making tone holes normal/smaller). It caused the low notes to go flat while low clarion stayed in tune. Why they did it, I can't imagine. But it does lead to think that enlarging bottom of the A would help. Unfortunately, to do an optimal job it would require moving and resizing tone holes as well.

It may be less than optimal but you can probably make them smaller if they end up too sharp in the clarion without too much detriment.

Making them bigger and moving them south should help narrow the 12ths too but with the negative effect of making the tone brighter for notes issuing from those holes.

Of note, the original PST with it's big bottom flare was about 1/4 inch shorter than a typical Bb clarinet (including their later, flawed version). Another note, on the newest, very late PST that I have, they RETURNED to the big bottom flare! Go figure.

So I don't think there is a simple hack for this A horn, not one that wouldn't cause more problems. I'd love to be wrong though. I do love playing mine. Considering the entire MP/barrel/horn, WHERE would a modification lower ONLY the bottom few notes?  (A Genius Award is waiting.)

Interesting about the PST.  I fail to understand why it was shorter though.  Wider bore should make it sharper.  I'd have expected it to be longer to compensate.  I don't think I'll ever understand clarinet acoustics properly.

Offline windydankoff

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Re: new review: Cheap Chinese No-Name A clarinet
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2018, 09:48:18 AM »
Sounds well reasoned, Dibbs. Question is how to "ream" the curved flare of the lower joint (LJ)? A standard tapered reamer (morse) will hit a certain portion of the bore but that may not be where you want to go.

My experience with other instruments indicates that enlarging the bore need not be done with full radial symmetry. It can be out-of-round and not matter. And, toward the bottom, the surface quality may not need to be fine. I would consider a round abrasive burr on an extension shaft perhaps, mounted in a lathe or drill press. The burr would be less than 3/4 of the smallest bore section so it doesn't catch or spin out. I would work the chosen section going for some symmetry but would not be worried about it.

The "right" way would be to turn the LJ on a lathe, with proper tools or abrasives. But it would have to be mounted in a long chuck, with most the metal removed. In a cut-and-try situation, ... I don't want to think about it!

And, would the bell bore need also to be enlarged? I think so.

Regarding tooling, the horn in question is hard rubber. I find it easy enough to work with normal tools, except that abrasives at moderate speed clog and form the dust into balls. Some machine oil on the abrasive solves this problem nicely.

These are my thoughts on the matter. I have the horn like Phil's, but not the time priority right now to try these things.
Windy / BLACK • HOLE Clarinets
C & G CLARINETS refined to concert standards
Thanks to The Clarinet Pages

Offline Dibbs

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Re: new review: Cheap Chinese No-Name A clarinet
« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2018, 03:17:42 AM »

The "right" way would be to turn the LJ on a lathe, with proper tools or abrasives. But it would have to be mounted in a long chuck, with most the metal removed. In a cut-and-try situation, ... I don't want to think about it!

And, would the bell bore need also to be enlarged? I think so.

On a lathe, I'd try a mandrel in a chuck at the top end, turned from wood to fit tightly.  Make a collar to fit the tenon at the bottom end from brass or steel and a fixed steady round that collar (mine has just brass fingers and it would marr the wood without a collar), adjust for minimal runout with a swing tip dti in the bore, then use a long boring bar to cut the taper.

And yes, it would be a huge pain to keep removing it to test and set it up again.