Author Topic: What is the most OVERHYPED clarinet?  (Read 112 times)

Offline DaveLeBlanc

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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?
David Watson of the original The Clarinet Pages

Offline BLMonopole

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Re: What is the most OVERHYPED clarinet?
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2019, 03:39:46 PM »
Interesting.  I'm a fan of the vintage R-13s (I have one from 1961 that is my daily instrument) and don't think that they are overhyped at all -- in fact, I still have never played another instrument that I think is better.  That said, a Selmer Series 9* or a Couesnon Monopole Conservatoire are every bit as good in my experience. 

However, I do think that Buffet instruments overall have been more about the marketing than the actual quality of the instruments for many years.  They seem to be getting by on their past reputation and ubiquity.  I have tried many new Buffets with the intention of purchasing one (I  had my eye on a Divine, Prestige, or Tosca) and came away feeling that none were better than my old trusty 1961 R-13 despite the significant asking prices.

Just my two cents...YMMV.... 
« Last Edit: June 17, 2019, 05:26:21 PM by BLMonopole »

Offline DaveLeBlanc

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Re: What is the most OVERHYPED clarinet?
« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2019, 04:42:33 PM »
Not to knock the R13 at all. It is certainly a superb instrument.

However, in terms of performance per dollar, is there really no better way to spend $1,300?

Sure, the R13 is an excellent "investment" instrument, as a vintage one will generally retain a reasonably stable price (PSA: don't drop $4k on a new Buffet and expect to get even half of that two minutes after walking out of the store!)

For a comparison example, does $1300 get you TWICE the clarinet of a $700 Centered Tone (or comparable other model)? Or would you rather save the $600 and buy a timeshare or something. Ha
David Watson of the original The Clarinet Pages

Offline KenJarczyk

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Re: What is the most OVERHYPED clarinet?
« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2019, 11:05:12 AM »
It does seem to ring true, that as a brand, Buffet is overrated.  But even saying that, there are some quite marvelous examples of them being performed on every day.  But this is a self-perpetuated anomaly as well, Schools of Music, Department heads, Clarinet faculty seem to be a major force in the dominance of the Buffet brand.

I still adore my 1969 R13, but there are certain issues that have caused me to make some changes.  I changed to Selmer, mostly for the key positions on the right hand little finger.  First with Selmer 10 series, now with a Selmer Signature.  I fell in love with my Selmer 10G A clarinet.  There’s where I am.

For strange location gigs, I do use the Ridenour Libertas Bb and the Ridenour A. 

Value is another topic for hype.  All Backun instruments are hype to me.
Ken Jarczyk
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Offline Airflyte

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Re: What is the most OVERHYPED clarinet?
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2019, 04:31:36 PM »


Value is another topic for hype.  All Backun instruments are hype to me.

Interesting. They've always seemed a little pricey for what they are.

Has anyone here played a pro level Yamaha clarinet?
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Offline DaveLeBlanc

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Re: What is the most OVERHYPED clarinet?
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2019, 10:30:25 PM »
Excellent point about Backun; I hadn't even thought of that.

I find that Backun products are GOOD. However, they aren't THAT good. I think they they really capitalize on their usage of "exotic" woods like Cocobolo, and exotic material like Carbon Fiber, to drive their sales.

Plus, they have folks like Julian Bliss as spokesmen so that doesn't hurt either.

Bottom line, Backun clarinets are great, but you should NEVER pay full price for any of their products.
David Watson of the original The Clarinet Pages

Offline DaveLeBlanc

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Re: What is the most OVERHYPED clarinet?
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2019, 10:32:17 PM »


Value is another topic for hype.  All Backun instruments are hype to me.

Interesting. They've always seemed a little pricey for what they are.

Has anyone here played a pro level Yamaha clarinet?

The highest leveled Yamaha soprano I've played was the YCL-34.

It was good, but not GREAT. I would much prefer a nice vintage Normandy 10 in almost all aspects.

I played a wood Yamaha low-C bass (forget which model) waaaayy back in the day. I honestly don't remember much, but it blew the plastic Vito I was playing on out of the water!
David Watson of the original The Clarinet Pages