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The User-Friendly Clarinet
Free-blowing, in-tune, wood-free, and sax-player friendly
Bb and C

By Windy Dankoff      Black • Hole Clarinets      September 2020

Background
I attended a performance of Eastern European music, in 2016. I was hooked by the fluid and soulful sound of the clarinet. I had switched from clarinet to sax in 1964. But now, to my amazement, I simply had to have a clarinet. But I have a weak jaw joint. Playing a reed hurts my head, unless it’s extra-easy to blow. So, I bought a new clarinet, and asked for the easiest-blowing mouthpiece. It wasn’t. I asked distributors, makers, famous technicians, Google past midnight … I couldn’t get a straight answer about an easy-blowing mouthpiece, until I discovered it for myself: It’s not just the mouthpiece. The instrument is a synergistic system in which EVERYTHING matters. I didn’t want this joke to be my reality:

Sax player 1    Somebody stole my clarinet
Sax player 2    I wish somebody would steal MY clarinet

Over a four-year period, I found ways to make the clarinet more free-blowing and less fatiguing, while maintaining or even improving its sound. I also enabled a few sax-like fingerings.

Let’s start with the blowing pressure aspect, often called resistance. If you blow the mouthpiece without the clarinet, you feel resistance. If you blow into the clarinet without the mouthpiece, you feel no resistance. You may conclude that the resistance is all in the mouthpiece. But if you try your mouthpiece on a variety of clarinets, you’ll find that some clarinets blow easier than others. The clarinet has resistance to vibrating air. This is called impedance. Furthermore, as pulsating energy flows through the instrument, it encounters junctures where the impedance changes – like bumps in the road. If we have a low-impedance sound path with the bumps minimized, we have a free-blowing clarinet.

Soft reed, large bore, and low-impedance
To blow easily, I started with a soft reed, like a beginner. It played flat and lacked focus and control. The soft reed did not “feed” the horn gracefully. It wanted to pass abundant air at low pressure. But a typical clarinet wants to receive less air at greater pressure. This is called an impedance mismatch – the proper term for a bump in the road. For the horn to accept the action of a soft, low-impedance reed, the entire horn must have a lower impedance that is relatively constant. Such clarinets do exist.

Some clarinets have a bore (the long black hole) that is larger than average. That is one step in reducing impedance. Some tone holes must also be larger and/or undercut, and some pads need to open wider. Large-bore clarinets were common before the 1960s. Then Buffet introduced a smaller bore that gained favor for classical music. Most makers (and educators) followed their lead. The older designs became largely passé except for a few that tend to be expensive. Even then, not all have low-impedance tone holes. The famous vintage ones are made of wood, and old wood can be a risky investment.

Four years of research
I found a non-wood large-bore clarinet from the 1940’s that was fairly easy to blow, and sounded amazing. I wanted to know if I could make it better, so I started collecting and studying them. They are ebonite (hard rubber) clarinets. I also collected mouthpieces and barrels, calipers, reamers and other tools. I draw on my experience designing and making flutes and repairing woodwinds. After two years, I optimized two free-blowing clarinets, a Bb and a C. I can play them for hours without hurting my weak jaw. I found them to be user-friendly in other ways too. I took two more years to understand the instrument hole-by-hole, and as a whole, so I can repeat my results.

Harmonic integrity = simpler intonation AND easier blowing
Accuracy of pitch is called intonation. The intonation of large-bore clarinets (the good ones) comes naturally, using simple fingerings. Complex “resonance fingerings” used by classical players are less helpful and not necessary. The overtones are well tuned naturally. Tuned overtones reinforce the sound, so less energy is lost. So, it is easier to blow and easier to play in tune (with beauty). Your embouchure can stay nearly constant throughout the range. It is a blessing for players without much formal training, sax players doubling on clarinet, folks with physical limitations, and anyone who wants to ease the journey.

More sax-like
The large bore helps strengthen and beautify the throat tones (top of the low register). I expand on that capacity in several ways. I refine the “trill keys” B and C to work as primary notes, like the left palm keys on a sax. They sound beautiful because they extend the delicate expressive quality of throat range. They often liberate you from jumping to the 2nd register (over the break) where you lose tonal flexibility. I enable another alternate fingering that’s familiar to sax and flute players – the Eb/Bb using the right forefinger. On most clarinets, that fingering is very sharp. I correct it so you can use it routinely.

Expansive and expressive
An optimized large bore clarinet has a wide dynamic range; you can play loud, but also soft and lyrical. You get a wide range of color and expression that’s great for traditional and modern jazz, Balkan, gypsy, klezmer, you name it. If modern clarinets sound like a Hersey bar, these are more like artisanal 85% cocoa. Again, user-friendly qualities and great sound require more than just a large bore. The whole instrument needs to be optimized, as detailed below.

Hard rubber (ebonite) instead of wood
I’m lazy, so I eliminate the maintenance and risk of wood. Hard rubber (ebonite) was the alternative before the age of plastic. Unlike plastic, it sounds great, even amazing. After all, it is the favorite material for great mouthpieces. An ebonite clarinet can be left wet in a hot or freezing car, and it won’t crack. And, it’s making a comeback. (Reference:  Ridenour, The Grenadilla Myth).

The C clarinet
A clarinet in key of C (concert pitch) is user-friendly because you can read C music. And, it’s easier in many keys that are common in string music. The modern C clarinet is designed to use a standard Bb mouthpiece. For a good impedance match, the bore is sized to the mouthpiece. It is, therefore, a truly large-bore instrument. It matches the proportions and behavior of the vintage large-bore Bb. C clarinets made of ebonite are produced only in China. Some of them are very well made, but they need a lot of finish work to fine-tune them. I play a Chinese C that I improved and refined to concert quality. I enjoy its bright bouncy sound, and play it more than my Bb. My clients and I enjoy accompanying other instruments, with no need to transpose.

The Pruefer Silver Throat, 1940-55
My favorite large-bore Bb is the vintage Pruefer Silver Throat (PST). It’s ebonite, and the upper joint is lined with metal. It has a very large bottom bore with extra-large, tone holes. It’s a unique instrument, designed to carry power in a field of brass. It was a high-end instrument in the school band market (in 1942, it was priced at today’s equivalent of $1700). It’s said to have a cult following among jazz musicians. I resurrected one, and I was hooked. I have a stock of PSTs, some of which were embalmed “in the closet” for 50 or 60 years.

Search the internet, and you’ll find opinions of the PST ranging from useless to the best jazz horn ever. I studied 9 PSTs made between 1940 and 1960, and found reasons for the mixed reputation: (1) The PST needs extra-wide valve openings (pad height) at the bottom. Repair technicians are unlikely to know this, so most overhauled ones are not optimum. (2) Versions made after 1955 have a smaller bottom bore. They play less in tune, except with hard reeds. (3) Only those late versions carry the Silver Throat inscription, and most are inferior. (4) Many barrels were not bored optimally. Knowing all this, I have learned how to bring out the best in a PST. The vintage PST and the Chinese C seem like strange bedfellows, but they make a well-matched pair.

User-friendly optimizing for Bb and C clarinets
Optimizing starts with a large-bore Bb or C, and may include any of the following changes as needed:
    Bore expansion in the barrel and at top of upper joint
    Some modified tone holes, pads, or action, especially to tune top and bottom
    Trill keys B and C optimized to use as primary notes
    Optimized thumb-key Bb
    Improved Eb/Bb when using right forefinger
    Fine synthetic and/or leather pads, resilient and reliable

Ergonomic improvements
    Keys may be adjusted to small or large hands
    Springs adjusted for light and balanced action
    Luxury thumb rest option
    Custom requests

Barrel modifications and tuning
Most barrels are bored to match the upper joint. On the large-bore Bb and C clarinets, I discovered that a further enlargement of the bore is transformational.  I use reamers to remove less than a hair’s width of material. I continue the cut tapered into the upper joint. The horn goes a bit flat, but when I make corrections, it breathes easier and comes fully to life. Throat tones and thumb-Bb are greatly improved. The tone is richer and more consistent throughout the horn.

A player will often pull out the barrel for tuning corrections. This produces an internal gap that can dull certain notes. But in large bore clarinets, the pull-out gap does not have such side effects. Most players won’t need a second, longer barrel for a large-bore. Mine are relatively short, for easy pitch flexibility when playing, and to allow some adjustment. Tell me if you play outdoors in high/low temperatures, and I may include a second barrel.

Standard mouthpieces are fine!
Here is a fortunate twist of history – Today’s mouthpieces still follow the design standards of the 1950s, so they are native to large-bore instruments! Modern clarinets use a reverse-tapered barrel to adapt them to the modern bore. (Reference: Clark Fobes, Tuning and Voicing the Clarinet.) So your favorite mouthpiece will work fine, but best not to use a modern barrel.

Availability
Occasionally, I produce a user-friendly PST or C clarinet for sale. Some clients have bought both. They join me in being twice as happy. I also have a select stock of my favorite vintage mouthpiece, for easy blowing and amazing tone.

A review of my Black • Hole Pruefer Silver Throat
With any strength reed, the Pruefer clarinet played very well in tune throughout the lower register and the throat tones. I was impressed as to how well in tune the throat tones were.  Those are usually the hardest to keep in tune on most clarinets.  As with most clarinets, it wanted to go sharp on the altissimo notes above high C (2 bars above staff), however opening my throat more while blowing easily, brought them right into tune.  I am impressed with the Pruefer clarinet.  Other than playing a little brighter it holds up well against my Buffet R13. I was amazed at throat Bb and A. They’re usually crappy, but they come right out good. — Dave D., Santa Fe

User-friendly reeds
If easy blowing is a priority, you can try a #2 or “S” reed like I use. It produces wonderful tone in the large bore. Many serious players use synthetic reeds – some for practice, some exclusively. They hold constant under all conditions. Some last for more than a year of regular use. I get exactly the sound I love with a Fibracell #1.5 (equivalent to typical #2) or a Fiberreed Carbon Classic S (they are more consistent). Others love the Legere European Signature Cut.

Mouthpieces, and MATCHING to the reed
When switching to a new synthetic reed (Fiberreed), I tried a mouthpiece that was a previous favorite, and it was better than ever! So we don't just pick a favorite MP and then a favorite reed. We pick the best PAIR. The curve of the MP facing must work optimally with the curve of the reed as it flexes. How do you know? If you have a collection of MPs, I suggest trying various ones, especially previous favorites, if you are trying a new type of synth reed. I have also seen MPs offered that are specifically designed for specific synth reeds. That makes complete sense to me ... HOWEVER, it's unlikely that they are focused on matching soft reeds to large-bore horns. That's why I collect vintage MPs and select which work best with specific soft reeds. So now, my clarinet sales usually include a sample reed a select MP to match. That's one reason I have had no returns in the last two years.

References and acknowledgements

Thanks to Phil Pedler (The ClarinetPages.info), Jared De Leon (Wind Instrument Repairs) and Clark Fobes, and others on The Clarinet Board and Sax-on-the-Web, for sharing their experience. For a historic comparison of bore sizes: http://www.clarinetpages.net/info-on-model-comparisons-and-bore-sizes and http://www.clarinetpages.net/stuff-phil-recommends/bore-sizes

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All about Clarinets / A maestro TRANSCENDS the clarinet
« on: October 27, 2019, 10:19:04 AM »
"Tiger plays a clarinet" ... above and beyond! Watch:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TSqnZMsg3kc

Others may comment ... I'm at a loss for words.

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I easily found three leaks in two clarinets, that I could not locate with a leak light. I used a modified stethoscope.

You need the type of stethoscope that reduces to a single tube. I found this one on eBay for $5. I cut off the diaphragm device and inserted a smaller tube as a probe. As you approach a pinpoint leak, you hear a soft breeze. When you aim right at it, it sounds like a windstorm!

Pressure is applied by mouth, with fingers down, and a cork plug in the bottom. You must use normal finger pressure, as if you are playing the instrument.

A blow tube, shown in the photo, makes it less awkward than using your mouth directly on the joint.  The blow tube adapter is a cork plug with a hole, into which I hot-glued a plastic tube.

 I'm sure others have thought of this, but to my surprise, I found no references to it.

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I just got a G clarinet with Boehm system keywork. It’s on eBay, described as "French clarinet G Key Hard rubber”.  (They use the term French to distinguish it from the German system keywork that is normal on G clarinets.) I think it just came out in recent weeks. It appears to be from the same Chinese maker as the C clarinets that I have been fine-tuning. This maker has been selling German (Albert) system G clarinets for some time, so-called Turkish clarinets. They DO have the acoustics worked out. 

Why a G?  As an improvisor and by-ear player (as well as reader), G is a practical key because the low register is in C. It is a wonderful complement to my C clarinet that I play on an equal basis with my Bb.

Mine arrived in just a week, and it played right out of the box. BUT BE WARNED – It's not a mature product. The bell on mine WAY too short.  I pulled the bell out until it nearly fell off, then secured it with electrical tape (for now). Now, it's in tune basically and the 12ths are very good. Thumb Bb was fairly bad. I was able to improve it, much to my relief, but it took a day of experimenting.

It has serious keywork and ergonomic issues, and about 8 holes to retune. It's been a major hacking project, but I got it working with a few days of serious shop work. Simply said, they are dumping their prototypes on eBay. I expect it will be improved over the next couple years, (as the C clarinets did). Being an avid instrument hacker, I took a chance on this one, and I've succeeded in making it play wonderfully.

This G horn is not like an alto clarinet. It sounds closer to a Bb or A. The bore is similar. It takes a standard Bb mouthpiece. I had trouble at first with my favorite Bb mouthpiece. It felt resistant and had trouble with the notes that are typically weak on most clarinets. I switched to my previous favorite MP, a Noblet or Vito FRANCE 2V vintage MP. It improved everything. It's worth trying various ones.

Ergonomic issues are not bad if you are over 6 feet tall with fingers to match. I am 5'8" tall, size-L hands. I reshaped the bottom R-hand keys to move them downward. I did lots of metal trimming and epoxy work to reshape and extend them. I also formed my own thumb rest because it's a heavier horn, lower down. The action of bottom keys needed a lot of refining, but it came out fine good.

I'm very happy now with this new instrument. It has three unusual mechanical features that you can see in the eBay listings. Somebody put serious effort into this design. I think it's on its way to becoming a good product. Meanwhile, I'm the first on my block to play one!

REF:  A German production version of a Boehm G clarinet is shown here:
https://www.thomannmusic.com/martin_foag_g_clarinet_model_85_isa_pini.htm
It's a lot different. Some Italian ones have been offered, but they aren't shown on the web sites.

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Restorer's dream come true ... Remove the keys, remove pads and corks, and just dump them ALL into a tumbler. Run it all day or overnight, and VOILA! They are clean and polished like new. I got a vibratory tumbler sold for recycling brass bullet casings, for reloading ammunition. (Like beating swords into plowshares.)

This saves enormous labor compared to cleaning and buffing keys one at a time. No more struggling to get into tight corners. No more gummy residue to remove.

I picked a tumbler from Amazon that had numerous comments about how quiet it is, as compared to other tumblers that had comments about loud noise. It is really quiet. The polishing medium is ground walnut shells infused with rouge. The brand I picked seems to be perfectly sized for the job.

After the tumbling, bits of shell can be found in the hinge tubes. It's easy to push it out with a drill bit. Some rouge residue would be very undesirable in the tubes and the pivot holes. I remove it with a drill bit ground to a point, and then wash the keys in an ultrasonic cleaner.

So here are some pictures of what I got.
Hornady 050202 M-1 Case Tumbler
Lyman Large Tufnut Plus Reloading Media (12 Pounds) - walnut shells with rouge
Finished keys are shown after 13 hours tumbling.

They keys are unplated German silver from Pruefer Silver Throat clarinet circa 1945, never overhauled. A similar instrument is shown for comparison, showing what the keys looked like before tumbling.

Second photo shows a drill bit that I ground to a taper, to remove residue from pivot holes. Then I finish with tip of pipe cleaner in alcohol. I use a normal drill bit and pipe cleaner to push residue out of hinge tubes. Afterward, an ultrasonic cleaner is a nice way to finish the cleaning, although they look good right out of the tumbler.

Third photo shows the Pruefer instrument ready for re-assembly. The hard rubber body had turned olive-green with age (and washing). Here, it's shown freshly re-blackened using Pensbury Pen Potion #9 -- a product made for restoring antique hard rubber fountain pens. That's another topic.


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I got a new Sonicare ultrasonic toothbrush. But my old one still works. I got this wild idea!

I put on a C3 brush head, which is designed for “plaque control”. It’s the stiffest of the various brushes available. It works so well, I must share this!

NICKEL PLATED keys are very stubborn about releasing their hazy and gray oxide. No more!
Wenol metal polish (Amazon) works on nickel (so do some other polishes). It was laborious and frustrating to do by hand, The Sonicare is a blessing for 50-year old keys! Just apply the polish like toothpaste. It turns gray in seconds as it cleans. Rinse and wipe it clean, and it's DONE perfectly, or nearly so.

GERMAN SILVER unplated keys take a different approach. Over decades, they may oxidize enough to put a rough texture on the metal, so buffing is really necessary. I found that white rouge works best as a buffing compound. Trouble is, the cloth wheel quickly turns black with oxide residue and stops polishing efficiently. It has to be resurfaced frequently (I apply a wood rasp to the wheel to do that). Then, I have to reapply rouge. It’s wasteful and blows out cotton dust.

The Sonicare needs a fine abrasive to take this oxide away. Metal polish doesn't do the job. Automotive rubbing compound is too fine. Permatex Fast Orange PUMICE hand cleaner does it! It has a gel consistency that helps keep it on the brush. After this, the keys buff much faster, especially in the corners and especially if those corners contain old dark solder!

I know the brush will be helpful also for cleaning grimy instruments without removing posts and springs, at least for hard rubber and plastic horns. Maybe wood too, after oiling. I’ll try that next!

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These "Black Hole" C clarinets are from China, reborn in my New Mexico workshop. I was happy playing the renowned Ridenour C (that I fine-tuned). I bought one of these out of curiosity. I was amazed .. it's a BETTER instrument!

Workmanship is good. The keywork is strong. Pads are Lucien kid leather. HOWEVER numerous defects and mis-tunings beg for attention. I spend about 6 hours refining each instrument, based on accumulated experience, recorded data, and fine tooling.

For half the price of the Ridenour C, you get a horn that is more in tune (especially Thumb-Bb and trills), with much better keywork and a better fit to large hands. The tone is exquisite, a bit better than the Ridenour that I had.

Warranty from me is 1 year / trial period 14 days.  Specify if player has Small or XL hands.

Use your favorite Bb mouthpiece, and enjoy the musical liberation of playing a C instrument!

Contact me through The Clarinet Pages Private Message system, or by email, windydankoff at mac * com.  ============

PHOTO 1 shows a work log that I keep on each instrument. A pitch graph shows the original mis-tunings. As I correct them, I also smooth out the response of each note.

REVIEW:  Please see Phil's review of my results on The Clarinet Pages, under Chinese C clarinets.

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All about Clarinets / Pruefer HR Bb with "silver" lining
« on: November 11, 2017, 08:42:55 PM »
Another unique eBay acquisition:  G. Pruefer , S/N16506. The bell is stamped Carl Fisher Exclusive Distributor. It played right out of the box, and with very good tone and intonation. I put an old Ridenour 147 HR barrel on it (with a smaller bore) and it sounds better, in fact gorgeous! Very rich and dark tone (with my favorite Riffault Noblet 2V mouthpiece).

According to the one set of S/N posted on the net, it would date around early 40’s. The material looks like ABS, but doesn’t react to acetone, so it appears to be hard rubber. The upper joint (only) is metal lined. The keys are unplated German silver of old-school and rather unique design, like the photo in Phil’s review of "Pruefer Silver Throat HR” (SN 35057). In fact, it looks identical to that Silver Throat photo, except for the shared key post for the top A & Ab.

The upper joint bore is straight 14.8, like the one Phil reviewed.  I suspect this was an early version of the concept, before they introduced that catchy tradename. Ah, but eBay searches reveal a Pruefer “Special” SN 51724, that also shows a metal lining in the UJ. They must have made lots of them that way.

The case has no labels or clues to indicate if it’s original to the horn. Does it look like 40’s?

Has anyone else here discovered a marvelous sound from these horns with the “silver” lining?

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All about Clarinets / Evaluating a G. L. Penzel & Bro. advanced Albert
« on: October 23, 2017, 06:47:57 PM »
I bought this lovely antique 20 years ago, as a showpiece. I was not especially interested in clarinets until recently. So now I’d like to learn more about this. And, I wonder if it’s worthwhile to sell it. I see from maker history that it would be from the period 1883-1898, before Penzel-Mueller.

The wood appears flawless. The keys all move well. It’s appears to be in all-original condition. I understand that the 'B' designation was the German sign for Bb. The length is 56.8 cm (22 3/8 inches), indicating high pitch. It has no serial number. I have the case but can’t find it. I’m hoping the MP is in there!

I’ve seen many historic instruments in museums, books, internet, but never have I seen one like this, with the flourishes and extras gadgets. I would appreciate any advice from The Clarinet Pages, and any opinions regarding its value.

I have 9 photos, so I'll have to spread them out ...

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An older friend’s husband died. He would be 81 now. He had been a serious clarinet student until he was in college when he had to quit due to a dental problem. He got this instrument, apparently when he was in high school, in Pittsburgh. We’re estimating around 1952. He had told his wife that it was a very good one. He couldn’t bear to part with it so alas … She took it to the local store for a minimal pad job so it could be sold or gifted. Then she met me and let me evaluate it. I got it to play acceptably, then I played it in a memorial for her husband. It brought her to tears. It sounds good, and has very good intonation, but it still needs lots of work. (The "Steel Ebonite" K9 mouthpiece is wonderful, and a testament to the owner's judgement.)

Can anyone here advise me on its value? I called Volkwein’s Music in Pittsburgh. I was told that they have seen a few by that name come through over the years. It is a private label, probably from some European maker, but he had no information. The aesthetic style of the keys is delightfully old-school. Perhaps it was old when our hero received it? We have no idea.
I would appreciate any opinions as to its possible origin and its potential value. We will then decide whether it is worthy of a first-rate overhaul.

It needs a few rods and screws replaced because heads are rusted and damaged, but they are not stuck now.

Thanks to The Clarinet Pages!
Windy

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I'm starting a new topic (my first) to share my experience with hard rubber C clarinets made in China. This includes the Ridenour Lyrique RCP-570C (made over there, and tweaked in Texas, so they say). I have one that I bought new in April 2016.

Summary: I am giving a very quick review of the Lyrique, then moving on to the "songtailun" (STL) that I bought from eBay and received a week ago. I the new STL better! In fact, after about a day's work (I'm an amateur technician), it's really REALLY good. I loved the Lyrique, and performed well on it, but I'm going to sell it now. The STL is better all around, more consistent, and fits my hands better.

Ridenour fit and finish is mediocre. And, it wasn't tested or treated with any critical care. A couple of corks were too squishy so I had to replace them. I had to fine-tune a few toneholes too, and trim down the top of the socket of the lower joint to bring its top notes up in pitch (and close an inner gap). To acommodate my size-Large hands, I did some key grinding and bending around the L pinkie low-note keys to gain clearance, and made the L&R sliver keys narrower. It would be better for somebody with small hands.

Now, here's my review of the Song Tai Lun (STL) clarinet. I in late June 2017, and got it 2 weeks later. Cost was $149 + $49 postage to USA. It is listed on eBay as "New Advanced C key clarinet Ebonite Good material and sound". I figured it might be OK as a spare instrument, and maybe I would get lucky. The eBay seller is called "songtailun". The photos on eBay are watermarked STL. I saw similar listings from two other sellers, showing watermark STL or SONGWEI and some identical photos. The packing slip listed my shipper as Wei Song. Therefore, I believe the are all the same item. Perhaps my vendor is the original manufacturer? or one step away? Anywei, here is my review:

I wrote this detailed review as a way to thank STL / Songwei for selling an amazing instrument. I took it out of the case (a nice one), put my favorite Bb mouthpiece on it, and WOW! I was amazed by the rich sound and the quality feel. I have big hands (man’s glove size Large) but the keys fit perfectly. (On my other C clarinet, they do not.) The thumb rest is adjustable and has a big soft rubber cushion.

The body is hard rubber (ebonite), not plastic. It is great for the sound, and won’t crack. The pads are fine leather! They are fitted perfectly, every one showing perfect tonehole impressions. Thin pads are used where needed, to make the ring keys close comfortably. This is good attention to detail. The cork work is good, and glued strongly. I adjusted some keys a bit, and found the metal to be medium-hard. They won’t be bent easily. The tenon joints were super-tight. I greased the corks AND the inside of each socket, and left it assembled. After a week, the corks compressed enough but it’s still a bit too tight. In future, if that tight, I will sand corks before first greasing.

It did need some fine tuning. I found the C#/G# (left little finger) was a flat. I undercut the hole a lot to bring it up. The B/F# “sliver” key (right hand, between 2 and 3) needed a small undercut. Bb/F was playing sharp so I glued in material to make the right 2 hole smaller. Low F/C was flat so I undercut the hole a bit (3rd hole from bottom). Maybe they will correct these in the future. I made other adjustments especially to the 2 upper trill keys, but they may be highly individual and influenced by my mouthpiece and emboucher. On the workbench, I found the keywork to be mechanically precise. The screws and rods are high quality. Only the top 2 trills have a bit of play, partly because they share one rod.

I love the C horn! The sound is bouncy and very expressive. It’s great for the E. European Klezmer and jazz, using standard C music!. The Lyrique C cost me $1200. This one sounds better, fits my hands much better, and the workmanship is better! So again, it played well right out of the box but it’s best to take it to a good repair technician for adjustments. This is true with ANY clarinet! I feel blessed to have such a wonderful horn. I'll be happy to compare notes with others here. How about some other brave soul order the A horn from songteilun? (It's $10 cheaper!) Be sure to write.

Kissing the Black Muse!
Windy

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All about Clarinets / Great C clarinet from China / eBay - my review
« on: July 15, 2017, 09:31:37 PM »
I just got a "New Advanced C key clarinet Ebonite" from eBay. "songtailun" sells an amazing instrument for just $149 plus postage. I took it out of the very nice case, put my favorite Bb mouthpiece on it, and WOW! I was amazed by the gorgeous sound and the quality feel. The keywork is good, with almost no excess play. I have big hands (man’s size Large) but everything clears nicely. A few springs were too tight for my liking, but I fixed those (and observed good quality and fit of the parts). The thumb rest is adjustable and has a big soft rubber cushion.

It is hard rubber, confirmed. The pads are fine leather, all showing perfect tonehole impressions. Thin pads are used where they are needed, to make the ring keys close comfortably. This maker knows what they are doing! I adjusted some keys and found the metal to be medium-tough. The joints were super-tight at first. I greased the corks AND the inside of each socket, and left it assembled for for a few days to let the corks compress. I beveled the edges of the sockets so they don't scrape the grease off as it's assembled. The C#/G# was flat and dull, so I undercut the hole a lot. Maybe they will correct that in the future.

I love the C horn. The sounds is bouncy and very expressive, great for the klezmer, Jewish music and jazz that I play. I can read standard C music! The fingerings are often easier than a Bb horn. I have a Ridenour C clarinet that cost me $1200. This one sounds the same but plays upper clarion better. It's a little more reliable over the break. The keys fit my hands much better. Don't we live in interesting times?

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