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 wwbw.com, 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?