Author Topic: Penzel Mueller Brilliante clarinet advice  (Read 57 times)

Offline cakeartist

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Penzel Mueller Brilliante clarinet advice
« on: July 19, 2020, 07:44:17 PM »
My daughter, Emmy, is in high school and plays B-Flat clarinet and bass clarinet. She currently has two decent Yamaha plastic clarinets (one for Symphonic Band and one for marching band) and a U.S. Selmer bass clarinet.

Our nephew's wife sent Emmy a vintage Penzel Mueller "Brilliante" wood clarinet with serial number M3668-B and we'd love to know more about it.

Is it possible to estimate the year it was made?

It's in playable condition now and appears to just need a service/polishing and new pads. If I go ahead and have that done, would it be considered a college-level instrument for her? I read somewhere that Buffet E11 or R13 clarinet would be the instrument we'd either need to buy or rent for college, but now I'm wondering if this P-M instrument would be on that level.

Offline DaveLeBlanc

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Re: Penzel Mueller Brilliante clarinet advice
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2020, 09:11:44 PM »
Hello! It's great to hear that your daughter is serious about clarinet playing.

As a big clarinet player by trade, I can certainly speak on bass clarinets. The one she is playing right now the Selmer USA, is a VERY solid kit. Unless she plans on being first-chair bass, that clarinet will be more than suitable. If you really need to upgrade, I could recommend a vintage LeBlanc wooden one. Those can be had for about $500, but will need repair. I do bass clarinet repads so I can hook you up.

As for soprano clarinets. Plastic Yamaha are excellent, and are great for marching band. If she does marching band in college, I would highly recommend sticking with the Yamaha.

For symphonic bands, the Yamaha could definitely use an upgrade.

In terms of E11 vs R13, R13 is somewhat overpriced in my opinion. Unless you have a spare 2 grand, I wouldn't go that direction. The E11 is pretty good as well, and although has plastic tone hole inserts is still considered the "industry standard" for an intermediate-level clarinet.

Back to your PM Brilliante. Those were probably made in the 1960s (this forum has a few experts who can chime in). They are generally considered quite good, I would say at the level of the E11 if it has gone through a good adjustment.

The one thing to consider: vintage clarinets often lack the poly-cylindrical bore which is prevelant today. The PCB generally provides better intonation and response than ones without.

Without having the instrument in-hand, here is my advice:

Unless you have between 1 and 2 thousand dollars to spend on a Buffet product, use the PM Brilliante
David Watson of the original The Clarinet Pages

Offline BLMonopole

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Re: Penzel Mueller Brilliante clarinet advice
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2020, 02:52:21 PM »
I have owned a few Penzel Muellers and always loved playing them (although I have never played a Brilliante).  They are lovely instruments and nicely built.  I will say that I was disappointed to find that when I played my P-Ms with groups, there were some really out of tune notes. Like, not just a little bit....really horribly and noticeably out of tune.

After much research, I found that (as Dave said) the culprit was the lack of a polycylindrical bore.  They can be played in tune, but it just takes a lot more work.  I'm not sure if the Brilliantes (which are known to be the best clarinets P-M ever built) have an improved bore or overcame these issues. 

Good luck.  I'm a fan of vintage clarinets and always feel like they are worth refurbishing (and are often better built than modern clarinets), but they do come with their own set of challenges.