Upgrading for my daughter. Buffet, an accident waiting to happen

I have read your pages for about a year now and really respect your truthful responses. I have also notices a very large amount of ‘which one should I buy’ type questions. Well, unfortunately, my question is down that same path. We just moved to a new city with a much larger and more personal middle school band program. My daughter is doing really well with her Vito, which is her upgrade from her original hand-me-down Bundy. After discussing her abilities with the band director, I will probably offer her a wood clarinet for next fall to start High School concert band.

I personally play an E-11 which is fine for me, but I’m only a community band player. My E-11 seems a little large for right hand, and her Vito actually seems a touch too small for my fingers. My keys are slightly farther apart than her Vito. Her band director tells me that the serious students play Buffets, but I know some decent adult players that play Noblet 40s or Sonatas also. The way I picked mine was to go to South Bend where I could try about a dozen and compare along with my checkbook constraints. As a matter of fact, she chose the Vito by doing the same exersize at Woodwinds and Brasswinds.

My questions are as follows;
Is Buffet really that much better for a developing student?
Do some actually fit different size fingers or should she learn to use the better clarinet?
Is it possible to buy one that will last her through High School?
Should I just take her to sit down with a dozen options like I did for myself?

I appreciate what you do in your Clarinet Corner. Please continue because many of us have no trustworthy resources in our local areas.

Thanks,
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Hi Al:
I read your letter with interest because of certain facts I know to be the case.
A buffet is not necessarily the horn of choice for players going places….where I don’t know. It is a nice sounding instrument with one large accident waiting to happen: the little finger(left) connect to the connectors piece with plastic dowels which have broken within my students experience, hence I would not buy any kind of Buffet.
Leblanc of any kind s much better choice and the Opus is the best one, and it has a slightly smaller key set than does the others. If not the Opus, then any used Leblanc: I bought a set of LLs which are really terrific.
The Leblanc Sonata is a good good instrument which will also suffice. Vito, no. Noblet or Mormandy, maybe, but Opus, Sonata and Infinity are the best and will play and sound that way.
The Opus has a very high list but the dotted line can be much lower, I have found.
Definitely the horn you buy can last her through high school, especially the Opus. If you can get an Opus 1, that will be cheaper than the II and very little different.
Good luck with your searches.
sincerely, sherman

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