I am a school music teacher/conservatory trained clarinetist who is just beginning to acknowledge the possibility that the Buffet R-13 may not be the best clarinet on the face of the earth. I have a private student who is a sophomore in high school and has decided to pursue music in college, and needs to upgrade her instrument. In the recent past, I would have unquestionably insisted that she acquire an R-13. After several discussions with older and wiser colleagues (and the reading of many of your articles), I have decided that I need to try other instruments for myself before I recommend what instrument my student should get. I have offered to accompany her and her parents to a local music store to play test some instruments for her. I would like to compare Selmer Paris (unsure which model to try), Yamaha (perhaps YCL-CSV?), Leblanc (Concerto/Concerto II/Opus), and Buffet R-13. Would you have any recommendations as to specific models I should put at the top of the list? Also, do you have any specific suggestions as to how I should test and compare each instrument?
On another note, I am interested in trying a Ridenour Lyrique clarinet in the near future. After reading everything you have had to say about the instrument, I am excited about the possibility that it may be the best clarinet I could ever play. I hate worrying about whether my R-13 will ever crack. In the coming months, I hope to order a Lyrique and try it for myself! However, I’m hesitant to recommend it to my student at the moment, but only because of the existing bias toward anything that isn’t grenadilla. I would hate for a university teacher’s perception of her instrument affect her being accepted to any school.
I would place Yamaha CSV at the top of your list because I feel it is the best you have mentioned.
However the best clarinet you can buy today at the most affordable price is the Lyrique Ridenour Instrument. It beats every clarinet you have mentioned in every possible way. If you must have a criticism, I find the thumbrest to be unacceptable, however it is still on the best clarinet that money can buy said thumbrest is easily and inexpensively changed.
Best regards, and good luck, sincerely, Sherman