First of all, I’d like to thank you for this site. What you’re doing is really helpful and amazing.
Secondly, I’m a sophomore in high school and have been playing on the same plastic Bb Yamaha for the last five years. My private instructor suggested that I move up to a higher-level clarinet; he specifically mentioned Buffet. The problem is, I’d be paying for the instrument myself, and I really can’t afford anything more than $1200. I looked through the Woodwind and Brasswind online catalogue and I’m intrigued by the Andino Grenadilla Wood Bb Intermediate, the Amati ACL 314-O Model 314, the Normandy 4K Normandy 4 Bb, and the Leblanc L1012S Rapsodie Intermediate. After looking at your site, I don’t feel the Buffet is for me; I have huge intonation issues on the Yamaha as it is now, and I would prefer an instrument with better intonation. Which of these do you suggest? Do you have any other suggestions within my price range?
Also, I noticed that you frequently mention the Vandoren mouthpiece playing a bit sharp. What other reasonably priced mouthpieces would you suggest?
My last question, I promise: currently, my higher register gives me awkward and screechy sound. My altissimo register is obscenely bad: screechy and flat where it should in theory be sharp. My instructor keeps telling me to open my mouth more, which I think might help; the problem is, the more I open my mouth, the harder it is to play the note. How can I correct this? Is it my embouchure alone that’s the problem, or could it be an instrumental issue?
Thank you for your note. I am happy you like the site.
As far as a clarinet with a good scale and generally the best intonation “out there”, you cannot go wrong with the Ridenour “Lyrique” clarinet. It is made of hard rubber and is much more stable than wood and will always remain intune. It comes with two barrels and a mouthpiece and costs less than your budget. I have two of these instruments and can tell you that they are excellent.
Ridenour was the designer of all of the fine clarinets that Leblanc made for several years including the Rhapsody model. I do think however that the Lyrique wll be excellent and a complete instrument.
I am interested in the Andino myelf , but they mentioned that they are going to send me one to try, but they haven’t as yet. The Amati company makes a very good instrument, though I do not think it is as good as the others you have mentioned.
I can recommend a couple of different mouthpieces which will probably suit you well and will both be much better in the high register than your Van Doren. One is the Fobes “debut”, which costs only 30 dollars or so, the other being the Gennusa made and distributed now by Ben Redwine.
You can find all of these names in your browser as they all have websites. The Ridenour “Lyrique” may be the best deal avaliable at any price.
best wishes, Sherman