All things considered: It’s Lyrique

Hi Mr. Friedland.

I’ve been reading your thoughts both on your blog and on the clarinet bulletin board regarding Tom Ridenour’s Lyrique Bb clarinet made of hard rubber. I’ve read much about this clarinet and am very curious about it. Even tempted to purchase one. I’ve read your articles about the sweetness of tone, the evenness, the responsiveness etc. Others have said similar positive things about the Lyrique.

Here’s the rub…I’m in the market and have been looking for a clarinet not as expensive as a new Buffet R13. I was considering the Leblanc Cadenza. Then…I saw your article and others about the Lyrique. Would you suppose there could be prejudice or bias against a hard rubber instrument?

Not asking for your opinion. I’m just wondering if you have experienced this kind of resistance, and what I can only regard as bias based on preconceived notions and not fact.

Thanks for your site and your considered opinion regarding Lyrique.


Hello :
Thank you for your note with its commentary and questions. To begin with, I have tried and played them all: Buffet, Selmer, Yamaha, Leblanc, all levels of manufacture and I have experienced bias and unfounded prejudice all of my musical career, which is now more than 60 years.
Prejudice and bias are a couple of things that exist much more, if  not exclusively in your own mind. Seldom does a peer or a colleague intone those words of bias and prejudice. Mostly they are inferences, are they not? 
Let us say, you choose to purchase the R13. You will receive the congratulatory comments from those who respect the brand and the model, though not all do. And there will be the inevitable comparisons. “Is you barrel stuck to the first joint of your horn?” Why is your throat Bb so different from all of the notes around it?” “And why is it sharp?” And on and on like that. The Buffet R13 though revered, is far from a perfect instrument. In fact, they have more problems than any other so-called first-tier clarinet. I can list at least a dozen, if not more. And of course, you must add to that the price which is totally prohibitive, the comment “you get what you pay for” is absolutely untrue, but simply a way of turning your opinion in another direction.
Or you could turn to a Yamaha instrument, one of their top models. This clarinet will play much better in tune and will be received with many fewer errors of manufacture. It’s a fairly well-known fact that the best Yamahas are among the best horns to be had and they are much less expensive, perhaps by a third .
Selmer does not play as well and is slightly more expensive than Yamaha, but has beautiful workmanship and will always be a great instrument. The Leblanc-Cadenza seems to have Morrie Backuns name attached and that name is known much more for fine furniture in music than it is for fine clarinets. At least that is what I have heard within the business.
Lyrique and hard rubber is the best buy, notwithstanding the possible feelings of bias and prejudice . It will never crack and for many years hard rubber has been known to have a sweeter more dulcet quality than does grenadilla or mpingo .
If you like silver plated keys, forget about hard rubber or the Lytirique because there is an unsavory chemical reaction; I think it’s called sulphuric acid.
The current Lyrique comes with the so-called ergonomic register key, a key which is shaved off at the ring . I do not like it, but you may.I also do not see its need at all.
It is probably well-known that I feel that the Lyriques thumb rest is poorly placed and is uncomfortable . Those are however, small matters when compared to bias and prejudice, which can be pervasive.
Or you can get a Lyrique and bring it to your first encounter with other clarinetists and be greeted by”hey, congratulations!. I’ve heard about this horn. How do you like it? May I try it? Hey it sounds sweeter than my Buffet, or gee, the Bb feels the same as the other notes and it is right in tune, and the whole horn is more even. Your teaher may have similar feelings, but initially there will be inferences of bias and prejudice. Most clarinet teachers are simply terrible in this way and there have been many separations between them because of horns chosen.
Those are your options. The choice is yours. Bias and prejudice are more feelings than actualities. Most important is your feeling of the qualities of your clarinet.

Best regards, Sherman


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