Rosewood responds well, but can be anightmare for intonation and cracking.

Hi Sherm,

About three years ago I began playing clarinet again after a hiatus of many years. I’m or imagine I’m starting to get up to speed and am looking for an A clarinet. Right now I using a Yamaha CSG and a Buffet Vintage B flats. I could get a matching A for one of them, but thought I’d try something new.

Surfing the net I found this; “LeBlanc Symphonie II Rosewood Clarinet Set: Bb #75553 and A #77624. Three years old, played one year in major symphony orchestra. No cracks. Includes two extra barrels and double case.”

What do you think Sherm? I’m slilghtly tempted. I know you’re quite familiar with LeBlanc clarinets; tell me what you can.

Thanks so much,

Hi DL:
Slightly tempted is a good term to use. Rosewood, actual rosewood responds in a much sweeter manner than does grenadilla however it is an extremely chancy material with which to work and needs to be carefully made and fnished.It is also much more prone to cracking than is grenadilla,or for that matter hard rubber, which is becoming more and more popular.
Here is what Tom Ridenour has to say bout Rosewood. While at Leblanc, he designed clarinets made of grenadilla and of Rosewood. “Clarinet manufacturing is no exception to this upspoken but widely practiced manufacturing rule. The fact is there are many other woods that have better musical qualities than Grenadilla wood; woods that have a better, more stable tone; woods that have a better response. Honduran Rosewood immediately comes to mind in this regard, but there are others. It produces a darker, more coloristically stable tone of greater beauty than Grenadilla and the response is quite superior throughout the dynamic and pitch range of the clarinet.
So why was it not used rather than Grenadilla?
Very simple: making Honduran Rosewood clarinets is a manufacturing nightmare. First, it does not machine nearly as well as Grenadilla. There is much more waste involved in processing it, and waste is lost money and time. The tone holes of the natural wood are so pitted that pads leak terribly. In order to provide a leak proof surface for Rosewood clarinet requires tone hole inserts. Rosewood cracks more frequently than does Grenadilla. Finally, because the wood is so porous, it absorbs great amounts of moisture, causing bore dimensions of the barrel and upper joint to be very unstable. Such instability causes tuning to go “wacko” and the clarinet can feel “blown out” after only a short time of playing. The only solution is to line a large amount of the upper joint bore in hard rubber to stabilize dimensions and reduce cracking. Honduran Rosewood barrels are also usually lined in hard rubber for the same reasons.” This from the article “Myth of Grenadilla, written by Mr Ridenour, who is generally considered to be the expert in this area and was responsible for the design of the Leblanc Opus and many other Leblancs.
So, you may be tempted, but I would let it go no further than that.
If you wish to acquire another set of clarinets. I would suggest the Opus . I had a set of them and was quite satisfied, and would certainly recommend them for your consideration.Or you may wish to write to Ridenour to ask him about his hard rubber clarinets, whichin many opinion hav the most stable quality of any clarinet.
best wishes,


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