“I really lament the apparent demise”

Dear Mr. Friedland and all,

I have read with great interest the many very justifiable criticisms of the contemporary Buffet R-13. I really lament the apparent demise of a company that once contributed so much to the art and craft of the clarinet.

It seems that Boosey & Hawkes doesn’t know what they’re doing as far as the clarinet goes. When I was 1st-chair in a nationally recognized high-school concert band ensemble in the late 1960’s, my director found me a vintage Buffet from the early 1950’s. We had some of the pads redone in cork (the usual upper-joint ones), replaced the needle springs, and swedged a couple of the rod-pivot screw fittings, and ended up with a clarinet that responded like a dream, and in tune with itself (well, at least as much as a stopped cylindrical pipe that overblows at the 12th ever can be in tune with itself, without humoring some notes).

Years later, I tried some new R-13’s, and they sucked. Sorry, but that’s actually being kind. Even more recently, I tried a few more, and they sucked even more, if that’s possible. I have a Noblet that I keep around for my students that plays better than these monstrously overpriced tragedies do. When Buffet was Buffet & Crampon in Paris, they knew what they were doing. After all, did they not invent the polycylindrical bore? I suppose I should get past my resentment of Boosey & Hawkes for screwing up what was once, arguably, the Stradivarius of clarinets, but doggone it, facts are facts.

For the record, I now play a Selmer Series 10 refurbished by Tom Ridenour and fitted with one of his professional mouthpieces. It is one hell of a horn. I also own his Lyrique C, a work of genius. At any rate, I guess there’s no question here, but I just wanted to relate my experience. I’ve been playing for 46 years, so perhaps that counts for something.

GM

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