Online selection, determining quality

Dear Mr. Friedland,
I used to play clarinet in school but later switched to tenor sax. Recently, I stumbled on my old student level clarinet, and found to my suprise that most of the finger memory was still there (after a couple of decades of not touching the clarinet). So I started to play it a bit more, and find myself enjoying and appreciating the instrument more than I did in the past. Inevitably, my thoughts now turn to buying a higher grade used clarinet, but without paying ridiculous sums of money (i.e. more than $1k in my case). My search for information led me to the discovery of your site, and I am really impressed with your generosity in sharing your advice and knowledge to clarinetists of all levels. I’ve had great pleasure reading the posts in it, and have learned quite a bit as well. You are to be congratulated for a fine enterprise.

I just lost out on an Ebay auction on a Selmer 10S-II yesterday, which finally went for $660. Somehow, my heart wasn’t really in it, for some obscure reason. Currently, there is a Leblanc Concerto selling locally at $650 (without mouthpiece), and I wanted advice on whether this was a good model and whether the price point seems fair. I know you are quite favorable to Leblanc, and the Concerto II is selling for a heck of a lot more money than $650, do I am thinking this might be a reasonable buy.

Against this, it might be possible to get a Yamaha Custom 82, the Selmer 9, 10 or 10G at around the same price point, with the hassle of Ebaying. Would any of these be much better compared to the Concerto? Specifically, on the 10G, I had read that it was somewhat bright, so I have some reservations about that model. Buffet somehow doesn’t appeal to me at all, more so now that I have spent some time at your web site.

I would appreciate it greatly if you would give me your opinion on this matter, although I do suspect that any of these clarinets in working order would more than fit the bill. However, it is always also the shopping and choosing between different models that is very pleasurable to most of us, while recognising that most of us are too fixated on equipement and somewhat less so on practice. Thank you very much for your advice.

Best rds

Hello CK:
Advice for buying a used quality is to determine the condition of the instrument you are buying.
If you can be assured of an instrument in excellent playing condition, the biggest hurtle has been resolved. But this seldom happens, and the tricks in the presentation of an online instrument can win a prize for pure and utter BS.

I sometime look at the auction ads.. The key is usually either hyperbole, or omission and/or just plain old lying.
So, my first suggestion is to “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here”
Mouthpiece, or the absence of one is totally inconsequential in an online sale.
The 10G Selmer clarinet can be quite pricey and inconsistent as was the instrument when in production.
The Selmer 10s 2 is a terrific horn, and one wonders why your heart was elsewhere.

Of the horns you mention the Concerto is one of the better. It and the Opus were designed by Tom Ridenour when he was their chief designer.
These are legend in the business and I think you would be hardpressed to get a bad one. With used 62,72, 82,or the Custom Series, you will find them pricey.

In used, get a guaranty, but then again, you have to worry about the postage and the response from the seller , which can be anything from a diverting of the truth in his guaranty or his interpretation of same.

If you are having fun playing the clarinet but don’t want to spend more than a thousand, I suggest you get in touch with Tom Ridenour who will sell you the best horn in the industry for about the same money. But then again, if you are located in the Orient, that might prove to be difficult.

Remeber in used, it is the condition , and the difficult of discerning same. If you go by brand, any Paris Selmer or Leblanc is as good as you can get, again depending upon the condition.

Stay well, and keep looking and practicing.

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