Dear Mr. Friedland,
I am looking for clarinets for a student and have found two beautiful clarinets, which I believe to be R13s purchased at the factory. The Bb is in the 244,000 serial number range, and A in the 273,000 serial number range. They have been very well cared for, no cracks, and kept in excellent playing condition. These instruments were used for symphony work and solo performances. The owner is asking about $5000 for them, and included are two mouthpieces, a humidifier, and an excellent case. The individual who played these was a friend of mine, so I know how they were handled.
Any information you could give me would be greatly appreciated.
Gonzaga University (saxophone professor)
Dear SB: Thank you for your note concerning the set of Buffet clarinets that you found for a student. The clarinet serial numbers which you sent can not be calledthe famous R13s because both clarinets were made between 1983-1985. Buffets from after the number 200,000 were made in the 1980s, while the actual reknown R13 exists circa the numbers around 50,000.
The lowest serial number for R-13 is 45451 (1953). This clarinet belonged to Robert Marcellus.
Robert Carree designed polycylindrical bore in 1950. Buffet did not adopt the R-13 designation until 1955. In 1955 the “R-13” was introduced as a model name.
With this introduction of the R-13 the throat “A” and “G#” keys got separate posts. THIS NEW KEY DESIGN SIGNIFIES the SWITCH and that’s what identifies newly introduced R-13 from the rest of so called R-13s that were made before the introduction. The lowest serial number seen with the separate post design is 49950.
Here are the dates of the manufacture of your two Buffets:
Brand : Buffet Crampon
Instrument : BC 1512.AG
Serial number : 273000
Year of manufacturing : 15/11/1985
Brand : Buffet Crampon,243000 1983
Whatever the qualities of the set you have found are, and they may be really excellent clarinets, they do not conform to the years of manufacture of the most noted R13 clarinet. Here is what Mr Anthony Gigliotti, the late Principal Clarinet of the Philadelphia Orchestra had to say about his experience with Buffet: Gigliotti wrote: “The first time I went to the Buffet factory in France was in 1953 and I remember trying 55 Bb clarinets. After selecting the two best ones I then spent countless hours with Hans Moennig tuning and voicing them until I could finally try them in the orchestra. My reason for becoming involved with the Selmer Company was to make it possible for a student or professional to buy an instrument that didn’t need all that work and it has resulted in the series 10G which was based on my Moennigized Buffet which I played for 27 years.”
Now, of course this was written as a preface fpr the announcement of the release of the Selmer Company of their 10G clarinet, probably an excellent instrument. However the ordinary run of Selmer 10G clarinets were no where near as consistent as were the clarinets described my Mr Gigliotti after having been “Moennigized” .
This contributes to the somewhat uneven history of the Buffet clarinet. Trying 55 Buffets in 1953, picking two and having Moennig customize them is not easy task.
In conclusion, I would suggest to you that, while this set of buffets can be a very good set, it does not appear that they are worth some $5,000. I think three thousand would be fair, but finally, not having played the clarinets of which you speak, I can only suggest.
Best of luck ,