I bought my Amati C clarinet at a special price well below of what you have quoted here, perhaps around almost 600 dollars. At that time I t was simply a chance I took as I had never played C clarinet and I had 45 days in which to make my decision. It was a calculated risk, and the results have far exceeded my expectations as it has been a pleasure to play and an instrument upon which to perform.
Since the key layout has been questioned, I can say that is is as good as any clarinet I have played, all being placed correctly and an especially superior thumb rest, positioned exactly correctly and fully adjustable not just movable from one strange position to another, but well shaped, excellent placement of the place for the neckstrap should one use it, and beautifully silver plated keys, a very strong case and a usable mouthpiece. I don’t use that Amati mouthpiece, but I could, if necessary. I have really had laudable results with all of the Amati instruments I have played or owned, Along with the C, I have a full boehm Bb which is a very nice clarinet, in tune an well placed, as far as the keywork is conerned, easily as good as any other well made instrument.
In general, the C clarinet seems to me to be just a better setup, with better intonation and an especially nice response. By response, I mean sound. It has a better sound, more in tune and very pleasurable.
Sound and response are interesting words to express ones impression of his or her own sound. If a clarinet has a “good sound”, it loses all meaning and all personal feelings about sound, the clarinet being an inanimate instrument. It just lays there, mute and unfeeling. But, when we play the instrument, it responds to us . and response is what sound is all about. The horn is but a part of the sound and it can be made to sound many different ways, depending upon the discipline of the player. The player and the instrument combine to make the response, making it a mutual endeavor, thus totally interdependent.
You ask about the tone quality, and my response is very characteristic, a better rounder quality than the Bb.
Concerning tuning of the Amati, in general, it is excellent, the altissimo being somewhat of a problem which is also a function of the player, and their embouchure, and of course, their ear, and their ability to change the pitch by voicing, a partial function of the throat, the support and fingering.
My Amati has been totally reliable, staying in adjustment always. The company is very large ; it just does not advertise that much in the US. The instruments made are just as consistent as is any mass produced clarinet.
But wooden instruments are totally different than those made of hard rubber, which are basically much easier to machine for correct sound and intonation than is wood. All of the Ridenour clarinets are better in tune than all others because the designer has a better ear than almost anyone in the business and he knows how to use his uncanny ear and knowledge of the clarinet and its tuning.
I have played and performed on the Ridenour A and Bb clarinets and have found the intonation to be superior to any clarinet made. The wooden clarinets are just not as tunable as is the Ridenour instrument made from hard rubber. Period. Tom says his best designed clarinet is his instrument in C. Take him at his word and his reputation.
stay well, and have happy holidays.